MADISON- A teenager tortured, starved, beaten and sexually abused. She's in the hospital as three members of her family are charged with unthinkable crimes.
The criminal complaint goes into graphic detail, alleging this girl suffered horrifying treatment in deplorable conditions -- at the hands of her own family. TODAY'S TMJ4's Annie Scholz sat down with a woman who says she saw some of it with her own eyes, and the system failed.
Melissa Clark described the girl she would sometimes see from across the street. "She was very pale, gaunt, she would cower," said Clark. "No one interacted with her outdoors at all, unless it was to bark an order."
That girl is now in the hospital after three of her family members, who appeared in court Thursday, allegedly treated her so badly, doctors have described it as "torture".
In the criminal complaint, the girl claims her father Chad Chritton, her stepmother Melinda Drabek-Chritton, and her stepbrother Joshua Drabek did everything from starve her to sexually abuse her.
Making it more disturbing, records show numerous referrals to child protective services in 2007 from her school at the time, and from Clark's family just last year.
"I'm very angry -- because you tried to do the right thing, many of us did," said Clark.
The defendants didn't speak in court, but have claimed to authorities they locked the girl up because she has mental issues and was a danger. Right now, she's getting the medical care she needs, as a community cries for answers.
"I think the system failed her. I think as a community we failed this child," said Clark.
Her father and stepmother face more than 19 years behind bars, her stepbrother could spend the rest of his life there.
All three suspects will have their preliminary hearing on February 23rd at 8:30 a.m. in Dane County court.