Mother Issued No Contact Order from Her 9-Year-Old Daughter

By Nora Dahl and Stacie Guevara

MODESTO, CA – Defendants “Jane Doe” and “John Smith” appeared in Stanislaus County Superior Court Friday before Judge Dawna Reeves on felony charges, in custody on high bail—but Doe’s bail was ultimately reduced to $10,000 if she agreed to have no contact with her nine-year-old daughter.

(Note: Jane Doe and John Smith are not the real names of the accuse. The Vanguard is not revealing those to protect the privacy of a minor child).

Previously, Doe wanted to be released on her own recognizance, but Deputy District Attorney Sara Souza opposed that request, noting Doe had a misdemeanor conviction for second degree burglary from 2003. Judge Reeves reduced Doe’s bail because of this limited criminal history.

DDA Souza opposed that request because of the details of this particular case. She said law enforcement officials were called to the residence of Doe and Smith after an anonymous caller indicated they had heard lots of arguing and fighting.

Souza said when officers got to the apartment, they interviewed the nine-year-old daughter of both defendants and found that the child was essentially living in unsafe living conditions.

“There was black mold in the residence. The nine-year-old child had complained that she had not eaten since the prior day. There were roaches all over the residence, there was no food, [and] the child was wearing dirty clothes,” Souza said.

Souza said there were also clumps of dog fur all over the residence and no clean dishes.

Additionally, the child indicated she witnessed an attack and moved out of the way. Souza said when she did so, she hit her head on the back of a metal bar.

Souza said the child also indicated that she observed one party (either Doe or Smith) strike the other in the stomach.

Doe and Smith’s daughter is now under her aunt’s custody after Child Protective Services got involved, according to the police reports.

Souza added the child indicated she’s familiar with the drug methamphetamine—she knows what it looks like and “she disclosed that she knew what crystal meth was because she had found it in her backyard long ago.”

In response to this, Doe’s defense attorney said, according to the police report, the violence was mostly by the co-defendant aimed against Doe and that when the child fell down and hit her head, it was because she was trying to avoid an attack by the co-defendant against Doe.

Bateman also countered the claims of the state of their home, saying it was something that had been going on for a long time—particularly the mold, which he said was a problem with the landlord of their apartment.

Doe and Smith, defense counsel said, complained to the landlord repeatedly about plumbing problems, which lead to mold, added they tried to get the mold off the wall a number of times by bleaching it, but it kept coming back.

In response to getting cockroaches, Bateman said that was also reported to the landlord and said it was not the fault of the accused, adding, “The landlord has a duty to put the residence in good condition.”

Responding to this, DDA Souza said officers indicated in the police reports that there was mold on the ceiling and on the walls.

She said, “Most notably, they opened up the refrigerator and the freezer, and there was mold inside of the refrigerator and the freezer, and everything’s covered in a brown dirty substance. The toilet was unusable. The shower was unusable.”

Souza said, “Whatever the mold situation is for the walls and ceilings, clearly the home was in unlivable and unsanitary conditions for a nine-year-old child,” noting “it is not the responsibility of the landlord, but the responsibility of the parents to provide safe and clean housing to the best of their abilities to this child and that clearly was not the case in this case.”

Doe shakily sat through the trial, her left leg bouncing, both eyes closed, as she repeatedly directed her gaze up towards the courtroom ceiling.

Her husband, Smith, would appear to be Doe’s opposite. The spouse and father sat calmly; hands folded in his lap—Smith was nearly motionless.

Doe finally broke her prolonged silence, as her quivering voice made a nervous request. It almost sounded like she was about to cry, when Doe asked to be placed under psychiatric treatment and hold.

Her attorney stood up in Doe’s defense. He said the woman has had a history of bipolar disorder and suicidal tendencies, adding, “She was under psychiatric medication until the time of this arrest. She hasn’t been receiving medication since she’s been in jail.”

Judge Reeves sighed, “So what I’m hearing is basically a dirty house case. The parents are fighting with weapons in front of a nine-year-old.”

Judge Reeves went on to declare, “I’m requiring no contact with the nine-year-old.”

Judge Reeves reduced Doe’s bail to $10,000, on the condition that the mother complied with the protective order.

Doe and Smith’s next pretrial will be on Feb. 2 at 8:30 a.m. at Stanislaus County Superior Court.

About The Author

Stacie Guevara (she/her) is a fourth-year at UC Davis majoring in Communication and minoring in Professional Writing. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area and is interested in going into journalism.

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