Child Taken From Allegedly Filthy Home; Former Councilman In Court

Home where Councilman Charles Wingate's son was allegedly found in repulsive conditions.

A former Colorado Springs City Council member, accused of leaving his autistic son in repulsive conditions, is one step closer to the start of his trial for child abuse charges.

Charles Wingate returns to court Thursday ahead of a pre-trial conference.

Wingate and his wife Sharon Sharkey are facing misdemeanor child abuse charges following a welfare check on their 13-year-old son in May of last year. Police say the boy was left alone and naked in extreme filth, describing the home as having living and dead rodents in it, as well as human feces. The house was condemned, and the boy was placed into the custody of the Department of Human Services.

Wingate and Sharkey were arrested and then immediately released. Sharkey, who works part-time in the nursery at the First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs, has been placed on administrative leave.

Wingate told 11 News at the time that the allegations of abuse were false, and that police were blowing the situation out of proportion.

"I don't think that's an accurate representation of what is on the inside of my house," Wingate said.

Police said that the child told them he is an only child, is homeschooled and doesn't ever remember being outside. Wingate told 11 News that his son does take online classes at home, but that he chooses not to go outside often.

"He is not someone who likes to go outside on a regular basis," Wingate said. "He likes to be in his room, he likes to play on his computer."

Neighbors told 11 News that they have never seen a child at the house before. A public records search shows the couple bought the house in 1997.

This is not Wingate's first brush with the law; Wingate plead guilty to embezzlement of public property for the misuse of a city credit card about a decade ago. He was serving on City Council at the time and resigned.

In the pre-trial conference Thursday, both sides will meet with the judge to discuss where they are with the case. There's even a chance attorneys could reach a plea agreement.

We'll let you know what happens.