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In Re R.C. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Rodrigo C

October 30, 2012

IN RE R.C. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
RODRIGO C., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Anthony Trendacosta, Temporary Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. CK91495)

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

(Pursuant to Cal. Const., art. VI, § 21.) Affirmed.

I. INTRODUCTION

Rodrigo C., the father of three children, R.C., Michelle C. and Stephanie C., appeals from the juvenile court's jurisdictional and dispositional orders. The father argues there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's jurisdiction under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b).*fn1 The father argues there was no evidence the children suffered any physical harm during the two domestic violence incidents between the parents. He also contends there is no ongoing domestic violence because he is complying with a three-year restraining order protecting the mother against him. We find sufficient evidence to support the allegation the father engaged in domestic violence such that there was a substantial risk the children would suffer serious physical harm. Accordingly, we affirm the jurisdictional and dispositional orders.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On January 19, 2012, the Department of Children and Family Services (the department) filed a section 300 petition on behalf of R.C., age 9; Michelle, age 6; and Stephanie, age 3. The section 300, subdivision (b) allegation which is at issue, states: "On [January 13, 2012], the . . . father . . . engaged in a violent altercation in that the father repeatedly choked the mother. The father slapped the mother's face with the father's hand. The father pushed the mother, causing the mother to strike the mother's head against a wall. The father repeatedly pulled the mother's hair. The father grabbed and pulled the mother by the arm. The father pushed the mother into a couch. The father threatened to kill the mother. On a prior occasion, the father pushed the mother and grabbed the mother by the chest, inflicting a mark to the mother's chest. Such violent conduct on the part of the father against the mother endangers the children's physical health and safety and places the children at risk of physical harm, damage and danger." The petition named Gabrielle T., the mother, and the father as parents of the three children. At the January 19, 2012 detention hearing, the juvenile court ordered the children detained at a shelter. The juvenile court also issued a temporary restraining order protecting the mother and children from the father. The father was granted monitored visits.

On January 25, 2012, the department was granted discretion to release the children to the mother once she found stable housing. The juvenile court again issued temporary restraining orders against the father on January 25 and February 6, 2012. At the February 24, 2012 adjudication hearing, the juvenile court ordered the children released to the mother. The department was ordered to provide them with family maintenance services.

On March 14, 2012, the juvenile court found the children were dependents of the court under section 300, subdivision (b). The juvenile court sustained the following count in the section 300 petition: "On 01/13/2012, the [children's mother and father] engaged in a violent altercation in that the father repeatedly choked the mother. The father slapped the mother's face with the father's hand. The father pushed the mother, causing the mother to strike the mother's head against a wall. The father repeatedly pulled the mother's hair. The father grabbed and pulled the mother by the arm. The father pushed the mother into a couch. The father threatened to kill the mother. On a prior occasion, the father pushed the mother and grabbed the mother by the chest, inflicting a mark to the mother's chest. Such violent conduct on the part of the father against the mother endangers the children's physical health and safety and places the children at risk of physical harm, damage and danger." The juvenile court sustained the allegations in the January 19, 2012 petition, finding the parents were involved in two domestic violence incidents. The children were ordered to remain in the mother's custody and the department was ordered to provide family maintenance services. But the children were removed from the father's custody pursuant to section 361, subdivision (c). The mother was ordered to attend classes on victims of domestic violence, parenting and individual counseling to address case issues. The father was ordered to attend domestic violence, anger management and parenting programs. In addition, the juvenile court issued a three-year restraining order protecting the mother from the father. The father was granted monitored visits in a neutral setting. That same day, the father filed his notice of appeal.

III. EVIDENCE

A. Detention Report

The January 19, 2012 detention report, which was prepared by Children's Social Worker Arleen Vasquez, included a police report from the Hawthorne Police Department. On January 14, 2012, Ms. Vasquez met the mother and children at the family home in response to a referral from the police department. The mother stated she and the father had been having marital problems for about five months. The problems developed after the mother saw pictures of girls on the father's cell phone and confronted him about them. The mother reported the father became upset, pushed her and grabbed her chest leaving a red mark. The mother did not call the police or report the first incident because she did not want the children to be involved. The mother asked the father to leave the home and he complied.

According to the attached police report, on January 13, 2012, Hawthorne police officers arrived at the home after receiving a family disturbance call. Officer Eric Peraza interviewed the mother in Spanish. The mother told Officer Peraza the father had called her earlier that day and inquired if she was home. The father told the mother he knew she was not home and asked if she was with someone. She replied that a male friend had accompanied her to inquire about getting a divorce. The mother reported the father threatened to kill her and her male friend. The mother asked a neighbor to pick up the two oldest children from school. The mother knew the father was upset.

Five minutes after the mother returned home, she heard someone knock on her front door. She opened the door and the father immediately grabbed her hair with his hand. The father pulled the mother by the hair toward the couch and forced her onto the couch. He held the mother down on the couch with his body. The father continued to grab the mother's hair with one hand and began choking her with his other hand. The mother pleaded with the father to let her go. As the father kept her down, he stated: "I am going to kill you. Why do you do this to me?" The mother responded she was not doing anything wrong. The father then said, "Wherever I see you or him, [I'm] going to kill him!" The father then slapped the mother on the right side of her face. The mother tried to get up but the father placed his hand over her face and forced her back onto the couch.

The mother later escaped from the couch and ran towards the open front door. The father got in front of the mother and blocked her from leaving the apartment. He grabbed the mother's hair with both hands and forced her towards the north living room wall. The father then pushed the mother causing her to hit her head and back against the wall. The father's cell phone rang and he answered the phone. The father yelled on the phone, "Bring me the gun because I am going to kill her!" The mother heard the caller reply, "The police are going to come, don't do that!" The mother believed the caller was the father's brother.

While the father was talking on the cell phone, the mother was able to get away from him. She ran out the apartment door and yelled across the courtyard for her neighbor to call the police. The father stepped outside the apartment and pulled the mother back into the apartment by grabbing her right arm. He told the mother, "This is not going to stay like this; wherever I see you I'm going to kill you!" The mother told him she was going to call the police this time. The father then ...


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