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Social worker's search violated kids' rights: Judge's ruling goesagainst state employee who checked under children's clothes for signs ofabuse...
Judge's ruling goes against state employee who checked under clothes for
signs of abuse
By JOHN DIEDRICH and SARAH CARR
Posted: April 2, 2007
A social worker overstepped her authority and violated two children's
constitutional rights in 2004 when she looked under the clothing of a
boy and a girl at a Milwaukee elementary school during an abuse
investigation, a federal judge has ruled.
Dana Gresbach, a social worker at the state-run Bureau of Milwaukee
Child Welfare, asked the boy to lift his shirt and the girl to pull down
her tights in individual interviews so she could check for signs of
abuse in February 2004, according to court documents. The children are
step-siblings. No abuse case was filed.
In June 2005, the family sued Gresbach and her bosses in federal court,
alleging that she violated the children's right against unreasonable
search and seizure. They asked for unspecified damages and an injunction
against the defendants.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled Gresbach violated the
children's right to be free of unreasonable search. He removed
Gresbach's bosses from the suit. He rejected the call for an injunction.
The ruling means both sides now either must negotiate a settlement of
damages or go to a jury and ask the jurors to set an amount.
John Glinski, an assistant attorney general who represented the
defendants, filed an appeal Friday arguing Gresbach should have had
"On the appeal, we would argue that the law was not violated, and even
that it was not clearly established," he said.
Gresbach did not return a call seeking comment.
Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and
Family Services, said in a statement that "protecting children is a
priority for our staff, and we do so within the confines of the law."
Gresbach went to the private Good Hope Christian Academy to investigate
an allegation that the boy was hit by his father on the wrist with a
plastic flexible stick. Gresbach forbade the principal from being
present or calling the parents, court documents say. The boy was in
second grade and the girl in third.
Gresbach took the children individually into a room. She first asked the
boy if his father hit him and asked him to lift his shirt. Separately,
she met with the girl and told her she would have to raise her jumper
and pull down her tights, the court records say. The girl was not
required to remove her underwear.
The parents said they were especially outraged because they had told
their children "that they never allow strangers to do what Gresbach
did," the suit says.
Michael D. Dean, a lawyer for the girl and her mother, said he was happy
with the decision and would like to make the argument in a jury trial
that the principal did not give Gresbach permission to even talk to the
children, much less ask them to remove any of their clothing.
"One of the critical parts of the decision is that a reasonable social
worker would have known that she was violating the law," he said.
Gresbach's co-workers testified that they would have done the same
CURRENTLY CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES VIOLATES MORE CIVIL RIGHTS ON A
DAILY BASIS THEN ALL OTHER AGENCIES COMBINED INCLUDING THE NSA/CIA
BE SURE TO FIND OUT WHERE YOUR CANDIDATES STANDS ON THE ISSUE OF
REFORMING OR ABOLISHING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ("MAKE YOUR CANDIDATES
TAKE A STAND ON THIS ISSUE.") THEN REMEMBER TO VOTE ACCORDINGLY IF THEIR
"FAMILY UNFRIENDLY" IN THE NEXT ELECTION...
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