Prosecutors charged a La Crosse woman Wednesday with failing to protect her 9-year-old daughter for nearly three years when she was being sexually abused.

Vanin McKinnon

McKinnon

The woman’s boyfriend, 40-year-old Vanin McKinnon, was charged in August with repeated sexual assault of a child.

According to a criminal complaint, the girl’s 54-year-old grandmother first witnessed suspicious behavior in 2014, shortly after McKinnon moved in with the family, and repeatedly in the years since. The grandmother told police that she warned the girl’s mother repeatedly but was told if she persisted she could move out and “you won’t get to talk to your granddaughter again.”

She didn’t notify police because “she didn’t want the system to get involved and take (the victim) away,” according to the complaint.

The girl’s 35-year-old mother said her daughter told her of the abuse more than two years ago but McKinnon denied it. She told investigators she didn’t report it because she wanted to avoid dealing with Child Protective Services.

She notified authorities on Aug. 22, after she was told about the abuse by the mother of one of her daughter’s friends.

According to the complaint, she told investigators, “I’ll be honest, I just didn’t want to believe it, and looking, hindsight is 20/20, I (expletive) up.”

The woman, whom the Tribune is not identifying to shield the victim’s identity, is charged with failure to protect a child, which carries a maximum sentence of 12½ years. Prosecutors last week charged the grandmother with the same crime.

McKinnon, who has been jailed since Aug. 30 with a $10,000 cash bond, returns to court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

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Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things. Call him at 608-791-8217.