I would like to share with you some of the things I have experienced from right before the trial up until now, along with some of my thoughts regarding these experiences. I hope these examples will give you a sense of who Mariel is, even if you have never met her. If you go to her church, or live in her community, or are following her story online, and you are wondering if you can support someone convicted of assault - I hope this will help you. She is a convicted felon and the sweetest person I have come to know. I believe she has been honest through this entire process.
I met Mariel several years ago at church. This past spring I started taking walks with Mariel and a couple of other moms, and all of our children. I started getting to know Mariel. I have gotten to know even more of who she is through attending the trial and prayer meetings regarding her current circumstances.
There was a prayer meeting for Mariel before her trial. At this meeting she prayed for the salvation of all the children of the parents who were there. She couldn’t remember all of my childrens’ names. I couldn’t remember all of hers either. We were new friends. A couple of days later, I attended the first day of her trial. There were no seats left, so a friend and I sat in the front row where Mariel was seated by herself. My friend started talking to Mariel, and I grabbed Mariel’s hand to let her know that I was there to support her. During this time Mariel asked me how all of my children were. She made sure to use all of their names, letting me know she remembers their names now. I was left surprised. Mariel asked about my children in a courtroom while she waited for a trial to begin that could separate her from her own children for a very long time. I was also surprised by her prayers at that meeting. Mostly they were prayers focused on others. They were prayers for childrens’ salvation and prayers for the healing of a specific child. At a time like this I would have been thinking primarily, if not solely, about my own needs. I remember Mariel saying at that prayer meeting, “Whatever happens, I will be okay, because I have Christ.” I don’t believe Mariel said these things because her situation isn’t scary. I don’t believe she said them because it hasn’t been painful. I believe she said them because her faith is strong and her concern for others is constant.
I was able to attend about half of the trial. When there were breaks in the proceedings, Mariel and people who were there to support her, would meet in a small room outside the courtroom. It was in this room that people would pray, sing songs about God, and talk about how things were going. Mariel would often pray, request that we sing a song, or share her thoughts with us. During one of these times Mariel shared something that was on her heart. As closely as I can remember this is what she said: September 22nd did not surprise God. I have not always liked my place in all of this, but if I hadn’t been with the baby, then he would have been with his mom, and she would have been the one on trial, and he really needs his mom right now. She wants him to get the care that he needs, and that is the care of his mother. It is clear to me that Mariel loves this baby. She prays for him and is excited when she hears that his condition is improving. She picked out a hymn for him, just as she did for her own children, and she would sing it to him before naptime. I have heard her call him amazing. She has said that she doesn’t know what God is doing here in this past year, but that he could have a million different things he’s doing that we don’t see. That the stage is bigger than we see. She has told herself that yes, it looks awful, but hope in God.
In the middle of August, I overheard Mariel talking about her distress because she could not help a friend by watching her children. She wanted to help, but knew with everything going on it wouldn’t be wise. She said something to this effect: If you can’t depend on a fellow Christian, who can you depend on? She was communicating her desire to help. I told her she had the best excuse ever for saying no. It seems to me that Mariel thinks uniquely. She greatly wants to meet the needs of those around her.
Shortly after her desire to help this friend, I was at Mariel’s house and my three-year-old left his bunny there. This is the bunny he sleeps with every night. I told her we all love this bunny. I contacted her, and she said she had the bunny. The plan was to pick him up in the morning. While bunny was away, I got messages on my phone from Mariel with pictures of bunny and notes to my three-year-old. The first message had a picture of bunny in a bunk bed with another stuffed animal all tucked in. The note below the picture read: “Bunny is safe and sound and we found a bed for him and a friend for his pajama party. We sang him a hymn and he went to sleep.” There was another picture of bunny leaning over cupcakes and this note read: “Before bed we found Bunny trying to eat a cupcake. We gave him carrots instead so he’s healthy for going home tomorrow.” Of course my kids loved this, and actually I did too. It was endearing and so sweet. These are all little things I heard and observed, but they seem to be representing big things about Mariel that others have shared. They represent her gentleness, her kindness, her love for others, her uniqueness, and her heart for children.
One night my husband and I were talking about the trial and everything I had been observing. He said something that really stuck with me. He said, “If she’s lying she would have to be the best actress of all time.” He was right. I think if you knew her, if you observed her going through this, and heard her speak from her heart--you’d see her as trustworthy and amazing. Mariel has said that she liked her life more private. And now that her life is being made public--what I see is something rare, something beautiful.
I know how this situation with the trial can look to someone on the other side. I think I can understand that. I’m just trying to share what it looks like on this side. The longer this is drawn out, the more we see of Mariel, of who God made her to be. On this side, I realize that many could not shine so brightly in such a dark place.
When I first heard that Mariel had been charged with hurting a child my first thought was, there is no one less likely to hurt a child than her. It is beyond comprehension that she has been convicted. My opinion is not based on the fact that I have worked in child protection or that I've practiced 25 years as a psychologist, but on over 15 years of knowing Mariel. Seeing her interact with my baby and later with her own. She is one of the kindest and most patient people I have ever met. The last person who would ever hurt a child.
