The Brookfield community and autism activists are enraged over news of a Wisconsin couple’s arrest. Police charged the parents of an autistic girl with child neglect after they learned the daughter was locked in a basement like a caged animal, according to a CBS 12 news report on the disturbing case of alleged child abuse.
Residents in the small town that is south of Dodge and northwest of Milwaukee were shocked when they learned about a girl forced to live in the basement of a suburban home. Affidavits on arrests claim that the parents — 41-year-old mom and 47-year-old father — kept their 13-year-old daughter locked in a basement daily in deplorable conditions.
The special needs girl suffers from a “low-level grade” of autism, which impairs her cognitive abilities. Apparently, police were tipped off by a caller who wished not to be identified. They claimed the girl was confined to an area of the home and alienated from the rest of the family.
Wisconsin couple accused of locking teen in basement charged with child neglect: http://t.co/cfoXmRZ3Y7
— WBAY-TV 2 (@WBAY) March 27, 2015
Officials at the school the girl attends began noticing her reporting to class covered in body waste. Administrators noticed stool in her hair and all over her clothing. Fellow students teased and bullied her over the foul smell. However, the girl continued to report to school in the same condition, even after repeated reports to her parents.
Despite the girl’s struggle with the learning disability, she managed to communicate to investigators how she underwent the daily ordeal of being locked in a basement after she arrived from school. Reportedly, the parents sent their daughter straight to what some describe as a “dungeon”-like environment.
There, she would dress in a one-piece outfit with a zipper and have her meals alone. Reportedly, there was no running water and toilet in the basement where the girl was forced to stay. Moreover, police say because the area is not climate-controlled, the temperatures in the walls would get down to 50 degrees.
Emily Levine, executive director of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, weighed in on the news that the couple locked their daughter in a basement of their residence. Levine understands the rigors of raising a child with the neurodevelopmental disorder; she has an autistic child herself.
“It makes me cry, or want to punch somebody. Both. I can’t understand wanting to hurt a child. This is part of the stigma that’s attached to autism and other behavioral disorders, is people are treated in an inhuman way.”
Another teen daughter in the home told police that her sister was indeed forced to sleep in the basement. When she was not locked in the area of the home, her sibling was not allowed to sit on any furniture. Sources say the child’s mom told police the father called the girl “stink,” referring to body odor for not washing.
Neighbor Joe Gnatzig was surprised at the news the girl lived in the home even though he lived next door. It speaks how reclusive the couple’s daughter was.
“I didn’t even know she was there. I never even saw her get off the bus.”
After learning the teenager’s parents locked their own daughter in the cold basement against her will, she was removed from the home. At this time, she remains with her grandparents.