Wisconsin news outlets are reporting on a horrific case of neglect and abuse by a Wrightstown couple against their adopted son. In what one doctor has called “the most egregious example of starvation and torture,” criminal charges have been filed against the husband and wife.
Bradley and Kimberly Fahrenkrug of Wrightstown, Wisconsin were charged on Monday with first degree reckless injury, child neglect resulting in bodily harm, false imprisonment, mental harm to a child, and first degree reckless endangerment, after allegedly starving their five year old adopted son, whose name is being withheld.
According to papers filed with the court, in April of this year, the child was taken to American Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, suffering from what was described as “the most egregious example of starvation and torture that (doctors) had ever seen.”
He is currently under constant monitoring at the hospital and has been given unrestricted access to food.
Speaking to members of the press this week, Bradley Fahrenkrug tried to explain the context, saying “I guess I don’t want to say that Kim and I began to withhold food away from (the child) but we began to portion it out so that he would not get sick. We did not want him to gag which is what he would do when he would overeat. I believe that he may be manipulating the nurses now to get more food. He is really smart. I am not worried about him getting extra food now. I am worried about his behavior.”
He also said that the child was prone to violent outbursts and occasionally refused to eat. He went on to state that the couple has taken their adopted son to seek counseling and that their biological children did not have the same behavioral problems.
In the complaint filed with the court, police investigators however say that the boy “…has not shown any of the behavior claimed by Kimberly and Bradley and appears to be a normal five-year-old with appropriate behaviors.”
Doctor Barbara Knox is a physician and child abuse expert at children’s Hospital. She says that the child is at “risk of great bodily harm and/or death.” He is being monitored for a condition known as refeeding syndrome, common to victims of severe malnourishment and starvation.
The criminal complaint goes on to detail other treatment the boy received as described by the couple’s other children. They claim that he was “ made to wear a helmet, a compression vest, flippers and a backpack filled with weights and ordered him to march and do other exercises.”
The Fahrenkrugs claim that the helmet was for his own protection and that the weights were supposed to help him strengthen his legs.
Forty year old Bradley, and thirty eight year old Kimberly are currently being held in the Green Bay jail, on a one hundred thousand dollar cash bond.
Have you ever heard of such profound abuse of a child? What do you think the parents’ punishment be if they are found guilty of these charges? Please share your thoughts and stories with us here.