I first met Mariel in 2000 while we were still in high school. I was immediately and completely drawn to her kind, joyful, playful attitude and her selfless care for, and sincere interest in, others. I was blessed by becoming her friend and getting to know her better over the next several years, and we married in 2006. It is a supreme blessing to be married to such a caring, loving woman, and as our marriage grows, the more these deepest characteristics of her heart are evident and reinforced and the more intensely I love her for them.
God blessed us with our first child in 2009. I experienced with Mariel a tearful joy in welcoming our daughter to the world. Both our hearts overflowed with love. God granted us this same joy three more times with three boys over the next 6 years and each time, I was utterly overwhelmed by the happiness and love beaming from Mariel as she held our children in her arms. Our children are now ages 8, 5, 3, and 2 and growing fast. I have seen firsthand Mariel's motherly love for them all these years, and it has never wavered. She has lovingly given all of herself to caring for our children, selflessly sacrificing for their benefit and joyfully dedicating herself to being their mother and teacher. She finds endless satisfaction in engaging them in new ways each day and cultivating a home that nurtures them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She has instilled inquisitiveness, thoughtfulness, concern for others, and love for God in each of our children in a way that only a loving, Faith-filled parent could. As a result, our children have thrived in their homeschooling, and the qualities I love so much in Mariel are budding in their hearts as well. She spends such intentional time with all of them that it has a direct impact on them and our whole family has grown immensely close.
She is one of the most patient people I've ever met. She listens sincerely, disciplines firmly but gently, and lovingly redirects our children's normal boundary-pushing and rowdy behavior to other constructive behavior while also teaching them to work on managing their emotions as they grow. She takes constant care to turn even the most ordinary activities (i.e. a trip to the park or the zoo) into an activity that engages them on many levels. She is also an expert time manager, planning and getting ahead of things throughout the day to prevent frustration in our children. I have always been amazed at the way she disciplines and guides the kids with an infectiously positive attitude that has deeply influenced them and me.
Two things that have permeated our family life thanks to Mariel are Bible memorization and hymn singing. Some of the sweetest moments I've enjoyed with our family include the times we all recite Bible passages and sing hymns together. I also love watching Mariel sing softly and pray over the children while they lie in their beds in their darkened room at bedtime. Mariel is fully committed to her goal to make our home one that is filled with truths about God and which constantly points to Jesus. Because of this, I've seen many times our kids praying, singing, and reading their children's Bibles on their own, and seeing them discuss God over bowls of Cheerios in the morning is a fantastically common occurrence. Mariel's strong faith has been evident from the moment I've met her, but especially in the midst of difficult times like our current one, it has shone forth even brighter and is a huge inspiration to me and those around her.
Mariel's loving care hasn't been limited to our own children. For the last several years she has cared for a few other children of friends through church, and I've also been there to see her overflow with the same love and joy in having them in our home as well. These children are like our own when Mariel is caring for them, and the gentleness and love shown to them by her has clearly been evident to our children, who as a result also became very close to them and have shown them the same gentleness. Our daughter especially has taken great joy in helping get diapers and milk for, playing games with, and in general helping care for these other children as if they were her own siblings (whom she has also always gladly helped care for in clear imitation of her mother).
The woman I love, my wife, has been blessed by God with an endlessly giving and loving heart--that has been gloriously obvious since the moment I first met her. I have seen her interact with, love unconditionally, and give herself for both our own children and those others whom she treats as her own. I have been graciously absorbed into her family (by her two sisters and her parents, who share the same God-given attributes as Mariel's), and have seen her show the same love, patience, and kindness to my family, her many nieces and nephews, and all of our friends and their children. My parents and siblings adore my wife. We have had countless sleepovers, birthday parties, play dates, and other celebrations, and what always rings true throughout them all is that Mariel absolutely adores children. As we navigate this very difficult time together, I have seen her faith shine through and her concern and love for others flow forth even in the midst of it. I am eternally grateful that God blessed me with a marriage and parenting partnership with such an amazing woman and have been greatly encouraged and inspired by the impact she has had on so many others. It utterly breaks my heart that anyone could be led to believe that she is capable of harming any child. Anyone that has known Mariel, even for a short time, knows that she carries in her heart nothing but love and devotion to her own children and all other children she meets.
Many things are uncertain in this season, and I’m praying fervently that God would not allow our family to be divided or my lovely wife and our kids’ loving mother to be separated from us.
We have known Mariel since 2012. She has cared for our daughter, S, since she was 3 months old. She cared for our daughter until a judge ordered that we could no longer have our daughter in Mariel’s care in February of 2017. We would absolutely still have our daughter in the care of Mariel Grimm if it were not for the judge’s order. As the mother of S, I testified under oath to all of this in July 2017.
