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Court: No punishment for unpaid child support

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Supreme Court says a man who owed 11 years of child support for his two children cannot be punished because there's no proof that he didn't care for them.

Larry Nelson, of Rochester, was convicted three years ago for failing to pay about $83,500 in child support. Nelson maintains the state failed to prove that he had failed to care for his children. But, prosecutors say the words in the law about ''care and support'' refer to financial obligations.

Justice David Lillehaug wrote in his dissent that the ruling ''handcuffs'' the state in prosecuting others who ignore child support requirements.  A majority of the Supreme Court agreed with Nelson that the law is unclear.