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Mom pleads guilty in meth exposure case

FARGO - A 19-year-old woman accused of exposing her 1-year-old daughter to methamphetamine pleaded guilty Monday to a downgraded charge of contributing to the deprivation of a minor.

Amber Helps of Moorhead received a deferred imposition of sentence and one year of supervised probation for the Class A misdemeanor in Cass County District Court.

Helps must undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and mental health evaluation and follow through with the recommendations. She also must comply with the requirements of Cass County Social Services, which still has custody of the girl, Assistant State's Attorney Tristan Van de Streek said.

Helps had been charged with felony child neglect or abuse, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Police responded to her basement apartment in the 1400 block of First Avenue North on June 25 after a Social Services worker had been there and raised concerns. The police report described squalid living conditions and a furnace with exposed wires that would be accessible to anyone, "especially an exploring child."

The girl's hair tested positive for meth exposure within at least the previous 90 days, as did Helps' hair, the report stated.