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Toogood Speaks to Reporters

Aired September 21, 2002 - 22:01   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Now we want to go to Indiana where Ms. Toogood is talking now. Let's listen.
MADELYNE GORMAN TOOGOOD, MOTHER: But my child, for a mistake I made, they would not let her go home with her grandparents. I have 50 family members that are settled family members with houses that I did not want no parental -- to see her. I did not want nothing but her to go home with a family member of mine. Just they could have -- my husband offered to go stay where they were keeping her. I just didn't want her to go home with strangers. She's scared enough.

It isn't right. This shouldn't have been done. I just want her home with somebody that she knows. She's terrified. This has been decided before I even came back, before I even -- they not only -- for the mistake I made. Not my husband, not my mother and father, not his mother and father, not any of my sisters, not any of his sisters. I -- and there are family members that have -- that are settled, that would take her, permanent residents, that would take her.

My sister's on her way back right now to buy a house in Texas. She'll take her. I -- by any means, I have 50 members. And any means they took -- they would take her. They shouldn't have took my child away. There's permanent residence right here in Indiana that would have took my child, that CPS could have looked at. They could have went over to. I -- they shouldn't have did this.

I -- they shouldn't have did this. They wasn't supposed to do this. It shouldn't have been done. I have no further comment to make.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about, Martha, what kind of girl she is?

TOOGOOD: Martha's my child. I think she's wonderful. I think she's great, just probably like you do your children. I think she's the most wonderful thing in the world. I would lay my life down for her. That's how everybody feels about their children I imagine.

QUESTION: I mean, what happened?

TOOGOOD: Mistake, that's what happened. A mistake happened. A mistake I made happened. I'm not trying to -- I apologize for it. You know, there's nothing more I can do than that. But my child shouldn't pay for a mistake I've made. And that's what she's doing. She's paying again because of me.


TOOGOOD: Same thing I just answered, that same exact question. A mistake I made. I made that mistake, but why is she paying for a mistake I made?

QUESTION: Has this happened before?

TOOGOOD: No, it's never happened before. I've been a mother since I've been 19. I have a mother -- I've been a mother since I was 19. Nothing like this ever happened. My children has been -- my children and everybody that's interviewed that knows me, and knows my children, can tell you exactly what kind of a mother I am. And anybody that the press has gone to that's interviewed them about me, and about me being a mother, and about my children has all been good, other than whatever the videotape, you know, whatever -- I have been already condemned. So it does me no good. All I can do is apologize, but my shut -- my child shouldn't be.

I am not a monster. I have three other -- I have three children. And nothing's ever happened ever before to any of my children. And anybody -- they've interviewed five or six people about me and about my children. And about -- nothing's ever -- nothing. Nothing ever.

QUESTION: Ma'am, what were you angry about, though, that day?

TOOGOOD: I was upset. Nothing in particular. It was my mistake.

QUESTION: Maybe it would help if you described it because it was -- it looked like you were more than upset.

TOOGOOD: I don't want to describe it. It was just -- my lawyer advised me not to go into all of that right now.

QUESTION: We all understand that this is very difficult.

QUESTION: What's the message to parents?

TOOGOOD: They -- that, you know, take a couple of breaths. You know, nobody should have -- no -- nobody has the right to strike their child. I shouldn't have did it. I'm paying for it. And my entire family's paying for it over my mistake. Everybody's paying for it. And my baby is somewhere with people she don't know, thinking right now, holding onto my husband, Todd, because my husband had to leave because he wouldn't let her leave the room. He wouldn't let him the room unless he left his baseball hat, she was going to come back for it. He thinks right now she's on her -- his way back to get that baseball hat and her. I've nobody -- why is my child paying? It's my fault, so she shouldn't pay for it. It was my mistake, she shouldn't pay for it.

WHITFIELD: A tearful and obviously very emotional 26-year-old Madelyne Gorman Toogood speaking publicly for the first time after being taken in. Actually, voluntarily going into police and surrendering after a very disturbing videotape showed her seemingly beating her four-year old child, Martha. Little Martha now is in the care of child welfare services. And of course, officials want to continue to examine the little girl before determining whether the child will go to another family member or perhaps to another family altogether.

Our Gary Tuchman has been following this story from Mishawaka, Indiana. And he joins us now.

And Gary, obviously very emotional. She says that she has made a mistake and that it shouldn't be her daughter who is punished for having made that mistake, but clearly, Child Protective Services felt like they had to do the best thing, which was at least remove the child from the mother -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, this was a big surprise. We didn't expect Madelyne Toogood to speak to reporters tonight. Her lawyer was just in the process of talking to us. While her lawyer was talking to us, Madelyne came out of the police station behind me. Then we were told she was going to make a statement. She made her statement. And then we asked some questions.

