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In re J.M.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 14, 2018

IN RE: J.M., ET AL. Minor Children [Appeal by Mother]

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case Nos. AD 14911064 and AD 15902352

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Leslie E. Wargo Wargo Law, L.L.C.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES

          Attorneys for CCDCFS Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Michelle A. Myers Colleen R. Cassidy Ulrich Assistant County Prosecutors

          Attorney for Children Steven Miles

          Guardian Ad Litem for Children Thomas Kozel

          Guardian Ad Litem for Mother James R. Skelton

          Father of J.M. John Doe 9300 Quincy Avenue Juvenile Court

          Father of S.H. Orelle Hill

          BEFORE: Laster Mays, J., E.T. Gallagher, P.J., and Stewart, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          ANITA LASTER MAYS, JUDGE

         {¶1} The appellant, mother of two minor children, appeals the juvenile court's decision that it is in the best interest of her children, S.H. and J.M., to be placed in the permanent custody of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS"). The mother asks that this court reverse the juvenile court's decision and remand for further proceedings. As required by App.R. 11.1(D), this court has expedited the hearing and disposition of this appeal. We affirm.

         {¶2} This case involves two children, J.M. and S.H. J.M. was committed to the temporary custody of CCDCFS on December 19, 2014, and S.H. on May 29, 2015. On August 25, 2016, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody pursuant to R.C. 2151.413. On September 1, 2017, the mother filed a motion for legal custody of both children. The trial court held a hearing, and issued a judgment that granted CCDCFS's motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody, and denied the mother's motion for legal custody of both children.

         I. Facts

         {¶3} During the permanent custody trial, several witnesses testified as to the fitness of the mother. Jamie Saunt ("Saunt"), an early childhood therapist who provided therapy to S.H., testified first. According to Saunt, S.H. suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the sexual abuse she endured from her mother's boyfriend. S.H. also disclosed to Saunt, during play therapy, that she was exposed to her older sister engaging in sexual behavior with her boyfriend. S.H. also disclosed to Saunt that her brother, J.M., kissed her on her mouth and smacked her butt. In addition, S.H. told Saunt that, at her mother's house, S.H.'s brother took his private part and kissed her private part with it. When Saunt asked S.H. to explain further, S.H. told Saunt that her brother put his private part inside of her.

         {¶4} Next, Annette Gannon ("Gannon"), the case manager for J.M., testified that she visited J.M. at his foster parent's home. She stated that J.M. and his foster parent have bonded, and his needs are being met. J.M. is currently in therapy for his past sexualized behaviors. Gannon also testified that J.M.'s behaviors have improved since being placed in his foster home.

         {¶5} Kenneta Bey ("Bey"), an extended social worker for CCDCFS, who was assigned to J.M.'s and S.H.'s case testified that a total of six children were removed from the mother's care. Four children were placed with their respective fathers, and J.M. and S.H. were placed in foster care. The paternity of J.M. could not be established. Bey testified that the children were removed from the mother's home because the children were sexually abused in the mother's care. Bey testified to the court that the mother was placed on a case plan with objectives that she had to complete. The mother was ordered "to get mental health services, family therapy, to maintain housing and employment, and basic needs for the children and parenting." (Tr. 40.) Bey claimed that the mother resides in a one-bedroom apartment, which is not satisfactory for the amount of children who need to live with her. The mother also is inconsistent with her mental health services.

         {¶6} Bey also testified that for a short period of time, the mother was having overnight visitation with all six of her children, but it did not last long because of inappropriate incidents. One incident that occurred was when S.H. was in the bed with the mother and her male friend, and witnessed sexual behaviors. Other incidents consisted of the mother leaving the minor children unsupervised in her home many times.

         {¶7} There were reports that a man was living in the home with the mother, and it was reported that this same man sexually abused some of the children. The mother denied that the man was living there, despite her children's accounts, and claimed that his stuff was still there because she spent her money on it, and did not want to destroy his stuff or get rid of it. Bey conducted another ...


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