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Family claims accident in Mahnomen child abuse investigation

The Mahnomen County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case as potential child abuse. The family of the young girl says it was an unfortunate accident.

Family claims little girl's injury was an accident

MAHNOMEN, Minn. — A 3-year old girl remains in a Fargo hospital after friends and family say she required brain surgery following an incident at her home in northwestern Minnesota Monday night.

Those close to the family also said Raelissa would likely be sedated for several days and could be hospitalized for more than a month.

The events that led to the hospitalization are still under investigation at this time, according to Mahnomen County Sheriff Josh Guenther.

Guenther said the girl was flown to Sanford Monday evening after a medical call at the Riverland Apartments in Mahnomen.


Police did not get involved until Tuesday when doctors at Sanford called to report it appeared to them the girl had been abused, he added.

The girl's family, however, has repeatedly denied investigator's claims, maintaining her injuries were accidental.

They claimed a mattress tipped over, causing her to slam her head on a coffee table.

Family and friends all said Raelissa's mother would never hurt her child, adding that she is a wonderful mother.

Sheriff Guenther says his office has reason to believe that the girl was abused, and there is no indication so far that it was an accident.

He also said all parties involved have cooperated with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's interview requests.

No charges have been filed, but Mahnomen County authorities expect to release more details later this week.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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