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Mountain View police officers named in lawsuit over traumatic forced exam of 5-year-old's genitals

Family claims botched sexual assault investigation of girl's playground injury violated civil rights, caused lasting harm

A Mountain View family filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming that Mountain View Police Department officers unlawfully forced their 5-year-old daughter to undergo a traumatic sexual assault exam, violating their civil rights and running afoul of department protocol.

The suit, filed on behalf of parents Annie and Douglas Lother last month, seeks a jury trial after three officers showed up at the family's house on Jan. 28 and demanded the child's genitals be examined by a paramedic. Officers reportedly believed the child may have been a victim of sexual abuse.

The child had injured her pubic area three days prior when she fell at a Sky High Sports trampoline park, according to the civil complaint. The injury had healed, but the girl mentioned that her vagina had bled or was bleeding while she was at Landels Elementary School and a teacher or principal made a referral to either Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement. The girl was pulled from class and questioned on Jan. 28.

Later that day, officers -- identified in the suit as Mark Poirier, Mason Motomura and Matthew Rogers -- reportedly pounded on the door of the family's home, entered and refused to explain why they were there, according to the suit. A social worker with the county, identified as Joseph Phan, accompanied the officers and also did not explain the nature of the report that brought them there -- a requirement under California law.

The girl was separated from her mother and questioned in the front yard in plain view of the public, the lawsuit states. She told officers that she had injured herself at a trampoline park and, after minutes of interrogation, started to whine and told them she didn't want to answer any more questions. According to the suit, Poirier is heard on a police body camera recording saying that the concerns of possible sexual abuse seemed "more and more unfounded," and that the injuries were innocent in nature.

After asking several probing questions to Douglas Lother, including how he disciplines his daughters and if there was "anything more" he could tell officers to understand "a little bit more about the situation," the officers gave an ultimatum: allow a paramedic to inspect the child's genitals or have her forcibly transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for an examination.

Motomura told the parents that he and the other officers would not leave until the exam was complete or the child was taken to Valley Medical Center, refusing to comply when Douglas Lother demanded that the three officers leave the home.

According to the complaint, Motomura tried to convince the parents that the in-home examination was the better option.

"There is only two options," he said, according to the lawsuit's transcription of body camera footage. "Doing this here in her own home with a female medical expert. Mom is welcome to be present, nothing traumatic, abusive is going to happen, or if you refuse, then we have to go the other route and CPS will take them in ... to be seen by an emergency room doctor."

The suit states that the parents tried multiple times to offer alternatives, including a trip to a physician to verify the injury was not serious and healing. Danielle Lother also offered contact information for witnesses who could corroborate the story that the girl injured herself at a trampoline park.

"Danielle (Lother) offered in a pleading tone to take the child to the doctor tomorrow and send them the results," according to the suit. "Danielle again offered that she would get the pediatrician on the phone. These offers were again refused."

The Lothers say they were forced to hold down their child and pull off her clothes for the paramedic while she was kicking and crying. The paramedic commented that she couldn't see without better lighting, leading Douglas Lother to pull out the flashlight on his phone to assist in the examination.

"In a nightmarish moment of his life, Douglas (Lother) actually found himself holding a flashlight with one hand, pointed at his daughter's private parts, while he and his wife were holding down their struggling, screaming, crying 5-year-old daughter, as a stranger was putting her fingers on his child's labia and spreading the outer folds of the labia with her fingers to visually inspect them in the bright light of a flashlight held by Douglas," according to the suit.

Laura Yamada, the paramedic for American Medical Response (AMR), concluded after a two-minute examination that there was nothing wrong with the child's vagina, but only after prefacing her statement by saying that she was not a doctor.

In the weeks following the incident, the family hired San Jose-based attorney Robert Powell, who filed a $1 million claim against the city of Mountain View arguing that suspected victims of child abuse cannot, by the department's own policy, be detained involuntarily for the purposes of an interview or physical exam without the consent of a parent or guardian. Exceptions exist only for exigent circumstances, including an immediate need to address a medical issue or a belief that the child is at risk of harm if the interview or exam is not completed.

Mountain View city officials said they could not comment on existing litigation. The City Council is scheduled to discuss the lawsuit in closed session at its Tuesday, Oct. 15, meeting.

Powell told the Voice that officers erred in demanding a sexual assault examination, and that they lacked a compelling reason to escalate the situation or suspect the parents of wrongdoing. The account of the injuries sustained at Sky High Sports was consistent between the father, the mother and the child.

"This was three days later -- she was absolutely fine," Powell said of the girl. "They knew that from her own mouth within seven minutes of them arriving."

Powell said the family decided to move forward with a civil complaint after they ran into "disparate views" over what would be an appropriate settlement arrangement with the three culpable agencies -- the city, the county and AMR.

The suit alleges that the incident has caused severe emotional distress, anxiety, and symptoms including nausea and severe depression, forcing the family to spend money on therapeutic counseling and medical care, and faces future medical and mental health expenses.

