Today on Oprah, the seven-year-old Wisconsin girl who was found in the basement of her parents' home, locked in a dog cage eleven years ago, sits down to talk with Oprah Winfrey about her ordeal and life afterward.
It was 1998 when police outside of Milwaukee, WI were asked for help from a shoe-less, eleven-year-old boy. It was 30 degrees out and the boy, with no coat and no shoes walked to the police station sobbing, not about his own plight, but out of concern for his seven-year-old sister.
The awful tale of child abuse ended that night. Three police officers in the town of Brillion, a small town, with less than 3,000 residents and a police force of six officers, went to the home of Chelsea Rogers, today's guest star on the Oprah show, and ended a nightmare.
Today, the Oprah Show will show Chelsea Rogers and her revisit to the home in Brillion, WI where her parents kept her in a foul, damp and cold basement. When the three officers found Chelsea in 1998, she was locked inside of a small wire dog cage that was 24 x 17 inches.
Officers could tell that Chelsea often slept through the night coiled up in the cage. Chelsea's parents' Michael and Angeline Rogers, who were both 28 at the time told police that their seven-year-old daughter had psychiatric problems and had problems with urination and defecation.
Today, Chelsea is an incredibly attractive 20-year-old. Her father was charged with eight counts of child abuse and her mother was charged with eight counts of failing to prevent the abuse.
Angeline and Michael Rogers had five children in the house at the time of the incident. Their ages ranged from 11 to 16 months. The night the oldest Rogers boy walked to the police station, his parents kicked him and his nine-year-old brother out of the house. The older brother told the nine-year-old to wait near the house while he walked alone, in the dark, to the police station.
That night, the father was also charged with beating the four oldest children with a wooden stick.
Both Angeline and Michael Rogers faced 40 years in prison, but the judge gave the parents one year in jail (over prison). When details of the parental abuse case emerged, it was learned that young Chelsea had Oppositional Defiance Disorder. She was diagnosed at age 3, and the parents, according to testimony, tried to get help on numerous occasions but could not.
The parents said the child's behaviors in the home included defecating and smearing feces on walls and placing feces into food in the refrigerator. The District Attorney in the case as well as psychologists and psychiatrists on the Rogers case did not disagree with the clinical diagnosis of ODD. But there was a crossroads on the issue of neglect and abuse and whether or not the parents were truly sadistic people.
The Rogers were charged with 10 felonies in connection with abusing Chelsea and beating three of her older brothers. Michael and Angeline Rogers entered into an agreement to plead guilty to the four most serious charges in exchange for having the other charges dropped.
The case was tried in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court where Judge Steven Weinke sentenced the couple to one year in county jail. They were also sentenced to ten years in prison but the judge stayed that part of the sentence and put each on probation for ten years.
Three months after police rescued Chelsea, a judge ruled that the five Rogers children would be split into four different foster homes. The judge also said that he felt the parents had tortured the children.
In April of 2010, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel did a piece on Chelsea Rogers, the young mother and college student who will share her story on Oprah today.
Chelsea says she has a fragmented memory of what happened to her as a child. She also said she had no reason to believe that life was not the same for other little girls. She did report to the paper that she remembered being able to unlock the cage because her hands were so small.
When Chelsea was an infant, she stuffed a piece of mattress so far up her nose that it caused her to have a very bad odor. It is believed that this separation between Chelsea and her mother led to much of the abuse that Chelsea faced growing up.
Chelsea does not go by the last name Rogers anymore. Chelsea is also not the name she was born with. She has a son, a boyfriend and is studying to become an elementary school teacher. Her mother Angeline was released from jail in 1999 to attend a counseling session, but then fled. Chelsea said she remembers the incident because police came to school afraid her mother would contact her.
Angeline Rogers was caught in Texas ten days later and sentenced to prison. She was paroled in 2006 and court documents say she lives in Menesha, WI and goes by her maiden name.
Chelsea has met with her father, Michael although she has had no contact with her biological mother. She described her father as a "really shy person."
Today may very well be the first time Chelsea's mother gets to see her daughter again, today on the Oprah show.
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