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Mother in Taped Beating Says She's 'Not a Monster'

Crime: Indiana woman's 4-year-old daughter is temporarily placed with another family.

September 22, 2002|From Associated Press

MISHAWAKA, Ind. — A mother who was captured on videotape slapping and punching her 4-year-old daughter said Saturday she was wrong to hit her child, but said "I am not a monster."

Madelyne Gorman Toogood, 26, surrendered to police to face a child battery charge eight days after the nationally televised videotape depicted her shaking and hitting the child in a department store parking lot.

Four-year-old Martha Toogood showed no signs of physical injury, but the state placed her temporarily in custody of another family, prosecutor Chris Toth said Saturday. The girl was being examined at a hospital.

"She's safe. We just have to, at this point, make sure there are not any deeper physical injuries," Toth said.

"She's a sweet, wonderful girl. Physically she looks fine."

After being released from jail on bond, Toogood, of Mishawaka, admitted to reporters that she was wrong to beat the child, but criticized authorities' decision to temporarily place her daughter with another family.

"My child shouldn't pay for a mistake I made," she said, insisting her husband or other extended family could adequately care for her daughter.

"I am not a monster," she said, fighting back tears.

"I have three children. Nothing's ever happened before."

An arrest warrant issued Friday charged Toogood with battery to a child, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Earlier a judge set her bond at $5,000, although prosecutors had requested a $50,000 bond because of her transient history, Toth said.

Toogood, who investigators said cooperated during a one-hour interview, was transferred to the county jail for booking, Toth said. She posted bond and was released Saturday night.

Police had been searching for Toogood and her daughter since the Sept. 13 incident, caught on video by a surveillance camera outside a Kohl's department store in northern Indiana.

Authorities said the mother had left the store angry because she was refused a cash refund for goods. The woman is then seen putting her daughter in the back seat of a sport utility vehicle, then pummeling, slapping and shaking her for nearly a half-minute.

Toogood's attorney, Steven Rosen, said his client was angry because her child was misbehaving in the department store. He said he would not attempt to defend the attack because of the videotape.

"It's clear here the young lady lost her temper," he said. "I'm not here to say she's not guilty ... She committed a shameful act. She shall be punished."

Rosen also criticized the girl's temporary placement with another family, saying the Toogood family was tight-knit and traumatized by the decision.

"To me, this is very detrimental, very psychologically detrimental, bordering on abusive," Rosen said.

Authorities feared Martha Toogood might have been seriously injured. Rosen said Toogood's family members and friends told him the child was fine and had been examined by a doctor.

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