Christopher and Mary Sultze, of Appleton, Wisconsin, starved their baby girl for months claiming they were afraid she would end up obese, a court has heard.
Christopher and Mary Sultze were both charged earlier this month with a felony count of child neglect. The couple face up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.
According to doctors, the infant gained just 5 pounds in the 14 months after her birth. She needed to weigh 22 pounds to meet even the minimum growth charts for her age, a doctor told police.
Another doctor noted that the baby girl had no fat on her body and was essentially starving.
Christopher Sultze, 35, reportedly told doctors during a check-up in August that his daughter would “get fat” if she stayed at the hospital, even though it was recommended because the child was dangerously underweight.
Christopher Sultze appeared at Outagamie County Circuit Court yesterday and was released on bail on the condition he had no contact with the child.
The father’s preliminary hearing was scheduled for next week.
Mary Sultze, 36, waived the right to a preliminary hearing yesterday in exchange for her release on bail so that she could return to the couple’s three other children, according to her attorney Brandt Swardenski.
The woman was also ordered to have no contact with the daughter she’s accused of starving.
Brandt Swardenski said: “I have serious reservations about whether there’s any criminal activity here or just misguided parenting intentions.
“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 report, the baby weighed 8 pounds when she was born in July 2010 and weighed just 13 pounds in September 2011.
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.
Baby’s parents were irritated that doctors were continually concerned about their daughter’s weight, the report said.
The parents insisted they were feeding her enough, 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 2011, the family’s doctor convinced the parents to bring their daughter to Children’s Hospital in Fox Valley for an evaluation.
The girl gained 8 ounces in one a day at the hospital.
A social worker assigned to the family as part of hospital procedure noted that the girl’s parents were upset by recommendations that they needed to feed her more calories.
The parents decided to take their baby home against the advice of her doctors.
Christopher Sultze reportedly told a doctor he didn’t want to have obese children and kept insisting his daughter would “get fat” at the hospital.
The father later told police that his family followed a very low cholesterol diet.
Christopher Sultze said he underwent bypass surgery for a blocked artery when he was 25 years old.
Court records revealed that Mary Sultze was charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct for biting her four-year-old daughter on the arm in 2009.
At the time, Mary Sultze told police she had bitten her daughter to teach her a lesson after the girl bit her older sister.
The mother of four acknowledged that “it probably wasn’t right to do”.
Mary Sultze 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.