While I was still pregnant with S, we were introduced to Mariel after I put a post on my facebook page the summer of 2012 looking for child care referrals. An acquaintance from church connected me to Mariel, and I met with her that summer. I also met with many other care providers. My husband and I felt most at ease with her and had a great peace that she would be the best person to watch our daughter. In December of 2012 our daughter began to join Mariel and her children in their home. Mariel followed the schedule we’d started for our daughter and also offered input from her experience. She helped me when I had questions about nursing, reassured me when S went through different seasons of separation anxiety, and surrounded S with books, toys, and learning opportunities. Leaving your child in another person’s home is hard, but we were comforted knowing S was always safe, well cared for, and loved as one of the family in Mariel’s home. Mariel regularly texted me photos of S during the day so I could keep up with how she was doing. The photos showed S surrounded by toys or books, Mariel’s children doting on S, or S peacefully napping. Our daughter’s photo albums have photos with the Grimm family all throughout them.
Our relationship and connection to Mariel and her family grew over the years. We had playdates together during the summer when I was not teaching, we celebrated birthdays and holidays together, and we never had reason to question our belief that our daughter was in wonderful hands while being cared for by Mariel Grimm. During our times together, Mariel has been kind, patient, calm, and consistent. She cares for both the adults and kids around her.
Along with being a wife and mother, I am also a public educator of eighteen years. One of my many responsibilities as a public educator is that of a mandatory reporter if I suspect child neglect and/or abuse. If I’d ever suspected or even had suggestion of any neglect or abuse at Mariel’s house, I’d be obligated to report all information to child protective services. In the last five years that I’ve known Mariel Grimm, I’ve never heard or seen anything that indicates child abuse or neglect in her home or any other setting I’ve seen her in. There is absolutely no way that Mariel Grimm harmed any child in her care.
I first met Mariel over 16 years ago through my wife’s responsibilities as the international coordinator at Saint Croix Lutheran High School. Mariel would occasionally visit and stay at our house during holiday breaks and during these times I had fun, interesting conversations with her about many topics (student life, religion, being the oldest child in the family, comparing cultures, etc.).
Her maturity, intelligence, honesty, sense of humor, measured approach, common sense and Christian concern for others soon won me over as I became her American dad. If there have been people or things that were a problem for her, she would discuss them calmly and rationally and would not make rash judgments or quick-tempered comments.
Any of her friends and acquaintances will tell you how she espouses family values, does not carry grudges, and loves children. She can be firm, but is gentle at the same time. She educates and disciplines through discussion – not rash physical action. She is the real deal.
What a pleasure it was to see Andy and Mariel’s friendship bud from romance to marriage and then to see them blossom into a team of loving, fun parents for their children!
As I reflect on Mariel’s experiences in the U.S.A. and the challenges that she has faced in such a gracious way, I see the Lord’s hand in her life and His Spirit reflected in her…this is not a person who would harm anyone.
Mariel and I still have great conversations and it is a joy to see how she humbly serves her Lord in so many ways.
It is with great pride and love that I entrust my grandchildren’s lives to her care.
Personally, I have known Mariel for close to twenty years. We spent our high school years living together in the dorms at St. Croix Lutheran. I spent years enjoying sharing American culture with her as she studied as a foreign exchange student. I also spent many years laughing with her and bonding over our mutual interests and friends. While on a mission trip in high school, I traveled to Mariel’s home and met her parents as well as her sisters. I spent a week canvassing around the Dominican Republic while we volunteered and learned Spanish.
Mariel has always known exactly who she is. Her confidence, joy, humor, faith, and positivity have always radiated from her life. She is someone whom everyone knows, and everyone loves. Her personality is engaging and captivating. She is full of life and has love and hope to share. She is incredibly hard working and tenacious. Despite English being her second language, she excelled in high school and beyond. She is incredibly determined, kind, and thoughtful. She truly lights up a room when she enters it, and I pray that she will be able to continue to spread this joy.
Professionally, I am a social worker, and have been for over a decade. I’ve spent many of those years working with people who have mental illness, whose lives are clouded with despair, depression, and anxiety. I’ve seen women who, in desperation, have made poor choices. Women who have lost control of their lives, their children, themselves. Even more personally, my own children were adopted from a mother who struggled with mental illness and addiction. A woman who lacked the skills to be a parent.
Mariel has nothing in common with these women. Mariel’s faith and sense of who she is does not waiver. She is strong, courageous, and a light in a dark world. Her passion for her family and friends are evident daily. She has strong support systems in her life, and without a doubt would never hurt anyone. It is simply not a part of who she is, where she came from, or who she wants to be.
I met Mariel 6 years ago after I moved to Minnesota to be closer to my grandchildren and family. Mariel and my daughter were good friends. I was a public school teacher for 23 years. After retiring, I moved to Minnesota where I got involved with my church and volunteered to teach with their MOMS program. MOMS is an acronym for "Making Our Mothering Significant", and mothers of all ages would gather together to listen to various speakers and to encourage each other in their faith and motherhood. I had the privilege of teaching Mariel's daughter in the MOMS class, and she was a joy to work with. Her daughter was kind, patient, and caring, just like her mom. The interactions I have seen between Mariel and her children have always been that of a patient mom with genuine care and kindness. As a public school teacher, I have worked with children and parents from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. I've seen parents who were very involved in the lives of their children, and those who sadly were not. During this time in the public school system, if I thought for even a second that a child was in danger, this was required to be reported to the state. I see no such signs here. From both a professional and personal standpoint, I can tell you that Mariel loves her children. She is a wonderful mother, patient and kind. Her children have learned to be the precious darlings they are because they are like their mother. Today, Mariel's four children are dear friends with my grandchildren. I can tell you that my daughter and son-in-law are very particular about who they let their kids play with, safety and moral excellence being of primary concern. They trust Mariel. My grandchildren trust Mariel. I trust Mariel. May God vindicate this precious mother and keep her family together.
