Man accused of forcing Grand Canyon hikes in court

By the Associated Press | September 28, 2011 | 1:45 PM EDT

PHOENIX (AP) — An Indiana man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he forced his young grandsons on brutal hikes in triple-digit heat at the Grand Canyon.

Christopher Carlson, of Indianapolis, entered pleas Wednesday in Phoenix on six counts of child abuse that each carries a maximum of life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors allege that the 45-year-old deprived his three grandsons of food and water during two separate hikes in August. The boys — ages 12, 9 and 8 — told investigators that they had been hit, pushed, choked, pinched and squeezed during the trips from the South Rim, and were told to lie to park rangers.

Carlson told authorities that he wanted to toughen up the boys. His attorney declined comment Wednesday.

His trial is set to begin Nov. 1.