WRIGHTSTOWN, Wis. - A Wrightstown couple was charged Monday for allegedly starving their 5-year-old adopted son and mentally abusing the child in what those certified in child abuse called an "egregious example of child starvation and torture."
Kimberly Fahrenkrug, 38, and Bradley Fahrenkrug, 40, were both charged with multiple counts of abuse and child neglect.
The couple brought their five-year-old adopted son to the UW American Family Children's Hospital in early April, saying he was refusing to eat, court documents said.
Kimberly and Bradley both told doctors the child would not eat, and was throwing tantrums and banging his head on the wall, requiring him to wear a helmet, according to the criminal complaint.
However, doctors did not see any of that behavior from the boy, and he ate everything given to him by hospital staff, court documents showed.
During the boy's stay, hospital staff grew concerned over the parents' treatment of the boy, particularly his mother Kimberly. She allegedly tried to control his food intake in the hospital, court documents said.
One doctor who treated the child said his illness and medical condition "poses a threat to his life or bodily function," according to the criminal complaint.
While in the hospital, the boy told doctors he got more food at the hospital than at home and that his siblings received more and different food than him.
He had been hospitalized previously in October 2016 for "failure to thrive," meaning he was not growing like a normal child his age.
The boy's siblings both told investigators that recently, the parents had only been feeding the boy soup and he was refusing to eat it. If he did not eat it, they would feed it to him again for his next meal, court documents said.
The child told investigators he did not like the soup and that's why he refused to eat it.
The siblings also told police that the boy was forced to do laps in the hallway while wearing a weighted backpack every morning. The parents told police this was because the boy had leg and foot problems, and the laps were to help straighten his legs and feet, court documents showed.
He also had multiple bruises on his body when he arrived at the hospital, which his parents said were from running into the gate in his room's doorway and falling in the shower, the criminal complaint said.
Kimberly and Bradley told officers the boy slept in a crib because he often fell out of his bed, and he had a gate in the doorway to his room so he could not get out at night. The boy told investigators he would get locked in his room when he was misbehaving, but his siblings would not get in trouble, court documents showed.
Bradley told investigators he and his wife had been foster parents since 2009 or 2010 with the goal of adopting a child, court documents said. They also have two biological children.
Both parents claimed when the boy first arrived in their home, he would overeat and make himself sick. As a result, the Fahrenkrug's said they tried to use portion control on the child.
The child has since been removed from the Fahrenkrug's home and placed with a foster family. The foster family told police he has not had any problems eating and has behaved like a normal child, without throwing any fits, the criminal complaint said.
Bradley told police the child had become a "good liar," and was manipulative.
Nonetheless, police arrested and filed charges against the two because school officials, medical professionals and foster parents did not corroborate the parents' accusations that the child regularly threw tantrums and refused food.
Kimberly was charged with first degree reckless injury, mental harm to a child, first degree recklessly endangering safety, child neglect resulting in great bodily harm and false imprisonment. Bradley was faces the same charges as a party to the crime.
A cash bond of $100,000 was set for both Kimberly and Bradley Fahrenkrug. They cannot have contact with each other or their children.
They will both be back in court July 25.
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