NEW ULM — A homeless male teenager was charged in Brown County District Court Monday with two counts of gross misdemeanor neglect of a 14-month-old child.
Damien P. Molliere is accused of leaving the child alone in a vehicle that was not running with the outside air temperature at 31 degrees. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 1.
According to court documents, New Ulm police were dispatched to the New Ulm Recreational Center parking lot at 3:54 pm on Jan. 13 on a report of an unattended baby in a car seat for about 15 minutes.
Police officer Tara Martin arrived at the scene at 4:01 pm and found the rear passenger-side door unlocked. A witness told Martin she arrived at the site at about 3:45 pm and observed the child alone in the vehicle. She opened the door briefly to check the child’s welfare and photographed the vehicle interior, noting it would have been easy to not see the child in the car due to many miscellaneous items in it.
The child began to cry, and Martin tried to comfort the child, finding what appeared to be a cup of milk and giving it to the child, who immediately began drinking it. Martin then closed the car door to keep the child warm.
Officer Dustin Fleck stood by with the child while Martin went into the field house to try to locate the person associated with the child. At 4:15 pm, he felt it was too cold to continue leaving the child in the car and bundled the child in a blanket and carried him into the center.
An employee at the center told Martin that Molliere and another person had a membership. Martin learned Molliere had checked into the center at 2:42 pm that day.
Staff paged the owner of the vehicle over an intercom, and a man later identified as Molliere answered.
When questioned, police said Molliere was defensive and said he was in the center for only about 30 minutes. He identified the child and said the vehicle does not lock. He said the child belongs to his girlfriend, who works four to five days a week.
Molliere said he had no daycare for the child, and he is the child’s primary babysitter. He showed no concern for or interest in the child’s welfare, police said.
Police had staff view the surveillance video from 2-4:15 pm and determined Molliere arrived at 2:42 pm and didn’t leave until he met Molliere at 4:26 pm
At 5:29 pm, Molliere’s girlfriend arrived with an unidentified male. Police reported she also seemed unconcerned by the situation, despite Martin telling her the child was alone in an unsecured vehicle and would have remained in the vehicle for nearly two hours if police had not become involved.