COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. » A former Colorado Springs city councilman and his wife have been cited for child neglect after police found their 13-year-old son naked and living in a home littered with human waste.
Charles Wingate and his wife, Sharon Starkey, were reported to police by a neighbor.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the boy was living with live and dead rodents.
"The boy stated he is an only child, home-schooled, and does not remember ever being outside the house. Neighbors confirmed they have not seen the boy outside in several years," police said in a news release.
Wingate disputed the police reports and said the child was well cared for.
"My son at all times has been loved and protected and cared for. The fact that someone will take this situation and try to blow it into something (and say) he was somehow abused or neglected or not taken care of, that’s a total inaccurate description of the situation," Wingate said.
Neighbor Phil Cooper said he didn’t know Wingate had a son because he had never seen him.
"I personally hope that he gets more than just a ticket and a slap on the wrist," Cooper said.
The boy was taken to a hospital before he was handed over to the state Department of Human Services.
Wingate and Starkey were not home during the investigation but were served a summons on suspicion of child neglect, police said.
Police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said a neighbor called authorities to check on the boy. She said police have been receiving more "check the welfare" calls after three women who had been missing for years were found alive in Cleveland this month.
Wingate was elected to the council in 2001 after an unsuccessful bid in 1997. At 31, he was the city’s youngest elected official, but his career quickly ran into trouble. Less than three months into his term, it was discovered he was being sued for bouncing checks.
In 2002, he was charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. Police alleged he kept a $190 advance for a council trip and stole the number of a Colorado Springs Utilities credit card and ordered pizza with it. Authorities filed 12 more charges in May 2003, including an allegation that he pawned his city-owned computer.
In 2003, Wingate quit the council and pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement of public funds. Other charges were dropped.
He was ordered to jail in 2006, after a judge found he violated probation in the case.
Wingate then said he was late in paying court-ordered fees because he couldn’t hold a job.
"I’ve sought employment, but you spend a year in the papers and on TV, and they know who you are. It makes it hard," he said.