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No jail time for California father who threw son off boat

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:46 AM EST, Wed January 11, 2012
Sloan Briles was arrested last October for throwing his 7-year-old son overboard during an argument, police say.
Sloan Briles was arrested last October for throwing his 7-year-old son overboard during an argument, police say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 35-year-old father is sentenced to 3 years probation and two treatment programs
  • He is convicted of child endangerment after throwing his 7-year-old son into a busy harbor
  • The defendant pleads guilty after previously insisting he had done nothing wrong
  • Prosecutors say he was under the influence of alcohol at the time

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate KTLA.

(CNN) -- A Southern California man has been convicted of child endangerment for hitting his crying 7-year-old son and then throwing him off a tour boat in busy Newport Harbor, Orange County, the district attorney's office said this week.

A court sentenced Sloan Briles to three years of formal probation, one year in a child abusers treatment program, and 180 days in a Veterans Administration residential treatment program, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement. It added that prosecutors objected to the sentence, arguing that the defendant should be ordered to spend more time in jail.

In response to a court offer, Briles, 35, had pleaded guilty to one felony count of child abuse and endangerment and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer, the statement said.

Briles had previously claimed that he had done nothing wrong.

He told CNN affiliate KTLA in August that "we were having fun, it was a harbor cruise!" He said he did not hit his son and he "did nothing except jump in the water with my kid."

Briles, who's divorced, was on the tour boat on a Sunday afternoon in August with his two sons, ages 6 and 7, when he got into an argument with his current girlfriend, sheriff's office spokesman Jim Amormino said in August.

The boat, named the Queen, takes passengers past Newport Beach houses that are or were occupied by celebrities, including the home where the late John Wayne lived, Amormino said.

Briles's 7-year-old son became upset about the argument and started crying, Amormino said.

The defendant was "under the influence of alcohol" at the time, according to the district attorney's statement.

"The father took the boy to the bow of the boat and told him, 'If you don't stop crying, I'm going to throw you overboard,' " Amormino said.

"And he hits the kid a couple of times," Amormino said. "The boy is crying. He picks him up and throws him overboard. They are in the middle of a harbor, and there is a lot of boat traffic."

The first mate on the Queen "stalled the boat and maneuvered it to protect the child from being struck by another vessel," the district attorney's office said. "The captain threw the crying child, who was treading water, a life ring."

The boy's life was endangered several ways, the authorities said.

"The main one was throwing him off the front of the boat because the boat could run over him. There was the danger of him being hit by the prop. The other danger is that because there are so many boats out there, it's no place to swim, and because he's so small, the other boats wouldn't have seen him," Amormino said.

The boy was also "only a fair swimmer," Amormino said.

"But luckily, three boats saw the kid and converged on him, and plucked him from the water," Amormino said.

Briles jumped into the water subsequently "to avoid the angry passengers on the Queen," the district attorney's office said. There were 85 people on the tour boat.

He was eventually pulled back on board.

A sheriff's patrol boat responded to a call about the incident. After deputies boarded the tour boat, one of them suffered minor injuries to the hand and elbow during Briles' arrest, the authorities said.

"Briles ignored the deputies' orders to stand, struggled with them as they attempted to help him to his feet, and made his body go limp to make it difficult as deputies tried to remove him from the boat," the district attorney's office said. "Briles had to be dragged from the Queen" to the sheriff's patrol boat.

Deputies took the two boys to their harbor station and later turned them over to their mother, Amormino said.

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