The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

January 7, 2013

Investigators testify child treated as the family demon

(Continued)

ST PETER —

It was during those interviews that the other children told investigators their brother wasn’t allowed to eat with them and they were told to keep him from eating. A brother said he knew the boy was eating from the compost pile, and that he would ask him to leave the best leftover food on top. That boy also said his brother was so hungry he was eating bird food.

The children also told Atherton their 8-year-old brother was frequently called a liar and a thief because he would leave his room at night and take food. They said he was spanked with a board in front of them except when the family had visitors. When others were around, the boy would be brought to a shed and spanked.

A problem with bed wetting also resulted in the boy being forced to sleep in a plastic sled. A brother said it was his job to wash his brother with a garden hose outside when he urinated in the sled.

“In my 21 years of doing this, I’ve never seen children participate in abuse like this,” Atherton said. “The children were told that (the boy) was the cause of all the problems in the house. When they were told they were going to foster care, they blamed (their brother). They called him a liar. He was the Antichrist of the family.

“Everything was very methodical.”

During cross examination, Kohlmeyer asked Atherton if he had interviewed any of the Hauers’ neighbors or acquaintances about the allegations coming from children between the ages of 7 and 10. Atherton said he hadn’t.

Donald High, a neighbor of the Hauers, was allowed to testify early because he won’t be available later. Answering questions from Kohlmeyer, he told Westphal that he saw the family frequently and doesn’t believe any of the allegations. He said he couldn’t see the Hauers’ backyard from his house, but he never saw the boy being hosed down or beaten.

“They’re very loving and caring parents,” High said.

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