Karissa Jean Schlegel, 28, Pierz, was sentenced to 120 days in jail and two years of probation after being convicted of malicious punishment of a child, less than substantial bodily harm — a gross misdemeanor.
Felony charges of malicious punishment of a child-substantial bodily harm and malicious punishment of a child under 4 years old were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
According to the statement of probable cause at the time of Schlegel’s arrest, Crow Wing County Social Services received a call on Feb. 14, 2018, alleging physical abuse of a 7-month-old infant. During the early morning hours, the child’s parents had brought him to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd with symptoms of vomiting and decreased energy level. Examination of the child revealed evidence of bruising beneath the skin and abrasions to his left, lower extremity, with unclear cause or explanation provided by his parents.
Upon meeting with an investigator from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office and a social worker, the child’s mother stated that on Feb. 13, 2018, she dropped the child off at Schlegel’s day care in Pierz. The mother stated that just prior to dropping her child off at day care, she had recently changed his diaper and did not notice any marks or causes for concern.
When the child’s father picked him up from day care that afternoon, Schlegel did not mention any marks or concerns for his health. His father noticed the concerning marks on his legs while changing his diaper after they returned home. In addition, the child was vomiting every hour due to some unknown sickness.
Suspecting abuse, the child was taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul for further examination. Doctors there discovered bilateral subdural hematomas — brain bleeds — along with bruising. Doctors found the child’s injuries to be consistent with a diagnosis of physical abuse.
On Feb. 17, 2018, during an interview with the investigator, Schlegel admitted to caring for the boy on the day in question. She admitted that he was causing her difficulties, and that she became upset. She said it was possible she caused the marks on the infant’s legs by pushing his legs down. She believed that it was possible that she had a memory blackout due to her anger.
While never directly admitting fault during the interview, she did seem to acknowledge that she was responsible for the child’s injuries. When the investigator asked Schlegel if she caused the boy’s leg injuries and bleeding in his brain, she replied, “I had to have. I did not do it on purpose.”