A Fridley mother has entered a plea and faces sentencing for forcing her 12-year-old daughter to run outside in a diaper -- her head freshly shaven -- as punishment for a failing grade.
The 38-year-old woman appeared Monday in Anoka County District Court and entered a "Lothenbach plea" to malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor. The plea places the woman's fate in the hands of a judge. It also prevents her from appealing the conviction, but she can appeal pretrial issues.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14, with no jail time required but up a year as a possibility.
Also charged with the same offense is the girl's 34-year-old stepfather.
According to the criminal complaint and other court documents:
On May 7, the girl said this was the third time she was placed on "diaper duty," this time by her mother for getting an "F" on her report card.
Neighbors saw the girl doing wind sprints in their townhouse complex in the 1600 block of 68th Avenue NE. Her head had been freshly shaven, and she was dressed in a diaper and a tank top.
A neighbor called police; when they arrived, the girl had been outside for more than 30 minutes and was "hysterically crying." Thirty to 50 people were gathered in the area.
The couple warned the girl repeatedly that she would be placed on " diaper duty" if her grades didn't improve and she didn't listen in school. The mother said at the time that she didn't see what the problem was, that she was disciplining her daughter by embarrassing her.
After the couple's arrest, the girl and her three siblings were placed in foster care.
Besides diaper duty, the couple punished some of the children by letting them eat only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month and not allowing them to take showers.
County social services was notified in October 2010, when the girl told authorities her stepfather hit her with a belt nearly a dozen times. A sibling also reported being hit by him on a regular basis.
Social services worked with the family until the case was closed in December 2010.
The Star Tribune isn't naming the defendants to protect the girl's identity.
Star Tribune staff writer David Chanen contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482