This past November when my days on maternity leave were numbered, I needed a backup person to watch my baby when my parents could not. My daughter was so fragile and tiny, but also a fussy baby who spent a lot of time crying. The only person my husband and I mutually agreed upon that we trusted whole-heartedly was Mariel Grimm, our previous neighbor.
We moved August 1st, 2016 and the Grimm family was who we were most sad to be leaving. We lived across the street for two years, ate in each other’s homes, enjoyed time together, and loved watching their four children grow-up. In that time, my husband and I watched Mariel be the most patient, attentive, and caring mother to all of her children. Someone I knew without a doubt that I could trust with both my stepson and future children.
I had my first child September 20th, 2016. I brought my daughter over to Mariel and Andy’s house in November to show her off, but also to ask Mariel if she would be willing to babysit occasionally while I went back to work as a nurse. Instead of giving me an answer, she told me about the incident of the 13-month-old boy in her care becoming unresponsive and stiff. How the boy needed emergent brain surgery and was still in rehabilitation but not progressing how doctors had hoped. How detectives questioned her and her children, swabbed and took photos of everything in their home. How she was struggling because the little boy and his family, all of whom she cared for so deeply were having to go through this and live with this difficult diagnosis. She was also struggling with the trauma left from being with the boy when all this happened. Due to this tragic event, Mariel told me she wasn’t going to take on watching anymore children at this time. I completely understood because I would feel the same way.
In late March when I found out that Mariel, the woman born to be a nurturing mother, was being accused of harming the little boy the day he had become unresponsive while in her care, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how someone could know Mariel for even 5 minutes and think that she would ever hurt anyone, let alone a child. I read all the stories online including one doctor’s opinion that this case was shaken baby syndrome saying that with that type of hematoma the boy would have become unresponsive immediately or shortly after experiencing head trauma. Pointing their finger at Mariel since the boy was in her care at that time. I know from the bottom of my heart that this is not possible and is something Mariel would never do.
Working as a nurse, I have seen a lot of things and met many types of people. I have learned that medicine and physiology are both very complex topics, which is why it is so important to use evidence-based practice and collaborate care across multiple professions. This allows the team to be able to visualize all aspects of a patient’s health, rather than just focusing on one area. Without these things, we would be doing a disservice to our patients, revealing an incomplete or even inaccurate diagnosis. For example, this young child’s brain showed forceful trauma which was evident on scans and in surgery. However, externally he lacked bruises, fractures, or neck trauma which would have been evident if he had been shaken violently enough to cause such a severe brain hemorrhage. How can a small child be shaken so forcefully and not even have bruises from being grabbed hard enough to do so?
Evidence and research are changing the discussions on shaken baby syndrome, proving that these types of brain bleeds without external symptoms can be caused by a variety of things, but most predominantly from accidental falls. To not listen to the most up-to-date science can be absolutely detrimental. By giving this child a misdiagnosis, medicine is failing him by not finding the real reason for his injuries. It also threatens to tear an innocent mother out of her home and away from her own children. Thankfully Mariel was there to quickly respond and help this little boy.
I first got to know Mariel Grimm during a challenging time in my family's life. We had adopted a premature baby boy, and he wasn't tolerating any formula we tried. Mariel heard of our need when she had a tiny newborn herself. She generously offered to pump extra milk in order to provide for our son as well as her own baby. I saw Mariel patiently and kindly caring for her own little ones every time I came to pick up breast milk. She always inquired after my baby and my other children to see how they were. Mariel could have asked for payment for the milk which is the typical practice, or she could have decided the sacrifice was too much, but she faithfully helped our baby month after month.
In the last year, I have had the privilege of interacting with Mariel during the most difficult time of her life. Her kindness and empathetic attitude has amazed me every time I see her. Her children are thriving in her care and are clearly confident and well-adjusted. As an adoptive parent of kids with trauma in their backgrounds, I am able to recognize kids who are well attached from loving homes. Mariel's four kids are obviously from a healthy home filled with love and care. I would leave my children with her happily.
For those who have never met Mariel Grimm, I can understand doubt. I can understand outrage. All children should be protected, and anyone who injures a child should by all means be punished to the greatest extent. I do not waver on that stance. But this is not the case here. I sat in the courtroom for every day of this trial, and watched an innocent mother of four precious children be convicted of assault. She was convicted without any compelling evidence, and not a single witness to the alleged crime.
I have known Mariel for 7 years, and I trust her with my own children. I first met Mariel at church. We were in the same Bible study group and we were both new moms. I had recently postponed my career as a software engineer to be a stay-at-home mom, so I valued Mariel's insight on motherhood, as her educational background was in childhood development. She always loved creating lesson plans, looking at curriculum, and preparing for her children's education, even in the preschool years. I can remember Mariel inviting new people to our Bible study, trying to help newcomers to our church feel included. That's just her nature.
