BY JEN NOWELL
Daily Post Correspondent
A Mountain View family has filed a lawsuit against the city and Santa Clara County, after a 5-year-old girl was forcibly stripped at home to examine her body for signs of sexual abuse.
Tonight (Oct. 15) the Mountain View City Council will meet behind closed doors to discuss the case that likely violated Santa Clara County protocol.
The Lother family, including parents Danielle and Douglas, filed the lawsuit Sept. 19 in the U.S. District Court, naming Mountain View police officers Mark Poirier, Mason Motomura and Matthew Rogers; Joseph Phan, an emergency response social worker with the Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children Services; and American Medical Response paramedic Laura Yamada.
Police Sgt. Tony Vieyra was also named in the suit, but he was not at the scene. The three officers at the Lother house did communicate with him during the incident, according to the court filing.
Injury at trampoline park
The events began Jan. 25 when then-5-year-old Madeleine Lother went to Sky High trampoline park with a school friend and her mother, Shannon, according to the family’s lawsuit.
Madeleine was playing on one of the rope swings with the rope between her legs, when she slid down and was injured, the suit states.
Shannon was aware of what happened, and she comforted Madeleine, who was crying in pain, but eventually continued to play. Shannon contacted the girl’s mother, Danielle, to let her know what happened.
When Madeleine got home, she also told her parents, and they asked her if there was any more to it, such as had anyone touched her down there, according to the suit. Madeleine said no.
Danielle tried to take a look at the injuries, but Madeleine was “crying and displaying extreme anxiety” whenever either parent tried to examine her, the parents said. They didn’t push it, but did notice some dry blood in her underwear that night, after she had changed clothes.
Danielle called the on-call advice line at Kaiser the next morning and was told to keep an eye on Madeleine, but that she didn’t need to bring her in.
Madeleine allowed her mother to examine her that morning, and Danielle saw the cut and bleeding, which stopped over the next few days.
On Monday, Jan. 28, Madeleine returned to school.
Attorney: Teacher called CPS
The Lothers’ attorney, Bob Powell, previously told the Post that Madeleine’s teacher initiated a Child Protective Services investigation after she heard her say something about no longer bleeding from her vagina and “Daddy touching her in her private parts,” a comment that Powell said he doubts.
Three police officers and a social worker showed up at the Lother’s home that evening around 5. One of the officers pounded on the door instead of using the doorbell, which startled Danielle enough to think it was a “home invasion,” according to the suit.
The officers simply asked to speak with Madeleine, which Danielle allowed without knowing why they were there. The social worker was supposed to tell Danielle why they were there and about the allegations against her and her husband, yet refused to do so even after she asked numerous times, the family claims.
Madeleine was taken outside and questioned, during which time, at least five people allegedly walked by the home within earshot. The little girl told the officers about the incident on the rope swing and that she was not hurting anymore.
When Madeleine’s father, Douglas, got home a few minutes after police arrived, Motomura allegedly said they had received a call concerning Madeleine, but he did not explain the nature of the call.
Family questioned outside home
The family, including Madeleine’s 6-year-old sister, were pulled outside one-by-one and questioned in front of their home, and each repeated the same story of the rope swing, according to the lawsuit.
Danielle offered to call the girl’s pediatrician or Shannon, but Poirier allegedly refused the offers.
A paramedic was called and asked to come to the home to examine Madeleine’s body, while Motomura allegedly told the parents that if they did not agree, Madeleine could be forcibly removed from their home and care.
“There is no way that is going to happen,” Douglas reportedly said.
Confrontation with officers
The parents pleaded with the officers to not put their daughter through more trauma.
According to the lawsuit, Motomura “condescendingly” told Danielle at one point, “This shows how you’re not listening.”
This inflamed Danielle, who said, “I’m not listening? What are you talking about!?”
Motomura told her, “You’re doing it again. Are you willing to listen or not, because we are not leaving until this is resolved,” according to the lawsuit.
To which Douglas responded, “Well, it’s not going to happen, so where are you guys sleeping.”
Poirier said they needed to check to make sure the injury was healing properly. The parents said they would take her to the doctor the next day.
Motomura allegedly told them the investigation was going to happen whether the parents liked it or not and told Danielle she was being “disrespectful.”
Both parents said they would go to jail, before their daughter was examined in their living room by a stranger. But they agreed after determining it was the lesser of two evils.
Protocol wasn’t followed
However, the county’s Child Abuse Protocol for Law Enforcement states that child sexual assault investigations are to take place at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
When Madeleine was told what was about to happen, she “became hysterical and began begging and crying not to proceed,” according to the suit.
Madeleine screamed and “struggled helplessly” as her clothes were removed by her own parents, as they pleaded with Yamada not to examine their daughter, the suit states.
“(Madeleine) continued to kick and struggle even more so after her clothes were removed, and her parents were thus forced to hold her arms and legs down and force her legs apart,” the lawsuit states.
When Yamada needed more light, Douglas used the light on his cellphone in what he called a “nightmarish moment.”
Yamada concluded there was nothing wrong with Madeleine, after commenting that, “Well, I’m not a doctor.”
Everyone left the house, while Madeleine’s parents consoled and dressed her.
According to the lawsuit, the incident caused the family severe distress, and they have had to seek counseling.
It took about two months for the children to once again sleep in their own beds and not their parents’ bedroom. Madeleine still has nightmares, and she fears going to school and being taken away by police, the suit states.
Parents want a trial
The Lothers are requesting a trial at which time the amount of damages would be determined.
Earlier this year, the family filed a $1 million claim against the city.
In June, Powell told the Post that “this was such a strong case that I can conceivably file a motion that would result in a pretrial ruling of liability and then only have to go to trial on damages.”
At that time, he said he was in talks with the city and county about an early settlement, but since then, the lawsuit was filed.