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Cottage Grove woman charged with neglect after allegedly leaving young children alone in messy apartment

A Cottage Grove woman faces criminal charges after she was found wandering a park late at night after leaving her young children unattended in a messy and unlocked apartment.

Washington County prosecutors charged Rose A. Salkowicz, 23, with two counts of child neglect or endangerment, a gross misdemeanor, in connection with an incident earlier this month when she allegedly left her 3-year-old and 1-year-old child alone in an apartment and went to the nearby Oakwood Park. The children were not seriously injured, but the toddler said she had eaten candy and ice cream for dinner and was watching TV around midnight as her sick 1-year-old sister slept in urine-soaked underwear atop a pile of clothes, according to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court.

According to the complaint:

A Cottage Grove police officer was patrolling Oakwood Park shortly before 11:30 p.m. April 5, after the park was closed for the night. He saw a woman leave a line of trees in the park and confronted her. The woman, later identified as Salkowicz, told the officer she was living in the park after her family kicked her out of her apartment. Salkowicz was offering confusing statements to police, but said her two kids were in her apartment unattended. She did not know how long she had been gone and did not have a key.

When police went to the apartment shortly after midnight, they found the door unlocked and the 3-year-old girl sitting on a couch watching TV. The apartment was about 80 degrees and messy, with burnt, moldy and rotten food and drinks strewn throughout.

The 1-year-old girl was found sleeping on top of a pile of clothing in a bedroom. She was wearing only a urine-soaked pair of underwear and appeared ill with a cold and cough, the complaint says. The 3-year-old told police the baby was sick.

A bathtub in the master bedroom had three to four inches of standing water and toys, and a marijuana blunt was found near the sink. A second-floor patio door was unlocked and drawers in a dresser were pulled almost all the way out, creating a safety hazard.

The 3-year-old told police that her mom was going to jail and that the "good guys" would care for her and her sister. She said she ate Easter candy and ice cream for dinner.

The children were placed in protective custody with Washington County Community Services.

Salkowicz told police she didn't make arrangements for anyone to care for her kids and that they would be fine. She initially said she assumed her brother in a nearby apartment would help the children after he heard her leave, but she later admitted that her brother didn't live in her apartment building in the 7900 block of Hearthside Avenue.

Salkowicz was arrested and booked into Washington County jail. She was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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