The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 7, 2013

Protective services ordered for 3 rural North Mankato children

Russell and Mona Hauer lost parental rights for 4th child

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer


A judge has formally ordered child protective services for three children of a rural North Mankato couple whose parental rights were terminated in April for a fourth child.
Nicollet County District Court Judge Todd Westphal on Tuesday made the ruling during a hearing to air some contested issues in the case involving Russell and Mona Hauer.
Westphal also ordered that his earlier ruling -- no parental corporal punishment, the children must see a doctor monthly -- continue for the three children who remain living at home.
Westphal also took under advisement some contested issues involving the children: 
The Hauers said through their attorney that they’d like a “fresh start” regarding counselors for their children, while county Child Protective Services prefers the children remain with the counselor they’ve been seeing and are most familiar with.
“Generally, ‘therapist shopping’ is frowned upon ... I have to decide what’s best for the kids,” Westphal said.
Also, the Hauers want to continue home-schooling their children, while the county favors attendance at public schools to better address the children’s academic and socialization needs. 
A review hearing on the issues is scheduled for June 18.
Last year the couple’s 8-year-old son was taken from the home and his parents were charged with felony neglect and abuse.
The boy weighed 35 pounds at the time and investigators learned the Hauers weren’t giving him the medical care that was recommended after he was adopted from an abusive home.
Westphal has said he doesn’t believe the couple deliberately harmed their son but found there was a series of preventable circumstances that resulted in the boy becoming seriously malnourished.
The judge said the couple was inflexible in their aversion to traditional health care, and that was a key reason for his condition. 
Investigators also found that the boy was punished with a broom handle and was forced to sleep in a plastic sled in the basement due to bed-wetting problems 
The Hauers pleaded not guilty to felony charges of child neglect, child endangerment and malicious punishment of a child. A June 17 trial is set.