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An interview with Josh Beck's attorney about child abuse case

Jan 11, 2018 03:03PM ● By Editor
By Joe Friedrichs of WTIP Radio News -Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:46 am

Former Cook County Health and Human Services Director Josh Beck admits he pushed his stepdaughter and intentionally caused her physical harm while the family lived in Grand Marais, according to recently released court documents.

However, under the terms of the guilty plea Beck will likely serve no jail time, the case will not go to trial and if Beck completes the terms of a one-year probationary sentence all charges in the case will be dismissed.

On Dec. 19 the news department at WTIP announced that a long-anticipated trial in the criminal case involving Beck was no longer scheduled to take place. The cancellation of the trial was the direct result of a confidential settlement involving Beck’s legal team and state prosecutors.

Several weeks later, in early January 2018, a number of court documents were released describing a portion of the confidential settlement. And on Jan. 5 Judge Michael Cuzzo denied a request by Beck and his legal team to keep all the terms of the settlement confidential.

Court records show a petition to enter a guilty plea was submitted Dec. 15 by Beck in the Lake County Courtroom in Two Harbors. Prior to the guilty plea, Beck was facing four charges, including domestic assault and engaging in a past pattern of child abuse against a minor.

According to court documents, two of the charges facing Beck, including a felony charge of domestic assault by strangulation, have been dismissed.

The two charges Beck agreed to plead guilty to include domestic assault by attempting to inflict bodily harm to another; and contributing to the need for child protection or services. Court documents state that victims in this case, referring to Beck’s stepchildren, were the victims of physical and mental abuse, but not sexual abuse.

The 40-year-old Beck made his first appearance in the Cook County Courthouse last September after allegations he physically abused his two stepchildren, who ages are 12 and 10.

The terms of Beck’s probation are vague in court documents, but they do indicate that Beck is not to have contact with his stepchildren for one year, that he is to remain a law-abiding citizen for one year and that he engage in no similar patterns of behavior related to this case.

Beck was scheduled for a pre-trial date in the Lake County Courthouse Jan. 24, with a trial to start five days later. Those dates were canceled after the confidential settlement agreement took place Dec. 15.

Prior to the settlement, Beck had returned to the desert Southwest and is employed by Gila County, Arizona. The Gila County website lists Beck as the public health emergency preparedness manager. Prior to his arrival in Cook County, Beck worked in county government in Gila County.

Beck and his legal team argued that releasing the findings of the case could impact Beck’s ability to keep his job in Gila County. They also argued that making the court rulings public could make it difficult for the Beck family to reunite peaceably.  On Jan. 5, Judge Cuzzo denied that request stating that “concern for the defendant’s job is not a compelling governmental interest.”

In Minnesota, Beck was the director of the Cook County Health and Humans Services Department before he resigned in late July. His charges were filed in Cook County approximately one week later. His tenure with the county lasted less than one year.

The audio below features an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and Beck’s Attorney Tyson Smith, who is based in Grand Marais (follow this link to WTIP's site to listen to the audio):

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