Abuse expert hopes tortured teen video will help other kids

Tom Murray

Abuse expert hopes tortured teen video will help other kids

By Tom Murray. CREATED Mar 14, 2012

MILWAUKEE - Harry Lewis knows about the long road to recovery for abused kids.  He is a clinical social worker for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and has been counseling children for decades.
 
TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray showed Lewis video of a police detective interviewing the girl at the center of a Madison abuse case.
 
"She's at the severe end of that spectrum," Lewis said, after viewing the video.
 
Investigators say the 15-year-old endured years of torture.  Her father, Chad Chritton, and stepmother, Melinda Drabek-Chritton, allegedly denied food and forced the girl to live in the basement with no bathroom, according to court documents.
 
"She was in a camp and everyone was against her and I'm sure she was very fearful of that," Lewis said. "She was very fearful of being able to go into the kitchen and eat normally."
 
This veteran clinical social worker hopes this teen girl's painful story will help other kids.  He believes it could make neighbors, teachers, doctors, nurses and coaches more alert to the early signs of child abuse.
 
"I think it's really important to start recognizing the signs of kids who have been abused and neglected, in order to get that help early," Lewis said.
 
A judge decided Tuesday that the two-hour investigation interview video would not be sealed, making it available to the public.   It is expected that the video will be used in lieu of the girl's testimony in open court.
 
The father and stepmother are due back in Dane County court on Friday for their preliminary hearing.