By JR on Monday, November 28, 2011
A new low in the criminalization of children
A 6-year-old Grant County boy has been accused of first-degree sexual assault after playing "doctor" with two 5-year-old friends.
Now, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the prosecutor, who attorneys said is trying to force the boy to admit guilt.
The boy's parents had planned to speak with WISC-TV on Monday to discuss the emotional toll the prosecution has taken on their son. But the prosecutor, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, on Monday morning asked a judge for a gag order in the case and was granted it. The gag order prohibits the boy's parents from talking about the case.
But the attorneys for the parents in the federal suit, which names Riniker as a defendant, can aren't included in the gag order, and they spoke with WISC-TV from Chicago.
Attorneys for the parents of the 6-year-old, who is being referred to as "D," said that Riniker has gone too far by bringing a felony sex charge against a first-grader for touching a 5-year-old girl inappropriately while playing doctor last fall.
"That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous," said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy's parents.
Cooper and attorney David Sigale filed the federal suit last week, alleging that Riniker wants D to sign a consent decree admitting some level of guilt.
"We're certainly hoping to vindicate D in the eyes of the law," Sigale said.
"He (the boy) says he didn't do it, and the little girl says he didn't do it. The little girl says he touched the back of one of her buttocks," Cooper said.
The attorneys are also asking for about $12 million in damages from Riniker and two co-defendants.
Cooper and Sigale said they are prepared to present evidence that D has been psychologically harmed by the court proceedings and is terrified of going to jail.
"She (Riniker) bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear," Cooper said.
The attorneys said they have sought the opinion of many experts who said that children "playing doctor" is not a sex crime.
"(The experts say) a 6-year-old child is unable to intellectually and emotionally associate sexual gratification with the act that D has been accused of committing," Cooper said.
In justification for the charge, Riniker is quoted in the lawsuit saying "the Legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute ... the legislature did no such thing."
The lawsuit also alleges the charges were brought because the 5-year-old is the daughter of a high-ranking official in Grant County.
Repeated calls to Riniker and an attorney for she and two co-defendants have gone unanswered since Friday, WISC-TV reported.
Riniker went to Judge Bill Dyke, who is handling the case from Iowa County, and he issued a gag order for the parents Monday morning. WISC-TV has not received a copy of the order nor a reason for its issue.