A Bemidji man accused of killing his 2-year-old foster daughter has a criminal record that would have prevented him from being a care provider under a law signed this month by President Obama, records show.
Nathan Daniel Jackson, whose home had a foster license from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, has been charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter. He’s accused of leaving the girl, Kira Friedman, unattended in a shower with an 18-gallon plastic bin on June 5, according to the criminal complaint.
Jackson told police that he left the girl in the shower and when he returned found her in the bin, which was full of water. Police found Kira in the basement of a home with bruises to her head and body and blood draining out of her nose. A preliminary autopsy found that the girl drowned.
Both Jackson’s girlfriend, Amanda White, and his sister told police they were concerned he was using methamphetamine or other drugs.
Kira had been at the home since December 2014, according to court records and family members. Jackson and White had been providing foster care since at least April 2013, according to court records.
Jackson was convicted of fifth-degree assault in 1999 and theft in 2007.
Because a tribe licensed the home, federal law previously did not require a background check. But last week, two days before Kira died, President Obama signed the Native American Children’s Safety Act into law. The act requires background checks of all tribally licensed foster providers that would disqualify anyone convicted of a violent crime from getting a license.
Bill cosponsor Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., proposed the legislation after revelations that children in the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation were placed in foster homes with known sex offenders. At least three children died from abuse and neglect, according to media reports.
Hoeven learned that some reservations did background checks while others did not, his spokesman, Don Canton, said this week.
“Our understanding and the intent of our bill is to absolutely prohibit an individual with a background like [Jackson], having been convicted of a violent crime of any level, from becoming a foster parent,” Canton said.
According to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe website, potential foster home providers must pass a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension background check. Those background checks would flag anyone with an assault conviction. However, the tribe’s Child Welfare Commission ultimately grants “an approval or denial of the application” according to its website.
A spokesman for the tribe did not respond to requests for comment.
Had Jackson applied to be a foster parent through the state, he also likely would have been denied. The Department of Human Services disqualifies anyone convicted of assault from licensure for at least seven years. That same ban extends to theft convictions, according to court records.
Jackson is being held in the Beltrami County jail on $250,000 bail.
Court records show that Jackson’s home had been investigated three times since April 2013 following allegations that his foster children were neglected, but those allegations were found to be unsubstantiated, according to juvenile court records.
When Kira died, Jackson and White were living with their five children and another foster child. Beltrami County child protection has filed a petition to terminate the couple’s parental rights to their children, who are currently in foster care.