Oct 23, 2014 12:55 PM

Family of abused boy wants GOP ads pulled

The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The grandmother of a 4-year-old boy whose death has spurred a closer look at Minnesota's child protection services is demanding that the state Republican Party take down a new television ad that uses the case to criticize Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Yvonne Dean said she had no idea her grandson's case would be cited in a political ad that began airing Wednesday. She said the Republican Party of Minnesota never contacted her family or sought permission to use her grandson's photo, which is featured in the ad that began airing Wednesday.

"To use his death for political gain is wrong," Dean told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday.

The 57-year-old grandmother said her family is just trying to healing following the death of her grandson, Eric Dean, who was killed by his stepmother last year. The boy had been the subject of repeated reports of maltreatment that went unanswered by social services.

Dean said she expressed "shock and horror" when she heard about the ad.

The ad doesn't directly blame Dayton's policies for the boy's death, but it highlights a law he signed last spring that limits how past abuse cases figure into decisions to investigate new complaints.

"It was downright horrifying that he signed a law making it more difficult to investigate maltreatment cases," the ad says, as Eric's bruised image appears on screen next to a grainy shot of Dayton. "Incompetence has consequences."

The Republican Party did not immediately respond to calls or an email seeking comment from the AP on Thursday. The ad was run independent of Republican nominee Jeff Johnson's campaign.

Dayton campaign spokesman Linden Zakula called the ad "despicable."

Last month, Dayton ordered greater state scrutiny of the county-administered system for child protection. In doing so, he cited the Dean case, in which 15 separate abuse reports lodged with Pope County social workers about injuries traced to the boys's stepmother, Amanda Peltier, who was convicted this spring.

Dayton said then the photo of Dean smiling through the wounds on his face "will haunt me for a long time."

Yvonne Dean's reaction to the ad was first reported Wednesday night in a Star Tribune blog post by Michael Brodkorb, a former deputy chairman of the state Republican Party.


Associated Press writer Gretchen Ehlke contributed to this report.


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