IN RE: S.L., ABUSED AND DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: R.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: G.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: B.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: L.L., ABUSED AND DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: S.L., ABUSED AND DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: R.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: G.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: B.L., DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT] IN RE: L.L., ABUSED AND DEPENDENT CHILD. [SCOTT LUCIUS - APPELLANT]
Appeals from Logan County Common Pleas Court Juvenile
Division Trial Court Nos. 17 CS 26, 17 CS 27, 17 CS 28, 17 CS
29 and 17 CS 30 Judgments Affirmed in Cases 8-17-25 - 8-17-28
and 8-17-33 - 8-17-37 Judgment Affirmed in Part and Reversed
in Part in Case No. 8-17-29 and Cause Remanded
Boggs for Appellant.
L. Rapp for Appellee.
Appellant, Scott Lucius ("Scott"), appeals the
judgment entries (of adjudication and disposition) of the
Logan County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, finding
two of his children, S.L. and L.L., to be abused and
dependent children, and finding his remaining children, G.L.,
B.L., and R.L., to be dependent.
and Procedural History
This matter involves the appeal of five juvenile court
adjudications and dispositions, consolidated and
heard as one case in the trial court. Thus, we have
consolidated these matters in this Court. While this appeal
concerns ten separate appeals (five adjudications and five
dispositions), we will discuss their procedural histories
together, as they are intertwined.
Scott is the adoptive father of G.L. (DOB: 1/8/04), B.L.
(DOB: 4/29/09), S.L. (DOB: 12/21/09), R.L. (DOB: 11/28/08)
and L.L. (DOB: 10/15/13). On May 23, 2017, Logan County
Children Services ("LCCS") received a referral from
an Indian Lake School official regarding the possible
physical abuse of S.L. The abuse referral stems from S.L.
missing school on May 22, 2017 due to injuries she received
from being punished by Scott.
When S.L. returned to school on May 23, 2017, a school
official spoke with her and observed bruising on her arm and
severe bruising on her back. S.L. advised the school official
that she was spanked with a belt (by Scott) a couple of days
prior. With that information, the school official immediately
notified LCCS of the child's condition, which was
received by Ryan Pratt ("Pratt") intake supervisor
with LCCS. That same day, Pratt and Detective Mike Brugler
("Det. Brugler"), of the Logan County Sheriffs
office, contacted Scott at his residence. Initially, Scott
advised Pratt that while he and his husband, Walt, do spank
the children with a belt, he suggested that S.L.'s
bruises were a result of her falling out of bed. However,
after interviewing Scott, Walt and some of the children, Det.
Brugler arrested Scott for felony child endangering. (Tr.
157). Upon Scott's arrest, Pratt contacted the Logan
County Prosecutor's office seeking a temporary custody
order of the five children.
After arresting Scott, Det. Brugler re-interviewed him at the
Sheriffs office wherein Scott admitted that he had punished
S.L. by hitting her with a belt. Scott admitted to Det.
Brugler that it was possible that the bruising (on S.L.'s
back) was caused by his punishment.
On May 24, 2017, LCCS filed five abuse and dependency
complaints, with motions for the emergency temporary custody
of the children, in the Logan County Juvenile Court. The
complaints alleged S.L. to be abused and dependent and the
remaining children to be dependent. That same day, the trial
court granted LCCS's motions for emergency temporary
custody of the children. (Doc. 2). On June 9, 2017, the trial
court appointed a guardian ad litem on behalf of the
However, on July 18, 2017, LCCS filed an amended complaint as
to L.L., alleging L.L. to be an abused child in addition to
the original allegation of dependency. The amended complaint
was filed after Scott's oldest child, G.L., furnished
pictures to the Logan County Sheriff's office that she
had taken of L.L. after L.L. had been spanked and pinched by
Ultimately, an adjudicatory hearing occurred in the trial
court on August 4, 2017 for all five children wherein the
trial court found S.L. and L.L. to be abused and dependent
and R.L., B.L. and G.L. to be dependent children. A
dispositional hearing was scheduled for all of the children
in the trial court on August 17, 2017. At the dispositional
hearing, the trial court continued its orders of temporary
custody (of the children) to LCCS. (See August 22,
2017 judgment entry).
