Police believe the intoxicated woman, a teacher, ate a piece of flesh during the incident at a St. Paul cafe.
A Northfield middle school teacher admitted in court Wednesday that she bit off a chunk of a stranger's ear while in a St. Paul cafe last month, severing a piece of flesh that police presume she swallowed.
Susan M. Mwarabu, 30, of Rochester, pleaded guilty in Ramsey County District Court to third-degree felony assault. She remains free pending sentencing May 20.
Paul Gustafson, spokesman for the county attorney's office, said that Mwarabu has the opportunity to argue for the charge to be lowered to a gross misdemeanor. That would lessen the chance that she will be incarcerated, Gustafson said.
Mwarabu bit off "a noticeable chunk" of the upper part of 33-year-old Christopher Hough's ear, said police Sgt. Paul Schnell.
Schnell added that "it's assumed that it was ingested, given that it couldn't be found."
One of the men with Hough, of St. Paul, said he saw Mwarabu pick up the piece of the ear off the floor and put it in her mouth, according to the charges.
Since the incident, Mwarabu has been on administrative leave with pay from Northfield Middle School as the school district investigates the case, said Superintendent Chris Richardson. She was teaching sixth-grade science and social studies, Richardson said.
"We're completing our investigation," Richardson said Wednesday. "We interviewed her, and our attorney interviewed the victim."
Any discipline could come as soon as Monday, when the school board meets, and could result in her immediate firing, he said. Or the board could decide to have her remain on leave until her non-tenured time with the district runs out, he said.
According to police:
When officers arrived at the Uptowner Cafe at Grand Avenue and Lexington Parkway on March 14 about 4:20 a.m., Hough told them he had been eating with friends. Four women, including Mwarabu, were at another table. The two groups did not know each other.
One of Hough's friends commented about one of the women as she gobbled down French fries. Mwarabu "gave him a look" and later approached the friend, "leaned down, licked his face and appeared as if she was going to throw up."
Mwarabu then started licking Hough's ear before biting off a piece.
Hough had emergency surgery and was told that some of the ear would grow back.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482