Michigan Mom’s Charges for Not Drugging Daughter Dropped

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Sometimes, the stories about the efforts of Child Protective Services leave everyone who hears them wondering if the organization has gone completely off the rails. A case where criminal charges stemming from a child removal incident has been resolved by a judge who upheld the dismissal of the charges, and this case is definitely one of those stories that brings up a lot of questions about parental rights, due process, and medical rights.

This story takes place in Wayne County, Michigan, one of the counties in the Detroit Metro area. Prior to the development of this issue, Maryanne had a clean criminal record, never receiving as much as a parking ticket in her life. Her daughter, Ariana, was born with a defective leg that was eventually partially amputated. As a result, she didn’t enter public schools until she was 11, in 2009. Ariana had to receive immunization updates, which caused a severe reaction and changes in Ariana’s behavior.

When Maryanne sought medical assistance, she was told her daughter was mentally ill and needed to be put on Risperdal, which reportedly had a negative impact on Ariana’s condition. They executed a document confirming the family had the right to discontinue the medication,which proved the be necessary when Ariana began suffering serious side effects.

Because of the reaction Ariana was having, her mother sought another medical opinion. The doctor agreed to help slowly decrease and end Ariana’s Risperdal in late 2010. Ariana was diagnosed in the same period of time as having encephalitis caused by the immunizations she received.

According to reporting, as many as four medical facilities contacted Child Protective Services when they learned that Maryanne Godboldo had discontinued her daughter’s medicine. This lead to demands that the Risperdal be administered. Because Maryanne refused, things got uglier.

On March 24, 2011, there was a 10-hour standoff at the Godboldo residence which included a shot fired by Maryanne (the source of several of her criminal charges). When CPS and law enforcement arrived at her home to take her daughter out of her care but refused to show her the court order, she refused them entry.

The police, having twice refused to show the court order, continued pounding on the door, upsetting Ariana, until they broke it open with a crowbar. Instead of complying with the people illegally entering her home without a warrant, Maryanne choose instead to barricade herself and her daughter in their home.

A ten-hour standoff ensued, during which Maryanne allegedly fired a gun, possibly as a warning shot. That shot meant the situation became a “barricaded gunman” situation, and suddenly Maryanne was being considered a violent criminal instead of a mom who wanted the best for her daughter.

Trapped, Godboldo called area officials, trying to get help with her case. Eventually, she agreed to turn her daughter over under the conditions that Ariana be placed with her aunt, Penny Godboldo, and that she would not be medicated. According to reports, the family was not told Ariana’s whereabouts for two days. When they did find her, she was so heavily medicated that she was drooling and despondent. Thankfully, the family already had a court order to stop her medication.

Several weeks later, in May of 2011, Ariana was returned to her family, though Maryanne was charged with multiple serious crimes. It wasn’t until the fall of 2011, when the charged against Maryanna Godboldo were dropped (for the first but not last time), that Ariana was finally returned to her mother’s custody. Felony charges were re-filed, but a judge last week uphelp their dismissal. Now all eyes are on the county prosecutor to see if he will (again) appeal the decision.

The Godboldo family has received a lot of support from activists near and far, in no small part because most view this case as a clear overstep by the Detroit Police Department (who did not have to invade her house without a proper court order) and by Child Protective Services, whose opinions on treatment should not supercede those of a legal guardian, especially when they are backed by a doctor.

The dismissal of this case is encouraging and will hopefully inspire other parents to fight for their rights as parents and for the medical rights of their children. You can visit the website, JusticeforMaryanne, here, and the Facebook page for the site here.

For previous Ladybud Magazine coverage of Child Protective Services and related cases, click here!


Photo Credit: Eurico Zimbres [CC-BY-SA-2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons