NORTH MANKATO — Officials are asking a judge to terminate the parental rights of a Minnesota couple accused of starving one of their four children, saying the 8-year-old boy suffered egregious harm and it's not in the best interest of any child to be in their care.
The boy, who weighed less than 35 pounds last month, was released from the hospital Wednesday, Mayo Clinic officials said Thursday. He's now in foster care, and his siblings remain with their parents, Russell and Mona Hauer.
The Hauers, of North Mankato, are charged with six felonies, including neglect and malicious punishment of a child. Authorities said they spanked the boy with a 2-by-4, made him sleep in a sled because he wet the bed and put an alarm on his door so he would not steal food.
He was given a bucket to urinate in, and was taken outside to be hosed off on some mornings, the complaint said.
"He was treated like an animal," said Nicollet County Sheriff's Investigator Marc Chadderdon.
The Hauers' attorney, Jason Kohlmeyer, said Thursday that the couple will fight the charges and to keep all four children, including the 8-year-old.
"They absolutely want him back," Kohlmeyer said.
The Hauers have been licensed foster parents in Minnesota since 2005, and the state has no record of sanctions against them. Kohlmeyer said that up until a month ago, county officials continually recommended the Hauers as foster parents.
It was unclear how many foster children they've cared for over the years; they currently have none. The 8-year-old and his two siblings were past foster children whom the Hauers adopted. They also have one biological child.
Mona Hauer brought the boy to the hospital Oct. 9 because she thought he vomited blood. She said the boy had eating issues and had been ruminating food for months, the complaint said. Ruminating is when a person deliberately regurgitates food, and then rechews and reswallows it or spits it out.