Not long after we met, I was expecting another child and had a difficult pregnancy healthwise. Mariel would call me various times during the week to see if I needed help. Then she would pack up her daughter, drive to my house, pick up my son (carseat and all his baby gear), and take both kids back to her house. I remember her doing this so many times, and I never even had to ask! I never questioned her love and care for my son. She is one of the best moms I know! And here she was a new mom herself, and she was willing to do this for me. Why? Because she thinks about others. She helps when there is a need. Her kindness is evident to all who know her. And because she also loves kids! You can see it in her actions and see it in her smile. Her face lights up when her children enter the room. When my kids talk nonstop, she gets on her knees to their level and listens to them with a smile on her face. She loves children, and I trust her with my own.
I can also remember the conversations we would have about our kids, and although this might seem trivial, it just shows her care in the smallest of details. I remember there was this puzzle that had locks and latches on it, and she was so excited to buy it because it would help with her children's hand-eye coordination. She would read reviews online of educational toys, and would get so excited about certain books for her children. She is a born teacher with her children's best interest at heart. And her children reflect the love and care she has provided. Her oldest son is one of the kindest friends that my boys have. Also, I have never met a stay-at-home mom with a house as neat as Mariel's. Maybe it's the organized teacher in her. It has always amazed me. I also remember visiting her in the hospital when her last child was born, and I'll never forget how gentle and reassuring she was with her newborn. When he would cry, she was so caring with him. She would always say "Oh, he's just exquisite!" Mariel's patience and calm nature are beautiful to see.
Since Mariel's conviction, I keep having the same conversations with moms I know. Would you ever watch a baby after this? For those of us who know Mariel would NEVER hurt a child, this is a terrifying wake-up call. If a baby has a seizure on your watch, God help you. God help us all. I spoke with one friend who takes in children that need emergency care. She is questioning whether she will even continue. If you can be convicted with no compelling evidence, and not a single witness to the alleged crime, this should be concern for ANYONE who has watched a child.
After Mariel was charged, a group of us gathered together to pray for Mariel's vindication and that truth would prevail. When Mariel began to pray...I sat there crying at the words she spoke. First she prayed for the baby involved, and for his complete healing. She loved him so much. Then she prayed that she would love Jesus more than her own freedom. As we listened to laughter from children playing in the yard, she then began praying for every child of every parent in the room. She prayed for each child by name. She never did pray for her own freedom that day. She prayed for God's will. As Mariel has said before, "He can deliver me from a guilty verdict, but even if He doesn't, He is good and worthy to be praised!" Her faith and trust in God's goodness, despite all that is happening, is inspiring to see.
Please pray for Mariel and her family. Pray that Jesus will sustain the faith and joy of Mariel's children during this uncertain future. Pray for the precious baby boy that was in Mariel's care, for his complete healing. Pray for his parents and those who love him. May God's truth be revealed and hearts mended. Both sides are suffering, and the lives of four precious children are about to be forever changed. It is a great call on one's life to protect innocent children. There is an equal call to protect the children of innocent parents.
Mariel watched our oldest daughter when she was just a few months old. Mariel always did a great job with Addie and we completely trusted Addie in Mariel's care. I've always admired Mariel because of her character, her faith in God, and her general demeanor. These, and the recommendation of a mutual friend, is what lead us to hire Mariel to watch our daughter. To this day I would trust Mariel to watch all of my children. She loves kids very deeply and authentically.
I’ve known Mariel since September of 2010. I remember because my middle daughter was just a couple of weeks old when we started a small group Bible Study together. Over the last 7 years, we’ve gotten to know each other very well. We’ve visited each other in the hospital to welcome new babies. We’ve watched our families grow and helped each other with homeschooling. Sometimes we chat on the phone several times during the day. My kids consider her kids practically siblings.
Mariel is the only person – other than my mother-in-law – who has ever watched my children overnight. I remember one time my husband and I left our older children with grandma for the weekend, but we didn’t want to leave the baby with her. We asked Mariel if she would be willing to take our 9-month-old overnight. This child was in the middle of an “only mommy” phase and wouldn’t even let my husband give her a bottle. We figured she would eat eventually. She held out for 12 hours before she would let Mariel feed her! What patience and love she has for our children to persevere through that.
Even as Mariel has gone through the stress of being wrongfully accused of harming a child, she continues to show love to others and trust in our God. One memory that will stay with me forever is that of the afternoon while we were waiting outside the courtroom for the jury to reach a verdict. We had no idea what was in store – but we were so hopeful that God would vindicate her. As we waited, we sang some worship songs together and then Mariel quoted from the Bible for us. She spoke to us from her heart – she said from memory Romans 5 and the entirety of Romans 8. She was glowing with God’s love for her and her trust in Him as she spoke to us about the hope that we have in being set free from the bondage of sin.
I have known Mariel Grimm for 16 years after we first met at Saint Croix Lutheran High School. I knew her then as a polite, friendly, and caring individual who immediately attracted many friends due to her outgoing personality. She married my twin brother Andy in 2006, and I have had the absolute privilege of calling her my sister-in-law while getting to know her on a much deeper level.
