By Lisa Pett
A Plover woman and her boyfriend have both been charged with six counts of child neglect, two of them resulting in bodily harm and making the charges felonies.
Julie K. Haehnlein, 45, and Mario Olan-De La Cruz, 42, both of Plover, were charged after a joint investigation by Portage County Sheriff’s Office and Health and Human Services which began in October of 2014.
Authorities visited the Haehnlein/Olan-De La Cruz home on October 10 after staff at Plover-Whiting Elementary reported the children were continuously unkempt and wore dirty clothing.
A deputy and social worker discovered nine children living in the home, with cigarette butts, dirty diapers, dog food, children’s toys and garbage littering the floor. The house was infested with flies, there was perishable food on the table and an undelivered stool sample in the refrigerator next to food.
One child was found to have patches of hair missing and bite marks on her back. Another child was found soiled in a playpen with stained blankets, also with bite marks on his forearm.
Haehnlein told investigators one of the children was pulling hair and biting other children while unsupervised. However, she failed to take responsibility for the condition of the home, blaming others, including the children and their father, becoming increasingly defensive.
The investigative team returned to Portage County Health and Human Services to discuss their findings with a supervisor and based on that information, later returned to remove the children from the home.
All of the children were taken into the custody of Social Services. The three youngest children were taken to St. Michael’s Hospital for evaluation. Staff there documented an upper respiratory infection, a case of the croup, a yeast infection and a variety of abrasions and contusions.
Haehnlein pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor counts is free on a $5,000 signature bond. She is due back in court on September 8.
Olan-De La Cruz’s initial hearing in the matter was postponed and he will appear in court on August 24.