Spanking Leads to Cross-Country Flight From Human Services Office

     DENVER (CN) – Parents who spanked their teenage daughter with a rod for sexting a boyfriend claim in court that social workers tried to force the girl to strip naked and be photographed, then chased the family cross-country when she refused.
     The Doe family claims in Federal Court that El Paso County Department of Human Services, El Paso Board of County Commissioners, El Paso Sheriff’s Office and the Monument Police Department violated their privacy in following up on an anonymous tip alleging child abuse at the family home in Monument.
     The seat of El Paso County, Colo., is Colorado Springs.
     The Doe family, not otherwise identified in the complaint, includes parents John and Jane, two Girl Does and two Boy Does.
     They claim they attracted the attention of authorities after they impressed “traditional family values” upon their adolescent daughter’s backside.
     “On April 17, 2012, Parents discovered that their 15-year-old daughter, Girl Doe 1, had a secret sexual partner, when Mother discovered explicit text messages on an unauthorized iPod Touch,” the complaint states. “In addition to the texting, Girl Doe 1 confessed that she had lied to the school about her whereabouts on repeated occasions, broken other school rules, engaged in both physical sexual activity in the school and in sexting (sending naked pictures of herself and extensive pornographic text exchanges.)
     “At two different times in the evening, parents separately gave Girl Doe 1 a spanking that consisted of 20 swats on the backside with a light rod.”
     The parents say they kept their daughter home from school the next day, “while they considered how to keep Girl Doe 1 safe from self-destructive and potentially criminal activity.”
     The complaint continues: “Also on April 18, the School Resource Officer, Deputy Dennis Coates, came to check on Girl Doe 1 because of an anonymous report. He interviewed her in her home and reported she said nothing that raised his concern for her safety.
     “On the morning of April 19, Girl Doe 1 voluntarily went on a bicycle ride (approximately seven miles) with Father, and did not complain of any discomfort from the spanking.”
     Then things changed, the parents say in the complaint: “On April 19, the Department of Human Services (DHS) sent caseworker [defendant] Joanna McAfee to the home to investigate an anonymous allegation of child abuse against Girl Doe 1.
     “Ms. McAfee told Parents that she needed to interview Girl Doe 1 privately, which they permitted. Parents did not allow Ms. McAfee or others into the home where they conducted highly confidential scientific research, which was their ongoing professional policy.”
     The complaint does not elucidate on the nature of the research.
     It continues: “Ms. McAfee also told Parents that she needed to see whether there was a physical injury on Girl Doe 1. Ms. McAfee, Mother, and Girl Doe 1 went into the Doe’s garage.
     “At some point, Girl Doe 1 acknowledged that there were marks on her buttocks. Girl Doe 1 showed Ms. McAfee her back and stomach, but when Ms. McAfee pulled out a camera and instructed Girl Doe 1 to strip so Ms. McAfee could inspect and photograph her naked buttocks, Girl Doe 1 refused.
     “Girl Doe 1 stated that she did not want to strip. She looked at her mother and said, ‘Do I have to?’ Jane Doe responded, ‘You have my permission to do it but I’m not going to compel you to do it.’
     “Girl Doe 1 refused to undress. She said to Ms. McAfee, ‘I want proof that I have to do this.’ She also requested written proof that Ms. McAfee had that authority. She also told Ms. McAfee that it was gross and embarrassing. Girl Doe 1 tried to stare down Ms. McAfee.
     “Ms. McAfee asked Mother to compel her daughter to go through with the nude strip search.
     “Ms. McAfee stated that any marks on Girl Doe 1 needed to be documented, and that if Girl Doe 1 would not cooperate, she would call law enforcement. Girl Doe 1 replied, ‘Do what you have to.'”
     So the social worker called police, and when officers from El Paso County and Monument arrived, they tried to talk the girl into taking off her clothes, the family says.
     The girl and her mother fled to Kansas after the officers told them they were free to go, the complaint states. Then came emotional scenes, when social worker McAfee arrived at the three younger kids’ school with a temporary custody order.
     “The three younger children were called to the school office and put in an empty back office at 2:52 p.m.,” their complaint states.
     “Ms. McAfee and her intern walked into that office and said they were from DHS. They refused to tell children why they were there. They asked for children’s names and birthdates. Children were frightened, and they refused to give Ms. McAfee this information.
     “Ms. McAfee stepped out to the school office to get the information. At about same time, roughly 2:58 p.m., she got the verbal order from the magistrate and wrote up the temporary custody order. She was out of the room for about ten minutes, leaving children with the intern.
     “When she returned, all three children were crying. Girl Doe 2 asked Ms. McAfee over and over what was going on. Ms. McAfee refused to tell her. She did tell Girl Doe 2 that Girl Doe 1 had run away. Girl Doe 2 states that she knew that Ms. McAfee was lying to her as soon as she heard it.
