- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The woman caught on video beating her 4-year-old daughter in a department store parking lot probably will plead guilty and throw herself "on the mercy of the court," her lawyer said yesterday.

Madelyne Gorman Toogood, 25, was arraigned on a felony child battery charge. A magistrate entered an not guilty plea on her behalf.

Her attorney, Steven Rosen, said there was no point trying to challenge the surveillance videotape in court.

"I don't think there's anything, any expert of any degree in any type of credibility that can do anything about that tape. It is what it is," he said.

"We will probably enter a guilty plea and throw ourselves on the mercy of the court," he said after the arraignment.

Earlier yesterday, a Probate Court judge ordered that Mrs. Toogood's daughter, Martha, remain in foster care and gave child-protection officials two weeks to recommend who should care for the girl.

If convicted, Mrs. Toogood could get up to three years in prison. She faces a hearing on Oct. 7.

The mother of three had no comment as she left court. She remained free on a $5,000 bail.

"People might think I'm a monster, but I've been a mother for six years, and no harm has come to my children before this, never," Mrs. Toogood told CNN earlier yesterday. "I'm sorry. That's all I can say."

A doctor examined the girl and found no medical problems or long-term signs of abuse, authorities said.

Mrs. Toogood told reporters on Sunday that she hit her daughter in the head and back and pulled her hair but did not punch her. On the video of the Sept. 13 incident, which has been televised nationally, Mrs. Toogood appears to be making punching motions toward her daughter inside a sport utility vehicle.

"Martha didn't deserve what she got," Mrs. Toogood said over the weekend. "I just lost my temper."

Mr. Rosen said he believed the hitting occurred because Martha misbehaved in the store, taking toys out of packages and wandering off, prompting store employees to page Mrs. Toogood twice.

Mrs. Toogood said she hopes to be reunited with her daughter and that she, her daughter, and her husband, John, plan to start parenting classes. "Anything that they want us to do, we will do," she said.

She said her two young sons are staying with family.

She and her husband have been living in Mishawaka for about six months, according to her. She said they are Irish Travelers a nomadic group that police say has been linked to fraudulent home repair.

By some estimates, 7,000 Travelers live in the United States most of them in Texas and South Carolina and about 40,000 live in Ireland and England. The Travelers began migrating to the United States more than 100 years ago.

Mrs. Toogood's sister also was arraigned yesterday on a charge of assisting a criminal.

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