Accused of doing the unthinkable: Couple charged with child abuse, neglect

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WALWORTH CO. (WITI) -- A Genoa City father and stepmother, 46-year-old Michael Donahue and 37-year-old Carrie Donahue, are now charged with numerous crimes -- accused of doing the unthinkable to a 12-year-old boy. This is a case investigators in Walworth County have been working on for several months.

The criminal complaints against the Donahues says the abuse happened to the boy in a Genoa City home -- as well as a previous home in Bloomfield. Child protective service workers took the boy and another child out of the home in December after a man visiting reported what he saw.

Criminal complaints say Carrie and Michael Donahue would lock the boy in a "bedroom for 12 hours at a time, then yell at (the child) for urinating in the room."

Michael Donahue

On Michael Donahue's phone, police found photos of the child in unflattering situations such as "wearing a green wig, a pink and blue backpack, shoes and pull-ups, and the child appeared to be crying."

The complaint alleges the couple would not feed the child for days, the child would steal food, and for punishment, the couple allegedly "would make him keep his hands in his mouth until his lips would bleed." One time, after not eating for four days, the child told an investigator he "had to stand next to the dinner table and when everyone was eating in front of him, he got a plate and (Michael Donahue) dumped his plate in the sink and would not let him eat."

It was earlier, in September 2013, that the state got involved in monitoring the situation because the boy's school reported what was seemingly going on. The school reported the boy came to class wet, disheveled, dirty -- at one time, they had to shower him in the school locker room and give him fresh clothes.

Carrie DonahueSchool officials say he "had the word 'die' written multiple times on both arms" and he stole food because he was hungry. At the end of October, the boy was "found at the school with a shoelace tied around his neck."

FOX6 News asked police how the child is doing now that he's in protective custody. Officials say he seems to be thriving.

Why did it take so long to charge this couple? The Genoa City police say it took time to interview 20 subjects and execute three search warrants.

If convicted, the Donahues each face up to 12-and-a-half years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.


  • IMO

    Sick people. Glad intervention happened in the nick of time. Hope this boy gets the help he needs and the couple get the punishment they are so deserving of.

    • miller

      If the boy has these problems you speak of, he should have been under the care of a psychiatrist. CPS wouldn’t be involved if they were taking proper care of the kids.

    • Jennifer Faus

      You’re the kind of person that is the problem. If he really had been abused, he should have been seeing a psychiatrist, not being left go. Instead, you’re blaming the child who had no recourse to do anything about what was happening to him. You’re sickening. He’s 12 yrs old, and just fyi, in case you haven’t noticed, his “parents” don’t look very bright. Before you blame a child, you should shut your mouth and pay attention to what’s actually going on instead of just seeing what you want to see just because you know the parents. People only allow you to see what they want you to see. Remember that.

  • jessica

    God bless that little prayers go out to a mother there is no excuse and they should have a taste of their own medicine ..sick lunatics..

  • Janean Keener

    Those parents need to be locked up in jail FOREVER and throw the key away. That poor child what he went through. I am so glad to see that kid thriving. Im so glad that little boy is in a safer environment and what he went through shows he is a tough kid.

  • Lucky

    In the nick of time? Not at all. The damage was done. I’m sure it could have gotten worse. But that boy is and will be a damaged boy. I hope he gets the help he needs with caring loving trustworthy adults. Life is cruel enough on its own. Good luck little guy.

  • Leslie

    Things are not always what they seem. There are two sides to every story and don’t judge until the FACTS are presented. Presumed innocent until proved guilty folks.

    • greg rendflesh

      Guilty till proven innocent get it right people have that one wrong they wouldn’t have them in custody if they didn’t have cold hard evidence you can not get a search warrant without evidence

      • JokeEnthusiast

        Evidence isn’t guilt Greg. It’s innocent until proven guilty for a reason. God help us if it was the other way around. On another note, if these people did do these things to their child they are scum and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

  • brooke

    Anybody can accuse anybody of anything. I pray to God the truth comes out. I pray for this entire family. Perhaps he is thriving cause he was safe to begin with. If abuse like this went on, my opinion he would not be thriving.

