Parents say system let them down when toddler allegedly molested - CBS46 News

Parents say system let them down after toddler allegedly molested

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A Richmond family says they are living a nightmare. They tell NBC12 their 3-year-old daughter was molested at the hands of a teenage family member. Now they claim prosecutors say they can't move forward with the case. 

These parents contacted NBC12 because they feel the system let them down and fear other families could be in the same heartbreaking position. They believe they are unable to seek justice and protection for their little girl.

We must warn you some of the details of this story are graphic and may be disturbing. Also typically, we don't identify victims of sexual abuse, but this little girl's family is making the brave decision to share their story, names and all, in hopes of changing the system.

"If this has happened to her, then there are other 3-year-olds before her, and there will be other 3-year-olds after her that won't have any justice," said mom, Nicole Fields-Anderson.

Steve and Nicole Anderson never thought "doing the right thing" would lead here. The north side couple took in two teenage family members when their mother could no longer care for them. One morning in May, Nicole would feel the consequences of that choice. She recalls her 3-year-old daughter ran into her room as she always does, but what she said about what allegedly happened the day before, would change their lives forever.

"Her throat hurt," she recalled her daughter saying. "He gave her water after and told her to go back and lay down."

Nicole says realization set in that the 14-year-old boy she'd left her child with for just a few hours had forced her toddler to perform oral sex on him.

"This can't be happening, not my daughter and not someone who I take care of as my son," Fields-Anderson described.

The Andersons did everything you're supposed to do in these types of tragic situations. They took Ma'Kayla to her primary care doctor, then to VCU's sexual abuse clinic. Child Protective Services got involved, along with Richmond Police.

"Anything that they would do on a rape victim that's an adult, they did on my 3-year-old daughter," Nicole lamented.

Eventually, they met with the commonwealth's attorney's office. The Andersons say they were told because there was no forensic evidence and Ma'Kayla was so young, the case wouldn't be moving forward.

"It's like you dragged my daughter through the mud, and we get to the end of this, and you're still telling me there's nothing you can do," Steve explained.

Fear crept in and anger ignited.

"Probably, in his mind, 'I can get away with it now' - then who's to say who's the next victim," he added, saying without a shadow of a doubt he feels like the system failed them.

"If there was a Hispanic little girl, there would be an interpreter for her," Nicole defended. "If there was a deaf girl, there would be a signer for her. Who is the voice for a 3-year-old that may not be competent enough to deal with a defense attorney? Where are the laws for them?"

We contacted the commonwealth's attorneys at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court, but a prosecutor said she cannot comment on this particular investigation. The family thinks the problem is larger. So we took the story to the Virginia State Crime Commission, which makes legislation fixes and recommendations to the general assembly.

Delegate Manoli Loupassi sits on the commission and is a former prosecutor.

"Trying to prove what exactly happened with any degree of reliability, it's damn near impossible," he explained.

Just last week, the group discussed issues dealing with child sex abuse cases, but no final decisions were made.

"Your heart bleeds for the victims and the families, but there is a limit to what the law can do," Loupassi added.

Now, the Andersons are left waiting for the justice system to catch up with a crime they feel silences the victims.

"Hopefully, after this interview, somebody will see and somebody will decide that there's a change that needs to be made," Nicole added. "And when the change is made, I'll say 'Ma'Kayla, this is part of what happened because your parents spoke up for you. We gave you a voice.'"

The Andersons say Ma'Kayla has some good days and then days when she's angry, mostly at boys. Right now, the alleged perpetrator is no longer in their house - although there is no legal protection keeping him from Ma'Kayla.

The state crime commission is scheduled to decide on the child sex abuse recommendations next month.

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