The mother of a toddler who died while in the care of the woman's boyfriend has been charged with child endangerment, because authorities say she knew the man had been beating the child but did nothing to stop it.
Lia Pearson, 37, of Farmington, was charged Tuesday in Ramsey County Court, the Star Tribune reports.
Pearson's boyfriend, Leb Mike Meak, 35, of Maplewood, was charged with second-degree murder in February for the death of 17-month old Genesis Xiong.
The girl had been staying with Meak, who was not her father, for a few weeks while Pearson was working long hours, she told police.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Meak, emergency responders found Xiong unresponsive and with bruises to her body and face after they were called to Meak's house on Feb. 12.
Preliminary autopsy reports show the girl died from multiple external injuries and internal injuries to the abdomen and head, KSTP reports.
According to the complaint, Meak told officers he “roughed her [the child] up a bit” while changing her diaper, and admitted shaking her a few times.
The charge against Pearson stems in part from police interviews with Meak's two sons, who said they had told Pearson numerous times that their father frequently beat the little girl.
Meak's 8-year-old son said his father hit Xiong "a lot," according to the complaint.
Pearson said she discounted the boys' reports of abuse, thinking that they resented having the little girl with them in their house, according to the Star Tribune.
Xiong also had visible bruises. Pearson said Meak told her the girl got bruised because she ran into things.
Pearson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that she trusted Meak to take care of her daughter.
"I knew she had bruises and injuries because I had asked Leb about them, and he told me she would bump into things," said Pearson. "I believed in him, and that was my downfall."
Pearson is scheduled to make her first court appearance on May 15.
Meak's case is pending. His next court appearance will be July 15, and his trial is slated to begin Oct. 26.