According to the complaint (PDF), the girl is "the daughter of a well-known political figure in Grant County," and her brother, who is the same age, also was involved in playing doctor but was not charged. In addition to Riniker, the lawsuit names as defendants retired Grant County Sheriff's Sgt. James Kopp and Jan Moravits, an investigator with Grant County Social Services "whose regional supervisor...is the political figure's wife's sister-in-law"—i.e., the aunt of the alleged victim.
Although the boy, now 7, is too young to be prosecuted or named in a juvenile delinquency petitition, Madison.com reports, county officials are using the felony charge to force his parents into accepting "protection or services" for him. The lawsuit says that once he turns 18, he will be listed as a sex offender.
Seriously, I am sorry, but this kind of crap is just plain stupid. Back in my childhood at age 6 or 7, if I had played doctor with a 5 year old neighbor, my parents would have gotten a call, I would have gotten a talking to and that would have been the end of that.
But what is criminally tragic is that this boy, for doing something that is relatively innocent and completely normal, could be branded a sex offender for LIFE for doing something when he was 6.
Surely there is something more important for this D.A.(Grant County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Lisa Riniker) to be doing. No community is so devoid of even marginally criminal activity or DUI's that a case of "playing doctor" has to be ratcheted up into a criminal case.
I don't practice criminal law, but I do vaguely recall from my criminal law course that part of a criminal case is that there has to be an intent to commit a crime (the mens rea), the intent to do wrong. That is something I am pretty confident in saying that this boy didn't have.
Why the Court has not tossed the criminal case out on it ear is shocking to me.
Oh, by the way, the D.A. was able to get a gag order that prevents the parents (but thankfully not their lawyers) from talking about the case.
The station (WISC-TV) spoke instead with their lawyers, who are not covered by the order:
"That behavior by a prosecutor is outrageous," said Christopher Cooper, an attorney for the boy's parents....
"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....
Repeated calls to Riniker and an attorney for [her] and two co-defendants have gone unanswered since Friday, WISC-TV reported.
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