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In Re R.F. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. A.R. et al

September 27, 2012

IN RE R.F. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
A.R. ET AL., APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD231346, JD231347, JD231348, JD231349)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hull , J.

In re R.F. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A.R. and E.R., maternal grandparents and legal guardians of the minors, appeal from orders of the juvenile court terminating the guardianship. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 728, 395; Prob. Code, 1601; undesignated section references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) For clarity, appellants will be referred to as grandmother and grandfather or collectively as appellants.

Grandmother contends the court erred in terminating the probate guardianship because the dependency statutory scheme and due process require services be provided to her as a guardian. Grandmother further contends that, even if the court could terminate the guardianship, the court applied an incorrect standard by treating the case as if the issue was a bypass of services. Grandfather asserts that insufficient evidence supported the finding that termination of the probate guardianship was in the minors' best interests. We affirm the trial court's orders.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Appellants were appointed legal guardians of the minors in 2010 due to ongoing parental drug use and domestic violence. In February 2011, the minors, M.D., age 14, C.D., age 12, R.F., age 8, and S.F., age 9, were detained from appellants' custody following disclosure that C.D. was being sexually abused by her uncle, Andrew R., who was living in the home. Appellants allowed Andrew R. to provide care for the minors despite concerns about his mental stability and his behavior toward C.D. A second uncle, David R., had also molested C.D.

Investigation disclosed that C.D. was repeatedly molested over a period of several years. Grandmother told a sheriff's deputy that she had suspected something inappropriate was going on between C.D. and Andrew R. and took C.D. and S.F. to a family friend's home and left them there. Grandmother intended to contact law enforcement. However, the next morning, Andrew R. arrived at the friend's home wanting to speak to the minors and the friend called law enforcement. C.D. disclosed multiple incidents of molestation by Andrew R. S.F. stated she witnessed the molestation but was not molested herself. When questioned, Andrew R. admitted molesting C.D.

The social worker interviewed grandmother the next day. Grandmother gave a different version of the events prior to leaving the girls with the family friend. The grandmother said she did not call police or tell anyone, but Andrew R. went to pick up the girls at the friend's home the next morning. The social worker noted discrepancies between the current account and grandmother's report to law enforcement and asked grandmother how Andrew R. knew where the girls were. The grandmother denied telling her son anything about the girls, said he had figured out where they were and said she could not stop him from going there. The social worker asked why she took the children for a sexual abuse examination in 2006. The grandmother said the children were living with her and she heard C.D. and S.F. talking about sexualized behavior. She believed they were being molested by the father of the younger minors.

The social worker interviewed the minors. M.D. said he did not witness any molest and had not been molested himself. C.D. said she disclosed the molestation to her grandmother "a long time ago" and the grandmother said "she would take care of it" but the abuse continued. C.D.'s version of the events at the family friend's home which led to the removal corroborated the grandmother's first story as told to the sheriff's deputy. She further stated the sexual abuse began shortly after the children went to live with appellants in 2006. S.F. told the social worker she had witnessed Andrew R. molesting C.D. and had twice told her grandmother about it, once in January 2011 and again in February 2011. She saw Andrew R. molest C.D. a week before they were removed from appellants' custody.

The social worker confronted the grandmother with the information the minors provided. The grandmother admitted she was told of the sexual abuse as early as October 2011 and that Andrew R. promised to stop touching C.D. When asked why she did nothing to prevent the abuse, the grandmother said she did not want to send her son to prison and was afraid if she called police he would shoot the family. She did not tell the rest of the family about the abuse. The social worker later spoke to R.F. who understood he was removed from appellants' custody because Andrew R. molested C.D. R.F. said he witnessed Andrew R. touching his sister while she did homework and late at night and that he told his grandmother about it in February 2011, two days before the family friend called law enforcement.

After the petition was filed, the social worker interviewed the minors' mother who said the grandmother told her she had known about the sexual abuse since June 2010 and that appellants did not want Andrew R. to go to jail. The social worker also interviewed the grandmother about the allegations of the petition. Grandmother told the social worker she had "no idea" the molestation began in 2006 and continued until the minors were removed. She said that Andrew R. had spent time alone with the minors and she never had concerns about his behavior. The grandmother acknowledged that S.F. had disclosed that the abuse was occurring in October 2010 but she thought S.F. just meant Andrew R. was hugging C.D. The grandmother said she did tell Andrew R. to stop being so affectionate toward C.D. but saw no change in his behavior. She did not intervene further because she did not want Andrew R. to go to jail and was also afraid he would hurt someone with his guns if the police came. The grandmother acknowledged that David R. had also confessed to molesting C.D. in 2006.

The social worker also interviewed the grandfather who said he had no knowledge of the abuse but, since Andrew R. admitted it, he agreed that it had happened. He said he was present when S.F. told appellants in October 2010 that Andrew R. was sexually abusing C.D. He too thought she just meant excessive hugging and also told Andrew R. not to hug C.D. so ...


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