MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Lakeville, Minn. father has been found guilty of abandoning his 11-year-old son.
Steven Cross, 60, broke down after being convicted of one count of gross misdemeanor child neglect.
Cross was accused of leaving his son on July 18, after their home was lost in foreclosure. He left behind letters telling the boy, Sebastian Cross, to go to a neighbor’s home and ask if they would become his legal guardian.
The letter reads, in part: “To my son: If this paper is wet, it’s because I am crying so bad. You know your dad loves you more than anything. This economy got (illegible) there are no jobs for architects so I have to go because the sheriff will take the house July 27. There will be no more me … Some good news is your mother is still alive. Though I do not think it is for the best.”
The letter goes on to give the child instructions about taking his PlayStation and other electronics to the neighbor’s house.
When Sebastian arrived at the neighbor’s home, in tears with the letters, the woman called police.
Since he left last July, Cross has not seen or spoken to his son.
During his five weeks he was missing, he never called Sabastian. Since he returned, authorities have barred him from contacting the 11 year old who is living with his great aunt in foster care.
After the verdict, a sobbing Cross said he fears the guilty verdict will mean it will be harder for him to regain custody or even see his son.
“I wasn’t thinking about myself in any way shape at all,” said Cross. “I was just thinking about my son, and this is awful.”
Cross said when he left his son he was desperate and depressed that he was about to lose his Lakeville home to foreclosure.
“I just wouldn’t wish it would happen to me — going through foreclosure. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody and I love my son to death,” said Cross.
Cross had raised his son as a single parent after the boy’s mother’s rights were terminated. He says he will keep fighting to get him back
“I am going to keep trying. I’m not going to give up,” said Cross.
Cross’s attorney, John Price, said his client is a good man who left detailed instructions with neighbors on how to care for the boy.
“He made arrangements for his son. His world was crashing down. He had nowhere to go,” said Cross.
However, County Attorney Jim Backstrom said considering what he did to his son, Cross deserves to be punished.
“(Sabastian) wakes up in the morning and finds a note from his father saying he was gone, apparently forever — not to return. You can imagine the emotional trauma that young boy was going through,” said Backstrom.
Authorities arrested Cross on Aug. 29 in California. Sebastian is now living in foster care with his aunt.
Cross’ sentencing date has been set for March 20.