Child abuse case involves seventeen felony charges - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Child abuse case involves 17 felony charges

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The father and stepmother of a Madison teenager, who was allegedly starved and tortured, face a total of eight additional felony charges in the case.

Not guilty pleas were recorded Monday for Chad Chritton, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, and the teen victim's stepbrother Joshua Drabek.

There are now a total of 17 charges in the cases against Chritton, Drabek-Chritton and Drabek.

The new charges involve alleged mental harm to a child; failure to protect a child; false imprisonment; and child neglect resulting in bodily harm.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said the new charges were the result of a review of existing, investigative information.

Authorities alleged the 15-year-old girl was kept a virtual prisoner in the family's basement through an alarm system, and was regularly denied food and was forced to scavenge from garbage. Authorities alleged the girl was sexually assaulted by her stepbrother.

In motions filed with the court, Chritton's attorney, William Hayes, stated Chritton's ability to pay for his defense has become infeasible.

Hayes and Drabek-Chritton's attorney, Thomas McClure, both argued in motions the cases against the family members should be dismissed because a court failed to hold preliminary hearings as speedily as the law requires.

In court documents, Hayes also maintained the victim has mental health problems that explain her accusations of abuse.

Authorities said the girl weighed less than 70 pounds when she slipped out of the family's Treichel Street home and was found by a passerby. Authorities said a UW Hospital physician determined the girl was the victim of serial child torture and said no evidence of mental illness was found.

McClure said Drabek-Chritton has a potentially serious kidney condition and jail medical staff were improperly treating it.

McClure said jail-required prescription medication had led Drabek-Chritton to lose ninety pounds since her February arrest. At the time of her arrest, jail records listed Drabek-Chritton's weight at 370 pounds.

In a court motion, McClure argued the side effects of Drabek-Chritton's jail-required medication may be exacerbating a kidney condition, and the prescription is contrary to Drabek-Chritton's previous care through a physician.

Drabek-Chritton's medical care will be the subject of a court hearing next Monday.

Motions to dismiss the charges against the father and stepmother will be considered in a May court hearing.

County officials have proposed the teenager be declared a child in need of protective services and removed more permanently from her father's care, a proposal Chritton is objecting to.

The girl is currently in foster care.

Hayes said a permanent guardianship for the teen has been proposed.

Records show social workers, school staff, police officers and probation agents had varying levels of contact with family members, including the girl, over several years, but the child was never removed from the home. 

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Child abuse suspects Chad Chritton and his wife Melinda Drabek-Chritton will be in court Monday.

The couple is accused of torturing and starving Chritton's 15-year-old daughter. They're scheduled to enter pleas Monday to child abuse and neglect charges.

Police say the couple denied the girl food and made her live in the basement, and that her stepbrother -- Joshua Drabek -- sexually assaulted her.

Drabek is also expected to enter his plea Monday.

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