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Portage woman jailed on child neglect charges

A Portage woman is accused of repeated child neglect after police were called to look into two children supposedly attempting to make a fire near their home on Wednesday night.

Monica S. Turley, 34, appeared in Columbia County Circuit Court via video from the Columbia County Jail, accused of two counts of misdemeanor child neglect as a repeat offender and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Genda told the court that, referring to her extensive previous work with child negligence cases in Dane County, the seriousness of this case stood out.

“The level of what could have been in this case,” said Genda, “is tremendous.”

On Wednesday just before 10 p.m. police responded to a call to East Cook Street where, according to court documents, a woman told the officer that she had seen a fire underneath a porch next to a wooden beam. The woman reportedly went over and put the fire out and tried to talk to the two boys who were there, ages 10 and 11, who pretended to be asleep.

The officer found the boys and reported that inches from their blanket was a stack of charcoal and a bottle of lighter fluid. When the officer spoke with the boys, the older of the two told him that they left the house because Turley and her boyfriend had been drinking and Turley was throwing things around the apartment and breaking plates.

The boy reportedly told the officer that Turley had picked up a lamp and threatened to throw it at them. Later they said they lit the fire under the porch so they could cook bologna to have something to eat.

When he spoke with Turley, the officer reported that she admitted to drinking about a fifth of brandy and when she later provided a breathalyzer test, it registered 0.28 percent.

Her boyfriend was found in the bedroom closet and was taken to Divine Savior Hospital, later registering a BAC of 0.41 percent.

The officer noted broken glass on the living room floor and Turley told him that she had thrown a plate and broken a lamp because the boys weren’t listening to her.

In court Genda noted that in 2011 Turley was accused of two counts of felony physical abuse of a child. In the end the charges were dismissed, but read in to the record. The complaint in that case was similar to her current situation. In that case she was accused of being drunk with the same boyfriend, throwing things around and then kicking the knee of a person who was on crutches recovering from knee surgery and pushing a woman who was 32 weeks pregnant at the time.

Noting that “the allegations are serious and could have been much worse,” Judge Alan J. White ordered Turley to be held on a $500 cash bond.

She is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Oct. 19 and to appear in court next for a return date on Nov. 4.

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