Teen victim in Chritton retrial testifies, collapses - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Teen victim in Chritton retrial testifies, collapses in court


MADISON (WKOW) -- A teenage victim testified against her father in Chad Chritton's retrial on child abuse-related charges, and also collapsed in the middle of the courtroom after a portion of her testimony.

The girl's collapse took place late Wednesday morning after she walked off the witness stand during a court break. Court personnel swarmed around her, and Judge Julie Genovese cleared the courtroom. Sheriff's deputies with emergency medical equipment brought her a wheelchair and removed her from the courtroom.

The 16-year old's health improved enough to permit her to continue testifying Wednesday afternoon, and she described mistreatment at the hands of Chritton and her stepmother, Melinda Drabek Chritton.

The girl said she was confined to a basement, without a bathroom, in the family's Treichel Street home. She said the basement had a locking mechanism, an alarm she described as "piercing," and a motion sensor to detect her movements and keep her in "her area," described as a small space around her makeshift bed.

The teen testified she defecated in the basement and tried to hide the feces. She testified there were occasions her father found what she had done, and forced her to "chew" the excrement.

The girl also said she was denied food often and punished if it was discovered she had hidden food.  "They made me strip down...buck-naked (and do household chores)," the teenager testified.

Authorities say the girl was found out in the cold in skimpy clothes and shoeless on a cold, February day in 2012 as she ran away, the then-15-year old weighed sixty-eight pounds, eighteen pounds less than her weight at 9-years old.

During her several hours of testimony, the teen acknowledged Drabek-Chritton was often involved in her mistreatment and punishment, and said the source of much of her fear was her stepmother. During cross-examination by Chritton's attorney, she backed away from some of her accusations against her father, and described her feelings about him as "love-hate."

Drabek-Chritton is serving a five year prison sentence for a conviction connected to the girl's mistreatment. In March of this year, Chritton was convicted of felony child neglect, but a jury deadlocked on four other felony charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

Chritton's attorney, Jessa Nicholson maintains the girl's mother's boyfriend, a convicted sex offender, sexually assaulted the child years ago in Texas, and the girl confirmed that during testimony. Nicholson says Chritton rescued the girl from a dangerous, Texas home life and brought her to Wisconsin. Nicholson says Chritton was ultimately overwhelmed by the teen's significant, mental health issues, and the basement locking system was suggested by a psychiatrist as security, in the event the teenager acted out violently.

The girl testified she did not suffer from conditions ascribed to her by family members, such as anorexia, and spoke coherently during her testimony, also appearing to be of normal weight. The teenager is living with a foster family.

Chritton's trial is expected to continue through the end of next week.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne tells 27 News the hope is the teen victim in the retrial of Chad Chritton will resume her testimony Wednesday afternoon, after collapsing in the courtroom Wednesday morning.

After the judge called for a short break in her testimony, the 16-year-old girl, Chritton's daughter, took a few shaky steps before falling to the ground.

She received medical attention and the courtroom was cleared.


The teen victim of alleged starvation and confinement by her father collapsed in Dane County Court after briefly testifying Wednesday, with her ability to continue as a trial witness unclear.

"Our concern is her health," district attorney Ismael Ozanne told 27 News after leaving court following the medical emergency.

The 16-year old girl delivered a few minutes of testimony Friday morning, before Judge Julie Genovese announced a brief recess to give the girl a break from the witness stand.

After jurors were excused, the teen was wobbly as she began walking away from the witness stand, and then collapsed in the middle on the courtroom. Court personnel rushed to her side, and Genovese cleared the packed courtroom.

The girl was on the floor for approximately three minutes before sheriff's deputies with emergency medical equipment and a wheelchair removed her from the courtroom.

Genovese resumed court briefly, noting for the court record the teen witness had apparently fainted.

Court officials said the girl would not resume her testimony Wednesday, with other scheduled trial witnesses expected to take the stand Wednesday afternoon.

The teen's father, Chad Chritton is on trial on four felony counts in connection to his daughter's alleged mistreatment. Chritton was convicted in March of felony child neglect, but a jury failed to decide on the other, four felony charges.


 MADISON (WKOW) --- The retrial of Chad Chritton is underway Wednesday.

Chritton is on retrial on felony charges connected to his teenage daughter's treatment.

Wednesday morning, Chritton's daughter, the victim, collapsed in the courtroom.

After five minutes of testimony, the judge ordered a recess to give the victim a break.

When she got up, she collapsed.  The judge ordered everyone out of the courtroom.

We will continue to update this story here on www.wkow.com

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