Casey Anthony: Zanny, the Nanny

Casey Anthony told her friends and family that a woman named “Zanny” babysat her child while she was at “work.” In a statement written on July 16, 2008, she advised LE that she left her child with the babysitter, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, on June 16, 2008 and had not seen either of them since then (read statement). The detectives proceeded to look for the woman, however their leads were nonexistent because no one had actually seen or talked to “Zanny, the Nanny.”

Who was this woman?

Early on in their investigation, LE suspected that this person did not exist. The defense admitted during the trial that this person was not real.

Casey described Zenaida Gonzalez, or “Zanny,” in her written statement (statement):

Caylee’s nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, has watched her for the last year and a half to two years. Zenaida is twenty-five years old and is from New York. She is roughly 5 foot 7 inches tall, 140 pounds. She has dark brown, curly hair and brown eyes. Zenaida’s birthday is in September. I met Zenaida through a mutual friend, Jeffrey Michael Hopkins. She had watched his son, Zachary Hopkins, for about 6 months to a year. I met Zenaida in 2004 around Christmas.

Richard Grund, the father of Casey’s ex-fiance, explained how and when the nanny lie started (transcript):

Uhm, the thing that struck me when I was reading those notes about her story about Zenaida it hasn’t changed word for word since April of ’06. It’s still exactly the same story.

Uhm, when she told it to us… her babysitter at that point was Lauren Gibbs. Lauren suddenly couldn’t do it anymore. I think she was going back to school. Now she has no babysitter for Caylee and she’s supposedly working at Kodak, at Universal.

So Jesse decides to give up his only day off from Progressive. He’s watching her on Mondays. And then it got to the point where somebody else in my family is watching her two days a week. So now Caylee’s at our house three days out of the week during work. I think Casey’s there at night and on the weekends. I don’t have a problem with that because Caylee’s a wonderful little girl. But I work out of my house and this was a severe disruption to me.

So I began to press [Casey] about, “Have you found anybody yet?” Rather than just saying, “Yeah, I’ve got that worked out,” [she said,] “Oh, yeah I found this lady uh, Zenaida Gonzalez and she, she watches my friend Jeffrey Hopkins son, Zachery. And Zachery and Caylee play together and they, they love to be together. So this’ll work out great.” I’m thinking, “Wow that’s a whole lot more information than I really needed.”

Since the kidnapping was a lie, there really is no reason to explore the different scenarios Casey told.

The legacy of “Zanny, the Nanny” should have ended with the trial, but it didn’t. Casey Anthony is being sued for defamation of character by a real woman named Zenaida Gonzalez (pictured above). This woman was questioned by law enforcement in 2008 regarding the disappearance of Caylee Anthony. Apparently due to these interrogations and insinuations, she lost her job and apartment.

As a result, she brought a civil suit against Casey. But does she really have a case?

Defamation is false and unprivileged spoken words or written publication, which exposes any living person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or which causes him/her to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him/her in his/her trade or occupation. (source)

While I sympathize with the hardships this woman has gone through, my opinion is that she does not have much of a case. She will have to prove that the allegations were made against her and not just her name. The problem is Casey gave a description of “Zanny,” and this Zenaida does not fit the profile.

Also, the untruthful statement which caused hardship was the lie implying that “Zanny” kidnapped the child. The truth of the matter, regarding this issue, was revealed during the trial. Casey blamed the “kidnapping” on a person who never existed.

In short, this Zenaida will have to prove that Casey’s lies were directed at her, a living person, and they caused harm to her reputation.

If this case is treated like other defamation cases, then it probably will not go to trial. There really is not much substance to it. Casey made her statements to LE and her family, not the media. LE should not have harassed this woman, especially since she didn’t fit the profile. If not for Florida’s liberal public records law, this Zenaida would still be living a rather obscure life. It was not Casey who fired her from her job or kicked her out of her apartment. But that is the result of defamation. I’m sure other women named “Zenaida Gonzalez” were questioned. Did they endure the same fate as this woman? Can two Zenaidas bring a lawsuit against Casey Anthony?

