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Website seeks donations for couple in starved teen case

Published On: May 10 2012 09:32:49 PM CDT   Updated On: May 11 2012 10:27:44 AM CDT
Chad Chritton
MADISON, Wis. -

The Madison parents accused of starving and torturing the man's 15-year-old daughter are asking for help from the public to pay for their legal defense.

A website has appeared online asking visitors to donate to the legal fund for the girl's father, Chad Chritton, and stepmother, Melinda J. Drabek-Chritton. They are accused of abusing the girl over a five-year period.

There are 11 pages on the website, which is registered to the physical address of Chad Chritton's attorney in Beloit.

The website paints the couple as loving, doting parents struggling to raise a troubled child, in part because of thin financial resources.

The website is at http://chadandmelindachrittonlegalfund.com. The site appears to have been online for less than a month. It was registered in mid-April.

The website features photos of the couple looking much younger, and every page offers visitors a way to donate to their legal defense.

One paragraph on the website reads: "Chad and Melinda are vehemently opposed to child abuse and believe that anyone who abuses a child should be held accountable. They also recognize teenagers lie and some teenagers have severe mental health problems that can account in part for their actions."

People to whom WISC-TV showed the website to in downtown Madison on Thursday said they weren't buying them couple's claims.

"I think she should have gotten the help that she needed. I don't see them using it as any excuse for the result," said Candy Porter, of Reedsburg.

"I don't think they showed any compassion at all toward their child, and I just don't have any compassion toward them at all," said Bill Barnes, of Madison.

An attorney for Chad Chritton didn't want to discuss the website, but he said Chad Chritton initiated it. Since Chad Chritton remains in jail, it's highly unlikely he created the website, WISC-TV reported.

The couple makes a number of claims on the site about why their daughter was in the physical shape she was and attempts to explain her living conditions.

At a hearing in March, defense attorneys for the couple argued the girl was mentally ill and tried to harm herself. The attorneys said that the couple had tried to get medical help for her before.

Dr. Barbara Knox, the doctor who examined the girl after the teen ran away from home only wearing thin pajamas, has testified that she believes the girl faced torture and starvation at the hands of her father and stepmother. She diagnosed the 70-pound girl as a victim of "serial child torture with prolonged exposure to definite starvation."

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne wouldn't comment on the open case.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 18. WISC-TV has tired to interview the couple, but they have declined those requests. 

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