#childabuse | Brookings Register | Harrison sentenced for child abuse

BROOKINGS – A Brookings woman has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of supervised probation for abuse or cruelty to a child less than 7 years old.

Trisha Harrison, 38, must also remain law abiding, pay more than $1,000 in fines, court costs and restitution, and undergo chemical dependency and mental health evaluations and complete any treatment directed by court services officers.

A probable cause statement says the abuse occurred in March, when Harrison was accused of breaking into a Brookings home and threatening the occupant for money. The court document alleges that Harrison left the scene, and later hit a vehicle and threatened the same complainant at another location. When Harrison was located and pulled over, she was arrested for DUI, and there was an unrestrained 3-year-old child sleeping in the back seat, the probable cause statement alleged.

A Brookings County grand jury indicted Harrison in April on charges of first-degree burglary, abuse or cruelty to a child less than 7 years old, DUI-first offense and simple assault.

The burglary charge was dismissed because the victim no longer wanted to pursue charges and was not cooperating with the State.

Harrison pleaded guilty in October to the abuse indictment, and the remaining misdemeanor counts were dismissed.

At sentencing on Tuesday, defense attorney Teree Nesvold said Harrison acknowledged making mistakes and letting addiction take precedence in her life. Harrison has completed inpatient treatment and continues outpatient treatment, has been working with the Department of Social Services and expects to be reunited with her children next month.

Nesvold said Harrison is a low risk to reoffend and is already participating in supervised visits with her children since they were removed from her care in March. Harrison should have never driven with a child in her car, the attorney said, and her client is working hard at maintaining her sobriety.

Circuit Judge Greg Stoltenburg said he agreed with everything Nesvold said. He added that he hoped Harrison was not doing all this to get a more lenient sentence, but rather to take care of herself and for her children. 

“I wish you the best moving forward… and I hope to never see you (in this courtroom) again,” he said.

Stoltenburg then suspended five years in the state penitentiary on condition that she successfully complete three years of supervised probation, serve 30 days in jail, pay fines, court costs, restitution and court-appointed attorney fees, and follow the terms and conditions of probation. She was also granted work release and release for counseling appointments, and she cannot consume drugs or alcohol.

Harrison received credit for six days of pre-trial detention and was remanded to the custody of the sheriff’s office.

Abuse or cruelty to a child less than 7 years old is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Contact Jill Fier at [email protected]

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