APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Timothy R. Saito, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. CK66675)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chaney, J.
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
R.G. (Mother) and E.C. (Father) appeal from juvenile court jurisdictional and dispositional orders as to minors D.G. and L.C. stemming from Father's attempts to solicit sex from D.G. They contend that Father's solicitation of sex from one of the children neither constituted abuse of that child nor placed either child at risk of harm. We conclude substantial evidence supports the orders as to both children and affirm.
The dependency petition involves Mother, her two daughters, then 16-year-old D.G. and 11-year-old L.C., and Father, who has lived with Mother off and on since D.G. was two years old. He is the Father of L.C. but not D.G.
In 2007, when D.G. was 12 and L.C. was 7, it was reported that Father had struck the elder child several times with a belt, causing her to sustain welts, and had sexually abused her, including by soliciting sex from her. The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS or the department) conducted interviews to substantiate the allegations and filed a dependency petition. Father was arrested.
Upon being released on bail, Father returned to the home and screamed at and threatened D.G. for having made a police report against him, causing the babysitter to flee the house with D.G., L.C. and a third sibling. When a social worker interviewed the children later that evening, they all confirmed that Father had hit D.G. with a belt, and the social worker observed for himself that the child had belt marks on her arm. D.G. also reported Father had offered to buy her anything she wanted if she would have sex with him. Mother stated she had never observed Father hit any of the children with a belt and struggled with believing that D.G. was actually sexually abused by Father. She expressed to DCFS that she had trouble affording a home and necessities of life for the children without Father's financial support.
The children were initially released to Mother's home but were removed when Mother blamed D.G. for the family's involvement with DCFS and evicted her from the house until she agreed that Father too could return home. The children were returned to Mother after she obtained a three-year restraining order against Father.
The juvenile court ultimately found that Father had physically and sexually abused D.G. and that Mother had failed to protect her, which placed not only D.G. at risk but also L.C. The court sustained allegations that Father "repeatedly struck [D.G.] with a belt and inflicted marks and bruises to [her]arm. Such punishment was excessive and caused [D.G.] unreasonable pain and suffering. Such abusive conduct by [Father] endangers the child's physical and emotional health and safety and places the child's sibling, [L.C.], at risk of similar abuse." The court also found that "In or about January 2007 and prior occasions, [Father] inappropriately sexually interacted with the child. [Father] asked the child to have sexual relations with him on at least two occasions, resulting in the child feeling sexually threatened. Further, since [D.G.'s] disclosure of the incidents of [Father] inappropriately sexually interacting with her, the mother has repeatedly placed blame on the child . . . and has inappropriately cursed at the child for making such a disclosure. Mother's failure to believe [D.G.] and mother's inappropriate blaming of the child places [D.G.] at risk of further inappropriate sexual interactions by [Father], and endangers the child's physical and emotional health and safety. Such sexually inappropriate conduct by [Father] and the child's mother's failure to take appropriate protective action endangers the child's physical and emotional health and safety and places the child's sibling, [L.C.], at risk of similar endangerment."
The dependency case was closed in June 2008. Mother was given sole legal and physical custody of D.G. and both parents were awarded joint legal and physical custody of L.C., Father to have reasonable unmonitored visits with L.C. and no visitation with D.G. Mother had obtained a three-year restraining order pursuant to which Father was to stay away from D.G., but after the dependency case was closed he moved back into the family home where D.G., too, resided.
Events Between 2009 and January 2011
In 2009, D.G. was arrested for hitting Father during an altercation arising from her staying out late at a party. She reported to her probation officer that Father continued to sexually abuse her and admitted that she sometimes physically fought with Mother. Family members confirmed that Mother was having ongoing problems with D.G.'s behavior, as the child would leave home without permission and sometimes physically attack Mother. She also once threatened to overdose on pills. In November 2010, D.G. told school staff that Father had offered her $500 in exchange for oral sex. When interviewed, she recanted the allegation, stating she had made it in anger, and had merely recounted an event that had occurred in 2007. She stated Father had not made any recent sexual advances to her.
On January 25, 2011, a child protective hotline received a referral alleging that D.G. had disclosed to her dance teacher that in November 2010 Father offered her $500 in exchange for oral sex. When she told Mother about the incident, Mother responded that the devil was attempting to get into their house, and they should pray about it.
D.G. reported to a social worker that Father had been sexually molesting her since she was a little girl. He would make her watch pornographic movies with him and would have her do to him the things she saw on television. Father asked her to have oral sex with him, touched her breast and bottom, and put his fingers in her vagina, which hurt. She was ...