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In re S.B.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Second Division

December 20, 2013

IN RE S.B., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
v.
R.B., Defendant and Appellant. San Bernardino County Children and Family Services, Plaintiff and Respondent,

APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County. Christopher B. Marshall, Judge. Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. J246789).

Page 613

COUNSEL

[165 Cal.Rptr.3d 888] Jamie A. Moran, under appointment bye the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Jean-Rene Basle, County Counsel, and Jamila Bayati, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

RAMIREZ, P. J.

Page 614

The San Bernardino County Children and Family Services Department (CFS) intervened on behalf of 12-year-old S.B. and her half-siblings (not involved in this appeal) due to her mother's mental illness and substance abuse, and her father's failure to protect. The parent's submitted at the jurisdictional hearing. At the dispositional hearing, reunification services were granted to mother, who is not a party to this appeal, but father was denied services pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code[1] section 361.5, subdivision (b)(16), because he was a registered sex offender. Father appealed.

Page 615

On appeal, father claims that (1) section 361.5, subdivision (b)(16) is inapplicable because he was not required to register as a sex offender under federal law, and (2) there is insufficient evidence to support the court's finding that reunification services [165 Cal.Rptr.3d 889] would not be in the minor's best interests. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

On November 8, 2012, mother of S.B. (and S.B.'s two half-siblings, M.N., and M.M.) was admitted at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for suicidal ideation as well as bizarre and aggressive behavior. Mother has eight children altogether and a lengthy history of unstable living arrangements, as well as a history of interventions by child welfare services for all of her children. Some of mother's children are adults. Each of the three children in mother's custody at the time of the current proceedings had a different father.[2]

On November 13, 2012, CFS filed a dependency petition as to 12-year-old S.B., and her half-siblings M.N., and M.M. As to S.B., the petition alleged failure to protect within the meaning of section 300, subdivision (b), due to mother's substance abuse and mental health issues, which interfered with mother's ability to provide adequate and appropriate care, supervision and provisions for the child. As to father, the petition alleged that he had a history of substance abuse which interfered with his ability to provide adequate and appropriate care. Further, it was alleged that he had knowledge of mother's substance abuse and mental health problems but failed to protect S.B. The petition also included an allegation that S.B. had been left with no provision for support within the meaning of section 300, subdivision (g), in that father's whereabouts were unknown. The children were detained with their maternal grandmother.

At the jurisdictional hearing, the parents submitted on the social worker's reports. Those reports outlined mother's history of using marijuana three times daily and the children's statements about chaotic living conditions. Mother admitted she suffered from bipolar disorder but she did not believe she needed medication.

The children reported to the social worker that mother would yell and scream for no reason, hit or push them to the ground or against a wall, and drag S.B. by the hair. They also reported that mother did not fix meals for them regularly, get them to school on time, or take them for regular medical or dental appointments. The social worker described mother as suffering from psychosis, or delusional thinking, as a related symptom of a manic episode of bipolar disorder.

Page 616

As to father, the report on which the parents submitted revealed he had custody of S.B. until his arrest and incarceration in 2010 for lewd acts. Father has a lengthy history of marijuana and methamphetamine use, dating back to his teenage years. Father also had an extensive criminal history, including drug related charges, and a 2010 conviction for a violation of Penal Code section 288, subdivision (c)(1), lewd or lascivious acts with a child of 14 or 15 years. Although father was clean and sober for several years while he had custody of S.B., he attributed his commission of the sexual offense to a drug relapse during the three weeks prior to the offense in 2010. He was sentenced to state prison for that offense and was paroled on December 28, 2011. Father is required to register as a sex offender.

The report also included allegations that father had exposed himself to his stepdaughter A.H. and had previously molested A.H.'s cousin, M.Z., on separate occasions [165 Cal.Rptr.3d 890] in 2010. However, these allegations were not substantiated.

At the dispositional hearing, the court heard testimony from father and the social worker. Father denied any inappropriate conduct with A.H. or M.Z. Although he admitted he was required to register as a sex offender, he wanted to reunify with his daughter. The court also accepted a stipulation by all parties that if S.B. were to take the stand, she would testify that she is not afraid of her father, wanted a chance to reunify with him, had lived with him from the time she was two or three years of age until she was nine or 10, enjoyed her visits with him, loved him, and would be happy to live with him one day.

The court removed custody of S.B. from her parents and maintained her in the relative placement. The court found that placement of S.B. with father, the noncustodial parent, would be detrimental. The court granted services to mother, but denied services to father pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(16), because he is required to be registered on a sex offender registry under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (41 U.S.C. ยง 16913(a)), as required in section ...


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