Five Years to Serve, Justice Hardly Served

A Wisconsin man and his wife were sentenced to five years each for imprisoning their teenage daughter in their basement for six years. Apparently the father testified during trial that he tried to get his daughter to become a ward of the state because he could not care for her. The couple’s justification for imprisoning their daughter was that the family needed to be protected since she suffered from mental health issues. It sounds like she was the one who needed protection.  It also is understandable that the teenage girl might have mental health issues from being imprisoned by her own parents for over half a decade.

Additionally, the girl’s older stepbrother faces charges of sexual assault against her. His trial will begin this month. The alleged acts initiated by the step brother occurred numerous times. It is unclear whether the parents were aware of their son’s actions.

While it is undoubtedly shocking to hear of the abuse and neglect this teenage girl went through, it seems even more appalling that it took so long for anyone to notice. While the girl was home-schooled and thus, probably did not get out as much, there must have been someone who knew of her existence and could inquire as to her whereabouts for the past six years. The 15 year old girl was seen by a passerby in her pajamas looking overly malnourished (68 pounds) leading to an investigation and the charges being brought in 2012. It is two years later and the parents are just now facing the consequences of their actions.

This young girl was imprisoned for five years and prevented from enjoying aspects of life that are inherent in our day to day routines. She was deprived food multiple times, but even when her parents provided food, she had to eat of the floor. She had to use the restroom in boxes and bathe in a utility sink. Not only did this experience toll on the teenage girl mentally, but she was also physically abused. The teenage girl also stated that she was forced to eat her own excrement multiple times.

The exchange of those six years of her life, and arguably more time considering she will most likely continue to struggle with the awful memories of her experience, with the five years both parents will serve does not seem just. This teenage girl needs to know that her parent’s actions were cruel and deserving of more than five years. It is clear that her parents have already set a horrid example of how to treat others and your children. Could this court not have provided a better example by sentencing these parents to at least six years, equaling the minimal amount of time they stole from their daughter? It seems the court could find plenty of justification for a sentence of way more than five years.

For more information:

http://news.yahoo.com/wisconsin-man-sentenced-starving-imprisoning-daughter-235640721.html?soc_src=mediacontentsharebuttons

http://host.madison.com/news/local/crime_and_courts/ffd78388-76e3-58a5-97a6-1d788d8b4660.html

About Lara Hogue

Lara Hogue is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from the University of Texas in 2012 with a B.A. in Government. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, Lara was Recording Secretary for Phi Sigma Pi, a nationally recognized honor fraternity. Lara also volunteered at the Austin Child Guidance Center which focuses primarily on therapeutic play and clinical therapy for children with behavioral disorders. Currently, Lara serves as secretary for LawHorns, speaker coordinator for Christian Legal Society, and is on the Houston Journal for Health Law & Policy. Lara is interested primarily in juvenile delinquency and related mental health issues.

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