A starving girl's father received a five-year prison sentence for abuse on Wednesday. Weighing just 68 pounds when she was found, the adolescent girl survived.
The 42-year-old Wisconsin truck driver read a prepared statement to the court prior to his sentencing in which he insisted that his abuse was not intended. He claimed it was a result of his inability to properly care for his daughter, who he said suffers from severe emotional and behavioral problems.
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"There was no master plan against my daughter," the man said, his voice reportedly breaking at times. "I was bailing water from a sinking boat with my bare hands."
Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese responded by telling the man that considering he knew his daughter had problems, he should have taken the proper steps to see that she received help.
"What I think you did was put your head in the sand," the judge said. "It's your job as a dad to see it and you didn't. Really, the buck stops with you. . . It's your turn to accept your part in this."
The case came to light in February 2012 when the girl, then 15, ran away from her family's Madison home and was picked up by a passing motorist. The girl told investigators that she had spent most of the previous five years confined to her basement and was denied food. At the time of her discovery, the emaciated girl weighed just 68 pounds, the Associated Press reported.
The victim's name was withheld due to her age and the nature of the case. Similarly, the names of her family members were also not published to prevent the girl from being identified.
According to the girl, she was also beaten on multiple occasions by her stepmother and forced to perform oral sex on her step brother. In addition to the physical and sexual abuse, the girl said that she was forced by her stepmother and stepbrother to eat her feces and drink her own urine.
"They made me feel like I was dehumanized a lot," the girl said in a letter to the judge. "It's all thanks to my stupid dad and stepmom for not giving me an education and keeping me locked up for most of my life and making me feel like I was in a scary spot in my life."
Genovese sentenced the stepmother to five years in prison this summer after the woman pleaded no contest to reckless endangerment and causing mental harm to a child. The stepbrother is set to stand trial on sexual assault charges next month, the AP noted.
In her closing remarks, the judge said that the father deserved the same sentence as his wife for stealing away five years of the girl's life.
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