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Wisconsin couple accused of starving daughter, 15
Question of the Day
MADISON, Wis. — A severely malnourished 15-year-old Wisconsin girl found walking barefoot in pajamas near her home last week told police her father and stepmother had forced her to live in the basement for years and that they beat her, starved her and even forced her to eat her own feces.
The couple, whom the Associated Press is not naming to protect the identity of the girl, were arrested Friday on suspicion of child abuse and neglect, and a judge set their bail Tuesday at $20,000 each, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
A hearing was set for Thursday to review the bail and talk to the judge about the status of the charges, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Wednesday. He said police had not yet forwarded him the evidence and that he couldn't comment on when charges might be filed.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said someone notified police after seeing the girl barefoot in her pajamas on Feb. 6.
According to a police affidavit, the girl said her father, 40, and stepmother, 42, had forced her to live in the basement since 2006 and that an alarm would sound if she went upstairs. She said she ate what she could find on the floor and in the garbage, and that her father and stepmother had forced her to eat her feces and drink her own urine.
The girl weighed just 70 pounds when she was brought in, and Dr. Barbara Knox, of American Family Children's Hospital, told police the malnutrition the girl suffered "poses a significant risk of death" and that chronic starvation had caused her puberty to be arrested. Knox also said the girl would be at high risk for other disorders and complications that can lead to death, according to the affadavit.
The girl told investigators she fled her home because she was afraid her stepmother was going to throw her down the stairs. She said she had been let out of the basement to "clean some papers" for the woman, who became angry because she wasn't doing it fast enough and threatened to throw her down the stairs.
DeSpain said the girl's father initially gave police medical explanations for her condition, but a hospital social worker told police there was likely much more to the case.
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