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In re Briana V.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

April 1, 2015

In re BRIANA V. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
LUIS V., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. DK02764 Tony L. Richardson, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Michelle L. Jarvis, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Mark J. Saladino, County Counsel, Dawyn R. Harrison, Assistant County Counsel, and Aileen Wong, Deputy County Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

CHAVEZ, J.

Luis V. (father) appeals from a judgment of the juvenile court establishing jurisdiction over his three daughters: Briana V. (born Jan. 2001); Marlene V. (born Feb. 2004); and Patricia V. (born Mar. 2005) pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 300.[1] Father contends that substantial evidence does not support the juvenile court’s findings as to him. We affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The family

Prior to the commencement of this action, father was the primary caregiver for the children Briana, Marlene and Patricia, who lived with father and the paternal grandmother (PGM). Father and the girls’ mother, Chantha T. (mother) had been separated for approximately two years. Mother was in a new relationship with P.K. and they had a child together, Vincent K., born in December 2012.

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Initial investigation

On December 4, 2013, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) received a referral alleging that Briana had been physically abused by father and PGM. The caller stated that father and PGM hit and slapped Briana due to her leaving the home without permission. There were no marks or bruises observed on Briana.

On December 10, 2013, a DCFS social worker went to the family home. Father denied the allegations that he hit or slapped Briana. Father reported that on November 29, 2013, Briana left the family home without permission and did not return until 1:30 a.m. Father stated that this was the first time Briana had left the home without permission, and he was worried about Briana’s behavior. Briana had been attending counseling through her school for about three months.

PGM also denied the allegations in the petition. PGM stated that she assists father in caring for the children, and that recently Briana had been acting out.

Briana stated that she left home on November 29, 2013, and did not return until 1:00 a.m. She left home because father became upset with her for leaving with her sister without permission. Briana stated that father slapped her one time on the face, but did not leave any marks on her face. When she returned that night, PGM tapped her on the mouth with her hand. Briana denied that she was afraid to stay in the home with father and PGM. However, Briana would prefer to live with mother because mother is not as strict as father, though Briana had not been in contact with mother for about three months.

Marlene denied any physical abuse by father or PGM. She stated that Briana “acts bad and wants to do whatever she wants.” Patricia also denied any physical abuse and denied witnessing any physical abuse of Briana. Patricia stated that she enjoys living with father and PGM.

On December 11, 2013, the social worker asked father about his criminal history. Father responded, “What the fuck? Why do you have to go there? Nobody else has?” Father provided the social worker with contact information for his probation officer. The social worker informed father that in order to close the referral she had to contact his probation officer. Father was upset and stated that he resides in the back home while PGM resides in the front house with the children. He then stated that he sleeps in his car in Long Beach.

The social worker interviewed mother telephonically. Mother confirmed that she left the three girls in the care of father and PGM because father

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would not leave her alone unless she allowed the children to remain with him. She denied any concern of abuse or neglect as to father or PGM.

On December 13, 2013, the social worker interviewed father’s probation officer, Pedro Arriola, who stated that father was convicted of rape, kidnapping, robbery and oral copulation in 1994. Father was arrested on May 16, 2013, and released on October 30, 2013, due to his failure to register as a sex offender. About a month before, PGM had submitted a letter to the probation department requesting that father reside in her home. However, neither PGM nor father reported that there were children living in the home. Father denied that he resides with or cares for any children. The conditions of father’s probation were: not to subscribe to internet services; not to utilize sex oriented services; to inform the probation officer of his residence; not to engage in criminal conduct; to inform of any new arrest; not to own or possess weapons; to participate in a rehabilitation program; to participate in a mental health plan; sex registration; not to associate with other sex offenders; not to reside near schools; not to reside with minors; not to possess children’s clothes or toys; and not to use or possess a computer.

On December 13, 2013, a social worker arrived at the family home. PGM informed the social worker that father had been arrested. Neither PGM, nor paternal uncles David and Octavio knew why father had been arrested.

PGM then claimed that father lived in the back house, not with her and the children. She added that he also resided in his car. PGM stated that she did not think it was fair that father was still being punished for a 20-year-old conviction. PGM cried when the social worker informed her that she and mother were placing the children at risk by allowing father to bathe, dress and care for the children knowing that he was in violation of his probation. PGM wanted the children to remain in her care. The social worker noted that the home was cluttered and disorganized and that the bedroom occupied by paternal uncle Octavio had graffiti which was not a positive environment for the children.

The social worker interviewed Marlene, who was nine years old at the time. Marlene reported that father no longer bathed her. The last time father assisted her with a bath was when she was five or six years old. Sometimes PGM assisted her. Father still assisted Patricia with her baths. Father assisted Marlene and Patricia with getting dressed daily for school. Marlene admitted that father sometimes shared a bedroom with the girls. Marlene denied any sexual, physical, or substance abuse.

Eight-year-old Patricia was also interviewed. Patricia stated that father and PGM bathed her. Father turned on the water for her and scrubbed her vaginal

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area and buttocks. The social worker asked if Patricia had ever seen father’s private part, to which Patricia replied, “I cover my eyes cause I don’t like to see his thing.” Father sometimes got dressed while Patricia was bathing and he “pees.” Patricia denied any penetration and father had not asked her to touch his penis. The social worker asked Patricia if she was okay with father bathing and dressing her. Patricia moved her head side to side as she looked down. She disclosed she sometimes shared a bedroom with father. Patricia denied any sexual, physical or substance abuse.

Paternal uncle Octavio denied knowing the conditions of father’s probation. He was aware that Briana was defiant and left home without permission. The social worker observed that the paternal uncle appeared to be under the influence of illegal drugs, therefore she asked him not to have any contact with the children. The paternal uncle stated that he spends two to three days a week at the home. The paternal uncle admitted to using marijuana one to two times per day.

On December 14, 2013, the social worker interviewed mother. Mother was aware that father was convicted of sexual offenses and was a registered sex offender. When she and father stopped getting along, she decided to leave father and the children because this was the only way father would leave her alone. She trusted PGM would keep the children safe. She was unaware that father bathed and dressed the children. She admitted making a mistake by not caring for the girls. Mother was aware that Briana was suspended from school for using marijuana.

Briana was also interviewed. She denied sexual abuse. She confirmed that father slapped her on the face after she left home without permission. Briana stated that PGM assists Marlene and Patricia with bathing and getting dressed. She leaves for school earlier than Marlene and Patricia, so she was not aware if father bathed or dressed them. Briana denied that she and her sisters share a bedroom with father. Briana stated that ...


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