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Dave Roepke, Published August 20 2010

Assault was allegedly to keep infant quiet

A 20-year-old West Fargo man accused of injuring an infant boy badly enough to collapse his lung was trying to quiet the 4-month-old so he could have sex with the child’s mother, according to court records.

Lawrence St. John Jr. is charged in Cass County District Court with aggravated assault as a Class B felony in connection with the incident Monday at 1121 14th Ave. E.

According to the charges filed Thursday:

The boy who police claim St. John admitted to hurting was the son of his girlfriend of two months. The woman, Amanda Otterobe, had moved in with him a short time earlier.

After first claiming the 4-month-old boy fell off a bed, St. John changed his story, police say. He told cops he picked up the boy by his throat, threw him face down on the bed and then picked him up by the back of the neck and shoved him onto the floor, police said.

St. John told police “he was hoping to have sexual intercourse with the child’s mother, and the child’s fussing and crying was stopping and hindering that,” court records state.

While talking to investigators, St. John didn’t ask about the child’s medical condition, police said.

Police allege in court filings that St. John admitted to the assault in Otterobe’s presence. Detective Derek Cruff wrote the mother “tensed up with obvious clenched fists and pulled away” as St. John tried to hug her.

The boy survived and is in stable condition at a Twin Cities hospital, West Fargo Police Detective Sgt. Greg Warren said. In addition to the collapsed lung, the boy sustained a partially crushed windpipe.

Bail was set at $50,000 cash or bond in an initial court appearance Thursday. St. John is being held in the Cass County Jail.

No phone number could be located for Otterobe. A phone message left at the jail for St. John was not returned.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535