A Daytona Beach father walked in on his child being sexually abused. He proceeded to beat the man into a "bloody puddle" before calling police saying: "Send an ambulance. He is going to need one." Was taking justice into his own hands the right thing for the father to do?
Photo credit: Volusia County Corrections

It is one of a parent's worst nightmares: to walk in on your child being sexually abused. For a Daytona Beach father that nightmare became a reality. On July 18, 2014, an unidentified man walked in on his 11-year-old son in the process of being raped by their 18-year-old neighbor. So he did what most parents would want to do in that situation: He beat the rapist unconscious.

"I got him in a bloody puddle for you officer"

The father says he stepped out for some food and when he came home he found Raymond Frolander in the back room of the family's home with his son. The boy was on Frolander's lap, being sexually abused. The father beat Frolander, then called 9-1-1 to notify police. While on the phone with police dispatch, the dad said, "I just walked in on a grown man molesting (my child) and I got him in a bloody puddle for you officer."

"Send an ambulance. He is going to need one."

Dispatchers asked if any weapons were involved and the dad replied, "My foot and my fist." Dad then said, "I didn't proceed to ask him any questions, sir. He stood up and his pants were around his ankles and nothing else needed to be said... I did whatever I got a right to do except I didn't kill him... He is nice and knocked out on the floor for you. I drug him out to the living room." Dad ended with, "Send an ambulance. He is going to need one," and told Frolander, "You are damn lucky boy that I love my God."

"Dad was acting like a dad"

Responding officers found Frolander motionless on the living room floor, with his face swollen and bleeding. During interviews, the child said he was repeatedly abused by Frolander starting at the age of 8. Frolander admitted guilt to police on scene. The father has not yet been charged with beating Frolander, and statements from Daytona Beach police indicate he won't be. Under Florida law, if you witness a forcible felony in progress, you are legally allowed to use any force — including that which is deadly to stop the crime. Sexual battery is a forcible felony.

The dad is being hailed as a hero, and understandably so. It is natural when you see a child being injured so brutally, personally, traumatically and violently to want to react brutally, personally and violently. Not only did the dad react in a relatable way, but his call to police is wrought with sound bites you'd think were part of a Hollywood script. But I have to wonder, how did witnessing his rapist be pummeled to a pulp affect the child?

Should violence always beget violence?

This boy claims he's been raped by Frolander since he was 8 years old. Over three years of violence this poor child has endured. Frolander is a neighbor, and likely started out as a trusted person. That child's trust was broken when Frolander started violently raping him. Now you have the child's father, another trusted soul, beating a man unconscious in front of him. Violence, ended with violence.

This child learned so much as he watched his father beat his abuser. He learned horrible things don't go on forever, even though he'd already learned you can't always trust the ones you think you can trust. He witnessed his father's love, via the rage he displayed when he saw his son being hurt. But he also witnessed that rage, saw a beast buried within. He learned sometimes it is right to hurt someone — whether that lesson was intended or not. He learned of restraint, exhibited by his father when he stopped walloping Frolander. He learned to own up to his actions, when his father called 9-1-1.

Katie Hurley, a child, adolescent and family psychotherapist, had this to say: "Given the circumstances, it's difficult to know what the child processed during this interaction. He witnessed his father beating a young man thought to be a trusted friend who, in fact, turned out to be a predator. Whether the child experienced intense relief that the secret was finally exposed or went into a state of shock is impossible to determine from facts on the page. On the one hand, he saw his father coming to his rescue. On the other, he witnessed profound violence. Given the child's likely emotional state following the molestation, it's reasonable to conjecture that the child will see the father as a helper versus internalizing a message that violence solves problems. Calling the police to get help for the predator does show that that father took the appropriate steps to confront the situation following his initial reaction. Either way, family and individual therapy will help this family begin to heal."

So much for one 11-year-old to take in and try to comprehend. The horror of sexual abuse. The shame that sometimes comes with it. The violence of a brutal beating. Hopefully in all the high-fiving we do over the actions of the dad, the child and the therapy he will need doesn't get neglected.

Did Frolander get what he deserved? Probably. Did the boy need to see him get it? Maybe not. Regardless of how you feel about either of those questions, the fact remains that the boy will not be victimized by Frolander anymore, thanks to the actions of his dad. They call it "street justice," when someone's sentence comes from peers rather than the bench. On that Friday morning in Daytona Beach, street justice was served.

More on sexual abuse

Sexual abuse of children: An "acquaintance" danger
Private parts: What's in a name?
What happens when a sexually abused child grows up