This Week in Prosecutorial Discretion

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011


A 6-year-old Grant County boy has been accused of first-degree sexual assault after playing “doctor” with two 5-year-old friends. Now, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the prosecutor, who attorneys said is trying to force the boy to admit guilt.

The boy’s parents had planned to speak with WISC-TV on Monday to discuss the emotional toll the prosecution has taken on their son. But the prosecutor, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, on Monday morning asked a judge for a gag order in the case and was granted it. The gag order prohibits the boy’s parents from talking about the case.

But the attorneys for the parents in the federal suit, which names Riniker as a defendant, aren’t included in the gag order, and they spoke with WISC-TV from Chicago. Attorneys for the parents of the 6-year-old, who is being referred to as “D,” said that Riniker has gone too far by bringing a felony sex charge against a first-grader for touching a 5-year-old girl inappropriately while playing doctor last fall…

Cooper and attorney David Sigale filed the federal suit last week, alleging that Riniker wants D to sign a consent decree admitting some level of guilt…

Cooper and Sigale said they are prepared to present evidence that D has been psychologically harmed by the court proceedings and is terrified of going to jail.”She (Riniker) bypassed the parents and sent a 6-year-old boy a summons, on which is a threat that the 6-year-old will go to jail for failure to appear,” Cooper said.

And the kicker:

In justification for the charge, Riniker is quoted in the lawsuit saying “the Legislature could have put an age restriction in the statute … the legislature did no such thing.”

Remember this the next time a legislator proposes some broadly-written new law, and argues that we needn’t worry about worst-case scenarios because prosecutors would never charge anyone in those cases.

(Hat tip: Walter Olson.)

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41 Responses to “This Week in Prosecutorial Discretion”

  1. #1 |  StrangeOne | 

    But, but, think of the children!!!

  2. #2 |  Roho | 

    “Following his conviction, D was registered as a sex offender. He is no longer permitted to live within the same residence as a minor. His execution is scheduled for Tuesday.”

  3. #3 |  noseeum | 

    More and more I think the act if applying to be a prosecutor or a police officer should automatically disqualify you. We should secretly and randomly contact qualified people, give them a 10 year stint and a decent pay grade, then pile in so much respect that they’re bound to find a cool job afterwards.

    But if in the interview they say, “I’ve always wanted to be a prosecutor,” no job to them! Who’s with me?

  4. #4 |  Aresen | 

    @ noseeum

    Much simpler solution:

    Every prosecutor who obtains a conviction of a person later shown to be innocent will be required to spend as much time in prison as the innocent person. If more than one such person is convicted, the prosecutor in question will serve the time consecutively.

  5. #5 |  Aresen | 

    Next time this prosecutor runs for office – any office – this case should be the centerpiece of the attack ads against her.

  6. #6 |  jmcross | 

    This moron should be covered in tar and feathers and riding a pole. What an asshole!

  7. #7 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Prosecutorial misconduct – at least willful misconduct – should be treated as conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the target. Misconduct in a capitol case should be treated as conspiracy to commit murder.


    Do any Lawyers in the audience know, is it theoretically possible for a State Bar to disbar a prosecutor for lack of judgement along these lines? I realize that it isn’t going to happen, even if it were possible in theory, but I just wondered.

  8. #8 |  John C. Randolph | 

    So, what’s it take to get a raving autocrat like Lisa Riniker bounced off the taxpayers’ teat and disbarred?


  9. #9 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Looked her up, and sent her this:

    Ms. Riniker,

    I read with some alarm about your asinine decision to terrorize a small child for playing doctor, by threatening him with jail. I don’t know where you went to law school, but they obviously failed to teach you the rudiments of common sense.

    You are a disgrace to your office and the legal profession. I suggest you pursue a career in the manual excavation trade, because you’re obviously far too stupid for any other employment.


  10. #10 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Anyone got a contact address for the Wisconsin state bar?


  11. #11 |  Marty | 

    I’m with all of you- tar and feather the cretin, get him disbarred and fired, and make prosecutors serve the sentences they abusively dole out to innocents. To me, this is a great example of exactly why geniuses like Jim Bell push back against authority.

  12. #12 |  FloO | 

    Doesn’t Lisa Riniker get Federal money for this case?

  13. #13 |  Mad Rocket Scientist | 

    I want to know, who the hell called the police in the first place?

  14. #14 |  Bob Mc | 

    Why wasn’t that kid charged with practicing medicine without a license?

    Dam soft-on-crime prosecutor.

  15. #15 |  fwb | 

    Riniker is probably jealous ’cause no one ever wnated to play doctor with her.

  16. #16 |  Michael Brian Bentley | 

    I normally wait for another shoe to drop. I think this process needs to stop immediately; the gag lifted; and at least a reprimand for the prosecution, but this seems just simply absurd and some stronger action is called for. Prosecutors are supposed to have some semblence of credible judgement.

  17. #17 |  Rob Lyman | 

    So the legislature didn’t put an age limit in. Did they include mens rea? Because it’s going to be hard for a 6-year-old to form actual criminal intent.

  18. #18 |  Pablo | 

    As if we need any more evidence that the sex abuse panic has gotten totally out of hand:

    The end point to all of this, of course, is that everyone is required to report everything.

  19. #19 |  Rob Lyman | 

    Also, it is very common (although I don’t know about in Wis.) for there to be a general age limit in the criminal statutes, so that while each individual statute doesn’t have a limit, there’s still one on the books that applies.

