A Ripon couple is being charged for neglecting its seven children after allegedly failing to provide adequate shelter, care, education and medical treatment.
Matthew and Rebecca Hibicki, N8977 Hwy 44, are being charged with 25 counts of neglecting a child, accounting for 22 felonies and three misdemeanors, according to a criminal complaint filed Oct. 16 in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court.
The couple made their initial appearance in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Tuesday. A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 5, 2021, at 2 p.m.
The criminal complaint is based on an investigation conducted by Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office this summer, after a social worker at the Department of Social Services (DSS) had received a complaint that seven children between 2 and 13 years old were living in unsafe conditions.
On June 26, Detectives David Olig and Michelle Fink toured the Hibicki residence with two DSS workers.
According to the complaint, visiting the residence and subsequent interviews revealed unsanitary housing conditions, children with a lack of basic reading skills and signs of physical neglect on many of the children.
‘FAILURE TO PROVIDE NECESSARY SHELTER’
During the June 26 visit, court papers stated that Olig found “feces in the entryway,” trash scattered throughout the home and he allegedly had trouble breathing “normally” inside the house due to the smell inside.
According to the complaint, the rest of the house had similar issues; the children’s bedrooms allegedly were “filthy,” animal feces were found in the attic, basement and throughout the house, while the upstairs bathtub and toilet were “inoperable.”
Additionally, one of the victims told a social worker during the June 26 visit that “her and her siblings will use the potty bucket upstairs during the night,” adding that “[Matthew] doesn’t like when the children come downstairs to use the working toilet,” according to court documents.
In the bedrooms, court papers said multiple children shared beds, which were described as “dirty, soiled, and looked like they had been flipped over when they were dirty.”
Code and Zoning Coordinator Daniel Hanks also inspected the home on June 26 and recommended the children “be prohibited from residing in the house” until it was repaired and cleaned.
‘FAILURE TO PROVIDE NECESSARY CARE’
Beyond keeping the house clean, court papers allege the Hibickis also failed to keep the children clean, as the oldest five children “shower, maybe one time per week,” while the youngest two “shower one time per month.”
One of the children allegedly told investigators that Rebecca and Matthew “did not like the kids to have showers every other night."
In fact, “the children did not know they needed to wash their hands after using the bathroom,” the complaint said.
Court documents added that the children often wore “torn and dirty” clothes the majority of the time and were largely isolated to the Hibicki residence as “the only real outside contact the children have is related to 4-H projects.”
Additionally, the criminal complaint alleges the children were largely responsible for monitoring each other’s calorie count and insulin dosing as it related to their diabetes.
‘FAILURE TO PROVIDE EDUCATION’
Court documents stated that the children were all behind on their learning based on their ages and largely had “very basic math skills and difficulty reading.”
One of the victims allegedly didn’t know what grade she was in, or the difference between her home address and her phone number, according to public records.
The children were homeschooled and the criminal complaint noted that there had been “little teaching done this past year.”
In a June 29 letter to the court Rebecca said: “I must admit, my daily responsibilities on the dairy farm have not allowed me dedicated time to teaching my children.”
According to the complaint, however, Matthew had previously said, “the kids only need to know how to milk cows and be good wives.”
‘CAUSING BODILY HARM’
One of the children had significant dental problems, which have been causing her a great deal of pain, according to court papers.
The victim allegedly told investigators that “her parents didn’t care about her teeth” because “the family did not have dental insurance” and “did not want to pay for her teeth.”
As a result, the complaint stated that the victim’s placement provider has been taking her to the dentist.
‘FAILURE TO PROVIDE NECESSARY MEDICAL CARE’
The criminal complaint details multiple situations in which children under the Hibicki supervision were hurt and did not go to the doctor.
One victim allegedly had a nail stuck in her foot and “did not go to the doctor,” despite Rebecca being “aware of the situation.” Another allegedly had a “bad” three-wheeler accident and hit his head, but did not see a doctor.
Additionally, one child allegedly suffered from frequent dizziness, headaches and rashes, but has not gone to see a doctor.
The criminal complaint added that another victim’s eye gets stuck to the side, even when looking forward. The child’s placement provider took the victim to an ophthalmologist, who referred them to a surgeon in Madison.
Another child allegedly hit a tooth on cement, turning it gray. The complaint says the child has not been to the dentist and still has a gray tooth.
In a letter to the court, Rebecca admitted: “We have not prioritized upkeep on our home, and scheduling doctor or dentist appointments has been difficult.”