A man and woman in southern Minnesota have been charged with child neglect after telling authorities they dropped off a 5-year-old boy in the woods in Nicollet County as punishment for wetting himself.

The boy was found walking along the edge of U.S. Hwy. 169 near 367th Avenue, a couple miles south of St. Peter, crying and wet from rain when a motorist spotted him before 4 p.m. on Aug. 28, according to charges filed Friday in Nicollet County District Court.

The boy told a Nicollet County sheriff’s deputy that he’d been dropped off by his “mom and dad” because he had been “naughty” and that he didn’t know where his parents went or if they were coming back for him, according to the charges.

Law enforcement officers drove up 367th Avenue, a steep, winding and wooded gravel road, and came across Lynda R. Michel, 42, and Gregory A. Wilson, 32, who were searching for the child but had not called to report him missing.

According to the charges:

The couple said the boy, Wilson’s biological son, had urinated on his clothing earlier in the day, so they drove him to an isolated spot and told him to get out, trying to scare him and telling him “this is what happens to naughty boys.”

They told authorities that they drove off, then turned around after a short distance to go find the boy, but by then he was gone. They had been searching the hilltop ever since — for about 15 minutes, they said.

Wilson told authorities he was angry with the boy and had regularly spanked him in their St. Peter home.

Authorities found “multiple black and blue and red bruises” on the boy’s back, buttocks and hips, indicating they had been caused over time.

A man riding in the car with the couple told deputies that he told the couple it was a bad idea to drop off the child.

A couple who live on the hill told authorities they had heard yelling and saw three people searching around the hilltop. One of them heard them yell a child’s name and say “you’re not in trouble.”

Michel, who is not the boy’s biological mother, is listed in court documents as a North Mankato resident, though she told authorities she lives with Wilson and his son. She is charged with gross misdemeanor neglect of a child. Wilson, of St. Peter, is charged with neglect of a child as well as malicious punishment of a child, both gross misdemeanors, as well as misdemeanor domestic assault.

Attorneys for the defendants were not listed in court documents. The couple are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 9.