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Prison for physician who pleads guilty in assault on foster son

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A surgeon from northwestern Minnesota was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison in connection with an assault on his 10-year-old disabled foster son.

Forum News reports that Dennis Sullivan, 51, of Benedict, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. He was sentenced on Friday in Hubbard County District Court in Park Rapids. As part of a plea deal, charges ranging from third-degree assault to attempted second-degree murder were dismissed. He could have faced 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The Star Tribune notes the 3 1/2 year sentence is what's called for by state sentencing guidelines for first-degree assault.

The Associated Press reports that Sullivan admitted to choking and attempting to suffocate the boy in June by forcing a latex glove down his throat. The boy is described as blind, wheelchair-bound and severely mentally disabled.

Sullivan was arrested after his wife interrupted the assault. She told investigators she went into the boy's room when she heard a strange sound and saw Sullivan pushing his gloved fist down the boy's throat. Sullivan pleaded guilty in August, admitting that he had placed his hand over the mouth of the boy to interrupt his breathing for a prolonged period of time.

During the investigation, Sullivan also admitted to torturing the boy in the genital area a month before the June incident.

According to Sullivan's medical license, he's assigned to the Wapiti Medical Group of Milbank S.D., and licensed to perform general surgery, trauma and surgical critical care. He earned his medical degree at the University of Minnesota and became licensed in 1991.

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