BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A De Pere woman has been sentenced to four years in prison for mentally and physically abusing her adopted children.
On Jan. 15, Sharon Windey, 56, appeared before a Brown County judge for a sentencing hearing. Judge John Zakowski ordered Windey to serve three years in prison for Child Abuse-Intentionally Cause Harm (one year for each of the three counts on which she was convicted), and one year for Strangulation and Suffocation.
Windey will serve four years on extended supervision following her release from prison.
In November, a jury convicted Windey of the child abuse and strangulation and suffocation counts. They also found her guilty of four counts of Causing Mental Harm to a Child. The sentences for the latter four charges will run concurrently with the sentences for the other four counts. That means she'll serve them at the same time.
Windey could have faced up to 70 years in prison.
Action 2 News was there when Windey took the stand on the fifth day of her jury trial in Brown County court. At times tearful, Windey sat on the stand for more than three-and-a-half hours. Her attorney asked her questions about life in the Windey house raising two biological and four adopted children.
Windey described the adopted children, who are now in their teens, as disobedient, disrespectful and needing discipline.
"You can't just discipline without love," she said. "These children are very manipulative, and they know how to use things against each other."
When the case began in 2018, the children described to police that they were punched, choked, spanked, thrown against a wall, being forced to kneel or sit for hours and enduring food and exercise punishments.
Prosecutors spent more than an hour asking about testimony and statements to police from the children alleging the abuse. The state said the discipline and punishments were excessive, and Child Protective Services even told the Windeys it was too much.
Assistant District Attorney Wendy Lemkuil said the kids were ordered not to talk about what happened in the house.
"(If the children) told anybody on the outside what had happened on the inside, they could be punished?"
"Possibly," Windey testified. "It depends on what it was and who it was."
Windey repeatedly told the jury that statements to the police and some testimony earlier in the trial by the children weren't true.
The prosecutor asked, "If all the kids are consistently saying this happened through the years -- years! -- they're lying?"
"Some of the things they're lying about," Windey replied. "There's some threads of truth to it, but a lot of this stuff was just being fabricated."
"All four children interviewed separately, alone, they're lying?"
CLICK HERE for coverage of Sharon Windey's testimony.
On Jan. 13, Windey's husband, Donald, was convicted on eight of 12 counts. He chose a judge trial over a jury trial.
Judge John Zakowski found Donald Windey guilty on both felony counts of repeated sexual assault of the same child; being party to the crime of physical abuse; strangulation or suffocation; and all four felony counts of causing mental harm to a child.
Windey's bond was revoked and he was taken into custody after the judge gave his verdicts. Donald Windey will be sentenced on March 20.
CLICK HERE for coverage of the Donald Windey trial.