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North Mankato parents accused of starving adopted son enter Alford pleas

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A North Mankato couple faced with criminal charges after their adopted 8-year-old son was found severely malnourished entered Alford pleas Monday in Nicollet County District Court.

The Mankato Free Press reports the Alford plea allows Mona and Russell Hauer, both 45, of North Mankato to maintain their innocence but admit enough evidence existed for a jury to find them guilty of charges filed against them.

Mona Hauer pleaded guilty to causing substantial harm to a child, a felony, while Russell Hauer pleaded guilty to child neglect resulting in substantial harm, a gross misdemeanor, KEYC noted.

According to the charges, Mona and Russell Hauer refused to feed their adopted son, one of four children. The boy told officials that the couple made him sit at the table and drink liquids while the rest of the family ate food.

The Hauers claimed the boy had "issues" with food.

Investigators say the boy weighed just under 35 pounds, about the weight of an average 4-year-old, when he was taken to the hospital last year after vomiting blood. Doctors said the boy's malnutrition caused delayed bone growth, a slow heartbeat, anemia and brain atrophy.

Earlier this year, the couple lost their parental rights over the boy, but were allowed custody of their other three children.

The Hauers' sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 26. As part of the plea agreement, each could serve up to 60 days in jail.

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