Former councilman and part-time church nursery employee charged in Colorado Springs child abuse case

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A mother who worked with children is accused of child abuse after her son was found Thursday in a house police say was filthy. The father, who is also charged, is a former Colorado Springs city councilman.

The 13-year-old boy was found home alone, wearing no clothes. Police said the house was littered with human feces, with live and dead rodents.

The child remains in the custody of social services Friday.

The home was condemned by Colorado Springs code enforcement on Thursday after the boy was removed from the home.  Police went to the home on a "welfare check" request from a neighbor just after noon on Thursday.

The boy told police he can't remember ever going outside the home in the 6100 block of Corinth Drive.

The boy's parents were issued summons for misdemeanor child abuse and released.

On Friday, 7NEWS learned Wingate's wife, Sharon Starkey, works part-time in the nursery at First United Methodist Church in downtown Colorado Springs.

In a statement released to 7NEWS, the church said Starkey is a responsible, reliable employee and a long-time member of the church.

Starkey has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

7NEWS talked with boy's father, former Colorado Springs City Councilman Charles Wingate on Thursday night, after he was released by police.

Wingate resigned from the Colorado Springs City Council in 2003 while facing a number of felony charges. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement of public funds in a plea bargain.  In return, other charges filed against him were dropped.

In the 7NEWS interview, Wingate disputed the findings of the police department.

"I don't think all of it's accurate. There are some rodents in the house; I don't know where they came from. There may be some dead rodents. Feces all over the house? I don't believe that's an accurate statement," he said.

He also disputed the boy's statement that he had never been outside. 

"He is not someone who likes to go outside a great deal. It has been cold for the last couple of weeks, to my memory, so he probably hasn't been outside to play. Has he been outside? Of course. He's been outside to get in my car and transport places with me and mom, so yes, he's been outside, but in terms of going outside and playing or doing any kind of recreational activities outside, yeah, that's probably an accurate statement," Wingate told 7NEWS.

A neighbor said he didn't even know Wingate had a son because he had never seen him.  Another neighbor said he hadn't seen the boy in two or three years.

The Colorado Springs Code Enforcement Team told 7NEWS it stands by its findings and reason for condemning the house.

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