Couple accused of torture pleads not guilty in Madison court

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MADISON (AP) -- A husband and wife accused of torturing and starving the man's teenage daughter and forcing her to live in their basement entered pleas of not guilty in court Monday afternoon.

The Madison couple, Chad Chritton and Melinda Drabek-Chritton, pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless endangerment, child abuse and child neglect. They entered the same pleas to four new charges filed by Dane Co. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne including: causing mental harm to a child, failure to protect a child, false imprisonment and child neglect resulting in bodily harm.

The couple is accused of forcing Chritton's teenage daughter to live in their basement where the unidentified girl has told investigators her stepmother and father denied her food and access to a bathroom.

Prosecutors also accuse the girl's stepbrother, Joshua Drabek, of sexually assaulting her. Drabek also entered not guilty pleas to a charge of child abuse and two counts of sexual assault at the same proceeding.

The victim was 15-years-old when she was found wandering barefoot outside in February, underdressed and severely underweight.

Melinda Drabek-Chritton is due back in court on April 23rd when a judge will discuss her health care situation. Both Drabek-Chritton and Chad Chritton are scheduled for court on May 18th for a motions hearing.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.

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