SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Charges against the father of an infant left outside for 18 hours in the rain are partly based on video surveillance which shows he was the last person to have custody of the child, a South Dakota prosecutor said Friday. The child survived and is doing well.
Ronald Terry Harrison Jr., 38, was arguing with the child's mother on the patio of Faith Family Church in Sioux Falls Monday afternoon when the woman walked away, leaving Harrison, the baby and their 1-year-old child, according to Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan. Harrison grabbed the older child who was walking away, but failed to retrieve the baby from the patio, according to a court affidavit.
"Dad was the last one that had custody of the children. They were his responsibility at that point," McGowan said.
Authorities said the 2-month-old baby was left overnight in the rain when the temperature dipped to 54 until a church employee found him the next morning. McGowan says he has charged only the father "based on the time line and who had the custody of the children at the time the child was left alone."
Harrison is charged with felony abuse or cruelty to a minor and a misdemeanor count of contributing to abuse or neglect of a child. The affidavit said the parents came to the police station the following morning to report their baby was missing. The parents said they "accidentally lost," ''misplaced" or "forgot" the baby. When detectives spoke to the mother alone, she told them she had left the children with their father and went to a friend's house following their argument, according to court records.
Church employee Adrienne Horsley changed the baby's diaper and wet clothes and gave him a warm bath before police arrived.
Harrison is being held on $10,000 cash bond. A message left with the Minnehaha County Public Defender seeking comment on Harrison's behalf was not immediately returned.