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In Re A.G. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Kenneth G

September 27, 2012

IN RE A.G. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
KENNETH G., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD231761, JD231762, JD231763)

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

In re A.G.

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

COPY

Father, Kenneth G., appeals from the juvenile court's orders declaring minors A.G., T.G., and C.W. dependents of the court and removing them from his custody. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 360, 361, 395.)*fn1 Father contends the minors were not at substantial risk of harm at the time of jurisdiction, and reasonable means existed to protect them without removing them from his custody. We conclude that there is substantial evidence supporting the juvenile court's findings that father's substance abuse and mental health problems put the minors at substantial risk of harm in his custody, and the efforts he had made to alleviate those problems were not sufficient to ensure the minors' safety without removing them from his home. Therefore, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Section 300 Petitions

On August 12, 2011, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed section 300 petitions as to father's three daughters, nine-year-old A.G., 13-year-old T.G., and 17-year-old C.W. The petitions alleged:

1. Father had an untreated mental illness or psychiatric issues, with symptoms including but not limited to agitation, delusions, and paranoid thoughts. He had reported that his television, radio, and refrigerator were talking to him. He put duct tape on his ceiling because he believed the neighbors were audiotaping and videotaping him. His conduct made the minors fearful and anxious. He had not acknowledged the need for psychiatric evaluation and treatment or complied with the Department's interventions.

2. Father had a substance abuse problem. He drank alcohol daily to the point of intoxication, which caused him to become volatile, throwing things and yelling in the minors' faces. He also smoked marijuana daily. There was marijuana in the home, and C.W. had observed father smoking it in his car. Father had two convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) and was arrested for DUI on another occasion. He had not acknowledged the need for substance abuse assessment and treatment or complied with the Department's interventions.

The Initial Hearing Report

The initial hearing report further alleged: After the minors' mother, who had had primary custody of the minors, died in 2008, father moved into her home to care for the minors. There had been repeated referrals on the family from then on. In July 2008, a referral for general neglect was deemed substantiated, based on father's drinking, yelling at the minors, refusal to drug test, and failure to meet the minors' dental needs. In December 2010, father was reported to be drinking, throwing things, and kicking the minors out of the house at night. He would not sign the Department's safety plan.

In June 2011, when the police came to investigate a report that father was manufacturing and selling drugs in his home,*fn2 the minors seemed afraid to talk in father's presence.

Father denied mental health, alcohol or substance abuse problems and refused to drug test, seek a psychiatric evaluation, or comply with any of the Department's requests without a court order. He confirmed that he had put duct tape on his ceiling to block surveillance cameras supposedly installed by a neighbor. He was on leave from work, and his employer demanded a psychological evaluation before he could return. The minors said he had lately been acting "bizarre." He had grabbed C.W. by the shirt, physically put her out of the home, and would not let her back in. He was intoxicated at the time.

C.W. reported that father has always had a drinking problem, but the minors had not been fully exposed to it when they lived with mother. When father drinks, he becomes short-tempered, yells in their faces and more recently has put his hands on them in anger.

Father would not let the minors' adult sister J.W. see the minors. The minors wanted to live with J.W.

The Initial Hearing

On August 19, 2011, the juvenile court ordered the minors temporarily detained in J.W.'s custody.

The Jurisdiction/Disposition Report

The jurisdiction/disposition report dated September 1, 2011 recommended out-of-home placement with reunification services for father.

The minors confirmed the allegations against father. A.G. said that before she would want to live with father again, he would need to change the way he acts and how much he drinks and smokes. A.G. also wanted father to get help with his "anger management problems." When asked what she would want father to change before she would want to return home, T.G. stated, "His drinking problem especially, his actions when he's drunk. Mainly his drinking problem." C.W. said father could do nothing to make her want to return home.

C.W. reported that there were times when father drove intoxicated with the minors in the car. She also discussed the night father threw her out of the house. She had been on her laptop when father took it away and began throwing her belongings from her room into the hallway. C.W. videorecorded a portion of this event on her cell phone. She showed it to the social worker, who confirmed that the video depicted father throwing things into the hallway. C.W. also showed the social worker a photo of her wearing the shirt father tore when he threw her out.

J.W., the minors' adult sister, said she was concerned for their well-being in father's custody due to his substance abuse and mental health problems. The minors had often called her to report that they were frightened by his paranoia and felt unsafe with him. According to J.W., father was placed on leave at work because he had accused his supervisor and co-workers of watching him through cameras installed at the stoplight by his house and on his work computer. He also thought the household appliances were talking to him. He unplugged the refrigerator more than once, causing the food inside to spoil. He would often leave home and wander the neighborhood for hours, leaving the minors on their own. Sometimes he would let A.G. and T.G. stay with J.W., then call in the middle of the night demanding their return. When confronted with these statements, father denied them.

Father had 10 misdemeanor and two felony convictions.*fn3 Among the misdemeanor convictions were two for DUI, the most recent being a conviction in July 2011.

According to the report, father claimed a new neighbor had been harassing and threatening him and the minors and making racial slurs against him. The neighbor had been arrested for threatening another person and pulling a gun on him.*fn4 According to the father, the victim was the boyfriend of T.G.'s best friend. Father placed duct tape on the ceiling because the neighbor, who "had a security company," had threatened to put father under surveillance.

In May 2011, father took A.G. and T.G. to a hospital and demanded that they receive evidentiary examinations because father thought the neighbor had molested them. Both minors denied they had been molested. T.G. believed a schizophrenic methamphetamine addict who was father's friend had told him this story. T.G. did not understand why father would not believe her denial instead. Law enforcement was called to the hospital and determined the report was unfounded.

A.G. said she never saw the neighbor be mean to or threaten father. She described the neighbor as "hecka nice and he's funny." She is friends with the ...


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