AZ Official Charged With Child Abuse In MN

.jpg photo of old Gila County Courthouse
Old Gila County Courthouse

Gila County official charged in MN with Child Abuse shortly after he was rehired

A manager for Gila County’s health and emergency services agency is scheduled to stand trial early next year in Minnesota on charges of abusing his two children, according to court documents.

Joshua Beck, 40, is charged with two counts of assault and two counts of endangering a child, according to court records in Cook County, Minnesota.  His trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 29.

Beck was the Cook County Health and Humans Services director in Minnesota before he resigned on July 21.  His charges were filed in Minnesota about a week later.

Before moving to Minnesota, Beck had worked as manager of Gila County’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness, a program within the department, in Globe.

Gila County hired him back after he left Minnesota, for the same position, a role that helps oversee the county’s 53,000 residents’ safety in event of a public health emergency.

Gila County Manager James Menlove said he was aware of Beck’s pending criminal court case.  He said Beck had applied for the job and was hired before the charges were filed.

“Gila County takes the charges against Beck very seriously, but as is the case with anyone in the criminal justice system who has yet to be convicted, Beck is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” according to an emailed statement.  “Gila County remains steadfastly committed to the safety of its employees and the residents it serves.”

Beck was rehired on July 18, before the charges were filed on Aug. 1 in Cook County, the statement says.  He had two previous stints with the county from November 2012 to May 2013 and again from March 2014 to September 2016.

His current annual salary in Gila County is $62,042.

‘We believe this is a witch hunt’

Through his lawyers, Beck denied the allegations.  He said the false claims of abuse are at the center of a custody dispute involving his stepson and stepdaughter and other family members.

“He adamantly disputes the allegations and is taking the steps to defend himself in court,” said Tyson Smith, a lawyer for Beck, in a phone interview.

Christa Jacqueline Groshek, another Minnesota lawyer for Beck, said in a phone interview Beck is innocent and the children’s grandmother has been seeking custody.

Groshek said Beck has three biological children with his wife and none of them have alleged they’ve been abused.  She added that Beck has worked in public health policy for a long time and he cares for families and children “so he wouldn’t hurt children.”

“We feel like he’s been wrongfully accused,” she said.  “We believe this is a witch hunt that started with the maternal grandmother.”

Groshek made these arguments on Monday to a judge in Cook County at a hearing seeking to dismiss the prosecutor’s evidence. She said she expects the judge to make a decision whether to dismiss the charges or not in the next couple of weeks.

Allegations of abuse

According to a probable-cause statement, the 10-year-old girl told a staff member at First Witness, a child well-being advocacy organization in Minnesota, Beck had abused her since before moving from Arizona.

“She indicated that the defendant calls her names, pulls her hair, throws objects at her, forcibly wakes her up, and takes away her cochlear implants so she cannot hear,” the complaint said.

In one instance, the girl told the staff member Beck grabbed her neck and choked her until she couldn’t breathe, the court document says.  The girl said the choking gave her a bruise and affected her sense of smell, the document says.

In another instance, she said Beck pulled her hair, slapped and threw toys at her face, the document says.

Both children also told the staff member, according to the court document, that while they lived in Arizona, Beck threw them both to the ground.  The boy’s head hit some rocks and his head began to bleed and one of the girl’s ankles was injured, the document says.
The children said they didn’t receive medical attention for their injuries and the girl couldn’t walk on the ankle for a few days, the probable cause statement says.

The boy also said Beck “likes to cause him pain,” the court document states.

Both children said Beck encourages the three younger children to mistreat them, too, by hurting them physically or calling them derogatory names, according to the court document.

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