Created: 11/22/2013 10:35 PM
(AP) MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin man accused of locking his teenage daughter in the basement and starving her down to 68 pounds was convicted Friday of child abuse and other charges, but was acquitted of false imprisonment.
The case came to light in February 2012 when a passing motorist found the girl wandering the streets after she had run away from home. The girl told investigators she had spent most of the past five years confined to the basement of her family’s home and was denied food despite begging to eat. She said her stepmother beat her and her stepbrother repeatedly forced her to perform oral sex on him.
A jury Friday found the father guilty of reckless endangerment, intentional child abuse and causing mental harm to a child. But it found the Madison man not guilty of a charge of false imprisonment for allegedly keeping his daughter in a basement.
It was the second trial for the father of the girl, who is now 16. A separate jury in March convicted the father of felony child neglect but acquitted him of a misdemeanor neglect count. They deadlocked on four other charges, and prosecutors decided to retry him on those counts.
The 42-year-old father took the unusual step of testifying in his own defense during his second trial, saying his daughter suffered from severe behavioral problems and he did his best to get her help. He put her in the basement after a psychologist said she should live on a different level of the home than the rest of the family, he said.
He boarded up the windows so she wouldn’t climb out and raid the neighbors’ trash, he said. But he denied ever locking her in or withholding food, saying she simply refused to eat the meals he made for her and chose to dine on crumbs and garbage.
The trial began on Nov. 12, and jurors began deliberating the case on Thursday.
The girl’s stepmother was sentenced in July to five years in prison for reckless endangerment and causing mental harm to a child. Her stepbrother is set to stand trial in February on two sexual assault charges as well as a child abuse count.
The Associated Press isn’t naming anyone in the family to avoid identifying the girl.