Parents of a five-year-old girl in Grant County, Wisconsin are pressing charges for first-degree sexual assault against a then six-year-old (now seven-year-old) boy. The accusation? Playing doctor with their daughter.
Although too young to be prosecuted, the boy could be listed on the permanent sex offender registry when he turns 18.
The boy’s parents are suing Grant County District Attorney, Lisa Riniker, a social worker and a former Sheriff’s Office investigator. The plaintiffs, who are listed on the complaint as Jennifer and Kurtis B., tried to get Riniker to drop the charges. She replied, “The legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute if it wanted to. The legislature did no such thing.” They are asking $12 million in damages.
Among the suit’s claims is that the boy was selectively accused of a felony for playing doctor with the daughter of a Grant County political figure. It also alleges that the investigations by Kopp and Moravits were haphazard and biased in favor of the girl’s father because of his political status and that Riniker did not act reasonably in charging a 6-year-old with first-degree sexual assault.
“I think his life has been ruined, and I think it’s been ruined by reckless conduct by the defendants without any regard for the little boy and his future,” said Chicago attorney Christopher Cooper, who is representing the boy and his parents in the lawsuit.
The boy, who is now 7 and has a developmental disability, has been diagnosed with stress disorders that medical professionals attribute to the defendants’ actions, according to the suit. He has experienced fear of going to jail, as well as anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, vomiting, crying and missed school time.
The petition for protection or services states that the girl’s mother found her daughter “with her skirt and underpants around her ankles,” and the boy allegedly penetrating her.
The girl said they were playing “butt doctor” and said the boy only touched the outside of her body.
The girl is listed in the complaint as the “daughter of a well-known political figure in Grant County.” Her brother was allegedly involved in the ‘doctor’ game as well. He is not being charged. The social worker, Jan Moravits, is the girl’s aunt.
The boy’s family has now been placed under a gag order. His attorney, however, did speak to WISC-TV:
“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.