Concord mom pleads guilty to torturing son, is sentenced to up to 30 years
Christine Gelineau waits for her video arraignment to begin at the Concord District Court House; Thursday, April 18, 2013. Gelineau, along with Daniel Tyler Cantrell, has been charged with torturing Gelineau's 18-year-old son.
(SAMANTHA GORESH / File photo)
A 19-year-old former Concord man who was repeatedly tortured and then coerced to lie that his wounds were self-inflicted confronted the first of his three alleged abusers – his mother – yesterday at her plea and sentencing hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court, describing in detail how she brutally abused him in the family’s Penacook home.
“Dear ex-Mother,” he began, reading from a statement as the woman, Christine Gelineau, sat sobbing nearby in an orange prison jumpsuit. “What you did to me is unforgivable. You beat me, starved me, almost chopped my penis off, threw my clothes away, wouldn’t let me bathe. You almost killed me by having me take three (antidepressants) and two muscle-relaxers.
“Now that I know you’re a complete criminal and only wanted me dead so you could go back to your old life . . .” he continued, before briefly losing his place and picking up with a new thought. “You won’t be able to attend my graduation or see me go on to college, so I wish you goodbye. I hope you realize you have lost everything you had.”
Gelineau, 53, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and witness tampering. As part of a plea bargain, she was sentenced to nine to 30 years in state prison – a stiffer punishment than she would have normally faced because of a state statute prohibiting exceptional cruelty in assault cases. Assistant county prosecutor George Waldron said the man suffered permanent nerve damage in his penis when Gelineau burned it with a lighter, sometime between April 10 and 14.
“What she did alone was one of the most horrible things I’ve seen,” Waldron said after the hearing.
According to an affidavit in the case, Gelineau had admitted to detectives that she burned the tip of her son’s penis, but she said she did so only after he threatened to have sex with her. In response, she said she put gloves on because she thought her son was “dirty,” grabbed and twisted his penis and then held a lighter to it for several seconds, as he screamed in pain.
Another suspect, however, told detectives that Gelineau burned the penis after first pressuring her son to eat human feces. Gelineau threatened to burn his genitals if he refused, the suspect, Daniel “Tyler” Cantrell, told detectives. When the man complied, Gelineau burned it anyway, he said, according to the affidavit.
Cantrell, who is 20 and scheduled to stand trial next month on multiple felony charges in the case, admitted to detectives that he helped Gelineau carry out the abuse, kicking the victim into a bedroom, tying him down and walking away as Gelineau pulled his pants down, the affidavit states.
Officials at Concord Hospital later determined that the man, who was 18 at the time, suffered second- and third-degree burns from the incident.
Gelineau also allegedly kneed her son in his face and struck him repeatedly in the stomach with a pen, but those charges were dropped as part of the plea bargain.
Though it’s unclear what prompted the abuse, prosecutors said they believe it had something to do with the victim, who is mentally challenged, no longer receiving financial assistance from the government because he wasn’t enrolled in school at the time.
When asked by Judge Richard McNamara for a more definitive motive, Waldron seemed at a loss.
“Punishment,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Cantrell is accused of a litany of other related abuses dating back to March, which include strangling the victim with a scarf, punching him in the face, burning off his nipples with a lighter, pressing a lit cigarette onto the back of his head and twisting his ankle until it cracked.
The victim’s 29-year-old cousin, Amy Nason, also allegedly pressured him to ingest urine, worms and dish soap. She is scheduled for a plea and sentencing hearing in two weeks.
The police first learned of the incidents in April from the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, which had been contacted by the parents of a 12-year-old girl who said she witnessed abuse while visiting Nason’s daughter at the home.
Detectives initially interviewed the victim and Cantrell together, at which time the victim claimed his wounds were self-inflicted. In a subsequent interview, though, the victim contradicted parts of his earlier account and said that all three defendants had carried out the abuse. Cantrell and Nason have also been charged with witness tampering.
Neighbors said the family moved to Concord from Massachusetts a few months before the abuse occurred. They met Cantrell in Tennessee during a road trip, Cantrell’s mother has said.
The victim is now living with an aunt and uncle in Massachusetts, and is back in school.
“He’s doing very well,” County Attorney Scott Murray said after the hearing. “But obviously he has a lot to deal with, and it’s going to be a long recovery period.”
He remained composed as he read his handwritten statement in court, never looking at his mother as he ticked through a list of gruesome abuses. When he finished, he returned to his seat and buried his head in a relative’s arms, the sound of his mother’s sobs echoing in the background. After a few seconds, he began crying himself.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)