State probation agents made three visits since mid-December to the house where prosecutors say a 15-year-old girl was tortured, starved and abused by her parents and stepbrother, according to the state Department of Corrections.
The girl was found outside the Southeast Side house barefoot in pajamas by a neighbor on Feb. 6. Her stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton; father, Chad G. Chritton; and stepbrother, Joshua P. Drabek, were charged Thursday with various counts related to child abuse.
According to a criminal complaint, the girl was forced to live in an unfinished basement, scavenge food from the garbage and eat her own feces.
In a separate matter, Drabek, 18, had been sentenced Nov. 15 by Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese to three years of probation for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in Deerfield.
Drabek was required to wear a state-issued electronic monitoring bracelet as a condition of his probation. Two probation agents conducted a residence assessment on Dec. 13, DOC spokeswoman Linda Eggert said. An agent visited the house to conduct a standard visit on Jan. 10 and Jan. 19.
Residence assessments typically include a thorough on-site inspection of the residence and neighborhood, including a visual inspection of the offender's sleeping quarters, Eggert said.
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It's unclear why evidence of abuse wasn't detected by the agents. Further details of the house assessment and subsequent visits are not available as the DOC conducts investigates whether Drabek violated his probation, Eggert said.
The family also had several contacts with county social workers going back to May 1997. The first case was substantiated, but six other reports of abuse or neglect were either deemed unsubstantiated or did not go through a formal assessment.
Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green cautioned that the seven cases don't necessarily relate to the same child. The girl has two half-brothers ages 7 and 4 who were living in the house and are now in foster care.
Green said the state determined the reported cases in June and September 2009 and in March 2011, which didn't receive a formal assessment, did not rise to the level of giving the department the authority to conduct an investigation.
"Had any of the previous referrals on any child contained information similar to the circumstances in this specific case, Dane County Human Services would have screened the case in for further investigation," Green said.