Wis. Couple Accused Of Starving Infant Daughter

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Appleton parents who were worried that their infant daughter would become obese starved her for months, causing the girl to gain just 5 pounds in the 14 months after her birth, prosecutors allege.

Christopher and Mary Sultze were each charged this month with one felony count of child neglect. Each would face up to a year and a half in prison and $25,000 in fines if convicted.

Christopher Sultze, 35, appeared in court Thursday and was released from jail on bond on the condition that, among other things, he’d have no contact with his youngest daughter. His preliminary hearing was rescheduled for next week.

Mary Sultze, 36, waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in exchange for her release on bond so that she could tend to her other three children, said her attorney, Brandt Swardenski. Neither has entered a plea.

“I have serious reservations about whether there’s any criminal activity here or just misguided parenting intentions,” Swardenski said. “This is a case where we need to reserve judgment until we learn more details on exactly what occurred.”

Christopher Sultze’s attorney, Michael Petersen, declined to comment.

According to the criminal complaint, the couple’s daughter weighed slightly more than 8 pounds when she was born in July 2010 and weighed just 13 pounds this past September. A doctor told police the girl would have to weigh 22 pounds to even get on growth charts for her age. Another physician noted that the child had no subcutaneous fat on her body and was essentially starving.

Doctors began tracking the girl’s lack of growth and weight gain at her four-month checkup in November 2010, when she weighed just 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

Her parents began to grow irritated that doctors were continually concerned about her weight, the complaint said. They insisted they were feeding her enough, and said their other children grew slowly and that they believed the girl would eventually gain weight.

Months went by with no significant improvement and tests for potential medical problems came back negative. In August, the family’s doctor convinced the Sultzes to admit the girl to Children’s Hospital of Fox Valley for an evaluation, investigators said.

The girl gained 8 ounces over a day at the hospital, but a social worker assigned to the family as part of the admittance process noted that the girl’s parents were upset by recommendations that they needed to feed her more calories and said they wanted to take their daughter home, against the advice of her doctors.

According to the complaint, Christopher Sultze told a doctor he didn’t want to have obese children and he kept insisting the girl would “get fat” at the hospital.

He later told police and another social worker that his family follows a very low cholesterol diet. He said he underwent bypass surgery for a blocked artery when he was 25 years old.

Court records show that Mary Sultze was charged in 2009 with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct for biting her four-year-old daughter on the arm. According to the criminal complaint in that case, she told police she bit her daughter to teach her a lesson after the girl bit her older sister. Mary Sultze acknowledged that “it probably wasn’t right to do.”

She ultimately pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge, which is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes. Prosecutors dismissed the battery count.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Rocket Scientist

    There should be some sort of test to determine if people should be allowed to precreate.

    • Carol

      I agree! If they have a test now that can determine what sport a child will be good at then there should be able to test for parenting. Heck you have to have a background screening before even adopting a dog these days!

  • Black Man

    Wisconsin and whites. What else can we expect from them?

  • BeoWitch

    With all of the constant exposure to “be thin” and “no obese children” is it any wonder this hasn’t happened sooner? it has nothing to do with race or location. Yes, the parents made a bad choice, but if they only watched the constant ads on tv, wouldn’t others make the same bad choice?

    • M

      No, others would not. This is more than a bad choice–it is clearly neglect and possibly abuse. Children need to eat and grow! Babies are suppose to have fat on their bodies–this child will probably have issues the rest of her life due to the lack of nutrition in infancy. 14 months old and she weighs 13 lbs. This is just sad. Someone should have done something a long time ago.

  • Mike Jacobson

    When does starving a baby laws kick in? How can a hospital/clinic do all these tests and release a malnutritioned infant back to the parents who have concerns of fat kids. The parents not only murdered their child, but will now sue for millions because their baby died. I hope they get what’s coming…life in prison.

  • em0886

    This story is digusting, I don’t care about all the pressure and the ads that promote being thin is beautiful and anything but is not…..there comes a time for common sense; clearly these two don’t have any and I find it scary that they have more children. What about their other kids?? Are they starved too?? And who the hell bites their kids to teach them a lesson…..I could never bite my son…he used to bite the backs of my legs all the time when he was teething..and then he grew out of it. I also made it clear that biting wasn’t ok and that it hurts people. I completely agree in screening people before they have children.

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