WorldNow - Chritton's father testifies in child abuse trial

Chritton's father testifies in child abuse trial

MADISON (WKOW) -- The father of the Madison man on trial for neglecting his teenage daughter says he tried to tell his son he was worried for his granddaughter.

David Chritton took the stand to testify against his son, Chad Chritton, who faces seven counts of child abuse. He's accused of leaving his 15-year-old daughter, known as SLC, in the basement with no food or a bathroom. She was found last February after escaping the home. She weighed less than 70 pounds.

After Chad Chritton sought help for SLC, who he said had mental health problems and was angry and dangerous, the girl went to live with her grandparents in Minnesota. That was in 2007 when allegations surfaced that SLC's step brother Joshua Drabek had sexually abused her.

David Chritton says he and his wife had only seen SLC a handful of times since she was born in 1996, so they were excited to have a chance to get to know her for a while. He says the girl acted as any 10-year-old would, except that she didn't understand how to play like other children.

"We had to show [SLC] how to throw a ball, how to throw a frisbee," says David. "She was just scared to death of all this stuff. She didn't know how to ride a bike or anything else."

David testified that SLC quickly got over her fears and began to enjoy her new childhood with her extended family, but in the fall the girl went back to live with Chad and his family. At that time, David says he told his son he was worried for SLC.

"I didn't think that Melinda [Drabek-Chritton] had [SLC's] best interests at mind, just a feeling I had," says David. "That was the end of the conversation. Chad said that's enough leave; he didn't want to have anything to do with that, he didn't want to hear about it."

Drabek-Chritton, SLC's stepmother, also faces the same seven counts of child abuse as her husband, including false imprisonment and neglect.

David Chritton says last time he saw SLC was in 2009 at a family dinner. He testified that it seemed the girl was much different than when she left Minnesota. He said she was very quiet, and only spoke when spoken to.

During cross examination, defense attorney William Hayes asked whether Chad Chritton was concerned for his daughter. David testified that Chad was worried SLC would feel abandoned, first being sent away from her mother in Texas in 2006 and then her father soon after.

Testimony is expected to continue all week. Tuesday morning, Judge Julie Genovese told the court the trial would need to be extended into next week. We're still expected to hear from the victim herself sometime this week. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told 27 News he can't anticipate when that will happen.

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