The Madison family accused of imprisoning, starving, and molesting a 15-year-old girl is due in court this morning.
The case that police called years of “child torture” has made national headlines. Meanwhile, a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to send the defendants to trial. Dane County prosecutors said: her father, Chad Chritton, 40, and step-mother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 42, forced her to live in an unfinished basement and live on scraps and feces; and her step-brother, Joshua Drabek, 18, sexually assaulted her numerous times.
The girl weighed only 70 pounds when she escaped her house in pajamas earlier this month. She was wandering the street barefoot until a neighbor found her and notified police.
An advocate praises that man who intervened. “Thank God,” says Hanna Roth of the Madison-based Rainbird Foundation, adding people can “easily turn a blind eye to this.”
Roth says those who suspect child abuse may not get involved because they fear violent retaliation, they believe such matters are the business of the family, or they simply don’t care. She urges adults to have the courage to report abuse and be suspicious of physical signs of it, such as bruises or cuts. Emotional signs could be an angry or withdrawn child.
AUDIO: Roth on signs of abuse (:44)
Meanwhile, officials say the 15-year-old victim is getting healthier and is now in foster care. Court records show a week after the girl’s escape, she gained 17 pounds under a doctor’s care.