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Evidentiary hearing scheduled in case of starved, sexually abused Madison teen

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A gavel sits in the Luke Air Force Base courtroom By U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Grace Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A gavel sits in the Luke Air Force Base courtroom By U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Grace Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A preliminary hearing was delayed Tuesday in the case of a Madison girl who was starved while her father and step-mother kept her in their basement for a number of years. Prosecutors asked that the girl’s video testimony be sealed – and while the defense didn’t object, reporters did. Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith set a hearing for Tuesday afternoon on whether the testimony should be made public. The judge delayed the preliminary hearing until Friday, after District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said his main witness could not testify Tuesday morning due to a family emergency. The girl’s 40-year-old father and 42-year-old step-mother are both charged with reckless endangerment, child abuse, and child neglect. The girl’s 18-year-old step-brother is charged with sexual assault, for repeatedly demanding that she give him oral sex. He’s scheduled to enter pleas next Monday. Authorities said the girl ran out of the house in her pajamas in mid-February, and a passer-by called 911. She only weighed 70 pounds, and the man who saw her thought she was only about eight – or almost half her real age. The preliminary hearing will determine if there’s enough evidence to order trials against the father and step-mother. Ozanne said there was nothing to be gained by playing the video of the girl’s testimony, because Judge Smith had already seen it. If it was made public, the father’s attorney said the resulting media coverage could cause potential jurors to be prejudiced. Smith said the video was allowed so the girl would not have to testify in person – and had she appeared, her testimony would have had to be given in public.

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