  20. #20 |  Maria | 

    Wow. This has topped my “WTF?!” meter for the week and it’s only Wednesday.

  21. #21 |  RandomDude | 

    Everyone should post this on facebook, google plus, and twitter:

    Prosecutor Lisa Riniker is charging kindergartners with felony sexual assault for playing “doctor” with friends.

  22. #22 |  Rob Lyman | 

    So I don’t have time to make totally sure, but a “delinquent” under Wis. law is anyone 10-18 years old who has violated any criminal law, and the juvenile court definitely lacks jurisdiction over anybody under 10. This rather strongly suggests that children under 10 are not intended to be subjects of the Wisconsin courts. I suppose you could argue (if you were a lunatic) that kids under 10 were meant to be tried as adults.

    I think it more likely that it is legally impossible for kids under 10 to commit crimes. Which means not only a 1983 lawsuit should be a winner, but also that somebody should seek to have the prosecutor disbarred (or at least suspended).

  23. #23 |  CharlesWT | 

    Seems like I remember the argument being made decades ago that, with more women in positions of authority, it would be a kinder, gentler world.

  24. #24 |  RandomDude | 

    Silly CharlesWT (#23), it WILL be a kindler, gentler world. That disgusting boy will never again be allowed to impose himself on proper young ladies again!

  25. #25 |  CharlesWT | 

    District Attorney Lisa Riniker

  26. #26 |  CharlesWT | 

    A young Wisconsin boy, age 6, was accused by one of the boy’s playmate’s mothers of sexually assaulting her daughter by sticking his finger in her anus. The little girl denied that the boy had done that, but the mother reportedly moved forward with her relentless plight to have the boy prosecuted for rape. The incident, which happened in the fall of 2010, happened at the home of a prominent politician in Grant County, Wisconsin. The alleged victim’s aunt is also Regional Social Services Supervisor, raising questions by the accused boy’s parents of conspiracy. The boy’s family now claims that the politically connected family used their connections to humiliate, bully and crucify the boy’s family in the community.

    6-year-old boy accused of molestation is allegedly tortured by his accusers

  27. #27 |  bigjohn756 | 

    Are you sure that this isn’t from The Onion?

  28. #28 |  CyniCAl | 

    “The lawsuit also alleges the charges were brought because the 5-year-old is the daughter of a high-ranking official in Grant County.”

    Remember this if anyone tries to convince you that Amerika isn’t founded on class. And remember that there are fewer classes with more protection than State agents.

    It is time to identify which class you belong to and shun those above you.

  29. #29 |  Mad Rocket Scientist | 

    More info

    Link One

    Link Two

  30. #30 |  Troy | 

    So, under this stupid cunt’s logic, since age is no barrier. a breastfeeding infant could be charged for sexually assaulting the mother?

  31. #31 |  CharlesWT | 

    I remember an instance where a mother had her baby taken away when she admitted to getting a buzz from breastfeeding.

  32. #32 |  Paul | 

    Tar and feathers for the arresting officer, the prosecutor, and the judge.

  33. #33 |  CharlesWT | 

    “State law defines sexual intercourse, in part, as “intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body.””

    Better be careful with those wet-willies.

  34. #34 |  Poly the Tick | 

    This is the county that attempted and failed to recall a judge in the mid 80s after he referred to a 5 year old female sexual assault victim as an “unusually sexually promiscuous young lady”.

  35. #35 |  a_random_guy | 

    This is too stupid for words. The details on the case are a bit vague – nonetheless, another question that I find interesting:

    Two small children playing “doctor” together – this is almost certainly mutual curiosity at work. If the prosecutor is going to charge someone, why the boy and not the girl? Could it be because the prosecutor herself is a woman?

    In any case, I sincerely hope the prosecutor – and the parents of the girl who started this whole mess – all get their just rewards.

  36. #36 |  CyniCAl | 

    I guess you missed the part where the girl’s parents are politically well-connected. That should fill in the blanks for you.

  37. #37 |  croaker | 

    I’m on a list where the participants are coming up with creative ways to admonish this cunt.

    Me, I go with the classics: Short stake up the ass planted on the courthouse lawn. Or maybe a black powder enema but it’s tricky to get just the right amount.

    You know, we all bitch about child abuse, but what about cock-sucking bastards like this bitch who abuse children and then hide behind sovereign immunity?

  38. #38 |  Mannie | 

    the girl’s parents are politically well-connected

    And they are hiding behind the anonymity guaranteed to their rug rat in a sex case. They should be revealed, dragged out of their beds and hanged in their own front yard, with the prosecutor and judge on either side.

  39. #39 |  John David Galt | 

    I would do away with the office of prosecutor, or at least limit it to crimes where the victim is dead and has no heir, and put prosecution in the hands of each victim, along with full power to negotiate settlements.

    As for this case, if I’m the six-year-old’s dad, I refuse the plea bargain: go ahead and prosecute me (or the child) for a felony, and see if a jury will convict. I’ll go without a lawyer so that I can talk nullification to the jury.

  40. #40 |  Prosecution roundup | 

    […] Six-year-old charged with sexual assault [, Wisconsin; Radley Balko] […]

  41. #41 |  Of Course they Didn’t Intend those Unintended Consequences « The Boys on the Board | 

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