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In re Ethan J.

California Court of Appeals, Fifth District

May 6, 2015

In re ETHAN J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
v.
v. MONICA G., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Fresno County, No. 10CEJ300218-3, Martin C. Suits, Judge. (Retired Judge of the Fresno Super. Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.).

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Elizabeth C. Alexander, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel C. Cederborg, County Counsel, Amy K. Cobb, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

PEÑA, J.

When the juvenile court orders a legal guardianship for a child with visitation for the mother, and the child refuses to participate in visitation, may the court terminate dependency jurisdiction with knowledge that its visitation order will not be honored or enforceable? We conclude it may not do so absent a finding continued visitation would be detrimental to the child. We reverse the order terminating dependency jurisdiction.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL SUMMARY

Appellant Monica G. is the mother of nine-year-old Ethan J. who is currently in the custody of his maternal grandmother and legal guardian, Vera. Monica and Vera have a strained and contentious relationship.

These dependency proceedings were initiated in September 2010 after Vera contacted the police to report that Monica was trying to remove then four-year-old Ethan and his sisters, 17-year-old R.S. and 14-year-old G.G., [1] from her home. Monica, who was homeless and using methamphetamine, had left the children in Vera’s custody because she could not care for them. Vera contacted the police after she and Monica argued about Monica’s drug use and Monica tried to leave with the children.

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The responding police officer placed a protective hold on the children and contacted the Fresno County Department of Social Services (department). There was at that time an open investigation into allegations that a female friend of Monica’s, Ms. C., sexually molested R.S. and Ethan. Monica admitted she was still in contact with Ms. C.

R.S. and Ethan confirmed the sexual molestation allegation. R.S. told the emergency response social worker that two men and two women tied her arms and legs to a bed and molested her while she was staying in a motel with Monica. She said they also tied Ethan up and Ms. C. touched his private parts. She did not know if Monica was present at the time. Ethan said Ms. C. and another person touched his “peepee” in a motel room.

The department filed a dependency petition seeking the children’s removal and placed them with Vera. The juvenile court exercised its dependency jurisdiction over the children and in March 2011 ...


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