And what we've been hearing from Madelyne, what we've been hearing from attorney, and what we've been hearing from Madelyne's mother is yes, she hit her child. She hit her child a lot, as we saw on the videotape, but she says it was a mistake that she hasn't done it before. Now, we cannot prove it. We don't know if she's ever hit her child like that before, but that's one thing that child health advocates say is that as terrible as this videotape was, as this violent beating was, that every day across this country, there are worse beatings. And 99.99 percent of them are not on videotape.

This woman happened to get caught, but it was quite a day today. They decided yesterday, Madelyne Toogood and her attorney, to surrender. Three days after this videotape was released nationally, we saw Madelyne Toogood come here today in a van. She was then brought to a jail cell. She fined it out, $5,000 bond. She walked out of the jail. And now she will be arraigned this Monday on charges of felony battery. She could go to jail for three years.

And what she was talking about during that news conference just now is that the Department of Children's Services here in Indiana has decided that her child, her little four-year old named Martha, will live with a family not related to her for an interim period. It could be an hour. It could be a day. It could be a week. It could be a long time. They just don't know. So the child is being taken away from her and her husband.

With us right now is Rocket (ph) Rosen. Rocket (ph) is the attorney. Thank you for joining us.

STEVEN ROSEN, ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me.

TUCHMAN: What did you think of your client just coming to the microphone like that, and talking about the case and some of the evidence, too?

ROSEN: I was very proud of her. I was very proud and happy that she was able to come forward, look you in the eye, look the American public in the eye and express what she's been expressing to me for the best -- for the past three days, to the best of her words. And I think she captured what she was believing, and what she felt, and the hurt and the pain and the sorrow. And I think she has so much love in her and so much affection for her family and for her children that hopefully, your audience can grasp it.

TUCHMAN: But I tell you one thing. You talk about that, but we've all seen the videotape. And that did not look like a woman who so loved her child for 25 seconds. She struck her, pulled her hair, shook her.

ROSEN: That was very unusual, but sometimes in life, as you know, your temper can run away with you. And the person that you loved the most, care for the most, want to be the most, share with the most, that's who you'll lash out towards. And it's a strange way of life, but happens. And it happened here. And I guess she just wanted that young daughter of hers to know, to know this is how you have to act, but the punishment was severely wrong. And she's serving a horrible punishment right now.

TUCHMAN: What was she angry at and why did she do that?

ROSEN: I think she was angered by the daughter and the way she was behaving in the Kohl's Department Store, ripping up the toys, playing with the toys, hiding, being found, hiding, being found. And the mother got fed up. And she acted. She acted. And it was a poor, poor choice of discipline.

TUCHMAN: So it doesn't sound like if this ever goes before or a jury or a judge, you're going to deny that your client hit her child repeatedly?

ROSEN: Well, I've been doing this for 22 years. And I would never stand before a jury and deny that videotape. Again, what I hope we can gather from this, and gain from this is let's educate. Let's learn. Let's hate mothers and fathers, relatives. If you find yourself in this position, seek counseling. Seek friendship. Seek peace, else this is the end result.

TUCHMAN: She came here to the microphone just now and said my child shouldn't pay for my mistakes. She shouldn't be taking away from me, but don't you think if you weren't her attorney, let's just talk about it like that, that it's a prudent move by the state for the time being to separate the child, to see the situation?

ROSEN: I put myself in the child's shoes. And you don't want me to be her attorney, that's hard to do to remove myself. But I'm the child. And the child needs the loving and caring and the warmth. So here she is...

TUCHMAN: There wasn't a lot of warmth eight days ago.

ROSEN: It wasn't, but you know what? Three years and 300 and some odd days, and 23 hours, and 58 minutes there was love and caring and friendship and silliness and playfulness. Two minutes of a life, that child needs, if you want to believe she was traumatized, and you want to believe that she was in pain, then what better of a remedy to put her in an environment where she can get a hug and get a kiss, and know that she's cared for and loved for and wanted, and she can go to sleep with pleasant dreams, and not have the bad dreams.

It hurts. It's painful. The most prudent, I believe, the most prudent is to keep with family members who are the family, who share in the upbringing of a young girl, who have as much part in the girl's growing up as a young lady as a mother and father do. That's what I thinks is prudent.

TUCHMAN: Where was your client for the last eight days? How come she didn't turn herself in right away?

ROSEN: You should have asked her that in the questions.

TUCHMAN: Well, yes, we could ask her a lot of questions.

ROSEN: No, I honestly know that she was with her family. And what city and what state, I can't honestly answer that because I haven't asked that.

TUCHMAN: And Rocket (ph), it appears she dyed her hair. Is it possible she was dying her hair so people wouldn't recognize her?

ROSEN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Again, you'd have to ask her.

TUCHMAN: What do you next? Are you going to try to fight to get the daughter back to her and her husband?

ROSEN: My goal, as I've stated earlier, they have to be reunited. And I want it done quickly, but I do want Madelyne Toogood to understand that she has to seek professional counseling, that she has to go and join some group sessions of anger management, coping. Parents coping, learning how to vent her anger and her frustrations in the proper method.

