David Chanen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –
A Fridley man entered a guilty plea Monday for forcing his 12-year-old stepdaughter to run outside in a diaper — her head freshly shaven — as punishment for a failing grade.
The 34-year-old man appeared in Anoka County District Court and entered the guilty plea on the same day his trial was expected to start. He pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor aiding and abetting malicious punishment and to a misdemeanor domestic assault case from 2010 for repeatedly hitting his stepdaughter in the legs with a belt.
At sentencing next month, he could receive up to two months in jail and two years’ probation.
The girl’s 38-year-old mother pleaded guilty last week to gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child for the same incident. She will be sentenced in two weeks and could receive up to a year in jail.
According to the criminal complaint and other court documents:
On May 7, the girl said her mother ordered her to wear the diaper for getting an “F” on her report card. She said this was the third time she’d been put on “diaper duty.”
Neighbors saw the girl doing wind sprints in their townhouse complex in the 1600 block of 68th Avenue NE. Her head had been freshly shaven, and she was dressed in a diaper and a tank top.
A neighbor called police; when they arrived, the girl had been outside for more than 30 minutes and was “hysterically crying.” Thirty to 50 people were gathered in the area.
The couple reportedly had warned the girl that she would be placed on “diaper duty” if her grades didn’t improve and she didn’t listen in school. The mother told authorities that she didn’t see what the problem was, that she was disciplining her daughter by embarrassing her.
After the couple’s arrest, the girl and her three siblings were placed in foster care.
Besides diaper duty, the couple punished some of the children by letting them eat only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month and not allowing them to take showers.
County social services were notified in October 2010, when the girl told authorities her stepfather hit her with a belt nearly a dozen times. A sibling also reported being hit by him on a regular basis.
Social services worked with the family until the case was closed in December 2010.
The Star Tribune isn’t naming the defendants to protect the girl’s identity.