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Radocchia v. City of Los Angeles

July 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: S. James Otero, U.S. District Judge



On January 28, 2008, Sonia Powell went to pick up her daughter E.P. from preschool at the Neighborhood School. (Material Fact # 1 (hereinafter "MF#")). Mrs. Powell noticed something unusual. Her daughter was walking alone on the playground. (MF # 2). Mrs. Powell went to E.P.'s classroom to get her daughter's lunch box when Plaintiff Claudio Radocchia came up to her. (MF # 3). Mr. Radocchia began to repeat over and over again what good friends her daughter and C.S., another child in the school, were and that they should have a play date together. (MF # 4). Mrs. Powell said her daughter kept looking down. Mrs. Powell could tell that something was bothering E.P. (MF # 5). Later, when mother and daughter were alone, E.P. told her mother that Claudio showed her his penis. C.S. was with her when it happened. (MF # 6). E.P. also told her father that Mr. Radocchia showed her his penis. (MF # 7).

The next day, on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, Mrs. Powell went to the Neighborhood School to report what her daughter told her. (MF # 8). C.S.'s parents were called to come to the school that day as well. C.S.'s family was interviewed by LAPD Officer Antonioli at the school. (MF # 9). C.S. told Officer Antonioli that she and E.P. had gone to the bathroom together and that Claudio took her to get a blanket. (MF # 10). When C.S. was asked about the incident, she put her head into her mother's chest and said she wanted to ask Claudio a question. (MF # 11). C.S. became withdrawn during the interview. Her parents were concerned about her behavior during the interview. (MF # 12). Officer Antonioli summarized his initial investigation in an Investigation Report. (MF # 13). He recommended further investigation by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department. C.S.'s mother was upset and confused because her daughter told her that Claudio had showed her his penis. (MF # 14).

On Wednesday, January 30, 2008, C.S. told her mother that Claudio had showed her his penis. (MF # 14) She further stated that Mr. Radocchia said "don't tell your mommy, daddy, grandma, or grandpa" because he would get into trouble. She also told them that Mr. Radocchia took her to the bathroom and wiped her vagina. (MF # 15).

Officer Antonioli's report was sent to detectives for further investigation. The report states that when Officer Antonioli interviewed E.P., E.P. said Radocchia showed her his penis. According to the report, E.P. was very clear when she made this statement. E.P. also confirmed that C.S. was with her. (MF # 16).

Defendant Detective Monica McPartland was assigned to investigate the allegations. Detective McPartland worked in the sexually exploited child unit. She had training through the FBI, the Department of Justice, and Stuart House on interviewing children suspected of being sexually abused. (MF # 17). Mrs. Powell first spoke with Detective McPartland approximately 3 to 4 days after informing the school of the incident on January 29, 2008 or around February 1st or 2nd, 2008. (MF # 18). Mrs. Powell sent a summary of the incident in an email to Detective McPartland on February 7, 2008. (MF # 19).

Around January 29, 2008, Mrs. Sundahl spoke telephonically with Detective McPartland and told her a summary of the incident as relayed to her by C.S. Mrs. Sundahl summarized the incident in an email sent to Detective McPartland. (MF # 20). Mrs. Sundahl never informed Detective McPartland that the information she provided was false or that C.S. made the whole incident up. (MF # 21).

Sometime between January 29 and February 6, 2008, Detective McPartland received a time line from Debbie Beydler, a teacher who co-taught with Mr. Radocchia at the Neighborhood School on January 28, 2008. (MF # 22). The time line states that at 2:15 p.m. E.P. asked to go to the bathroom. Mr. Radocchia told her to take C.S. with her. The two girls left for the bathroom. At approximately 2:20 p.m., Mr. Radocchia said he needed to wash some paint cups in the outside sink. He left the class room for approximately 8-9 minutes. (MF # 23). Ms. Beydler confirmed the two victims and Radocchia were out of her sight for part of this time.

The CATS Center at Northridge Hospital specializes in diagnosing and treating children suspected of being sexually abused. (MF # 24). CATS stands for Children Assault Treatment Services. (MF # 25). CATS is a facility where children of sex crimes and adult rape victims are treated by specially trained medical staff. (MF # 26).

E.P. and C.S. were seen by registered nurse Mary Ann Lague on February 4, 2008. (MF # 27). Nurse Lague had extensive training in interviewing and examining child abuse victims. (MF # 28) Nurse Lague performed over 1100 exams of victims of sexual abuse. (MF # 29). In February 2008, Lague had conducted approximately 200 interviews of children under the age of five suspected of being sexually abused. (MF # 30).

Detective McPartland attended the interviews of the children at CATS. (MF # 31). Detective McPartland spoke with Mary Ann Lague after E.P.'s interview. (MF # 32) An audiotape of the interview disclosed that Mr. Radocchia showed E.P. his penis. (MF # 33). McPartland did not hear that nurse Lague prompted E.P. to say things about the incident. (MF # 34). Nor did McPartland hear that E.P.'s family prompted her to describe the incident with Mr. Radocchia. (MF # 35).

C.S. was interviewed two times at CATS. (MF # 36). The first interview was on February 4, 2008. The nurse was not able to get a lot of information from C.S. (MF # 37). On February 6, 2008, C.S. was interviewed again. She provided some information to the nurse. (MF # 38). C.S. never told the nurse that nothing happened. (MF # 39). McPartland watched the interview from another room. (MF # 40). Detective McPartland interviewed C.S. at CATS the same day and confirmed that she was fearful. (MF # 41). C.S. told Detective McPartland that she didn't want to talk about the thing with Claudio. (MF # 42). When C.S.'s parents would ask her questions after the interview, C.S. would just shut down. (MF # 43). In nurse Lague's experience, a child who withdraws from answering questions about an incident could be evidence that the incident occurred. (MF # 44).

On February 5, 2008, Detective McPartland spoke on the phone with Mr. Radocchia and asked him to come in for an interview. Mr. Radocchia came to the station for the interview on February 6, 2008. (MF # 47). Mr. Radocchia brought a tape recorder with him to ...

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