Mariel’s selfless attitude towards every interpersonal interaction has always astounded me. She is always willing to sacrifice her limited free time to help strangers, people at her church, friends, and family with whatever assistance she can offer. As a testament to her caring disposition, while pumping breast milk for her own children, she selflessly took the time and financial commitment to bottle the extra milk she had and distribute it to women and children in many places in Minnesota, other places in the United States, and her home country of the Dominican Republic. Her faith in Jesus Christ is also always evident in her life in everything she does. Every person that has met Mariel has felt warmth emanating from her. This warmth is displayed in her honesty, strength, humor, patience, and friendliness. My family is all the better for being able to call her a part of it.
When it comes to Mariel’s own children, she has always been an astonishing natural. It is evident that she is raising her own children to be respectful, caring, polite, empathetic, helpful, well-behaved, intelligent, and outwardly Christian. I have had the privilege of babysitting all four of her children on many occasions over the last 8 years and have always had an overwhelmingly positive experience. Her children speak of their time at home with the most exciting, loving, and content terms. They are eager to describe their homeschooling time with Mariel because she is very skilled at keeping it interesting and stimulating. Mariel has created such an atmosphere of love and support in her family that her children often got homesick only after several hours away from home with me. In the hundreds of hours I have spent with Mariel and her children, I have never, ever heard her shout, never even remotely hint at violence, never lose her patience, never lay hands on her children, and never say anything negative or hurtful to them. Even on the days when the children are exhausted and may be distracted, disobeying, or overly energetic, Mariel has always defused the situation with calmness, grace, and positive reinforcement that is profoundly evident in how her children act wherever they are – public or private.
As for Mariel’s interaction with other children, all of the above rings just as true. She has 6 other nieces and nephews (the children of my siblings) for whom she has also sacrificed immensely. She has graciously babysat all of those children on many occasions and lovingly cared for them, fed them, taken them on outings, and hosted them for sleepovers. All of these children are vocal about how they absolutely love Mariel and her children. This wouldn’t be possible if Mariel didn’t facilitate a wonderful atmosphere for these children to thrive in. Also, Mariel treated the children that she cared for as a daycare provider as her own in every way. Her natural skills and traits as a mother that I have already mentioned caused her to treat these children as if they were biologically hers. With every single child that Mariel has spent time with, I can say that I saw first-hand that she has taught them, instructed them, played with them, cared for them, set a good example for them, supported them, and has done all she can to help develop them into wonderful people.
I have stood by Mariel all through her recent trials and will continue to do so until God sees fit to bring the truth to light and dispel this darkness that has consumed her and her family for so long.
I have known Mariel Grimm for more than six years. Even in that short time, she has filled many roles in my life, including friend, running buddy, and loving sister-in-law. In the entire time I have known her, she has always been a person of great integrity, faith, and love.
One of the most striking things about Mariel is her love for children. Besides being a mother to four amazing kids, she is also an awesome auntie to the six other nieces and nephews in our lives. That love has always been a part of her life - it drove her choices in college as she pursued a degree in early education, and also in her early career as she worked at a church preschool where she eventually served as its director. It continued to fuel her as she took the opportunity to provide childcare in her own home while being with her kids while they are young. The kids who have come through her care have become like one of her own, and I know her heart is broken to be not allowed to offer comfort and care to the little boy at the heart of this situation.
I have seen that love over and over again. It is in part what makes this entire situation so tragically ironic. Who could believe that a woman who has been so truly called to love and care for little ones could ever harm one? That anyone has been convinced of this is an utter travesty.
Mariel made me believe that my mom must have been right when she swore to me that mothers have eyes in the back of their head. I can think of plenty of times where we might be chatting at a family gathering, and she's aware of exactly what's going on at any given minute with the kiddos playing around us.
There are so many moments I wish I could share with you all so that you might know this woman as I do:
Once, when we were all together at a family friend's, Andy and Mariel asked my husband to take a new family picture of the six of them. While there was eventually a frame-worthy shot with everyone seated, smiling, and looking forward ... for me, the "money shot" was one of the earlier ones. Andy and Mariel calmly sitting on the ground, smiling happily; the kiddos spinning and whirling around them like a joyful tornado. That picture encapsulates what it is to be in the presence of their family - happiness, joy, energy.
When our youngest nephew was born a year and a half ago, Mariel was away visiting her parents. The very first "family lunch" after she returned, her very first act upon entering the house was to scoop up that sweet baby for a snuggle. Absolutely none of us were surprised by her priority :).
Or, I could tell you about a picture of Mariel holding one of our nieces on a hot summer day a few years ago. At the time, I just thought to capture a cute moment. About a month later, we found out that Andy and Mariel were expecting their fourth child, and that moment took on a new sweetness for me.
There is much I could say, and certainly, I am biased. I hope in reading this, you will consider the love and trust Mariel has clearly inspired in so many of us. She is an innocent woman caught up in a nightmare. If I can beg a favor, I'd ask for your thoughts and prayers for all of us touched by this situation. It has hurt so many, not just in our family.
My name is Sage, and I have known Mariel for nearly seven years. We were in a small group through church for many years. In this small group, we met to challenge and encourage one another to lives of authenticity and integrity. We discussed the sermon and shared prayer requests weekly and really became transparent and accountable to one another.