TUCHMAN: You sound like a lawyer and a father?

ROSEN: I am a father. I'm a father of four beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife. And even I always are seeking out advice, talking to my friends, talking to experts.

TUCHMAN: And when you saw this tape, before you became her attorney, what did you think?

ROSEN: I was hurt. I was pained for the child, but much more for the mother that she was frustrated, that she could not control her temper. And I thought to myself, "You do need help. And you need to seek help immediately." And it hurt, it was helpful.

TUCHMAN: Final question I want to ask you, she has two other children, a five year old, a six year boy...

ROSEN: Yes. TUCHMAN: What happens with them right now?

ROSEN: Right now, they are in the custody of the father and the family and relatives. They're remain there. The mother will come into court on Monday morning. And I'm sure the judge will set some conditions where she'll be able to have supervised visitation, but that's the mother. And she will love them and care for them and share -- and raise them.

TUCHMAN: Rocket (ph) Rosen, thank you.

ROSEN: Thank you for having me.

TUCHMAN: We appreciate it.

We should point out something very important for this 4-year old little girl, Martha, is in good physical condition. The authorities took a look at her when she came here today with her mother in the car. They said she has no physical or visible bruises. She has not cuts. She was taken to a hospital to check for any internal injuries.

As of now, they haven't found any serious internal injuries. And this woman will be arraigned this Monday in the court here in northern Indiana. And the arraignment time is 9:00 local time. At that time, she'll make a plea of guilty or not guilty. And as we said, she faces the possibility of up to three years in prison for felony battery, but quite a dramatic day here in northern Indiana.

Fredricka, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Certainly, indeed, very dramatic, Gary. Now we've heard from one of the police investigators earlier this evening who said in addition to the physical examination of little Martha, there would also be an examination of her mental state. But that could possibly take days before assessing what kind of damage may have been caused what everyone saw or think they saw on that videotape?

TUCHMAN: We certainly can't categorically say this little girl was not injured from these blows. One thing to point out, it has been eight days since she received the blows. But you look at this videotape and you see this young 25-year old look around to make sure no one was looking, and then just start punching her daughter and pulling her hair and shaking her. And that's why they want to check her out so carefully at the hospital. That's perhaps one of the reasons why they want her to live with another family, so they can continue to check her for the next days and perhaps the next few weeks to make sure there are no ramifications from these blows she got in the parking lot.

But I have to tell you, we've been to this store, this Kohl's department store not far away from us. And the fact is that if this car was parked almost anywhere else in the parking lot, there's no possible way the one camera in the top corner of the roof would have picked it up. There's about 500 parking spots in the mall. It could have been in any other spot. It wouldn't have seen this. And the fact remains that it makes you wonder how many times in this country, and how many times in this world, things like this happen, things even worse than this happen and they're never ever seen.

You can be sure that almost every time this happens, it's not seen.

WHITFIELD: And the person...

TUCHMAN: Perhaps this child was very fortunate it was seen.

WHITFIELD: And Gary, the person operating that camera obviously very astute because that person was able to zoom in on the license plate and get a closer look at the goings on there. Now just moments ago when we saw Madelyne Toogood, before she tearfully broke down, she said to everyone that, you know, I am not a monster. Let's listen in one more time to exactly how she plead her case in front of reporters there.


TOOGOOD: I've nobody -- why is my child paying? It's my fault, so she shouldn't pay for it. It was my mistake, she shouldn't pay for it.


WHITFIELD: Now Gary, she says she shouldn't be paying for it, but we just heard from her attorney who said, and responded to your question that this is a pretty predictable move after seeing this kind of videotape that obviously Child Protective Services would have to begin their investigation by separating the two, the mother and the child, and hopefully place this child at least temporarily with safe protective hands.

TUCHMAN: I don't think it's any big surprise at all to most of us that the little girl is taken away from her mother. However, the Child Protective Services has the option of letting the child stay with the father. One of the problems, though, and the father's name is Johnny Toogood, and he's been here today, one of the problems though because the mother is with the father, you can't always do that. So that may be what led them to decide that.

One other thing we should point out, Fredricka, in terms of her being here and now surrendering, the lawyer was very blunt with us. You could see he's a very blunt guy, but he was blunt with us yesterday. He said one of the main reasons she has turned herself in is she just learned a couple of days ago that this was videotaped. And she knew this videotape was being played all across the country. Many of our viewers might be saying we played it way too much, but the authorities here said it was very important that it kept getting played, because they thought it would help create an atmosphere in which the person who did this felt guilty and would turn themselves in. And perhaps that may be the main reason why she turned herself in.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks very much. Gary Tuchman, appreciate it from Mishawaka, Indiana. And one more time, the arraignment now scheduled for Monday for Madelyne Gorman Toogood. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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