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Complaint: Man dangled child by feet over stair railing

A Rochester man accused of injuring a child while dangling her over a stair railing as punishment has pleaded not guilty to two felonies.

James Edward Riley, 38, has been charged in Olmsted County District Court with one count each of malicious punishment of a child-prior listed offense, and domestic assault. He entered the pleas Wednesday.

The case began Feb. 27, when a student arrived at a Rochester elementary school with a headache and a bump on the back of her head the size of a golf ball.

The child and her siblings told investigators that Riley and a woman who lived with them were angry at the girl because she'd hidden cereal, the criminal complaint says. Riley allegedly told the girl, "I'm sick of you lying," then reportedly picked the girl up and held her over a staircase railing by her feet, allowing her head to hit the rail.

According to the complaint, the woman and siblings told Riley to stop, and warned him not to drop the girl.


When investigators spoke to Riley and the woman, they denied the incident occurred. In addition, Riley allegedly acknowledged there'd never be a reason to do such a thing "unless you were Michael Jackson, I guess."

A review of Riley's criminal history reveals a 2008 conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault, a 2009 gross misdemeanor conviction in a Child in Need of Protective Services case, and of contributing to the need of a CHPS case in 1999.

Riley pleaded guilty in June in Wabasha County to felony domestic assault. Sentencing in that case has been set for Sept. 30.

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