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DHS questioned over handling of abused Madison teen

DHS questioned over handling of abused Madison teen

By Annie Scholz. CREATED Feb 20, 2012 - UPDATED: Feb 20, 2012

MADISON- A teenager tortured.  Her family is accused of the horrific abuse.  There are questions about whether it could have been prevented.  There were several calls to child welfare officials about the family.

TODAY'S TMJ4 wanted to know how the teenage girl ended up in this horrific situation.

Melissa Clark lives right across the street from the house where a 15-year-old girl was allegedly locked in a basement, starved, and abused by her family.  Clark tried to sound the alarm with the department of human services last year.

Melissa Clark: 
"I'm very angry."

TODAY'S TMJ4's Annie Scholz: "Because you tried to do the right thing?"

Melissa Clark: "Many of us did...Somebody should have known.  She slipped through the cracks."

In addition, the criminal complaint says the girl's elementary school called "numerous" times back in 2007. 

TODAY'S TMJ4 went to the Department of Human Services to get answers.  Director Lynn Green met TODAY'S TMJ4 in the lobby, but for legal reasons said she couldn't talk specifically about the details of the case.

She did agree to talk about the controversy surrounding her department given the call records.

"The state did release that information, and what we have said is we get over 4,000 calls and we screen out about 2,000 of those," said Green.

Green defended her staff, saying they follow state protocols and procedures.  She admits it's not a perfect system, but says it works more often than it doesn't.

"Situations like this can happen with nobody doing anything wrong," said Green.  "I understand the public, sometimes, not understanding. "

Something that's difficult for most to grasp, when a little girl's suffering was silenced for so long.

The victim in this case is recovering in the hospital.  The two other younger children in the home are now in protective custody.  The girl's father, stepmother, and stepbrother are due in court later this week.