Baby left outside South Dakota church overnight; dad charged

A father is accused of leaving his 2-month-old son outside a South Dakota church all night in the cold and rain.

Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan said Thursday that Ronald Terry Harrison, 38, has been charged with child abuse and contributing to the neglect of a minor. He is being held on a $10,000 cash bond. The mother has not been charged, the Argus Leader reported .

The baby boy is doing well, according to Adrienne Horsley, an administrative assistant with the church.

"He was wide awake looking at me. I'm thankful he was alive," Horsley said.

Police said Harrison was arguing with the baby's mother Monday afternoon outside Faith Family Church in Sioux Falls when they left in separate directions without the baby. A church worker found the baby boy cold and wet in a car seat Tuesday morning outside the church. Police believe the infant had been left for 18 hours during which time it rained and temperatures dropped into the 40s.

Parents told police it was an accident and that both mother and father apparently assumed the other one had grabbed the child, said police spokesman Sam Clemens.

"Nobody went back to check," Clemens said.

Harrison told investigators that his 1-year-old daughter was also present during his argument with the children's mother. He said the children's mother left and he ran after their daughter, who went in another direction. When he returned, he saw no one at the church. He went to the mother's house but said no one answered the door. He said he went to his house and didn't hear from the children's mother until the next morning, when they went to the police station.

Clemens said the baby is in protective custody. He didn't know why prosecutors charged Harrison but not the mother.