But Bulgatz, who's been treating the boy for several months, said the boy would be psychologically damaged and set back in his recovery if he had to face the Hauers.
Bulgatz said that during a session, Bulgatz told the boy he may have to testify at the trial in front of the Hauers. His reaction was severe, Bulgatz said, with the boy "shutting down" and pulling his feet to his chest in the fetal position and crawling behind his foster and pre-adoptive mom. He said the reaction was similar when he brought it up at another session.
Bulgatz said the boy often recounts fears of the Hauers and abuse he suffered from them, including being paddled with a board while naked and being forced to bend over and hold his ankles. He also told Bulgatz that he was often locked out of the house in the cold for long periods of time as punishment and forced to sleep in a sled in the basement.
The judge will make a ruling soon on whether the boy must testify before the Hauers or through a video camera setup.
While a judge in April permanently removed the boy from the Hauer home, three other children remain in their care — one their biological child and two who are siblings to the boy who was removed and who were all adopted by the Hauers. In proceedings separate from the criminal case, Fischer is seeking to have all the children removed from the home.
The Hauers denied abusing the child during testimony at the parental rights trial. They said he had mental and physical problems because his real mother was using drugs while pregnant with him. That is what caused the problems with feeding him and that also made him difficult to discipline, they said. Several people who knew the family from their Mankato church testified on their behalf.