Mom accused of videotaped beating freed on bail
Mother: 'My child shouldn't pay for a mistake I made'
MISHAWAKA, Indiana (CNN) -- The mother caught on tape apparently beating her young daughter appealed to authorities Saturday to let the 4-year-old girl stay with her family members, and not with strangers.
"Somebody's been judge, jury and executioner of my child for a mistake I made," Madelyne Gorman Toogood said in a surprise news conference, after being charged by police with felony battery charges.
"They would not let her go home with her grandparents ... 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."
Child Protective Services placed the little girl with a foster family in St. Joseph's County until it could be determined if a member of her own extended family could take care of her, according to St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Toth.
Officials said the little girl appears to be in good condition.
Gorman Toogood said she had some 50 family members that Martha could have stayed with instead of being taken in by strangers.
"They shouldn't have taken my child away," she said. "There's permanent residence right here in Indiana that would have took my child that CPS [Child Protective Services] could have looked at ... they shouldn't have did this. They wasn't supposed to do this, and it shouldn't have been done."
When asked about the accusations against her, she tearfully admitted she had made a mistake.
"A mistake I made happened, I'm not trying to, I apologize for it, there's nothing more I can do than that," she said. "But my child shouldn't pay for a mistake I made, and that is what she's doing. She's paying again because of me."
Gorman Toogood, 25, turned herself into to the Mishawaka Police Department Saturday, nine days after a department store's surveillance camera recorded her apparently slapping and punching her daughter, Martha, inside a sport utility vehicle, after first looking around the parking lot to see if anyone was watching.
Police have been searching for her since Sept. 13, when the incident was caught on tape. During Saturday's news conference, Gorman Toogood's hair had apparently been dyed dark brown from the light blonde color it was in the videotape.
After several days of fruitless search for the girl and her mother, authorities gave the tape to the news media, and it began airing nationwide Thursday. Only then did Gorman Toogood, through her lawyer, begin discussing surrendering with Toth's office. Toth said no deals were made to encourage her to surrender.
Mother: 'I'm not a monster'
A judge had set bail for the mother at $5,000, reducing prosecutors' request to set bail at $50,000, Toth said. Bail was posted for Gorman Toogood a few hours after she surrendered, and she left the jail in a car with her attorney and her father. An arraignment will be held Monday.
The charge carries a possible prison sentence of six months to three years, Toth said.
As a condition of bail, Gorman Toogood will be allowed only supervised visits with Martha. She won't be able to visit her two sons, ages 5 and 6, without supervision, either. The two boys will be living with their father.
When asked by reporters exactly what caused her to become upset enough to strike her child, she declined to answer.
"I was upset, nothing in particular, my mistake," she said. When asked to be more specific, she said, "I, I, I don't want to describe it, it was just, my lawyer advised me not to go into all of that right now."
"I'm not a monster," Gorman Toogood added. She said Martha was "the most wonderful thing in the world."
"I would lay my life down for her," she said. "That's how everybody feels about their children, I imagine."
She said parents should "take a couple of breaths" to avoid resorting to violence with their children.
"Nobody has a right to strike their child, I shouldn't have did it, I am paying for it and my entire family's paying for it over my mistake."
Another woman seen on the videotape, identified by police as Gorman Toogood's sister, Margaret Daley, has been arrested and charged with failing to report child abuse and assisting a criminal, authorities said. The sister was "not cooperating" with authorities, said prosecutor Maggie Jones.