Man accused of assault over child's dropped cheese

A dropped piece of cheese was the trigger that allegedly led a Brainerd man to push his 3-year-old daughter against a wall, step on his 1-year-old and physically assault their mother.

Justin Michael Peterson
Justin Michael Peterson

A dropped piece of cheese was the trigger that allegedly led a Brainerd man to push his 3-year-old daughter against a wall, step on his 1-year-old and physically assault their mother.

Justin Michael Peterson, 38, is facing three felony counts of domestic assault as a result of the incident, which occurred on Aug. 28.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Peterson, Crow Wing County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a residence at 10:39 a.m. to respond to a report of a physical domestic disturbance. A deputy met with the mother of the two children, who identified Peterson as her ex-boyfriend who was at the home to visit the children.

According to the victim, Peterson became angry when the 3-year-old dropped a piece of cheese on the floor. The victim and Peterson allegedly got into an argument about his behavior toward the child. Peterson then pulled the victim outside and proceeded to pull on her arms and yell at her, the report stated.

The victim began to run into the residence to get away from Peterson and told the children to get inside as well, she told the deputy. Peterson followed them into the residence, where he allegedly pushed the 3-year-old, causing her to hit her face and forehead against a wall. Peterson then turned around and stepped on the 1-year-old child's stomach, the report stated.


The victim told the deputy she and the children were afraid of Peterson. The 3-year-old child told the deputy that "her daddy pushed her against the wall" and "it hurt when she hit the wall and her lip hurt," according to the complaint. The deputy observed scratches and marks on the adult victim's left forearm, and the victim stated her arms were tingly and painful.

All three victims were transported to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd for medical evaluation.

Each felony charge against Peterson carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. Bail was set at $75,000. Peterson's conditions of release restricted him from leaving Minnesota without court approval, possessing or receiving firearms or ammunition, using alcohol or controlled substances, contact with victims and entering bars or liquor stores. Peterson must submit to random testing, remain law-abiding, make all future court appearances and make and maintain contact with his attorney. As of Friday, Peterson was no longer in custody in the Crow Wing County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 15.

Peterson has prior convictions in his past noted in the criminal complaint. In 2014, Peterson was convicted on charges stemming from two separate incidents.

The first was in 2013, when he was convicted of gross misdemeanor neglect of a child. In this incident, a concerned neighbor called police because three young children were playing outside-including swimming in a pool and playing near the street-seemingly without supervision. Police found Peterson inside the home sleeping on a couch with synthetic marijuana and a pipe on his lap. Peterson eventually admitted he was in charge of watching the children, who were not his.

The second conviction was for Peterson's actions in 2014, when he made repeated attempts to make contact with an individual with which he was ordered to make no contact as a condition of release. Those actions resulted in a felony conviction for stalking, two misdemeanor convictions for violation of a domestic abuse-no contact order and a misdemeanor domestic assault conviction.

Related Topics: CRIME
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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