Father who threw 7-year-old son overboard pleads guilty

Monday , January 09, 2012 - 5:39 PM

Nicole Santa Cruz

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A father who threw his 7-year-old son off a harbor cruise boat into Newport Harbor was convicted Monday of felony child abuse and a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.

Sloan Briles, 35, pleaded guilty to throwing his son into the busy harbor waters on Aug. 28, an incident that drew widespread media attention.

The father, a former Marine, was sentenced to three years of probation, 180 days in a Veterans Administration residential treatment program and one year in a child abusers treatment program.

If Briles does not complete the residential treatment program, he could be sentenced to jail.

Cyril Yu, a deputy district attorney, said he was satisfied with the guilty plea, but believed jail time would have been appropriate.

"Certainly, he was cognizant of what took place," Yu said.

Judge Robert Fitzgerald was stern with Briles and seemed skeptical that he would actually complete the court-ordered treatment. During sentencing, the judge said he recalled reading "this silliness in the newspaper."

Briles was heavily intoxicated at the time of the incident and his lawyer, Brian Gurwitz, said his client was hospitalized due to alcohol withdrawal for two days after his arrest.

Gurwitz said he was satisfied with the plea. "It's an offer that allows Mr. Briles to get his life back on track," he said, adding that Briles has been sober for 90 days.

Briles was on a harbor cruise with his girlfriend when he poked his son in the chest and slapped him in the face, making him cry, according to the district attorney's office.

The boy asked Briles to stop, but he picked the child up and threw him about 10 feet over the side of the boat, prosecutors said. The boat veered to avoid hitting the boy, and the captain threw the boy a life ring.

Briles then jumped into the water to avoid angry passengers while passengers on another boat helped the child out of the water, authorities reported.

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