Seven children—six girls A. (b. 2007), Ru. (b. 2009), L. (b. 2011), Ro., S., and D. (b. 2018), and a boy W. (b. 2016)—were physically, medically, and educationally neglected by their parents, Matthew and Rebecca “Becky” Hibicki. The children were homeschooled.
The Hibickis operated a small dairy farm; Matthew Hibicki was also a rural mail carrier while Becky Hibicki worked full-time for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. The family was active in the Green Lake County 4-H program, which was apparently the “only real outside contact” the children had. The children lived in a home filled with feces and trash, slept in shared soiled beds, were forced to use a bucket for a toilet at night and to wear torn and dirty clothes, and were rarely allowed to bathe because Matthew Hibicki “did not like the kids to have showers every other night”. The children “did not know they needed to wash their hands after using the bathroom”. Some of the children had diabetes and “were largely responsible for monitoring each other’s calorie count and insulin dosing as it related to their diabetes”. Several of the children had other medical problems: at least one had significant dental problems, one had a nail stuck in her foot, W. sustained a head injury in a three-wheeler accident, one suffered from frequent headaches and dizziness, and one had significant eye problems requiring the assistance of an ophthalmic surgeon. The Hibickis refused to seek medical treatment for all of these medical issues. The children may also have been forced to labor on the farm to the detriment of their educations; following Matthew Hibicki’s injury the family stated that “The farm is being managed by an amazing crew of neighbors along with their oldest child,” who was 13 at the time.
Becky Hibicki filed the required forms each year to notify the district she was homeschooling. However, prior to June 2020, the children had not received much education for a year; according to Matthew Hibicki, “the kids only need to know how to milk cows and be good wives.” All were significantly behind on their education with difficulties in reading and basic math: according to court documents, 11-year-old Ru. was “unable to read, wants to attend school and ‘is enthusiastic about learning more,’…only after being removed from her parents’ custody is the girl working on a kindergarten book and has learned to write her name. She can count to 13 but didn’t know the month of the year. ‘Based on [her] age and no known developmental delays, had she attended school or been taught regularly she would likely know how to read, count and be working at a much higher grade level.”
On June 22, 2020, Matthew Hibicki was hospitalized due to a farm accident which left him permanently disabled, necessitating the sale of the family’s dairy herd. This event coincided with social services receiving a tip about the children’s living conditions, and on June 26, two sheriff’s detectives and two social services employees toured the Hibickis’ house and determined it was unsafe for the children. The Hibickis were charged with 22 counts of felony child neglect.
Date: June 26, 2020
Location: Ripon, Wisconsin
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