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August 15, 2014 | 03:52 PMELKHORN — A Genoa City couple is accused of locking their middle-school-aged child in a bedroom over night and depriving him of food for days on end.
Michael G. Donahue, 46, and Carrie M. Donahue, 37, each face felony and misdemeanor charges related to the case. The abuse allegedly occurred in the villages of Genoa City and Bloomfield.
The couple will make their first court appearance on Aug. 25 in Walworth County Circuit Court. They are not in custody and have been summoned to the hearing.
Genoa City Police Chief Joseph Balog said that in his long law enforcement career he hasn't seen anything similar to this case, and "I hope I never do again."
The criminal complaint states that Child Protective Services (CPS) responded to a report that a 12-year-old boy would be locked in his bedroom for 12 hours at a time. A witness told CPS that his parents would yell at the child when he went to the bathroom in the bedroom, which would cause the boy to curl up into a fetal position.
This was reported on Dec. 16, and the next day the Genoa City Police Department interviewed the child and removed him and one of his siblings from the home. The children haven't been back in the Donahue's custody since, Balog said.
Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci said he has not received any reports of abuse on the other children.
"This has been a thorough and extended investigation," Necci said.
The criminal complaint describes an incident, which allegedly occurred the night before the boy was taken into protective services, in which he stood next to the dinner table when everyone else was eating. His father then allegedly got the boy a plate, but dumped the food into the sink because the boy had previously taken food.
The boy told police that there was an alarm on his door because he was stealing food and because sometimes his sister would give him food. On Dec. 17, when he was removed from the home, he told a forensic interviewer that he last ate four days ago.
A school guidance counselor told police that on two occasions the boy was caught stealing food from the school, and she believed he stole the food because he was hungry, the complaint states.
Balog said for the investigation his department interviewed more than 20 people. He said the Donahues also provided police with the names of friends who had witnessed them with their children. Balog said the police wanted to give the Donahues the "benefit of the doubt, and we wanted to interview everybody."
"Prior to this becoming public I had one witness who came in and disclosed some very good information about what happened at the Bloomfield address, about observations at that home,"
On Friday, after the case appeared on Fox 6, Balog said another witness came forward to describe behavior she witnessed.
The school guidance counselor also told police that the child would arrive at the school dirty. One on day, the boy arrived at school so dirty that he showered in the gym and was given clothes. The counselor told police it was the worse she had ever seen a child, according to the complaint. The counselor told police that Carrie Donahue "read her the riot act" for giving the boy clothes to wear.
The counselor also told police that Carrie Donahue came to the school's lost and found to retrieve a Hanna Montana backpack, which she made the boy wear to school as punishment.
The criminal complaint states that family members reported that the child was incontinent. He also reportedly kept his fingers in his mouth to the point of his mouth bleeding. However, for a week in June 2013, the boy was checked into Rogers Hospital where a doctor reported the boy didn't display behaviors of incontinence.
On Dec. 23, police raided the Donahue residence and confiscated Michael Donahue's phone where police located "numerous unflattering pictures (of the victim) including a picture of (him) wearing a green wig, a pink and blue backpack, shoes, and Pull-Ups, the (the boy) appeared to be crying."
The boy's sister told a forensic interviewer that Michael Donahue would make him keep his hands in his mouth until his lips would bleed and would be "all wrinkly," the complaint states. If the boy would cry, Carrie Donahue would allegedly put hand sanitizer in his mouth, according to the complaint.
The criminal complaint also states that since the boy was removed from the Donahue's home he has exhibited no signs of incontinence. Balog said the last contact he had with the alleged victim was through CPS.
"Their statements are that he was thriving and doing very well in school," Balog said. "The conditions he was forced to live with — the hygiene conditions he was forced to maintain — are no longer an issue. He is doing remarkably well."
Balog said the investigation into the Donahue's was a joint effort between several departments.
"I wanted to thank the Child Protective Services, and the Walworth County Detective Bureau their detective assisted with some of the forensic review of some of the electronic evidence we recovered. Definitely a combined effort."