Scott has appealed the adjudications and
dispositional orders of the trial court for all five children
(ten appeals) raising the following common assignments of
error in each appeal for our review.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. I
THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION IS AGAINST THE
MANIFEST WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE. APPELLEE DID NOT PROVE BY
CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT THE MINOR CHILDREN WERE
ABUSED AND/OR DEPENDENT AND THE TRIAL COURT INCORRECTLY
INTERPRETED THE PERTINENT STATUTES AND THE APPLICATION TO THE
FACTS OF THE CASE.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. II
THE CHILDREN'S GUARDIAN AD LITEM FAILED TO
PERFORM NECESSARY DUTIES PURSUANT TO OHIO REVISED CODE
SECTION 2151.281 AND SUPERINDENT [SIC] RULE 48, THEREBY NOT
ACTING IN THE CHILDREN'S BEST INTEREST, TO
APPELLANT'S DETRIMENT AND IN VIOLATION OF HIS DUE
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. III
APPELLANT'S COUNCIL [SIC] WAS INEFFECTIVE THEREBY
PREJUDICING APPELLANT, RESULTING IN A DECISION THAT IS
At the outset, we find that on appeal Scott only addresses
errors relative to the adjudications of the children, not the
trial court's dispositional orders. Therefore, we will
not consider the five appeals relative to the trial
court's dispositional orders. (8-17-33, 8-17-34, 8-17-35.
8-17-36 and 8-17-37). (See generally,
Assignment of Error
In his first assignment of error, Scott argues that the trial
court's determination that S.L. and L.L. are abused and
dependent children and that G.L. R.L. and B.L. are dependent
children was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Standard of Review
In juvenile proceedings, we apply the criminal standard for
reviewing manifest-weight challenges. In re Corey
Children, 11th Dist. Geauga No. 2005-G-2649,
2006-Ohio-2013, ¶17. Under this standard, when reviewing
a claim that a judgment was against the manifest weight of
the evidence, an appellate court must review the entire
record, weigh both the evidence and all reasonable
inferences, consider the credibility of witnesses, and
determine whether in resolving conflicts, the trier of fact
clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage
of justice that a new trial must be ordered. State v.
Martin, 20 Ohio App.3d 172, 175 (1st Dist. 1983).
"The discretionary powers to grant a new trial should be
exercised only in the exceptional case in which the evidence
weighs heavily against the conviction." Id.
The role of the appellate court is limited to weighing the
evidence introduced at trial and then determine whether the
state carried its burden of persuasion. State v.
Thompkins, 78 Ohio St.3d 380, 387 (1997). The reviewing
court must defer to the factual findings of the trier of fact
as to the weight to be given the evidence and the credibility
of the witnesses. State v. DeHass, 10 Ohio St.2d 230
(1967), at paragraph one of the syllabus. Furthermore,
"[i]n an adjudicatory hearing regarding a claim of
dependency, neglect and/or abuse, the requisite burden of
proof is by clear and convincing evidence". In re
Anthony, 11th Dist. Ashtabula No. 2002-A-0096,
2003-Ohio-5712, citing Juv.R. 29(E)(4).
"Clear and convincing evidence is that measure or degree
of proof which is more than a mere 'preponderance of the
evidence, ' * * * and which will produce in the mind of
the trier of facts a firm belief or conviction as to the
facts sought to be established." In re G.C-O.,
3d Dist. Seneca No. 13-12-56, 2013-Ohio-4974, citing In
re C.B., 12th Dist. Butler Nos. CA2008-01-002,
CA2008-01-0003, 2008-Ohio-5543, ¶10. The party seeking
adjudication has the burden of establishing that a child is
abused or neglected before the court may enter a finding of
abuse or dependency. In re Stewart, 12th Dist.
Clinton No. CA99-08-024, 2000 WL 290134 (2000).
"Requiring the state to prove its case by clear and
convincing evidence is part of the protection afforded to
parents in abuse and dependency cases". Id.
"Once the clear and convincing standard has been met to
the satisfaction of the [juvenile] court, the reviewing court
must examine the record and determine if the trier of fact
had sufficient evidence before it to satisfy this burden of
proof". In re Kinney, 1st Dist. Hamilton No.
C-020067, 2002-Ohio-2310, citing In re Adoption of
Holcomb, 18 Ohio St.3d 361, 368. Judgments which are
supported by some competent, credible evidence will not be
reversed by a reviewing court as being against the manifest
weight of the evidence. In re Mercer, 10th Dist.
Franklin No. 04AP-422, 2005-Ohio-1845, citing C.E. Morris
Co. v. Foley Constr. Co., 54 Ohio St2d 279, syllabus.
In the cases before us, Scott's primary argument is that
the trial court erred in finding that S.L. and L.L. are
abused children. In relation to the record before us, R.C.
2151.031(C) and (D) defines an 'abused child' as
"any child who:
(A) * * *
(B) * * *
(C) Exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or
death, inflicted other than by accidental means, or an injury
or death which is at variance with the history given of it.
Except as provided in division (D) of this section, a child
exhibiting evidence of corporal punishment or other physical
disciplinary measure by a parent, guardian, custodian, person
having custody or control, or person in loco parentis of a
child is not an ...