An Eagan couple faces gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly forcing a teen to live in untenable conditions and perform thousands of pushups every day.
Angela and Gregory Danner were each charged with neglect of a child and malicious punishment of a child, both gross misdemeanors, on Nov. 21 by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.
According to the criminal complaint, Angela, 41, and her husband, Gregory, 44, removed the lights and bed from the 15-year-old boy’s bedroom in the basement as punishment. They also blocked the window from the outside to prevent light from entering the room.
The boy was allegedly forced to sleep on the floor with a pillow and blanket, and required to stay in the room at all times when he was at home. The couple allowed the boy to leave the room to use the restroom, complete chores or do daily pushups, according to the complaint.
The couple allegedly admitted to forcing the boy to complete between 1,500 and 2,000 military style pushups every day. The required exercises began when the boy was about 12 or 13, according to the complaint. At times, he would be required to run outside in the cold for several miles.
Social services were notified, and a social worker met with the couple on May 2. During an interview, the Danners allegedly said they intended to have the boy run three miles that day as “therapy.”
The boy was allegedly forced to eat all his meals, which consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, in his room.
The couple monitored him with a video camera to ensure he didn’t leave the room, according to the complaint.
The Danners prohibited the boy from bathing and told him to ask his father, who lived outside the home, to purchase detergent so he could wash his clothes in a sink.
The boy told the social worker that Gregory occasional spanked him as well. In one instance, he allegedly spanked the boy 40 to 50 times – one time for each swear word in lyrics the boy wrote.
The boy told the worker the punishments make him angry at Gregory, and that Angela has told him she would never speak to him again if he said anything bad about the family.
He also reported feeling significant psychological stress from the treatment and indicated he feels he wants to hurt the Danners.
An investigation confirmed the boy’s allegations about the conditions in his room.
The couple uncovered the boy’s bedroom window and installed a light bulb after authorities ordered them to do so. However, the boy still didn’t have a bed, according to the complaint.
Additionally, the boy said he was forced by the Danners to perform pushups until 1 a.m. as a result of the investigation.
If convicted, Gregory and Angela Danner each face up to one year in jail for each count.