Mariel has always been the kind of person who is honest to the core. She will tell you the truth (with grace) whether you want to hear it or not. She doesn't flatter or do the “Minnesota nice” thing. She carries herself with the utmost integrity and encourages others to do the same. I have spent time at her home when she was watching another child and was humbled by her heart to love that child like her own. and I was struck by her patience. At the time I only had one child and was impressed by her ability to stay calm and collected when dealing with the complexities of taking care of small, and oftentimes irrational children. You could tell she had been a teacher by the way she would often stop to give a tender-hearted teaching moment to a small child in need of redirection. She was never too busy to take a child in her lap and read them a book.
She is someone I would absolutely trust watching my own precious kiddos. Mariel is one of those people who must tell the truth. She is honest to the core. If she said she did not harm this dear child, she did not hurt this child. I thought we had a justice system that assumed you were innocent until proven guilty. Where is the proof? Mariel is innocent.
I met Mariel in 1998 in the Dominican Republic. Mariel, her two sisters, and their mother were some of the first students in the English class I was teaching. They remained my students for the two years I taught English there. During that time I got to know Mariel and her family well. They were kind, caring, and fun. They looked out for me and helped me adjust to a different culture.
I took a teaching job at St. Croix Lutheran in Minnesota in 2000, and that same year Mariel received a scholarship to attend St. Croix Lutheran High School. I was her dorm supervisor and soccer coach and helped her get accustomed to life in the United States. I got to see her make her first snow angel and find out what the word ‘cold’ really meant – welcome to Minnesota! On some holidays, she would come with me to Wisconsin. My family got to know and love her also. She was a sweet, kind, and considerate girl who genuinely loved and trusted others.
We have stayed in touch since St. Croix – my husband and I went to her wedding, she and her family have visited us in Wisconsin, and we have stayed at her house with her family also. We have had many phone conversations concerning the joys and challenges of raising children and I have always been amazed at her positive attitude and patience. Our three children stayed with Mariel, Andy, and their children overnight a couple summers ago and had a wonderful time.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mariel is innocent. She is one of the most genuinely gentle, kind, and patient people I know. She would never intentionally harm anyone. If she ever did accidentally cause harm to someone she would not, and in fact she could not, lie about it or cover it up. She would be the first to tell exactly what happened and would hide nothing. I’ve known her nearly 20 years, and she has always been, and continues to be, a deeply honest person.
I have talked to Mariel quite a few times the past months and was at part of the trial. Through these very dark and painful times she has always kept her trust and hope in God, kept the baby who had the seizure and his family in her prayers, and continued to show her love and concern for those around her. Many of us have found that when we called to encourage her we ended up being encouraged by her. She is a beautiful person, inside and out, and I am proud to call her my friend.
I have known and been friends with Mariel since May 2011. My husband and I had recently left the Military lifestyle, and Mariel was one of the first people I had met, after reintegrating into the civilian lifestyle. My husband and I met her at a small group meeting we had attended and hoped to join. Right away, I loved Mariel. At the time, she and I each had one daughter, both with the same names. The girls, although just 18 months of age, loved each other and, since then, they have grown up together. My daughter adores Mariel, too. She is saddened to think people believe the lies that Mariel would harm another child. As time has gone on, Mariel and I have been pregnant and had children at the same time. We have often talked about how we went from two daughters to eight children in such a short time and we feel so blessed to have these little people in our lives.
Mariel has been one of my biggest supporters in my life. I have gone through some dark times and she has always been one of the first people I have gone to. I know that I can trust Mariel. She is loyal and caring. She is a Godly woman, who has prayed for me, for my marriage, and my children. When I needed someone to hold me while I cried, Mariel did that. When I needed a listening ear, Mariel was that ear. She has been with me during the joyous times in my life as well. She has celebrated the birth of my children, their birthdays, our anniversaries, and so much more.
When I think about women and mothers in my life who I admire and who I am blessed to know, Mariel has always been at the top of my list. She is so patient, loving, and caring. She is honest and understanding. She is thoughtful and generous. If Mariel can give physically, mentally, and emotionally, she will and has for me. I am beyond blessed to know such a Godly woman.
There are very few people I trust with my children and Mariel is, and always will be, one of them. When a child walks in her door, she does nothing but hug them and shower them with her love. I have seen her care for other children, who are not hers or mine, and she treats them no different. She has a love for children that is beyond belief. She has patience that I pray I had.
Over the past almost year, I have seen Mariel change. I have seen her grow closer to God. She is so focused and steadfast. Her love for God is evident in all of this. She is determined to give God the glory. I sat in the courtroom throughout most of the 8 day trial, and I was amazed at how well Mariel kept her faith. I KNOW and BELIEVE that Mariel Grimm is innocent.
