Mom who fought authorities over daughter’s meds dies

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Maryanne Godboldo, the Detroit mom who became the symbol of a parent’s right to refuse prescription medication and other medical treatment they deem unsafe or unnecessary, has died, her attorney’s office said Friday.

Godboldo, 63, was involved in a five-year court battle stemming from criminal charges leveled against her for refusing to give her disabled daughter anti-psychotic drugs. She was involved in a police standoff when she defied social service authorities who wanted to give her special-needs daughter a psychiatric drug.

She died Wednesday, according to family members.

“This has been a long journey and many of you have shown your immense support for Maryanne and Ariana,” read a statement from the family posted on the Justice for Maryanne Godboldo Facebook page. “For that, we are eternally grateful. We know that she appreciated each and every one of you. At this time we ask for time to grieve. We will provide a more formal statement in the coming weeks. During this time, we remind you that it is vital for you all to continue to be Maryanne’s voice for the fight for parental rights.”

Godboldo was arrested after police tried to remove her 13-year-old daughter from their west-side home in March 2011. Godboldo said she was trying to protect her child from being administered medication, namely Risperdal, that she felt had harmful side effects, her attorneys said. Godboldo’s daughter is now with an aunt.

Godboldo was charged with illegally resisting and assaulting police by allegedly firing a shot at officers during the standoff.

Charges were dismissed against Godboldo in January due to her serious illness. Supporters say she had been unresponsive since suffering an aneurysm last year. Attorney Byron Pitts, who represented Godboldo, said the prosecutor’s office agreed to drop the charges against Godboldo due to her “severe medical emergency,” adding it was a “shame” that it took her illness for the charges to be dropped

“It’s just a tragedy ... the death of an innocent woman,” Pitts said Friday. “She was a tough lady. She had a lot of moral character. Here’s a woman who tried to get help from the system. She sought them out.”

Pitts said the case was about getting help for her daughter. He said Godboldo didn’t oppose the anti-psychotic drug prescribed for her daughter at first but wanted to end the medical treatment “once she discovered the effects” of the drug.

“That’s when Health and Human Services insisted that they force-feed the child Risperdal,” said Pitts.

Pitts has said the case against Godboldo was politically motivated.

“Politics kept this case going,” he said in January when the case was dismissed. “This was a travesty and a disaster.”

Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court dealt a blow to Godboldo and her lawyers in their efforts to have charges dropped against her.

In a ruling last May, the court denied a motion to hear an appeal of a ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals in January 2016 to uphold criminal charges against Godboldo.

The case was sent back to the lower court and was dismissed by 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles.

Giles had tossed out the charges previously, as had a judge in Wayne County Circuit Court. Godboldo never went to trial in the case.

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