A California woman who spanked her daughter five to six times with a wooden spoon leaving bruises should not have been labeled a child abuser, a state appeals court has ruled.
The Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled that the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services had violated Victoria Gonzalez's rights by disregarding a parents' right to impose "reasonable discipline" upon their child and that the department's claim Gonzalez is a child abuser is "unfounded."
Gonzalez reprimanded her 12-year-old daughter in 2010 for lying, refusing to complete homework assignments and for her growing interest in joining a gang, according to court documents.
Gonzalez had warned her daughter that she would receive one spanking for each act of defiance since grounding proved ineffective.
The court said the Department of Social Services must conduct a new hearing or dismiss the case.
The court also ruled that Gonzalez's daughter should not have been denied the opportunity to testify and contest the conclusions of the social workers.
A hearing officer had argued that ordering the daughter to testify would be traumatizing.
"There is no evidence in this record that daughter would have suffered distress of any kind or degree — let alone 'trauma' — from testifying at the hearing," the court said.
Gonzalez, who was not charged with a crime, would have been permanently added to the statewide registry of child abusers if the department's claims were upheld, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Gonzalez's attorney, Seth Gorman, said he would not comment on the ruling.
First published October 9 2013, 4:23 PM