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Mom who chose to take daughter off medication files lawsuit, alleges daughter deprived of prosthesis

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on Sun, 05/13/2012 - 07:35

DETROIT - (WXYZ) A local mom chose not to medicate her special needs daughter, so the state took the girl -- and the mom landed in jail. Now she is suing.

Thursday afternoon, Maryanne Godboldo filed a civil rights lawsuit. In it, there are new allegations that her daughter’s prosthetic leg was taken while in state care, to stop the child from trying to get back to her mother.

“Just one betrayal after another.  It’s a lie – bring us your children and we will help you.  That’s not true.  That’s not true at all.  Bring me your children, and we’ll take them,” Maryanne Godboldo told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

Godboldo says she just wanted help when she noticed serious changes in her daughter, Ariana, after a series of vaccinations in 2009.   So doctors prescribed the controversial anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal for Ariana.

“I tried the medication, and it made Ariana terribly ill,” said Godboldo.

Godboldo signed a form, which states in two different places that she could choose to have Ariana stop taking Risperdal at any time.

“Do you feel like that when you started questioning the system, that’s when it turned on you,” asked Catallo.

“Oh absolutely,” said Godboldo.

According to her lawsuit – Godboldo worked with her doctor to wean Ariana off the medication – and that’s when the very people she had gone to for help reported her to Child Protective Services, or CPS.

So CPS presented a petition – filled with mistakes – to court staff, who signed off it and issued a child removal order.  The law requires that a judge review these petitions – but that never happened.

CPS then used the flawed order to get Detroit Police to take Ariana.

Attorney David Robinson says when police first came to Godboldo’s door, they didn’t show her the order or a warrant.  According to the lawsuit, she refused to hand over her daughter, so police used a crowbar to break in the side door.  That’s when the officers said Godboldo fired a shot.

“They had no authority,” said Southfield attorney, David Robinson. “She did what any mother is supposed to do… and that is protect her child.  And that’s what she did – she did so legally, she did so responsibly.”

What happened next made international headlines -- tanks and SWAT teams surrounded the home and a 10 hour standoff began.

“The helicopters, the sharp shooters, that did not bother me.  I was terrified they would get their hands on my child, and do exactly what they did,” said Godboldo.

Godboldo says she surrendered only after she was promised Ariana would be placed in her Aunt’s care.  But that didn’t happen.

“I thought my daughter was safe, and she was not!! That bothers me,” said Godboldo.

After the standoff – Ariana was checked out at Children’s Hospital.

“She was physically healthy, in fact, she was in a good frame of mind, and she was by all accounts perfectly fine,” said Southfield attorney Allison Folmar.

Folmar was at Children’s Hospital with Ariana and her aunt.   Hospital records show the aunt “was… escorted out of the [hospital] room by CPS.”  Folmar says that’s when the CPS worker took Ariana to the psychiatric hospital called Hawthorn Center.

 “We were mystified as to where Ariana was.  Now if that’s not kidnapping, I don’t know what is,” said Folmar.

CPS case notes show Hawthorn tried several times to refuse Ariana as a patient – but CPS kept pushing, and eventually got her admitted.

Folmar says at Hawthorne Center – the CPS worker immediately authorized the 13 year old to go back on Risperdal and have the controversial HPV vaccine.

“Where was the order to hospitalize the child?  Where’s the order to medicate the child,” asked Folmar.

Ariana is an amputee who has a prosthetic leg. Godboldo’s attorneys say employees at Hawthorne Center removed it to stop her from trying to leave.

“You can’t compensate for that type of psychological harm to a child,” said Folmar.

After months of court hearings – the criminal charges against Godboldo were dropped -- because the judge ruled that child removal order was “invalid.”  Godboldo eventually got her daughter back.  But she says not before the damage was done.

“I knew the system was broken, but I didn’t know it was this broken, where anyone, literally anyone could come and take your child,” said Godboldo.

Tonight on 7 Action News at 11, 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo will show you how Godboldo’s case exposed how the court wasn’t following the law, and you’ll see what happens when she tried to talk to the judge who allowed this to happen.

A spokesman for the state's Department of Human Services, which oversees CPS, said they had not seen the lawsuit yet, so he could not comment on it.

By: Heather Catallo