In a sea of shocking abuse stories recently hitting the headlines, a young teenage girl that was nearly starved to death by her own stepmother and father has to be one of the most devastating.
A Wisconsin father was convicted of abuse for starving his teenage daughter down to 68 pounds and was sentenced to a five years in prison. The father reportedly stood by quietly and allowed the stepmother to abuse, beat, and withhold food from the girl.
Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese heard a statement from the 42-year-old man prior to sentencing, insisting his daughter suffered from severe emotional and behavioral problems that he couldn’t handle, that his job as a trucker kept him away from home, and that he didn’t notice how thin she had become.
“There was no master plan against my daughter,” the man said, his voice breaking at times. “I was bailing water from a sinking boat with my bare hands.”
The 15 year old girl might have remained in that basement they allegedly kept her locked in, had she not run away and been picked up by a passing motorist in February of 2012.
The girl told investigators she had spent most of the previous five years confined to the home’s basement and was denied food.
Judge Genovese acknowledged that the girl obviously had problems and that everyone who encountered her had failed her. But, she told the father, “It’s your turn to accept your part in this.”
“What I think you did was put your head in the sand. It’s your job as a dad to see it and you didn’t. Really, the buck stops with you,” the judge said.
The girl also told investigators that her stepmother beat her, her stepbrother repeatedly forced her to perform oral sex on him, and she was forced to eat her feces and drink her own urine.
“They made me feel like I was dehumanized a lot,” the girl said in a letter to Genovese. “It’s all thanks to my stupid dad and stepmom for not giving me an education and keeping me locked up for most of my life and making me feel like I was in a scary spot in my life.”
The Associated Press generally doesn’t name potential sexual assault victims and isn’t naming anyone in the family to avoid identifying the girl.
The stepmother is spending five years in prison thanks to Judge Genovese, who convicted her on the charges of reckless endangerment and causing mental harm to a child. The stepbrother is also scheduled to stand trial on sexual assault charges in February.
The father has been through two trials. The jurors in a March, 2013 trial deadlocked on some charges, leading to a second trial which came in November. His charges were child neglect, child abuse, reckless endangerment, and causing mental harm to a child - all felonies.
The man’s attorney, Jessa Nicholson, commented that he deserved probation. He has already lost his family and his job, his wife is in prison, and his reputation has been destroyed, she said.
“Apparently we are still a society that favors punishment,” she told reporters after the hearing.
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