MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A mother and stepfather are charged with neglect and malicious punishment of a child after authorities say they forced their 15-year-old son to live in poor conditions.
Forty-one-year-old Angela Danner and her husband, 44-year-old Gregory Danner, were charged Tuesday in Dakota County Court for forcing the teen to stay in his bedroom, which was a dark room with no outside light and no bed. The room is also under constant video surveillance.
The father of the child says he knew for years that his son was being abused, but couldn’t do anything about it. He says police finally talked to the 15-year-old because of a bruise.
“Probably a living hell for the kid,” says David, the boy’s biological father.
He said he worried for years about abuse by the boy’s mother and step-father, but never had physical proof.
“Only so much can be done,” David said. “Finally, there was a bruise and sent that to Dakota County.”
According to the criminal complaint, Eagan Police began their investigation on April 2. The boy told officers that his mom and step-dad severely limit his showers and told him if he wants his clothes cleaned, he could ask his father to buy detergent and then clean them in the bathtub and sink.
“He was scared of them, but he was told if he told anyone what was going on, there would be consequences,” David said.
The child said he was required to stay in his room at all times when he is home, except that he may leave the room to go to the bathroom, according to the charges. He said he’s forced to do hundreds of military-style push-ups every day and has been doing extreme exercises since he was 12 or 13 years old. He said he’s been forced to do between 1,500 to 2,000 push-ups per day.
He said his sister brings him peanut butter sandwiches every night, but he’s not allowed to bring his plate to the kitchen — he is to leave the plate on the stairs for someone else to take to the kitchen.
“Most of the time, after would visit with me, he would cry because he didn’t want to go back there,” David said. “As a father, that’s like someone kicking you in the head.”
The teen also said he’s been forced to run outside in very cold conditions for several miles. He said his mom and step-dad call it “therapy.”
Neighbors describe Gregory Danner as strange and strict. There’s a picture of what they say is Danner outside in a string bikini bottom.
“They have a daughter together, and I hope they get help,” David said.
Meanwhile, David says his son is now living with him and is enjoying life again.
“He’s doing well in school,” David said. “He’s in the school band, and he took all that exercise and fitness and did a triathlon with me. I’m super proud of him.”
WCCO left a message for Angela and Gregory Danner, but haven’t heard back.
David said his son has only called his old home twice to talk to his sister, and at this point doesn’t have any interest in seeing his mother or step-father.