Eagan parents allegedly forced son to live in lightless basement, mandated 500 daily pushups
Greg Danner outside his home in a string bikini (left); walking to his car earlier this week (right).
Submitted to WCCO (left); Fox screengrab (right)
Greg and Angela Danner allegedly made life a living hell for their 15-year-old son -- forcing him to live in a basement with no light, taking his bed and leaving him with just a pillow and blanket, feeding him nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, and making him run numerous miles and do hundreds of pushups everyday, among other punishments.
The reason? "He didn't want to do anything around the house. He didn't want to do his chores," Greg Danner told the Star Tribune.
The boy, who is now 16 and has Asperger's syndrome, is Angela's son and Greg's stepson. He's since been removed from their custody and is living with his biological father. Angela, 41, and Greg, 44, each face gross misdemeanor charges of neglect of a child and malicious punishment of a child.
Patch provides more information about the allegations:
The 15-year-old victim contacted Eagan police on April 2 and said that his mother and stepfather had removed his bed and the lights from his basement bedroom as punishment, and had also blocked the bedroom window from the outside to prevent any light from shining into the room, according to the criminal complaint.
The boy told police that he slept on the floor with a pillow and a blanket. He said the Danners severely limited his showers, telling him that he could use the shower at his father's house when his father has him for court-ordered visits.
The couple also told the boy that if he wanted clean clothes, he should ask his father to buy detergent for him and wash his clothes in the bathtub or sink, according to the complaint.
Police continued to talk to the victim in April and May and learned that his mother and stepfather required him to stay in his room all the time when he was home, except to use the bathroom or when he was required to do chores or exercises, the complaint says.
He told officers that his sister brought peanut butter sandwiches to him every night in his room, and he was told to leave the plate on the stairs for someone to carry upstairs to the kitchen. He said the Danners had installed a video camera in his bedroom so they could monitor him.
In addition to all that, the Danners allegedly forced the boy to maintain a ridiculous workout regimen. From FOX:
Social Services workers spoke with the boy again on May 2, and he said the pair planned for him to run three miles that day, but they no longer called the exercise "discipline" and were using the word "therapy" instead.
The charges say the teen disclosed that he has to do hundreds of military-style pushups daily, and said the soreness made sleeping difficult. He estimated that he often has to do 1,500 to 2,000 pushups each day, with the lowest number being 500. He explained that the "wall chair" exercise usually lasts between 20 minutes and an hour, and he has been required to run several miles in the cold.
"This is a 15-year-old boy, not a Marine recruit being put through that type of discipline on a daily basis," said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. "That is an unusual circumstance that crossed the boundary of what is appropriate under law."
In an interview with the Strib, Greg Danner didn't deny the accusation he tried to make life unpleasant for his stepson, but added that "a lot of this is greatly exaggerated":
Said Danner: "He didn't want to do anything around the house. He didn't want to do his chores. He didn't want to get up and go to school."
Danner said the boy, who turned 16 in October, has been living with his father since May.
"I wanted to make it miserable for him," Danner said. "It wasn't meant to be a punishment. It was meant for him to figure out, 'This is not worth it. I should do the chores, get up and go to school and do what my parents expect of me.'"
If you're thinking to yourself -- 'Gee, that's awful, but at least the kid must be in great shape,' you're right. In an interview with WCCO, the boy's biological father said his son "took all that exercise and fitness and did a triathlon with me. I'm super proud of him." So at least there's that silver lining.
The WCCO report says "Neighbors describe Gregory Danner as strange and strict." One of them provided a picture of Greg purportedly outside his home in a string bikini, which you can see at the top of this post.
A young daughter Greg fathered with Angela still lives at home with the couple, so keep her in your prayers. Or pray that the Dakota County courts address the charges facing the couple quickly -- though they're currently free pending future court appearance, each of them could face two years of hard time if convicted.
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