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Lafayette County woman pleads guilty in child neglect case

LAFAYETTE COUNTY (WKOW) — A Belmont, Wisconsin, woman pleaded guilty today to two charges after prosecutors say she severely neglected her two children, with an infant nearly being starved.

Jamie Lee Weigel, 27, pleaded guilty to one felony count of child abuse, intentionally causing great bodily harm and one felony count of chronic neglect of a child, consequence bodily harm.

Two other counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. A judge set a sentencing date for Dec. 10.

Weigel told the court Thursday she was on medication for anxiety and depression, but understood the ramifications of entering the guilty pleas.

Dalton Hopper, the father of the children, also faces charges in the case.

He has a plea hearing scheduled for Oct. 21.

The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office began investigating after Weigel and Hopper brought their 4-month-old daughter to the Upland Hills Health Center in Dodgeville, where a physician assistant with UW Children’s Hospital diagnosed her with “child neglect, non-organic failure to thrive and medical neglect,” according to the criminal complaint.

The physician’s assistant told investigators that in her five years with Children’s Hospital, she has only seen one case where a child suffered more neglect and malnutrition.

She said the child could have died from malnutrition in as little as a week, if she hadn’t been brought to the doctor.

According to the criminal complaint, Weigel admitted that she, “wasn’t feeding her like I should have been.”

Weigel and Hopper also have a 1-year-old daughter.

Weigel told investigators that she and Hopper would feed the two children in the evening two or three times a week, but more often they would not take care of the children in the evening, according to the complaint.

Weigel told investigators the children would receive food, a diaper change and human interaction once or twice a day, according to the complaint.

Doctors also found marks on the child’s back that were consistent with an infant lying in one place without being picked up for hours on end, according to the complaint.

In 2015, records show Grant County social service workers substantiated Weigel malnourished and abused other children.

Weigel remains free on a signature bond and is barred from contact with children.  Her former husband, Danny Shaben says he hopes Weigel never has future contact with the children they share.  “She’s no mother,”  Shaben says.

Earlier this year, Lafayette County District Attorney Jenna Gill says Weigel withdrew a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect because a medical evaluation of Weigel did not support that premise.

The criminal complaint includes text messages between Weigel and Hopper, where Weigel complains of receiving no help in child care, and venting anger at the children’s crying.

“Come home before I hurt this (expletive) baby,”  a text from Weigel to Hopper states.

Gill says the malnourished infant has made a significant recovery in care outside the Weigel home.

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Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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