Minnesota dad accused of abandoning son post bail, begins fight to see him again
ST. PAUL A Lakeville, Minn., father will fight to see the 11-year-old son he's accused of abandoning. On Thursday, Steven Alexander Cross, 60, left jail with a smile on his face after spending more than a month in custody on a child neglect gross...
A Lakeville, Minn., father will fight to see the 11-year-old son he's accused of abandoning.
On Thursday, Steven Alexander Cross, 60, left jail with a smile on his face after spending more than a month in custody on a child neglect gross misdemeanor charge.
Cross posted $6,000 bail so he could begin court requirements to see the boy, said Hilary DeVary, a private investigator helping Cross with his case.
Outside the Dakota County Jail in Hastings, Cross declined to comment as he walked to DeVary's vehicle.
"Due to the sensitivity of the pertaining court hearing" involving the custody of Cross' son, DeVary said, she and Cross would not make a statement.
Cross abandoned his son July 18 at their Lakeville home after the house was lost in a foreclosure, according to a criminal complaint.
In letters Cross left behind, he told the boy to bicycle to a neighbor's house and asked the family to become his son's guardian.
The boy now is living in foster care with his maternal aunt.
At a child protection hearing Wednesday, Dakota County District Judge Richard Spicer gave Cross a list of requirements to meet before he could see his son. They included completing a psychological and parenting assessment, complying with recommendations, remaining drug free and maintaining a safe and stable home for the boy, the order said.
"He just needs to get out of jail to do it," DeVary said.
DeVary, owner of Financial Integrity Investigations in Lakeville, said she and
her husband help families investigate foreclosures. Along with assisting Cross in his criminal and child custody cases, she said, she wants to offer him aid in possibly rectifying his foreclosure.
Cross, an architect, told DeVary he has no interest in returning to the home.
Cross initially planned to stay in jail until his next criminal hearing Monday, DeVary said. But he changed his mind once given requirements for visitations with his son.
He will be staying with a neighbor, she said.
If the judge's requirements are met, the county Social Services Department along with the guardian ad litem, who represents the boy, will decide whether Cross can see the child.
The boy's mother, Katik Porter, 38, must follow the same requirements. Porter lost her parental rights in 2002. After that, Cross told his son his mother had died.
In his goodbye note, though, Cross wrote to his son: "Some good news is your mother is still alive. Though I do not think it is for the best," the complaint said.
The child's attorney requested Wednesday's special hearing. Spicer set parenting requirements and a visitation schedule for the boy, and granted parental visits with the boy's mother on Saturdays and Wednesdays, according to the order. Whether the visits will be supervised will be determined by county social services.
John and Joanne Pahl, the neighbors who cared for Cross' son for about a month after he left, requested visitation time, too.
Spicer agreed to let the family have unsupervised visits with the boy once a month and call him once a week.
Cross has not seen his son since he left, said DeVary, who recently met the boy.
"He looked good," she said. "He looked happy."
When Cross left, his son awoke alone in their house, according to the complaint. In the letter to the boy, Cross wrote, "If this paper is wet, it's because I am crying so bad. You know your dad loves you more than anything. This economy got (illegible) there are no jobs for architects so I have to go because the sheriff ... will take the house July 27."
Cross fled to California's coastal artist colony of Cambria, where police say he worked at a deli and was living in his van until Aug. 29 when authorities arrested him. He was extradited to Minnesota, where he remained in jail until Thursday.
Authorities said they believed Cross was suicidal because of the letters he left and emails he wrote while away. But DeVary said that's not the case.
"He has no desire to hurt himself," she said.
Cross is expected to appear in court Monday on the child neglect charge. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail. The next child protection hearing will be Oct. 19.
Dakota County prosecutors have said they are reviewing details of an investigation of alleged fraud involving Cross. No charges have been filed in that matter.
Distributed by MCT Information Services