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In Re Daniel S. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. Christopher S

January 28, 2013

IN RE DANIEL S. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. TRINITY COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
CHRISTOPHER S., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. 11JU059A, 11JU059B, 11JU059C)

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

In re Daniel S. CA3

Appendix not available in Word version; see PDF file

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Christopher S., father of the minors, appeals from the juvenile court's orders terminating his parental rights as to Catherine and Q. and implementing a plan of long-term foster care as to Daniel. (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 §§ 366.26, 395.) He challenges a jurisdictional finding that provided the basis for the denial of reunification services and thus the basis for the juvenile court's subsequent section 366.26 orders terminating parental rights and implementing long-term foster care. We shall reverse the section 366.26 orders and remand for a new disposition hearing to determine whether father is entitled to reunification services.

BACKGROUND

Father has three children who are the subjects of this appeal: Daniel, Catherine, and Q.*fn2 Father's former wife Jeannie is the mother of Daniel. Father's former wife Stephanie is the mother of Catherine and Q.*fn3 Stephanie has a sister, Chelsea. Beyond these facts, the relationships between these individuals are somewhat complicated.

When Jeannie and father first met, he was dating Stephanie's mother, Cindy, and Stephanie's sister, Chelsea, had just been born. Jeannie and father were married for 14 years. Approximately six months after their son, Daniel, was born, she and father discovered that Cindy was intending to relinquish custody of Stephanie and Chelsea. Father retrieved them and brought them home to live with him and Jeannie.

Shortly thereafter, Jeannie discovered father was sexually abusing Stephanie, who was then 13 years old. He later also began sexually abusing Chelsea. When Stephanie was 15 or 16 years old, she gave birth to Catherine. Father and Stephanie married when she turned 18 years old and she gave birth to Q. shortly thereafter. Stephanie left father approximately four years later and they are now divorced. The court awarded father physical custody of Catherine and Q.

In December 2011, Trinity County Health and Human Services (the agency) detained Daniel, Catherine, and Q. and filed section 300 petitions on their behalf. The petitions alleged father had failed to provide adequate support. Based on father's history of sexually abusing Stephanie and Chelsea, the petition filed on behalf of Catherine also included the following allegation under section 300, subdivision (j) (the child's sibling has been abused and there is a substantial risk that the child will be abused): "j-1 From in or about 12/01/1999, and continuing for at least three years thereafter, the father sexually abused his step-daughter, Stephanie . . . , as defined in subdivision (d). Stephanie . . . was age 14, or younger, when the abuse first occurred, and was severe sexual abuse, including sexual intercourse over a period of several years. Stephanie is the sister of the child, Catherine . . . , who is now age 11, and there is substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused in the same manner as Stephanie."

The jurisdiction hearing took place on February 6, 2012. Evidence was submitted, including statements from Stephanie, Chelsea, and Jeannie. The juvenile court sustained the petitions, including the following amended "j-1" allegation as to Catherine: "From in or about 1998 to in or about 2006, the father sexually abused his step-daughters, Stephanie and Chelsea . . . , as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 300. Stephanie . . . was age 14, or younger, when the abuse first occurred, and it was severe sexual abuse, including sexual intercourse over a period of several years. Chelsea was age 12, or younger, when the abuse first occurred. Stephanie and Chelsea are the sisters of the child, Catherine . . . who is now age 11, and there is a substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused in the same manner as Stephanie and Chelsea." The juvenile court did not sustain the "j-1" allegations contained in the amended petitions filed on behalf of Daniel and Q., which read: "From in or about 1998 to in or about 2006, the half siblings, Stephanie and Chelsea . . . were sexually abused by the father, . . . and there is a substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused or subjected to witnessing sexual abuse, which constitutes a substantial danger to the child's physical and emotional health."

At the March 19, 2012, disposition hearing, the minors were declared dependents and removed from parental care. The juvenile court denied father reunification services pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(6), based on the subdivision j-1 allegations in the petitions that child protective services asserted the court had found true. (As noted above, the court actually found true only the subdivision j-1 allegation in the petition filed on behalf of Catherine.)

The section 366.26 hearing took place on June 11, 2012. Parental rights to Catherine and Q. were terminated. Long-term foster care or guardianship was ...


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