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Steele v. Steele

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

August 23, 2013

CHARLES R. STEELE Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
BOBBIE JO STEELE nka MALOCU Defendant-Appellee

Civil appeal from Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations, T.C. NO. 05DR864

H. STEVEN HOBBS, Atty. Reg. No. 0018453, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellant

BRIAN A. SOMMERS, Atty. Reg. No. 0072821, Attorney for Defendant-Appellee

OPINION

FROELICH, J.

(¶ 1} Charles Steele appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, which vacated a magistrate's finding that his former wife Bobby Jo Steele (n.k.a. Malocu) had been in contempt for interfering with his parenting time and his telephone contact with their daughter.

(¶ 2} For the reasons that follow, the judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.

(¶ 3} Steele and Malocu were divorced in 2007 and entered into a shared parenting plan with respect to their daughter, M.S. In 2010, the shared parenting plan was terminated, and Malocu was designated as the residential parent; Steele continued to have expanded visitation with M.S.

(¶ 4} In July 2011, Steele filed a motion to show cause why Malocu should not be held in contempt for denial of parenting time; in October 2011, he filed an amended motion in which he asserted that Malocu had also interfered with his telephone contact with M.S.[1] The alleged violations occurred during July 2011, shortly after an incident which led Malocu to suspect and to initiate investigations of sexual abuse of M.S. by Steele.

(¶ 5} Steele's motion to show cause was referred to a magistrate, who conducted a hearing on April 6 and May 15, 2012. The evidence presented at the hearing established the following.

(¶ 6} In late June 2011, M.S., age 6 or 7, reported to her mother that her "privates" were irritated, a condition with which the child had dealt repeatedly. M.S. had returned from a camping trip with Steele a day earlier, and she reported that Steele had applied medication to the affected area. M.S. had been uncomfortable with Steele's application of the medicine. Malocu became concerned about sexual abuse.

(¶ 7} Malocu took M.S. to Children's Hospital, where she was examined. Malocu testified that M.S. refused to allow a male physician to examine her. Vaginal irritation was documented, but no signs of sexual abuse were observed. Malocu talked with a social worker, who in turn consulted with the medical professionals who had examined M.S. The social worker decided that no referral of the case to Children Services ("CSB") or the police was warranted, and she informed Malocu of this conclusion. The social worker also informed Malocu that she (Malocu) could report the incident to CSB or the police herself if she wanted to do so. Malocu did report her concern to CSB and to the West Carrollton Police Department.

(¶ 8} Steele had been scheduled to have visitation with M.S. from July 3 through 10, 2011. Because the alleged inappropriate touching was being investigated during that time, Malocu did not permit Steele to exercise his visitation. Rather, Malocu took M.S. on vacation to South Carolina.

(¶ 9} CSB closed the case within a couple of weeks as "unsubstantiated." Malocu received the notice of CSB's determination in mid-July 2011, and she resumed the normal parenting schedule ...


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