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St. Cloud Times Capitol reporter Schumacher loses job after child abuse allegation

Lawrence Schumacher’s attorney says the reporter is out of a job one month after his arrest for “malicious punishment of a child.” No criminal charges have yet been filed.
By David Brauer

St. Cloud Times state Capitol reporter Lawrence Schumacher is out of a job one month after his arrest for “malicious punishment of a child.”

Times editor John Bodette did not return a call for comment. However, Schumacher’s St. Cloud-based attorney, Cynthia Vermeulen, confirms that the reporter lost his position. Times officials indicated the Sept. 15 incident, which involved one of Schumacher’s 4-month-old twin sons, prompted the move, she says.

Times reporter Dave Aeikens is filling in as the paper’s political reporter. On Thursday, the Times posted a job description for an enterprise reporter whose coverage duties will include politics.

Schumacher was a well-respected veteran of the Capitol press corps, known for thorough coverage of area Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and the central Minnesota legislative delegation. He has not had a byline since Sept. 16.

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Vermeulen says Schumacher — whose Facebook page still features a photo of the beaming new dad in hospital gown and cap following the twins’ birth — “absolutely” feels remorse for his actions.

“Larry has not minimized what he has done and is not in denial,” she says. “He’s in counseling and is taking other proactive measures” to address “poor parenting decisions which resulted in injuries to the one child.”

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall says Schumacher has not been charged with a crime because she is awaiting the child’s medical evaluation. Kendall says because a 4-month-old’s bones are “squishy,” it takes longer to determine which injuries are permanent and that would affect the seriousness of potential charges.

Vermeulen did not want to address details of the incident spelled out in a St. Cloud police report and a Stearns County Human Services petition for child protection “because there is not a criminal charge at this time.” However, she said the documents accurately reflect what Schumacher and his wife said.

The petition states that Schumacher told the family’s day care provider Sept. 16 that the child had stomach and leg bruises for being swaddled too tight the night before.

According to the police report, “Officers observed bruising on the child’s wrist, left thigh, top left foot, bottom left heel and buttocks area as well as bruises on his stomach and discoloration on the left side of the child’s face. The juvenile male was brought to Midwest Children’s Resource Center for examination and officers were told that the marks and bruising on the juvenile’s body was indicative of child abuse.”

Schumacher told authorities the twins were born a month early and the child in question had been “colicky and fussy and requires more attention, the petition recounts. He stated that in the last month, [the child] appeared to be sick” and not eating a lot. On the night of Sept. 15, Schumacher tried to feed the child, who “started to cry and flail around,” which led to the tight swaddling.

Schumacher told police that he had pressed the child’s chest into his to stop the boy from screaming and bent the legs back to stop him from kicking for 10-15 seconds. The petition states Schumacher “realized this was the wrong thing to do and let go.”

Schumacher told police he had an “anger management problem” and difficulties “maintaining a ‘centered emotional balance.’” He admitted handling the child “roughly in the past.” His wife acknowledged physically taking the baby away from Schumacher a week earlier after observing his hand on the boy’s chest.

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Schumacher told authorities he enrolled in an online anger management class, possibly that night, and “felt he had a pretty ‘decent understanding’ of his problem.”

However, an affidavit from Stearns County social worker Pam Acheson claims Schumacher “did not tell his wife the full story that night of what had occurred and that he did not know there was bruising until later in the evening. He said that he did not connect the bruising with his actions.”

According to the petition, Schumacher said he called the clinic the next day but the doctor was out, and decided not to make an appointment because the boy “appeared normal.”

However, the day care provider discovered other injuries that morning of Sept. 16, including “what appeared to be a popped blood vessel.” Schumacher told the day care provider that afternoon that he and his wife “believed it might be possible” that the child had a blood disorder.

A subsequent physical exam discovered “three conjunctival hemorrhages” in the child’s right eye and one in the left, as well as “irregularities” in the femur and tibia bones of the leg. No blood disorder was found. The physician told police the injuries “were indicative of child abuse.”

County authorities also are considering whether to terminate Schumacher’s parental rights. Vermeulen says the children are with Schumacher’s wife, who is living with her parents. “Larry is not living with them,” Vermeulen states.