ST PETER — After spending nearly four days listening to witnesses describe why they suspect she abused and neglected one of her four children to the point of near starvation, Mona Hauer had a chance to tell District Court Judge Todd Westphal her side of the story.
For more than an hour, Hauer described in court late last week why she became a Nicollet County foster care provider, explaining the routines of her family and denying allegations she and her husband, Russell, abused their 8-year-old adopted son.
She also told the judge she would be willing to alter her long-held beliefs about mental health counseling, home schooling and holistic medicine if it meant she could get her son back and keep her other three children.
The Hauers spent the week going through a trial that will provide Westphal with the information he will use to determine if they should keep their parental rights. The trial is expected to continue well into this week.
The rural North Mankato couple also is facing criminal charges for allegedly allowing their 8-year-old adopted son to become so malnourished he had to spend about a month in the hospital recovering. That boy has been placed in foster care, but the Hauers’ other three children — two who are biological siblings of the 8-year-old — are living with them until Westphal decides if they can maintain their parental rights.
During her testimony, Hauer answered questions from her attorney, Jason Kohlmeyer. She started by telling Westphal why she and her husband started taking in foster care children.
“I just love to help people,” she said. “I really love to be around kids. We were only able to have one child and I wanted (him) to have the experience of having other children around.”
Hauer said the family spent thousands of dollars making improvements to their house just north of North Mankato off Highway 169. Egress windows had to be added to their basement, a 12-passenger van was purchased and $5,000 was spent on a playground installed in their backyard. Any suggestion by investigators that the Hauers were doing foster care for the money was wrong, she said. The most the family was paid for services in one year was about $15,000.