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Testimony continues in Donald Windey child abuse trial; wife decides not to testify

Donald Windey. Photo: Brown County Jail
Donald Windey. Photo: Brown County Jail(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 6:38 PM CST
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A Brown County judge hears hours of testimony on Thursday in the court trial of Donald Windey.

The 53-year-old faces more than a dozen charges related to years of alleged physical, mental, and sexual abuses of children he adopted with his wife, Sharon.

A jury found her guilty of eight charges in November of eight charges including Child Abuse-Intentionally Cause Harm, Causing Mental Harm to a Child, and Strangulation and Suffocation.

Sharon Windey was going to testify on Thursday on her husband's behalf; however, at the last minute, her attorney advised her not to take the stand. The defense did not call on either of them to testify.

Instead, the court heard from Susan Lockwood. The retired therapist and supervisor of the Sexual Assault Center at Family Services now lives out-of-state and offered testimony through Skype.

Lockwood provided information about victims of sexual assault, both child and adult, based on her 32 years of experience. She also testified based on information she gathered through training and certifications during that time.

Her testimony included information about delayed reporting of sexual abuse which she defined as anything over 24 hours based off of recognized published cases. It is one of the ways the defense is seeking to discredit the children at the center of this case.

"A child who's dependent on caregivers around them, how would they react to being given this information? How would it impact on their being taken care of?" asks Lockwood.

Elizabeth Abler took the stand next after an afternoon break. She testified on behalf of the prosecution in this case.

In her thirteenth year as a school counselor at Notre Dame Academy, she says three of the Windey's adopted children came to her to talk about their home life during that time.

"The first time I reported was 10/1/15," said Abler from the stand.

Reporting is a step she says is required in her role as a mandated reporter, taking real-time notes of significant student interactions to later pass along to police and Child Protective Services (CPS).

It started when one of the girls came to her office at the beginning of her senior year.

"She was terribly frightened of Don at that time. She was also always worried about the siblings in the house," said Abler."She knew that she had eight months to get out of the house, eight months to wait until she was out of the house, but she was so worried they were still going to be there."

Abler describes years of regular visits from the girls following that visit. She says she would often find them waiting at the door to her office early in the morning before school.

The reports she wrote now entered as evidence show that in a matter of months, one of the girls spent 22 class periods in her office and another spent 66 class periods there.

She describes a sense of hopelessness among the girls displayed in how they presented themselves.

"She often was very curled up physically in my office," said Abler. "She would take a chair hold it real tight almost in fetal position and real disassociated at times."

Abler's reports detail the girls telling her about Donald kissing them on the lips and touching them inappropriately.

She also mentioned the girls showing her a video they recorded in which she could hear the voices of Sharon and Donald in the background yelling angrily and swearing at the children.

In cross-examination, the defense asked Abler if she ever contacted the Windey's about what their children said, painting the information as one-sided.

She said she did not emphasizing her job was only to listen and notify the authorities when necessary.

Testimony is expected to continue on Friday as the defense gets a chance to call witnesses and make its case.

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