Ultimately, this is nothing more than a publicity stunt by this poor woman’s lawyers. They are more interested in interrogating Casey Anthony than fighting for their client’s rights (article):

“I think the answers themselves may speak volumes what she wants to answer. If all she wants to do is plead the 5th, why not just just answer my questions? How hard is that? If she wants to just be honest and tell us what really happened, why not just answer? How hard is it?” Gonzalez’s attorney John Dill said.

Her lawyers are “for the people” and not so much for her. If I were this woman, I would thank Casey Anthony for the cocktail story and wash my hands of this craziness before it starts to go downhill. But I doubt that will happen.

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5 thoughts on “Casey Anthony: Zanny, the Nanny

  1. I hope Casey pays an additional twenty-dollar bill to Zanny for helping Casey to become more well known and making her more rich down the line.

  2. What other Zanny has come forward? There is no other “Zanny” that has come forward to claim a civil suit. If there were, then your reasoning that the “real” Zanny has no case just might have merit.

    At this time, Zanaida Gonzalez has a case if she truly lost her job and apartment because someone said “hey, you are Zanny the Nanny, and you kidnapped a child, and therefore I don’t want you working for me and I don’t want you renting from me”. End of story.

    • Just because she claimed a civil suit doesn’t mean she’s the one Casey targeted. Unfortunately for this lady, she does not match the description of the woman in question. She’s not 5’7″. She doesn’t have dark hair. And she’s not from New York. LE should never have focused on this lady because she didn’t fit the profile. Anyway, this lady’s lawyers will have to prove that Casey stole *her* name and not any other “Zenaida Gonzalez’s” name (there are a few in Florida). The hardship part is easy to prove.

  3. FYI, here are the elements for a defamation claim that must be met in Florida:
    http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/florida-defamation-law
    Check out #2 which states it must be about the plaintiff. Clearly, Casey Anthony’s statements were not about the plaintiff, since as others have already pointed out this plaintiff does not in any way fit Casey’s description of ZG and by her own admission, ZG is a fabricated person who does not exist. She has already been tried, convicted and done her time for lying to police about this, but that is not the same as a defamation charge. It makes no difference who does or does not “come forward.” The plaintiff has the burden of proof to prove it is specifically about her, not someone with her same name. If those elements are not met, it is my understanding that the case should be dismissed and not proceed any further. Cases that do not properly state claims waste the time and money of all parties concerned and also the State.

    This leads me to a legal question I have about this case. Having been a defendant myself in a defamation lawsuit which got dismissed very early on, although it was for a very different matter and I am not a lawyer, I think I have gained a pretty decent layperson’s understanding of defamation law. In my case, my lawyers immediately filed a Motion to Dismiss for me and one of the grounds was failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. If the claim does not meet the elements of defamation, a Motion to Dismiss can be filed on the grounds of failure to state a claim. Once the motion is filed, in many cases, the discovery process, including any depositions, can be delayed until after the Motion to Dismiss is heard. Of course, if the motion to dismiss is granted, there would never be any depositions. That’s what happened in my case. The only thing my legal counsel was required to do was attend a conference and put together a discovery plan. My question is, have Casey Anthony’s lawyers filed a Motion to Dismiss? If so, what was the outcome? If not, do they plan to? I am just baffled as to how this case got as far as it has, given that her statement clearly was not about the plaintiff. Just because someone has the same name, obviously doesn’t make them that individual. I have to wonder what the status of this case would be, if it were not about such a high profile matter.

    • Thank you for the insight. I’m not a lawyer and I’m hesitant to apply logic to the legal system. It seems that laws are intentionally written in a vague manner so that they can be interpreted in different ways.

      I’m not certain of the details of this case, but I know that this civil suit started back in 2008. It was placed on the back burner because of the murder trial. Apparently, there was a Motion to Dismiss but it was denied. The plaintiff’s lawyers deposed the family back in 2009 and have been wanting to depose Casey Anthony. They claim Casey stole her name when she saw it on this card at Sawgrass Apartments. Maybe that is true, maybe not. It seems, however, that Casey was using the babysitter’s full name as far back as 2006.

      The lawyers representing the plaintiff have a reputation for being very aggressive. But the new judge in the case said she will not accept any nonsense. I know enough not to predict the outcome of any legal proceeding involving Casey Anthony.

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