The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 3, 2012

Hauers keep parental rights; one son to stay in foster care

By Tim Krohn
The Free Press


An 8-year-old boy who was allegedly starved by a rural North Mankato couple will stay in foster care. But a judge ruled that the boy's three siblings will remain with their parents, Russell and Mona Hauer.

District Court Judge Todd Westphal had been asked last month by Nicollet County Attorney Michelle Zehnder Fischer to have the three children removed from the Hauers' home.

The Hauers, both 44, were charged early last month with felony neglect, child endangerment and malicious punishment of a child for allegedly abusing the 8-year-old.

While the judge ruled that the three siblings can stay with the Hauers for now, a trial is scheduled for January to terminate the Hauers' parental rights.

The judge also granted Nicollet County's request to allow the 8-year-old to enroll in public school in Hastings.

In his ruling, the judge said the Hauers would be allowed to have supervised visitation with their 8-year-old son.

And he ordered that social service workers be allowed full access to the three children in the Hauers' home and to be able to talk to them without the parents present. He also ordered the Hauers to choose a primary care doctor for their children and to follow any guidance given by the doctor.

The judge also ordered the parents to perform no corporal punishment of their children, to not discuss the pending case with the children, and to cooperate fully with social service workers.   

The Hauers' attorney has said the couple will fight the felony charges and to keep all four children.

The boy weighed less than 35 pounds when Mona Hauer brought him to a doctor in Mankato on Oct. 9. She told a doctor she was concerned because he was ruminating his food and she thought he had spit up blood. Investigators later learned the Hauers had not been allowing the malnourished boy to eat beyond a liquid diet, reaching a point where they would sleep outside of his bedroom to make sure he didn't get up at night to eat, according to the criminal complaint. Other allegations are that the boy was required to sleep in a plastic sled in the basement, cleaned outside with a garden hose and hit with a broom handle.

Jason Kohlmeyer, the Hauers' attorney, denied that the boy was ever physically abused and said the malnourishment was a result of mental illness and trauma due, in part, to fetal alcohol syndrome.