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Humiliation of child lands mother in jail

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN and NICOLE NORFLEET
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • May 8, 2012 - 10:00 PM

Unhappy with her daughter's schoolwork, a Fridley mother shaved her 12-year-old's head on Monday and sent her outside wearing a diaper and a tank top to pick up garbage and do windsprints in a punishment police said the mom called "diaper duty."

Dozens of people from the neighborhood watched as the girl cried and begged to be let back in her home. Neighbors eventually called police, who arrested the 38-year-old woman and her boyfriend.

Fridley Police Lt. Mike Monsrud said the couple laughed and joked as they were driven to the Anoka County jail, where they were booked on suspicion of gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child. Monsrud said the girl's mother said she couldn't believe that police were getting involved in how they punished their child.

June Campbell, 48, said he saw the girl standing at her backdoor crying, saying, "Can I come in? Can I come in?" He said the mother just looked at the girl.

By that time about 25 people had gathered at the back of the girl's townhouse, which shares a lawn with other buildings. Carl Anderson, 28, said he had stepped out for a smoke at the back of his house when he saw kids coming around the corner and pointing out the girl.

On Tuesday, Anderson said he wished he had taken the girl into his home.

Campbell said he and several other neighbors eventually called the police and the girl was let into her house when officers arrived about 7:30 p.m.

"That's crazy...," he said. "I would never do that to my kids even if they did do something bad."

Officers had responded to four calls in the past two years at the family's townhouse in the 1600 block of 68th Avenue N., police said. At least one of the calls triggered notification to a county child protection worker, Monsrud said.

The girl didn't appear to have any physical injuries, he said. The girl and the woman's three other children, all younger, were placed in foster care. None appeared to have been physically abused, said Monsrud.

When police arrived Monday, the child had been outside in the diaper for about a half-hour. Police said she was hysterical. Officers were able to calm her and get her to talk about what had happened.

She said her mother had warned her that they would shave her head and make her wear a diaper if her grades didn't improve or she was late finishing her homework, said Monsrud.

Tyree Caruthers, 14, said it wasn't the first time he had seen the girl humiliated. He said that several months ago, while he was playing basketball, he saw the girl and her younger sister in diapers and picking up garbage at a nearby park.

Police have presented their report on Monday's incident to the county attorney's office, and Monsrud said he believed charges could be filed Wednesday. County Attorney Tony Palumbo wouldn't comment on the case because no charges have been filed. His office does look very closely at any allegations of malicious punishment of a child, he said.

dchanen@startribune.com • 612-673-4465 nnorfleet@startribune.com • 612-673-4495

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