The parents of a Grant County boy who authorities have accused of first-degree sexual assault for playing doctor with a 5-year-old girl when he was 6 years old have filed a federal lawsuit against the county's district attorney, a social worker and a former Sheriff's Office investigator.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, seeks $12 million in damages for alleged violations of the constitutional rights of the boy and his parents.
It names as defendants Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, as well as Jan Moravits, a social worker with Grant County Social Services, and recently retired Grant County Sheriff's Sgt. James Kopp.
Tomah attorney Richard Radcliffe, who is representing Riniker, Radcliffe and Kopp, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
Chief Deputy Jack Johnson of the Grant County Sheriff's Department said he has not seen the lawsuit and declined comment.
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 lawsuit also asks that a judge issue a permanent injunction to stop Riniker's "attempts to coerce" the boy's parents into forcing the boy to admit guilt.
The boy — who under Wisconsin law is too young to be charged with a crime or in a juvenile delinquency petition, the equivalent of a criminal complaint for adults — was accused of first-degree sexual assault in a petition seeking protection or services for the boy. Such petitions are typically used by parents or authorities to identify children younger than 10 who need services to change inappropriate behavior.
According to the petition for protection or services, the girl's mother found her daughter in the boy's yard "with her skirt and underpants around her ankles" and the boy sitting underneath her, penetrating her with his finger.
The girl told her mother they were playing "butt doctor" and told authorities the boy only touched her on the outside of her body, court documents state.