CHICAGO (CN) – A child-welfare worker violated two children’s rights by examining them under their clothes during a child-abuse investigation, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Caseworker Dana Gresbach of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare was investigating an abuse claim after a family member reported that Michael C. hit one of his two stepchildren with a stick.
Gresbach examined the bodies of stepchildren Ian and Alexis, finding no signs of injury. This closed the case against Michael C., but opened a new one against Gresbach.
Judge Bauer affirmed the district court’s ruling that Gresbach’s examination violated the children’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches.
“The plaintiffs had a legitimate expectation of privacy,” Bauer wrote, “and therefore the searches of the children’s bodies were presumptively unreasonable.”
Because the children’s rights were clearly established at the time of the searches, Gresbach was not entitled to qualified immunity.
The children’s parents and stepparents – Michael C., Cherita C. and Kimberly S. – had filed the lawsuit.