Woman convicted on one count of child abuse

A rural Pease woman, Mary Janelle Roelofs, 47, has been convicted of gross misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child stemming from criminal charges filed after an incident in February 2012. A jury found Roelofs guilty on one of five criminal counts she faced.

The charges stemmed from an incident Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Deputies began investigating Dec. 10, 2011 when they arrived at the Fairview Northland Hospital in Princeton. At the hospital, deputies met with a 3-year-old child and the child’s mother. The woman told deputies that her child had been cared for by Roelofs from 8:30 a.m. to around 6 p.m. the day before at her residence in Princeton. Deputies saw bruising on the child and photographed the injuries.

The child told his mother Roelofs had made him stand outside in the cold several times that day. The child and an adult also in Roelofs’ care told the mother and investigators that during one of these times, the child wet his pants. Both said Roelofs changed his wet pants, and put a pull-up on him. The child said later he was put outside again wearing only a t-shirt and pull-up.

Roelofs is licensed for foster care placement for children and adults.

In a taped statement to investigators, a witness said the 3-year-old would not sweep the floor so Roelofs put him outside in the cold without a coat or shoes. She said this went on for the majority of the day, until 3 p.m. — each time the child didn’t sweep, Roelofs would put him outside.

National Weather Service records indicate the temperature outside that day for Princeton ranged from 9 to 17 degrees.

Law enforcement received the medical records for the 3-year-old child from the examination Dec. 10. Police also took a statement from the attending doctor. The doctor said he would have been concerned about the bruises even without the mother’s statements because they are located in unusual places. Bruises were found on the child’s upper back, chest, neck and shoulders. Superficial scratches were also found on the child’s face.

Roelofs was charged with three counts of malicious punishment of a child, one count of child neglect and one count of endangerment of a child. The result of her trial, which concluded Friday in Stearns County, was one conviction for a gross-misdemeanor malicious punishment of a child. She was found not-guilty of the other four charges.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Roelofs faces up to one year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines. The conviction will likely prohibit Roelofs from caring for foster children and adults in the state of Minnesota.