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Surgeon pleads guilty to assaulting disabled foster son

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- A Benedict surgeon admitted this week to placing his hand over the mouth of his disabled foster son in June to interrupt the boy’s breathing for a prolonged period of time.

Dennis James Sullivan, 50, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted first-degree assault. In exchange, charges ranging from third-degree assault to attempted second-degree murder were dismissed.

The plea deal calls for between 37 and 51½ months in prison. Sentencing is set for Sept. 19.

Sullivan testified Monday in Hubbard County District Court that the boy he and his wife took in under foster care and were planning to adopt was blind, wheelchair-bound and severely mentally disabled.

He admitted that on June 17, he placed a glove in the boy’s mouth “in front of his tongue and behind his teeth” so the child could not bite him, then placed his hand over the boy’s mouth to interrupt his breathing.

The child was subsequently removed from the home.

During the investigation, Sullivan admitted torturing the boy in the genital area in May.

Sullivan has been jailed since his arrest. His medical license indicates he’s assigned to the Wapiti Medical Group of Milbank S.D.