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Federal judge rules on Grant Co. sexual assault case

By Jennifer Hoff, jhoff@wisctv.com
Published On: Aug 02 2013 11:49:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 03 2013 12:14:12 AM CDT
LANCASTER, Wis. -

"We're not back to normal," said Jen, a Grant County mother. "We don't know if we'll ever have our child that we had three years ago."

Jen and her husband, Kurt, who didn't want News 3 to use their last name, said their son was six years old when he was accused of first-degree sexual assault in 2010.

A criminal complaint reveals the child inappropriately touched a 5-year-old neighbor girl when they were playing "doctor." The complaint alleges the victim's mother witnessed the act. The complaint also states the victim admitted to touching 'D,' too.

The boy is named 'D' in court documents to protect his identity because he's a juvenile.

The charges were dismissed one year later and the couple then filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the prosecutor, alleging Lisa Riniker had gone too far.

The couple's attorney, Christopher Cooper, explained why in an interview with News 3 two years ago.

"A 6-year-old child is unable to intellectually and emotionally associate sexual gratification with the act that 'D' has been accused of committing," said Cooper.

On Friday, a federal Circuit Court judge ruled the DA's decision to charge the boy shows "poor judgment," but poor judgment doesn't violate the Constitution. 

In their first television interview on Friday, Jen and Kurt said they're not giving up.

"When you have other counties of social services that looked at it from the outside and said this is ridiculous and should have been put to bed, it makes you wonder what happened behind the scene," said Jen. 

She and Kurt allege charges were brought because the victim is the daughter of a former high-ranking Grant County government official. They say they have evidence from their son's doctors proving he's not a sexual predator, but it wasn't introduced because the case was closed due to a consent decree. That's an order that acknowledges some level of guilt. But Kurt said they didn't authorize it and filed the federal suit. 

"It's been a nightmare and it's somewhat of a moral victory when the judges say this probably shouldn't have happened, but there's got to be more than 'it probably shouldn't have happened,'" said Kurt. "My goal is to make sure it doesn't happen again."

DA Riniker denied an interview request. 

The boy's parents plan to appeal and bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their attorney has 90 days to file.
 

 Watch this story on the Channel3000 video, here

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