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Parents, brother charged in Shawano County child abuse case

Shawano Co. child abuse and neglect suspects
Shawano Co. child abuse and neglect suspects(Shawano Co. Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:25 AM CDT
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WAUKECHON, Wis. (WBAY) - The parents and adult brother of two Shawano County children are charged with repeated physical abuse of a child and chronic neglect of a child causing great bodily harm.

Gabriel and Lisa Gutenberger and Lisa’s 18-year-old son Dade Marthaler were charged in Shawano County court Tuesday and will make court appearances next Monday, July 13.

According to the criminal complaints, Child Protective Services was investigating serious allegations of child neglect and requested a deputy to be on-hand while she interviewed two children, a boy and a girl, in late June. The boy cried as he told them he was required to perform outdoor chores including cutting the lawn by hand, weeding the lawn, chopping wood and cutting firewood but was given very little water. He said he was given punishments if he did something wrong, such as not being allowed to eat, his dad spanking him with a belt if he bent his knees while weeding the lawn, or running 8 to 16 laps on the driveway for long distances. He said he was sometimes given water if he worked very hard.

The boy also said he was required to sleep on the floor of his bedroom even though it has a bed, and his parents installed a camera and alarm so they would know if he tried to leave his room. He wasn’t allowed to eat with the rest of the family. He says his family can’t stand him because of all his punishments.

The health services worker described the boy as “skin and bones.” He was taken to a Children’s Hospital which found the boy was underweight and malnourished, and had to be hospitalized to monitor him as he was given food. He was removed from the Gutenbergers’ home and placed in a foster home, where authorities say he had difficulty eating.

The deputy said the girl wasn’t willing to be interviewed because she was afraid she would be punished for saying anything. In regards to punishments, she would only say that’s what happens when you live a sinful life, that sins need punishment. The criminal complaint says the girl also had health issues but not as serious as her brother’s.

According to the criminal complaint, the camera in the boy’s room was still recording when the health worker and deputy came to the Gutenberger’s house. Because there was a lock on the camera, it continued recording while Marthaler talked to his mother about what to do with the alarms. Marthaler was also recorded carrying the camera to the basement and hiding it behind or under something on a shelf.

The Gutenbergers have six children, including Marthaler.

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