When the malnourished 15-year-old awoke each morning, she could hear her family eating and getting ready for the day. If she felt especially brave or desperate she would call to her stepmother and beg for food, but usually she just went back to bed and hoped her hunger pangs went away.
The girl was 70 pounds when she was rescued. She told investigators during lengthy interviews at the hospital that most of the food she ate was scraps she found on the floor or in the garbage. She had spent most of five years in the basement of her family’s Madison home, where she was beaten and sexually assaulted.
The girl’s statements, contained in court documents, paint a troubling picture of physical, mental and sexual abuse. The girl describes running away, only to be found, brought home and threatened. Confined to the basement, she had no one to ask for help. She wasn’t allowed to go to school or church, have visitors or talk on the phone.
Dane County officials say the girl is getting help now. She gained 17 pounds after about a week under doctors’ care, a criminal complaint said. She has been placed in foster care, and child welfare officials say there’s been an outpouring of support from people across the nation, who sent cards and letters.
Her father and stepmother have been charged with child abuse, child neglect and reckless endangerment. The charges carry a maximum combined prison sentence of 11 years, 3 months. The girl’s 18-year-old stepbrother is charged with child abuse and child sexual assault and faces 68 years behind bars if convicted.
Lets hope they get the maximum sentence for their crimes. Unfortunately, I do not think it will be long enough to give this poor little girl justice.