  • greg rendflesh

    Twelve and a half years is not long enough you do not treat a child like that those are some sick twisted individuals starve them and see how they like it that child will be scared for life over this incident

  • kenneth

    the mother and her boyfriend was convicted of abuse and now walworth county wants to put him back in her house what is wrong with those people leave him where he is protected and loved

  • Mamadubbs

    I can only pray this child is placed with someone who will love him the way he deserves. I don’t know these people but I cannot understand how any adult involved in this child’s life did not see the abuse and act upon it sooner. Thank God one man finally did.

  • Yvonne O

    The mother and boyfriend were found guilty by a jury and are CONVICTED FELONS for child abuse. That conviction was NOT over turned and there was a reason it was not. There were bruises as physical evidence regardless of what the poor child was coerced into saying. The county needs to leave him where he is, where he is loved, cared for and safe with family that is stable, responsible and capable of caring for him.

  • just call me Uncle Mike

    I know this family and I’ve met this child. The treatment described in this article is actually tame compared with the boy’s reality. The abuse has been going on for a while it was reported almost 4 years ago. There are far more serious issues here than have been mentioned….the school knows what some of these are….and I am not going to post them here…..the CPS records will document this as will police and court records. . Worse yet it is my understanding that the real mother and her boyfriend have been previously convicted for child abuse. Four years of being starved, beaten, etc. is a lot to expect for a young boy to tolerate. I am hopeful that he does not go back to his biological Mother….for more punishment. God save this kid. Those of you who want to say “innocent til proven guilty do not have the benefit of family eyewitness accounts or the numerous complaints and testimony that have been provided to The Police, Court, and CPS and the boy’s school all have been provided testimony after testimony. I’d bet 1/2 the town of Lake Geneva knows about this. If there is one ounce of justice, or humanity in State of Wisconsin…pls get this kid out of that environment.

  • Yvonne O

    I know these people as well and for those who don’t, a look at their record shows a clear picture of their true character, that no one can deny or excuse.

  • just call me uncle mike

    I would like to add that it took a lot of effort by concerned family, friends and school officials to get the CPS and Police to take action. The courts and judges have all been complacent….had it not been for the determination of several GOOD People….this boy would still be being tortured daily. The hands of justice move slowly….and this boy suffered a lot more than he should have because of it.

  • Christina

    I would adopt this boy in an instant! so sad. If the parents don’t want to be parents they should give their child to someone that does and will treat them right!

  • kayla reisner

    I’m from genoa city, used to live in the german camp. These two need to be charged with life, not 12 years. That’s pathetic.

  • Concerned

    I have followed this case as I know the parents. The mother Karen Lake and her boyfriend were both convicted of child abuse for this boy. Ever since that conviction the father and his wife have had full custody of him and his sister. He never acted the same after that abuse .I know and have seen him refuse to eat, steal, urinate himself, self harm himself and lie on a regular basis since he was abused by the mother and boyfriend. Before you judge the parents being charged you should know that there is two sides to every story and these poor people tried to protect and get this boy help for two years with no good results. This boy was not starved he refused to eat as well as refused to do anything these parents asked. He has made false statements to CPS and has trouble telling the truth and keeping his lies The truth will come out and vindicate these people.

    • Justice

      To Concerned. You say you witnesses all of this well did you also send the boy to school so filthy the school has to shower him? You hung out with these 2 well you should be ashamed of yourself! I guarantee justice will prevail. These 2 will be incarcerated so you can go see your wonderful friends behind glass!!!

  • someone who knows the truth

    It’s people like you that don’t know the truth that can sit there and basically threaten these people you don’t know on this stupid Web page without knowing the true does this news station get away with that

    • Rachael

      It sounds like this child has reactive attachment disorder. I’m sure these parents reached out for help and didn’t receive it. I hope they will be able to prove their case in court.

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