exposing the dark side of adoption
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Child abuse decision appealed

Appeal claims abuse of one child proves they're unfit parents

By Dan Nienaber

ST. PETER — A couple that lost one adopted child after allegedly nearly starving him to death should also have their remaining three children removed from their home, according to an appeal filed by Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer.

A 9-year-old boy was permanently removed from Mona and Russell Hauer’s home in April after Nicollet County District Court Judge Todd Westphal found he had been abused by them. The boy was taken from the Hausers’ home after they were charged with felony neglect, endangerment and malicious punishment of a child.

The Hauers are scheduled to go to trial for those charges later this year.

They are accused of starving the boy to the point where his body was no longer able to digest food properly. They also are accused of several other incidents involving physical and emotional abuse.

Westphal’s ruling said all four of the Hauers’ children — including the boy, two of his younger siblings and a biological child — were victims of abuse and emotional maltreatment.

He allowed the other three children to stay in the Hauers’ home under county supervision.

Fischer has appealed that ruling, arguing that all of the children should be removed because Westphal found that they were unfit parents. Her appeal says Westphal was wrong to analyze the Hauers’ ability to parent from the perspective of each child.

She’s also arguing that the harm done to the one child was so serious that Westphal was not obligated to find a way to reunite the other three children with their parents.

“A parent who subjects his or her child to egregious harm should, by definition, be palpably unfit to be a party to a parent child relationship,” Fischer said in her appeal. “(The Hauers’) falure to recognize (the boy’s) severely malnourished state demonstrates either that the did not care enough to see it or they recognized it and chose to assign responsibilty for that condition to (the boy).

“Under either scenario, their parenting conduct renders them palapably unfit to be a party to the parent child relationship with any child.”

She also said the Hauers showed they were unfit to be parents because they involved the other children in the abuse of their brother and haven’t admitted to doing anything wrong.

A date for oral arguments before the Minnesota Court of Appeals has not been set.

2013 Sep 1