A North Carolina woman has begun serving a week-long prison sentence for illegally baptizing her child. The 2016 baptism at St. Peter’s Catholic Church when the girl was 2 years of age was in direct contradiction to a judge’s order in a custody battle between unmarried couple, Kendra Stocks and Paul Schaaf.
Stocks, 36, of Charlotte, was sentenced to serve seven days in county jail after a judge held her in criminal contempt. “It’s just very sad. It’s all a very sad situation,” Stocks told WSOC-TV. “I’ll get through this and hopefully come out a better person.”
As part of the custody ruling, the court endowed Schaaf, a practicing Catholic, with full decision-making powers “specifically including decisions concerning religion.” Just one day after that ruling was Stocks went ahead with the christening ceremony without notifying Schaff. The father only found out about the occasion when Stock posted photos of the ceremony on Facebook.
When asked why Schaaf and his family were not present at the ceremony, Stocks said to ask Schaaf. “I’m not sure why he did not know or doesn’t remember,” she added.
Schaaf’s lawyer had a very different take, “he did not know because nobody told him,” he said, adding that the judge did not punish Stocks for baptizing her child, but for her violation of a court order.
“For our system to work, there ought to be consequences for willfully and intentionally violating a court order,” the attorney, Jonathan Feit, told the Charlotte Observer. “I teach my children that. I reject the notion that anybody else is responsible for what is happening besides Ms. Stocks herself.”
The judge further noted that Stocks demonstrated “very erratic, bizarre conduct” during her relationship with Schaaf, “including poor decision-making and an inability to cooperate.”
But Stocks insisted on a different narrative. “Her father and I both agreed on baptizing her,” the mother said as she arrived at the jail. “I regret that he wasn’t part of it, but I don’t regret we’re raising her in the Catholic faith, which is what we both wanted.”
“I’m scared,” she told the Observer. “I’m sad about what has happened. I don’t regret having her baptized. That was in her best interest … I don’t see how this is in the best interest of the family. Her father is sending her mother to jail.”
But Schaaf’s lawyer chose to take a much simpler view:
“One would think that you would have the sense to say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’ve scheduled a secret baptism and it’s tomorrow, and you might want to know about it,'” he said of the bizarre case.