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Dennis James Sullivan

Benedict physician tried to harm same boy a month ago

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     One month before a Benedict surgeon was charged with trying to choke his foster son jamming a surgical glove down his throat, an amended complaint states the man tied a shoestring around the boy’s scrotum May 17.

     The shocking allegation came as Dennis James Sullivan, 50, made his initial appearance in Hubbard County District County Court Friday noon after being extradited from North Dakota the previous day.

     According to Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne, the incident was never reported to authorities, as it legally should have been.

     It then  begs the question as to why the boy remained in the  foster home with Sullivan and his wife Rebecca.

     A welfare check by Anoka County June 17 led to Sullivan’s initial arrest at a Grand Forks mental health center after Sullivan called the center expressing “homicidal thoughts” and headed north.

     It is unclear what connection Anoka County has to the case, but that county allegedly learned of the possible abuse and alerted Hubbard County.

      Tuesday afternoon, Sullivan was allegedly trying to jam a glove down the boy’s throat when Rebecca Sullivan confronted him.

     It is believed the Anoka County welfare check prompted Hubbard County authorities to investigate the case.

     At the Stadter Center in Grand Forks Tuesday night, Sullivan was arrested on an outstanding warrant for Driving Under Suspension, likely from a DUI conviction he sustained in 2010.

     He is additionally charged in Hubbard County with attempted Second Degree Intentional Murder, 1st Degree Assault and 3rd Degree Assault. Dearstyne amended the complaint to add a second count of Third Degree Assault.

     District Judge Robert Tiffany set Sullivan’s bail at $750,000 unconditional and $500,000 conditional with a 10 percent cash alternative.

     If Sullivan posts bond, he is to surrender his passport, not engage in any alcohol or drug use, stay one mile away from his home, avoid contact with M.K., the foster boy, and generally remain law-abiding.

     Sullivan’s attorney, Michael Undem, objected to the  initial complaint, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to support the charges.

     “A pattern of domestic abuse must be established,” Undem argued, stating the boy never underwent medical care for his alleged injuries. The assault charges assert the boy suffered “great bodily harm or substantial bodily harm.”

     Tiffany disagreed, saying “there is sufficient probably cause to sign the amended complaint.”

     Undem asked for a mental evaluation, saying “there are mental health issues here that need to be addressed.”

     Dearstyne asked for bail amounts of $1.5 million unconditional and $1.1 million conditional, contending Sullivan was a “flight risk” with access to “significant funds.”

     Rebecca Sullivan, who was in the courtroom Friday, asked that she be allowed to see her husband.

     Tiffany lifted the “no contact” order but told the couple they could not discuss any aspect of the case.

     Dennis Sullivan is prohibited from having any contact with M.K. or any other children.

     Rebecca Sullivan, whose role in the alleged abuse has not been determined, said she needed access to the couple’s bank accounts to begin liquidating assets.

     But Dearstyne said she has been “very cooperative in the case.”

     Rebecca Sullivan said she had been married to Dennis Sullivan four years.

     But it leaves the question open of why the earlier incident of abuse wasn’t reported and who in the Sullivan household knew about it.

     Dennis Sullivan told Tiffany he had been residing in the Benedict area for seven years.

     The case is assigned to Judge Paul Rasmussen, who will conduct a hearing June 30.

     Sullivan’s medical license indicates he’s assigned to the Wapiti Medical Group of Milbank S.D., and that he is licensed to perform general surgery, trauma and surgical critical care. He obtained his medical education at the University of Minnesota and became licensed in 1991.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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