The parents of a 6-year-old boy who faced charges of first-degree sexual assault have sued Grant County officials who investigated and filed the juvenile petition. The charges came after a 5-year-old girl's mother suspected that play had gone too far.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Madison, contends that officials violated the civil rights of the boy and his parents, and seeks damages and an injunction against Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker. The suit also names a sheriff's deputy and social worker as defendants. None of them could be reached for comment late Thursday.
The plaintiffs are identified only as D, who is now 7, and his parents as Jennifer and Kurt D.
According to the lawsuit, in the fall of last year the boy was playing with the girl and her 5-year-old brother when the mother arrived. The children said they had been playing doctor. Their mother told investigators she suspected D had put his finger in the girl's anus.
The lawsuit states that prior to the play date, D had medical conditions that required rectal examinations.
Riniker wound up accusing D of first-degree sexual assault, as part of a juvenile court petition for protective services filed last November.
In the spring, according to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal, which was granted access to the juvenile records, a judge declined to dismiss the petitions, which a criminal attorney for the boy called "crazy." The report stated that the girl said that D had only touched the outside of her buttocks.
The boy's parents said they provided evidence their son did not act out with other children and had gotten appropriate services. The girl's parents told the paper that they tried to work things out privately but that D's parents did not provide that opportunity.
The new federal lawsuit contends the whole investigation was biased because the girl's father is a "well-known political figure in Grant County," and her aunt a regional social services supervisor. It claims now-retired Grant County Sheriff's Sgt. James Kopp "waged a relentless campaign to discredit and embarrass and humiliate 6-year-old D," and that the entire process was unreasonable and unconscionable.
More recently, Riniker has tried to coerce D's parents into signing a consent decree by implying she will seek to remove the couple's children from their custody, the suit says.
The plaintiffs contend the guardian appointed in the case thinks they are fit parents.
The lawsuit says the boy, who had ADHD, now also suffers from anxiety, depression, vomiting, crying and lack of sleep because of the investigation and prosecution.