The daughter, in particular, has suffered lasting consequences from the encounter with police, according to the suit, including mood changes and "extreme hypervigilance." She slept in her parents' bed for two months, was still having nightmares eight months after the exam and has seen her grades drop.

The suit claims that the city violated the family's right to due process, privacy and against unreasonable seizure, and alleges that the officers committed battery and false imprisonment. The suit also lays blame on the paramedic for negligence in conducting an exam that was a "substantial factor" in causing harm to the daughter.

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Comments

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood

on Oct 15, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


22 people like this
Posted by Anonymous for this comment
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Oct 15, 2019 at 10:43 pm

Anonymous for this comment is a registered user.

Mountain View doesn't need to "comment on existing litigation." They do need to say what is right and wrong. Something like, "If any police officer in our city forces a genital exam(!) on a child improperly, they will be absolutely prohibited from responding to future cases involving children." That's the kind of statement I would expect to hear from a responsible government.

...Oh, there's no way to keep an officer on the force and ensure they won't respond to cases involving children? Well, I guess you know what you have to do then. Some positions have too much responsibility, and too much potential for harm to the public, to enjoy full job security.

As an aside, I wonder what would have happened if the parents had called 911 while the police were threatening them, and asked to speak to a superior officer who could have ordered the police to stand down? Perhaps that would be worth trying in similar situations. NOT that they should have had to!

If the lawsuit's description is accurate, I hope Mountain View has to pay a fortune - enough to inspire substantial change in the city's policing. I say that as a Mountain View resident, and as the parent of a daughter. We should be asking whether not only those officers, but whoever is responsible for them, is actually the right person for the job they have.


4 people like this
Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 9:44 am

The Registrant is a registered user.

I'm absolutely appalled reading this story. On so many levels there is violation. It reads as if Motomura was the one holding the hard line, even when the other commented that it was beginning to look like nothing.
Motomura held his power and by force mandated this poor girl be "examined" while the others held tightly to the blue line and went along with him, with everybody staying in the room to watch over the "Examination". $1M is not enough, not by a long shot, and I think that paramedic has a lawsuit as well. She was also a victim in this. So many levels of power run amok, fear to speak up, and violated trust.

The question I have is WHERE IS THE DA? Where are the criminal charges???


11 people like this
Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm

The Registrant is a registered user.

If anyone else thinks that criminal charges should be brought against 1 or all of the officers involved, please contact the Santa Clara County DA at his office:
Jeffrey Rosen
(408) 299-3099

Please explain that you think the abuse of power resulted in criminal act by these cops and it is his duty to bring charges against them.


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous9404n
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 8:55 pm

Anonymous9404n is a registered user.

To "Registrant". Why? Is the information in the article in the MV Voice above, and the information filed in the lawsuit, not enough for the DA to consider criminal charges? The DA will do nothing unless someone responds as you say?


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous9404n
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Anonymous9404n is a registered user.

BTW - Motomura is CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer of Year.

Web Link

An argument for or against him?


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous9404n
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2019 at 9:19 pm

Anonymous9404n is a registered user.

BTW - Motomura is CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer of Year.

"MVPD CIT Officer of the Year
Mountain View Police Department from Mountain View Police Department · 10 Apr
Photo from Mountain View P.
Please join us in a round of applause as we congratulate our own Officer Mason Motomura for being recognized as the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Officer of Year.

Officer Motomura has been a vital part of the department since 2000. Fondly known as "Moto," he has played a pivotal role on the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team since 2012. He is well-known for his soothing demeanor and his unwavering ability to remain steady and calm under pressure.

It means so much that our community has men and women who can protect and serve on all levels. This award is an incredible reflection of Officer Motomura's years of training to understand how to best help people in their toughest moments.

Well deserved, Moto! We’re lucky to have you be a part of the MV community


13 people like this
Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2019 at 9:22 am

The Registrant is a registered user.

" Why? Is the information in the article in the MV Voice above, and the information filed in the lawsuit, not enough for the DA to consider criminal charges?"
Are they? This happened in Jan and no charges yet. How long should we wait in your opinion?

"The DA will do nothing unless someone responds as you say?"
Again, the DA has not filed charges since this happened in Jan.
The DA may or may not choose to file charges, we don't know, but calling him will let him know that this is an issue that the citizens will not let slide under the rug. It reads like child abuse by proxy so of course I would EXPECT charges, but there still are none.

Expectation of active participation in our gov't that provides feedback from the community is specifically why the DA's name and number are prominently listed on the County Webpage.


8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 17, 2019 at 9:45 pm

Gary is a registered user.

