7:26 PM EDT, June 14, 2012
An Indianapolis grandfather guilty of forcing his grandsons of brutal hikes through the Grand Canyon was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison Thursday.
Christopher Carlson, 45, was also sentenced to one year of supervised released. He is not allowed to have contacts with his victims without the permission. He must also undergo parenting skills counseling.
Back in February, an Arizona jury convicted Carlson of child abuse for the hikes on Aug. 15 and Aug. 28, 2011.
Prosecutors said Carlson forced his grandchildren to go on a brutal 18-mile hike without food or water on at least one occasion. The temperature during that hike was 108 degrees. Another hiker actually died that same day due to hyperthermia and dehydration due to heat exposure.
Carlson reportedly thought the boys - who are 8, 9 and 12 - were overweight and said he wanted to get them in shape.
A park ranger found the group and said Carlson shoved one of the children 13 times while hiking. The ranger said four of those shoves seemed to have happened when the boy tried to rest. Carlson also reportedly whipped one of the children with a rolled up t-shirt.
The boys said Carlson "hit, pushed, choked, kicked, pinched, squeezed, and whipped (them). They said they were not allowed to drink water on the hike down and resorted to drinking water from the Colorado River. All three threw up on the hike multiple times."
The judge said Thursday that Carlson was more like a drill sergeant with new recruits than a grandparent with grandchildren.
The boys said Carlson shoved his fingers down their throats to force them to throw up and kicked them several times with his steel-toed boots.
The children are now in protective custody.