It all started with an unwanted knock on the door by a government worker and it’s being answered with a $60 million lawsuit.
A New Jersey family is suing the state child-protection agency after it allegedly sent a caseworker to their home to interrogate them on everything from their son’s homeschool education to questions about vaccines and guns in the house.
Christopher Zimmer and his wife Nicole of Belvidere filed a civil rights complaint in April in U.S. District Court in Trenton alleging “unlawful and unconstitutional home intrusion.”
“I won’t forget that morning for a long, long time,” said Christopher Zimmer, thinking back to Tuesday, Jan. 13, which began with a caseworker knocking on his front door.
He said Michelle Marchese, a caseworker for the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency, demanded she be let inside the house, “Now!” according to court documents. Startled by the aggressive confrontation, Christopher Zimmer asked the purpose of her visit.
Marchese refused to answer the question, saying only that 15-year-old Christopher Zimmer Jr. was not getting a “proper education” and she was at the Zimmer home under the authority of DCP&P to make sure they were homeschooling their son “correctly,” the suit states.
Not knowing the extent of his rights, Christopher Zimmer phoned local police. The police arrived on the scene but allowed Marchese to enter the home and continue to issue threats to the family and inspect the house, all without a warrant, the lawsuit states.