The police were put in a difficult position. A 5-year-old who may well have been attacked by a father with a story should be examined. The police did not want to leave the girl without learning the truth. Suppose for a moment that the girl had been raped by her father or someone her father was protecting. As a police officer or CPS investigator, you would not want to simply leave her with the father (and mother) involved. She could be murdered. Seriously. Suppose you offer a medical exam at VMC or a field exam by a female paramedic. That sounds reasonable - if you start from the concern and belief, based on evidence, that a 5-year-old girl was (and is being) raped. The policy of the government authorities does not set the limits of government authority. But that policy is certainly relevant to an assessment what seizure and search of this little girl was "reasonable" under the 4th and 14th amendments. What was and is the policy? I can tell you this: A search does not require a warrant in urgent ("exigent") circumstances. I am not contending this search was lawful. But rights are not violated in retrospect. Sometimes an intrusive search will yield the good news that someone is not the victim of a terrible crime.


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Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2019 at 10:21 am

The Registrant is a registered user.

I dunno Gary. As a father of a young girl I don't think I'm able to see this as: they were put into a tough situation so we need to cut them slack.

They were indeed put into a tough situation, a situation where all protocols should be strictly followed as well as de-escalation once the situation and the comments of the other officer pointed to this looking like nothing.
"Moto" did not de-escalate, he did not heed the advice of his fellow officers, or take a step back to re-look at what was going on and maybe see an alternative. No, it was his way or the highway at that point, it was the Moto Show. He abused his power and by doing so, abused this little girl.

In all honesty, if these officers were to knock on my door demanding I open it, my first call will be to the SC County Sheriff's and the next would be to 911. How would ANY father let these men get near or speak to their child? They don't belong in the field and IMO should be ashamed to show their faces in MV.


4 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 18, 2019 at 11:19 am

Gary is a registered user.

Well sure. You are a good father. Most are. A small percentage of fathers molest their own children. The percentage, of course, cannot be established given the nature of the crime. But more and more women (and men) are starting to report childhood abuse. Officers come into contact with bad fathers who have attacked their daughter or are covering up for someone else. In retrospect, in this case, sexual abuse was not happening. Great. But the officers need to determine - when signs of abuse are evident - whether the little girl has been (and maybe is being) attacked. A father involved in the abuse would lie, of course. And he would resist any investigation. He would disappear with or without the girl if given the chance. So I am just suggesting that officers cannot know the truth until they investigate. And I have asked (above) for the policy or protocal in place. Let's evaluate whether the policy strikes the right balance. Finally, you are learning something about local police. They are seldom evaluated by the public or representatives of the public (on city councils and other local legislative bodies). Councilmembers have plenty of other things to do. They normally learn little about police operations. How many members of the Mountain View City Council even know the local police department's policy on the use of body cams. I bet NONE - before this post.


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Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2019 at 11:40 am

The Registrant is a registered user.

I guess I'm less apt to think "The cops have a tough job and this sort of thing will happen now and again, because abuse does happen sometimes and they need to find out."

You were incorrect stating that "In retrospect, in this case, sexual abuse was not happening."
I'm sure the parents and little girl would vehemently disagree with that statement. I guess it is correct in saying abuse of the girl did not occur at the hands of her parents, but make no mistake about it. A 5 y.o. girl was in fact abused in her own home, with Motomura dictating the actions under threat of taking the child from her parents.

Why the paramedic has not also filed a lawsuit is a total mystery. She's also got a lock down case for at least a large settlement.
Meanwhile, I'll watch out for the cops named in the lawsuit, quite specifically because, as you said, I am a good father.


4 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 18, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Gary is a registered user.

What I am suggesting is that YOU and other community members should be evaluating the polcies, procedures and practices of local police and other government agents operating in Mountain View. Don't wait for the police to question you about your daughter. Figure out what, if anything, should be done differently and how.
Government officials rightly are not liable for seizing or searching persons who, it turns out, are innocent or not victims of crime. Police are not adequately instructed or supervised by occasional lawsuits. So, in Mountain View, city councilmembers and human relations commission members should educate themselves about police operations. And they probably will NOT do so if good fathers only pledge to protect their own children from government intrusion or, as you call it here, "abuse."


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Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2019 at 12:28 pm

The Registrant is a registered user.

I saw you put "abuse" in quotes. You don't feel this girl was abused in any way?
Curious, how old are your kids Gary?


4 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Gary is a registered user.

This was, in a sense, abusive or traumatic to the girl and her family. But it may have been legal. And what I am suggesting is that YOU and others get involved with determining what is legal and acceptable going forward in Mountain View, in the county, in California and in the United States (take your pick).


2 people like this
Posted by The Registrant
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

The Registrant is a registered user.

Yah, it's always good advice to be more educated for the going forward part. It's the dealing with the hear and now that I'd also like to do, and I'm not sure advice of "You should be more educated for the future" addresses that part of it.
I guess that's what the courts are for. Thank goodness for that avenue.

In the mean time, these are the MVPD name badges to be on guard against:
M. Poirier, M. Motomura and M. Rogers

Gary, I appreciate the civil back and forth on this issue, thanks. It's a very tough one to wrap my brain around, that this actually happened, legal or not.


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