MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin father convicted of abuse for starving his teenage daughter down to 68 pounds was sentenced today to five years in prison.
Before being sentenced by Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese, the 42-year-old man read a statement insisting his daughter suffered from severe emotional and behavioral problems that he couldn't handle, that his job as a trucker kept him away from home and that he didn't notice how thin she had become.
"There was no master plan against my daughter," the man said, his voice breaking at times. "I was bailing water from a sinking boat with my bare hands."
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 had spent most of the previous five years confined to the home's basement and was denied food.
Genovese said it was clear the girl had problems and that everyone who encountered her failed her. But, she told the father, "it's your turn to accept your part in this."
"What I think you did was put your head in the sand. It's your job as a dad to see it and you didn't. Really, the buck stops with you," the judge said.
The girl also told investigators that stepmother beat her, her stepbrother repeatedly forced her to perform oral sex on him and she was forced 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 Genovese. "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."
The Associated Press generally doesn't name potential sexual assault victims and isn't naming anyone in the family to avoid identifying the girl.