Starved girl's family members charged - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Starved girl's family members charged

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MADISON (WKOW) -

The father and stepmother of a starved teenager were charged with several felony crimes in Dane County Court Thursday, as state officials documented a half dozen social service interventions over several years with no apparent success in protecting the child.

Court commissioner Todd Meuer set bail at $30,000 for the girl's 38-year-old stepmother, on charges of reckless endangerment and child abuse, and $22,500 for her 40-year-old husband, on reckless endangerment, child abuse and child neglect charges.

The girl's 18-year-old stepbrother was charged with sexual assault for alleged actions against his stepsister. Drabek is already on probation for the sexual assault of a separate child.

A criminal complaint details years of alleged mistreatment, including denying the girl food, keeping her in a basement with an alarm system, choking and striking her.

"This has been going on for years," assistant Dane County district attorney Matthew Moeser said.

The girl, now 15, was found by a passerby earlier this month as she walked in her pajamas and barefoot along a McFarland road. Authorities said the girl weighed 70 pounds.

The complaint states the girl's face appeared sunken with her collarbones sticking out, and that she was"gorging" on food after authorities got her to care. The complaint states the girl gained 17 pounds in a matter of days.

According to the complaint, the girl told authorities her stepmother often denied her food, while her father claimed food would trigger diabetic reactions and render the girl prone to violence.

Court documents state the girl's stepbrother, two small children in the household, and the girl's father and stepmother would eat normally, while the girl would scavenge for food from garbage and go days at a time without eating. Her stepmother was listed in court records as 370 pounds. Authorities said there was no evidence to support family claims of the girl's alleged medical conditions, including eating disorders.

A state summary of child protective service reports to the Dane County Department of Human Services documents a half dozen contacts with the girl or her family over alleged mistreatment between 1997 and the present, with only one contact resulting in finding of substantiated maltreatment.

The complaint states the girl attended Glendale Elementary School in the past, but often would refuse to leave the school bus to go home. The complaint states during one social work investigation, staff received information that the girl's father and stepmother and were "...trying to make basement bedroom not look like a dungeon."

"It also appears that the family in the past was not cooperative with the department of human services or the city of Madison police department," Moeser said. Court documents state the two refused social workers access to their home during at least one investigation, and refused staff access to the girl's stepbrother and the girl at times when both were minors. State and county officials were unavailable to comment on whether court actions were considered or attempted to overcome parental objections during investigations, with officials citing confidentiality rules.

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