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Father wants allegedly abused teen to testify

Published On: Aug 01 2012 02:16:42 PM CDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2012 09:29:21 PM CDT
Chad Chritton
MADISON, Wis. -

The Madison teen who wasted away to 68 pounds after her parents allegedly locked her in the basement and denied her food will almost certainly have to take the stand if her father and stepmother go to trial.

The father's lawyer filed motions this week asking that the girl be compelled to testify in person.

Attorney William Hayes wrote that having the girl testify live rather than by videotape allows his client his constitutional right to confront his accuser.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne declined Wednesday to go into specifics about his plans for that specific case. However, he said whenever he gets ready for a trial he makes sure all potential witnesses are prepared to take the stand.

The girl's father, stepmother and stepbrother all face child-abuse charges. 

Online court documents show Chritton's lawyer also filed a motion for a change of venue. 

The suspects are due back in court Aug. 31.

Prosecutors said the girl's father and stepmother, Chad Chritton and Melinda Drabek-Chritton, denied the girl food and forced her to live in the basement.

The girl told police the couple had kept her confined to the basement of their Treichel Street home since 2006 and that they beat her, starved her and forced her to eat feces.

Ozanne has filed felony counts of causing a child mental harm, failing to protect a child, false imprisonment and child neglect against both Chad Chritton and Melinda Drabek-Chritton. They are also facing charges of reckless endangerment, child abuse and child neglect.

The girl's stepbrother, Joshua P. Drabek, also has been charged with sexually assaulting her.

All three of them have pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The victim was 15 years old when a driver spotted her wandering barefoot in pajamas outside near her home on Madison's southeast side and called police. The driver said the teen was so scrawny he mistook her for an 8-year-old.

The girl weighed just 70 pounds when she was found, and the doctor who examined her determined she was severely malnourished. A doctor who specializes in child abuse examined the teen and diagnosed her condition as "serial child torture with prolonged exposure to definite starvation," according to the criminal complaint.

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