The Kids are Not All Right

Christopher Carlson on Trial For Allegedly Forcing Extreme Grand Canyon Hikes on Grandkids

The trial began today for Christopher Carlson, who's accused of forcing his three grandkids -- ages 8, 9, and 12 -- to go on Grand Canyon hikes from hell last summer, and generally abusing the boys along the way.

On a pair of 100-degree-plus days at the Grand Canyon, park rangers discovered a summer full of alleged abuse against the boys at the hands of Carlson, described by rangers in court documents as "chronic physical abuse."

After already being forced off the trails by a park ranger after complaints from people about the boys' condition on August 15 -- after the boys had completed a 7.5-mile trail -- Carlson was spotted with some really tired-looking kids again on August 28.

Carlson and his grandkids had just finished a 19-mile trail on that 108-degree day. Another hiker died on a different trail that very day from hyperthermia and dehydration due to heat.

Rangers separated Carlson from the boys this time, and asked them what had happened.

Police say the boys told a ranger that they'd been "hit, pushed, choked, kicked, pinched, squeezed, and whipped" by Carlson. The boys were allegedly told they had to tell people they were "fine" if they were asked if they were all right.

"They said they were not allowed to drink water on the hike down and resorted to drinking water from the Colorado River," the report says. "All three threw up on the hike multiple times."

After Carlson was arrested, interviews with the boys revealed even more specific, disturbing accusations against their grandfather -- from Carlson grabbing one of the boys and digging his fingers into his cheeks because he wouldn't chew fast enough, to referencing that kid as "mother fucker," and kicking him in the butt multiple times with steel-toed boots.

That same kid told investigators that on the hike before that, Carlson called him "fat ass," smashed his face into a rock -- causing him to bleed -- pushing him into cactus, throwing rocks at him, and hitting him repeatedly.

Those are just accusations from one of the kids. The other two shared their own accusations of horrific abuse by their grandfather -- including tales of abuse taking place out of state and out of the country at various times.

Carlson's facing six counts related to abusing the kids, "under circumstances likely to cause death or serious bodily injury."

Staff writer Ray Stern contributed to this report.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley