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Sharon Windey sentenced to 4 years in prison in De Pere child abuse case


BENITA MATHEW   | Green Bay Press-Gazette

GREEN BAY - A De Pere woman was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday for abusing her adopted children.

A jury found Sharon M. Windey, 56, guilty on eight counts of abusing four children over a span of 12 years. 

Her sentencing came a day after Brown County Circuit Court Judge John Zakowski found her husband, Donald A. Windey, 53, guilty of multiple counts of physical, mental, and sexual abuse of the children.

Their biological son, Steven D. Windey, is scheduled for a plea hearing on Feb. 7 in connection to charges related to his role in the abuse.

Sharon Windey, a former Wisconsin state trooper, will also serve four years of extended supervision. 

Three of the children spoke to the court during Wednesday's hearing about what they've endured.

"I am proud of who I have become. I am so proud of who my siblings have become. Despite all of the obstacles in our lives, I am grateful that I get to watch them thrive in their lives today," one of the girls said.

According to a criminal complaint, police were contacted by school officials, social workers and others claiming the couple and their son were abusing the three children.

The fourth child, now an adult, had left the Windey's home. She reported similar abuse when interviewed by police.

According to the criminal complaint and prosecution statements: 

  • The children were required to do a prayer ritual while standing on one foot wearing nothing but underwear, and were beaten with a belt if they lost their balance and put their foot down.
  • Steven Windey was often the designated enforcer of the physical abuse and put his hands around one of the children's throat during a Feb. 11 incident.
  • Sharon Windey used food as a form of punishment — often serving oatmeal for all three meals because the children didn't like it. 
  • Sharon and Donald Windey locked kitchen cupboards so the children didn't have easy access to food.
  • Sharon and Donald Windey told the children they didn't like them anymore and that they could no longer call them mom and dad.
  • Sharon and Donald Windey donated all of the children's belongings to Goodwill in February, leaving each child with a bed and five days' worth of clothes.

Zakowski sentenced Windey to concurrently serve her sentences on each count over a four-year span. Prosecutors had recommended she serve 20 years in prison.

"I'm going to show you more mercy than you ever showed those children," Zakowski told her. 

As part of her sentence, she must write a letter of apology to each of the abused children.

In court Wednesday, Sharon denied many of the abusive incidents and statements she was accused of making toward her children, but said she understands that she hurt them.

"We honest to god felt in our hearts that we were doing the right thing," she said.

Contact Benita Mathew at (920) 309-3428 or bmathew@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @benita_mathew.

2020 Jan 15