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Abuse bill goes into effect Aug. 1

Published 11:22pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

Legislation spearheaded by local legislators to enact harsher penalties on child abuse will go into effect Aug. 1.

Jeanne Poppe and Sen. Dan Sparks, both DFL-Austin, spearheaded the child abuse portion of the Vulnerable Adult Bill, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed April 19. The law created a new two-year felony offense for child mistreatment that results in “demonstrable bodily harm.”

The child abuse bill was spurred to life as a standalone bill following a case in Mower County. Dexter couple Brian and Charity Miller were convicted of chaining their then 5-year-old son to his crib and withholding food and bathroom access from him and his 8-year-old brother. Since the law at the time would not allow a felony without “substantial” bodily harm, the Dexter couple was only charged with a gross misdemeanor.

In addition to child abuse laws, the Vulnerable Adult Bill also tightened the penalty on caregivers who intentionally deprive vulnerable adults of food, shelter, clothing or health care.