Shawn Paholke, 33, and Jennifer Fendryk, 31, together face 23 felony counts of mistreating a 5-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister. They waived their right to a preliminary hearing in Oconto County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
A criminal complaint filed in Oconto County Circuit Court says a social worker told authorities the 5-year-old appeared to be severely underweight and that “bones were protruding from her face and body.”
The older girl told investigators Paholke used plastic zip ties to tie her hands to a pole on July 4, 2012, according to the complaint. Medical records show the 7-year-old was taken to a Green Bay hospital for treatment of second- and third-degree burns to her arms five days later, WLUK-TV reported.
Paholke told doctors at the time that she’d slipped and her arm got stuck on a hot deck, the complaint said.
In interviews with investigators, Paholke denied tying his daughter to a pole, but acknowledged using the plastic ties on her arms and wrists for 10 minutes as a part of a timeout.
Fendryk is not the children’s biological mother.
The 5-year-old weighed 24 pounds when the investigation started in May, the complaint said, which is about half the healthy weight for a girl her age.
She also told investigators she was locked in her dark, sparsely furnished bedroom most of the time and was only allowed out to exercise, scrub the floor and use the bathroom.
The social worker reported the room’s single window was covered with a piece of cardboard. The girl told investigators she couldn’t play with her sister or Fendryk’s 8-year-old son, who also lived in the home.
Paholke and Fendryk told investigators they would withhold food and send the 5-year-old to her room for disciplinary reasons, according to the criminal complaint.
Fendryk’s attorney, Bradley Schraven, said she will plead not guilty at arraignment scheduled for Oct. 29.
Paholke’s attorney declined comment Thursday.
Information from: WLUK-TV, http://www.fox11online.com