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Charge dropped against mother of autistic churchgoer

Carol Race will not face criminal charges for allegedly bringing her severely autistic 13-year-old son, Adam, to St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Bertha, Minn., on Mother's Day in violation of a restraining order.

The church requested that a citation issued against her May 15 be dismissed, canceling a pretrial settlement hearing set for July 14.

The church felt dismissing the criminal citation was the right decision to be made, said Jane Marrin, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph's.

"The hope for resolution is what the parish community is all concentrating on," she said.

Both St. Joseph's and the state recognize that a restraining order is in place, according to documents filed July 9 in Todd County District Court.

"There have been no further violations, and the church feels that criminal consequences would serve no useful purpose in this matter," according to the dismissal. "The State further recognizes the sincerity of the parties in exploring remedies other than the criminal process."

"I appreciate the fact that the church did drop the charges," Carol said.

She also said she believed the citation should never have been filed to begin with. In June, Carol requested a hearing to contest the restraining order St. Joseph's filed against her son in May due to behavior the church described as "disruptive and dangerous." The judge upheld the restraining order, which will remain in effect until May 9, 2010.

Marrin said the church hopes everyone understands the difficult decision the restraining order was from the beginning.

The Race family continues to attend Christ the King Catholic Church in nearby Browerville with Adam, Carol said. She would still like to reconcile with the Rev. Daniel Walz and St. Joseph's.

The Race family attended St. Joseph's for more than 10 years prior to the restraining order being issued against Adam in May.

The church and the Races have participated in one mediation session and both have expressed interest in further mediation.