     “Ms. McAfee also told Girl Doe 2 that parents were both safe at home and parents knew that Ms. McAfee was with Girl Doe 2. Girl Doe 2 also knew that was a lie, as her parents would not be sitting at home if Girl Doe 1 was missing, and while DHS was interrogating children.
     “Girl Doe 2 asked to leave, and Ms. McAfee said no.
     “Girl Doe 2 said that she had rights, and Ms. McAfee told her, ‘You have no rights.’
     “Girl Doe 2 attempted to see Ms. McAfee’s clipboard, to see if there was anything on it related to children. She saw that the papers did not appear to be custody forms. As soon as Ms. McAfee saw Girl Doe 2 looking, she turned the clipboard away so that Girl Doe 2 could not see it.
     “All three children started crying and became hysterical. Girl Doe 2 kept screaming and asking to see her friend. Boy Doe 3 screamed as well, and Boy Doe 4 was very scared. Girl Doe 2 kept screaming, ‘You don’t have a right to do this. I know my rights.'”
     As the three siblings were being taken to the Department of Human Services, one of them spotted their father and they all escaped.
     “Children were taken to the front office,” the complaint states. “Ms. McAfee handed them over to Ms. [defendant Kathy] Tremaine, another caseworker who had been called to assist Ms. McAfee.
     “Ms. Tremaine’s car was parked a distance away, across the parking lot. Ms. Tremaine took hold of Girl Doe 2’s arm to move her along. Girl Doe 2 held her brothers’ hands.
     “Ms. McAfee walked out of the office, but was about ten feet behind children. She was talking on the phone. Her car was also on the other side of the parking lot.
     “To get to the parking lot, children had to cross the cross-walk. Suddenly, Girl Doe 2 saw Father pull up in the carpool lane near them. He called across the lanes for them to get in the car. Father did not notice DHS workers in the carpool crowd.
     “Girl Doe 2 let go of her brothers’ hands and pushed Ms. Tremaine out of the way. Ms. Tremaine was much larger than Girl Doe 2, so it did not hurt her. All of the children ran to the car and piled in the back seat. It was 3:43 p.m. according to the clock on the dashboard.
     “Children were extremely upset, and told Father to drive away. He asked what was wrong. Father asked each of the children if they felt safe with DHS and if their safety and well-being would be threatened if they stayed in Monument.
     “Children stated they did not feel safe and would be in danger if they stayed. They told Father not to go home and asked if they could leave town. They told Father the lies that Ms. McAfee had told them, and he confirmed they were untrue. He was particularly concerned about the physical and emotional safety of children in light of Ms. McAfee’s earlier attempt to force his older daughter to submit to an unconstitutional nude search, and her statement that the younger children had no rights.
     “The family drove around for a while and eventually they headed south on I-25.”
     While the father and three younger children drove to their grandparents’ home in North Carolina, the mother and the eldest daughter returned to Colorado, where “(t)he Colorado State Patrol performed a felony stop with several police cars involved. They drew their guns and pointed their guns at Mother and Girl Doe 1,” the complaint states.
     The mother and daughter were ordered to drop to their knees, patted down and handcuffed, even though they had agreed to comply with a court-ordered medical exam, and the mother told the police as much, according to the complaint.
     Meanwhile in North Carolina, Father Doe delivered the other children to the custody of their grandparents, then headed back to Colorado.
     El Paso County Department of Human Services then had their counterparts in North Carolina remove the children from their grandparents and put into a shelter.
     “Children were made to stay at a teen shelter instead of with their grandparents,” the complaint states. “The North Carolina report states that children were OK with staying at the shelter, which is not true.
     “Girl Doe 2 did not say she was okay staying at the teen shelter. She had heard stories about that shelter from a relative and wanted to stay with her grandparents. At the shelter, she had to share a room with two girls. One had knifed her own father. The other was a cutter, whose arm was covered with fresh cuts. This girl was very upset and asked Girl Doe 2 to sing her to sleep, which she did.”
     When the family was reunited in Colorado, both parents were arrested on charges of misdemeanor child abuse. The father spent two months in prison after pleading guilty to avoid felony kidnapping charges.
     The family says the children have lost their friends and that the parents’ “ongoing employment in high-security research will continue to be in jeopardy because of the criminal conviction.”
     The family says it is “an intact and committed Christian family” with “high ethical standards and traditional family values.”
     They seek punitive damages for constitutional violations.
     They are represented by Theresa Lynn Sidebotham with Telios Law in Monument, Colo.
     Named as defendants are two El Paso County DHS caseworkers, two supervisors, its executive director, the El Paso County Administrator, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff and four officers, the Monument Police Department, its police chief and two officers.

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