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Donald Windey sentenced to 17 years in prison for abusing adopted children

Donald Windey. Photo: Brown County Jail
Donald Windey. Photo: Brown County Jail(WBAY)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:08 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A De Pere man convicted of more than a dozen charges of physically, mentally and sexually abusing his adopted children is now facing 17 years in prison followed by supervision.

Donald Windey was found guilty on felony counts of repeated sexual assault of a child, being party to the crime of physical abuse, strangulation or suffocation, and four felony counts of causing mental harm to a child.

As Action 2 News has reported, the criminal complaint said children living with Donald and Shirley Windey were inappropriately touched and kissed, as well as physically hurt and given food punishments.

At his sentencing Wednesday, Windey said he was “very sorry for the ways in which I failed as a father.” He said he was sorry for the times he made the children scared, made jokes at their expense, didn’t provide or know the help they needed, and that they didn’t feel the love for him that he felt for them. He said he had to be strict based on their behaviors.

He pointed out he didn’t have a prior criminal record and was involved in his church for years. He said he and his wife have lost everything, including their home, jobs and reputations.

Sharon Windey was sentenced in January to 4 years in prison.

Brown County Judge John Zakowski said at sentencing, “Don, you are a wonderful person, but you can be mean, too. I have seen it.”

He rejected Windey’s claim that the children conspired to tell a story so they could get out of the Windeys’ home, pointing out the kids’ claims went back years.

Zakowski also said he was irritated that the kids were put in this place. He said the Windeys, who believe in corporal punishment, should not have been allowed to foster or adopt these children.

“This should have been red flagged, and then the Windeys wouldn’t have been put in that situation, the kids would have been spared. The system failed. It’s a tragedy of immense proportions,” Judge Zakowski said.

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