Melinda Drabek-Chritton, 43, of Madison, Wisconsin was sentenced in a Wisconsin court today. She pleaded no contest in April to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and causing mental harm to a child. Her 15-year-old stepdaughter had been starved and mentally abused. Drabek-Chritton will now go to prison.
This is a story of two natural parents who put their needs and ambitions before those of a child. There are no ‘good guys’ here, only one abused and neglected child who was the victim of several ‘bad guys.’
This is about a 15-year-old girl who was struggling with lifelong emotional issues. Until 2006 she had lived with her birth mother and her stepfather in Texas. Her mother’s husband was a registered sex offender. The young girl claimed she had been sexually abused by him, and later recanted. However, Dane County Human Services investigators eventually determined she had been sexually assaulted.
In 2006, she went to live with her father and his wife, Drabek-Chritton. In 2008, she had her last medical appointment. Her father and stepmother ‘gave up on her.’ They said: They “didn’t want to be bothered with her problems and gave up.”
On February 6th, 2012, the girl ran away from home. She was found by a ‘passer-by,’ barefooted and in pajamas. He called the police.
When she was taken by the authorities, at first they believed she was eight or nine years old. She weighed 68 pounds. She told police that she was kept in the basement, and was not allowed to use the bathroom upstairs. She said she was abused by Drabek-Chritton, and her stepmother encouraged her stepbrothers to do the same.
The prosecutors wanted to add a charge of ‘torture.’ But Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese rejected the notion that the girl had faced “torture” by her father and stepmother. Instead, Genovese called it “profound and sustained neglect” that recklessly endangered the girl’s safety and ultimately her life.
Her father, Chad Chritton was convicted of felony child neglect in March, but a jury was deadlocked on other charges. He will be retried in November.
At least one of her stepbrothers will be charged in February for sexual assault.
Drabek-Chritton was sentenced to eight years, five in prison, and three of extended supervision.
The 15-year-old girl was treated and is now living with a foster parent. She testified in court on Friday that the girl was improving, but said she continues to have difficulties, including communicating with others, making friends, and doesn’t like to be touched or hugged.
The prosecuting attorney summed up the situation. The girl was failed by the system. She was a victim of uncaring parents, approximately from the age of seven or eight.
There will most assuredly be more individuals sentenced to jail time. For now, the woman who starved and abused her stepdaughter will be going to prison.
Alfred James reporting