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Mother convicted for letting toddlers cross busy street

A mother who let her 2-year-old twins cross a busy Fargo intersection by themselves pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge in Cass County District Court.

A mother who let her 2-year-old twins cross a busy Fargo intersection by themselves pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge in Cass County District Court.

A prosecutor initially charged Kristen L. Dodds, 30, of Killdeer, N.D., with a felony count of abuse or neglect of a child for the Aug. 7 incident.

Police officer Jessica Bergem said she watched Dodds cross 32nd Avenue South at 25th Street ahead of her children, apparently paying no attention to them. It was about 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday at an intersection anchored by MeritCare Southpointe, a construction zone and strip malls.

When Dodds finished crossing the four-lane avenue, her 2-year-olds were still on the other side of the median, the officer said. The mother, who also had a 4-year-old with her, looked back and motioned to the twins before turning and continuing on her way with the children still in the intersection, Bergem wrote in her report.

The officer confronted Dodds and told her she needed to hold her kids when they crossed the street. Dodds said she hadn't realized the kids were in the street and thanked the officer, Bergem wrote.

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Bergem let the family go but kept watching, and soon she saw Dodds again allowing her children to lag behind.

At one point two of the kids were out of their mother's sight beside a restaurant and near a busy driveway leading to Sun Mart Foods.

Dodds pleaded guilty Monday to "encouraging or contributing to the depredation or delinquency of a minor." East Central District Judge Georgia Dawson followed a joint sentencing recommendation and ordered Dodds to serve 18 months of supervised probation with a deferred sentence.

As part of the probation Dodds must complete a psychological evaluation. The children are living with their father, Dodds' ex-husband, in Watford City, N.D.

Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Aaron Birst said the decision to amend the felony charge was a fair resolution that will get Dodds help and protect her children.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538

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