I met Mariel when she was the Preschool Teacher at Divinity Lutheran Church. I got to know her, and witnessed her interactions with the preschool children occasionally. She was very patient and kind with the students and it was clear she was gifted at working with them. She clearly loved those children. Mariel is a very gentle person. I have also witnessed how her own family responds to her. In her role as wife and mother in her family, it is easy to see how valued she is by her husband and children. I see genuine love and care displayed between all of them. I am not at all surprised that the polygraph results showed she did not harm the child in question, and I am further not surprised that the psychological evaluation showed that she is mentally stable and competent. I wish those results would’ve been allowed as part of the court record and for the jury to consider. My children are grown now, but if I had babies, I would not hesitate to allow her to care for them. I am confident they would be in very loving hands.
I'm Mariel’s brother-in-law and have known her for around twelve years. As our families have grown, I have seen, first hand, Mariel’s passion and patience for guiding and caring for children. Our four-year-old loves his "Tia"; loves visiting their house and playing with all his cousins. His very first "sleepover" was at her home with his cousins where he got homesick and ended up being comforted by his Aunt Mariel throughout the night.
There are ten grandchildren among the Grimm siblings. Family gatherings can often include friends with even more kids, all under age ten, some of whom cannot walk yet. I've remarked to my wife on many occasions over the years about how calm and collected Mariel is around the chaos that can frequently erupt around excitable kids, when my own mettle was perhaps being tested.
In all my years knowing Mariel, being around her with many children, I've never seen her lose her patience with any of them. I've seen her parent her own four children with love and kindness, disciplining when needed with a soft voice, never angrily let alone physically. I've seen her guide my kids with patience and grace. I've seen her care for children who are of no relation as if they are her own. These qualities of hers have always been evident and have always impressed me.
Mariel's accusal and now conviction has shocked me to my core. I often find myself wondering how we got here, how and why this loving, God-fearing wife, mother, aunt, educator is facing this mountain. Of course, my heart also aches for the other family and their own "why's". I wonder and ache about why things have happened. But I do know that I trust Mariel with my own two children unconditionally. And I do know and trust that Mariel is innocent.
I consider myself very blessed to be able to call Mariel my sister. Growing up with her in the Dominican Republic, she was always so caring and protective of me and my other sister, Carol. She always treated us lovingly with motherly instincts from a very young age. To this very day, Mariel is still always willing to listen to us, support us emotionally, give us advice, and do all she can to make our lives better. I feel this first hand as her sister and see it just as strongly in the way she treats her friends and family as well. From my very first memory of her until this very day, Mariel has been an extremely positive influence in my life.
It is because she naturally has these wonderful qualities that Mariel is such an incredible mother and caregiver. In all the time I have spent with her during my lifetime, she has always shown poise, patience, level-headedness, happiness, compassion, and strength. When it comes to children, these traits shine out of Mariel even more. Me being a person that lacks such a natural maternal instinct, I am even more amazed by her seemingly infinite patience with children. Even when things are chaotic, kids are tired and cranky, or Mariel herself is exhausted, she always seems to instinctively know how to relate to the kids and never shows even a hint of frustration in her voice. Because she mothers her own children this way, they are growing up to be such wonderful kids who are respectful, smart, funny, caring, outgoing, and loving. And, because her heart is so big, she has extended this strong motherly instinct to other people’s children by treating them as her own as well.
One of the many memories I have of her showing these characteristics is when she visited me at my office with her kids and my Mom. She was also watching the little boy (about whom this situation is about) that day and brought him along. When introducing them to my coworkers, she was holding the boy and proudly introducing him to everyone. She was so happy to show him off to everyone and clearly loved him as one of her own kids. This is what Mariel is like at all times with all children.
Both families are surely suffering. But, it breaks my heart to think that someone who has devoted so much of her life to teaching and caring for children is going through such a horrible ordeal. All she wanted to do was use her natural motherly instincts to be a positive influence in another child’s life. As her sister, I know that there is not a bone in her body that is capable of doing what she has been accused of and declared guilty of doing. But through the trial, the verdict, and all of the upcoming battles she is being forced to fight, we all know that Mariel is innocent and trust that God’s plan will be completed in His time and in His way.
“7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7-12
God is Love. Mariel is God’s child. Mariel is love.
God sent Mariel here when she was 16 years old, a junior at St. Croix Lutheran High School. I met her first because I was working at that time as St. Croix’s international student coordinator. I caught – like a virus ☺ - her enthusiasm, her happiness (she was so grateful for that opportunity!), her open heart, and her faith in God. She found a reason to love everyone she met! Then the miracle of love happened to Mariel and our son, Andrew. We get to have Mariel in our FAMILY!
The cynicism and scorn of this world have not diminished Mariel’s love for her God, her husband, or her children – among whom she counts her nieces, nephews AND the lovely kids for whom she was a daytime “mommy”! They have also not diminished the truth of her innocence of any harm or wrong-doing.
As her American mom, I have had the privilege walking beside her through life’s journey since 2000. Her gentleness, sincerity, and faith in God’s promises have never wavered. Her gentle, unconditional love for all children is an amazing example to all parents and caregivers.
And so the journey continues. We ride a tandem bicycle with God on the front. When we feel the vehicle turn, or lurch, or stop, we lean forward and say, “What’s happening?” God simply leans back, smiles His love, and says, “just keep pedaling. I’ve got this.”
Everyone’s sincere outpouring of love over the last year is God’s way of helping us pedal. Mariel’s innocence will be proclaimed! We are being held.