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In re K.R.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

June 4, 2019

In re: [K.R.] [A.G. Mother, Appellant]. In re: [Z.R.] [A.G. Mother, Appellant]. In re: [K.R.] [A.R. Father, Appellant]. In re: [Z.R.] [A.R. Father, Appellant].

          APPEALS from the Franklin County C.P.C. Nos. 14JU-7276, 17JU-743, 14JU-7276, 17JU-743 Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch

         On brief:

          Robert J. McClaren, for appellee Franklin County Children Services.

          James Sweeney Law, LLC, and James S. Sweeney, for appellant A.G.

          Yeura R. Venters, Public Defender, and George M. Schumann, for appellant A.R.

          DECISION

          DORRIAN, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellants, A.G. ("mother") and A.R. ("father") (collectively "parents"), parents of K.R. and Z.R. (collectively "the children"), appeal from the July 23, 2018 judgment entries of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch, which terminated their parental rights and granted permanent custody of the children to appellee, Franklin County Children Services ("FCCS"). For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         {¶ 2} On June 3, 2014, FCCS filed a complaint asserting K.R. was an abused, neglected, and dependent child. Specifically, the complaint asserted four causes of action: abused child pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(C), abused child pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(D), neglected child pursuant to R.C. 2151.03(A)(2), and dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C). On June 4, 2014, a magistrate appointed by the trial court filed an order granting temporary custody of K.R. to FCCS and ordering parents to comply with visitation requirements.

         {¶ 3} On August 20, 2014, a case plan for K.R. was filed. In the case plan, mother was required, in part, to obtain a legal means of employment and stable housing, ensure K.R. attended all medical appointments, receive all medical training specified by the medical treatment team, and participate in parenting classes. Father was required, in part, to obtain a legal means of employment and stable housing, ensure K.R. attended all medical appointments, receive all medical training specified by the medical treatment team, complete parenting classes and a CPR course, and complete an updated sexual offender assessment.

         {¶ 4} On August, 22, 2014, the magistrate filed a decision, which was adopted by the trial court, finding K.R. to be an abused minor pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(C), a neglected minor pursuant to R.C. 2151.03(A)(2), and a dependent minor pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C), and dismissing the second abuse cause of action pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(D). The court ordered father to have no unsupervised contact with K.R. and prohibited mother from being the supervisor of contact between father and K.R. The court terminated the order of temporary custody to FCCS, approved and adopted the case plan, made K.R. a ward of the court, and placed him under protective supervision of FCCS.

         {¶ 5} On November 21, 2014, FCCS filed a motion for termination of court ordered protective supervision of K.R. In the motion, FCCS stated that mother had substantially complied with case plan services and there was no longer a protective need.

         {¶ 6} On December 8, 2014, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Franklin County ("CASA"), the guardian ad litem of K.R., filed a motion for alternative disposition and for a shelter care hearing. In the motion, CASA asserted it had received a report from staff of Nationwide Children's Hospital that K.R. exhibited suspicious bruising in a November 2014 visit to the hospital. CASA also alleged that mother had not been forthcoming with FCCS or CASA regarding father's contact with K.R. On December 9, 2014, the magistrate filed an order granting temporary custody of K.R. to FCCS. On December 11, 2014, the magistrate filed a decision, which was adopted by the trial court, denying the November 21, 2014 motion for termination of court ordered protective supervision, granting the December 8, 2014 motion for shelter care, and ordering FCCS receive temporary custody of K.R.

         {¶ 7} On January 12, 2015, the magistrate filed a decision, which was adopted by the trial court, granting temporary custody of K.R. to FCCS and approving and adopting the case plan for K.R. that was attached to the decision. Under the case plan, in addition to all prior directives, father was required to seek out an evaluation and comply with recommendations of domestic violence counseling.

         {¶ 8} On June 24, 2015, FCCS filed a motion requesting father be allowed to attend K.R.'s medical appointments and to attend visits in the home or community subject to supervision by a parent mentor or FCCS staff. On July 1, 2015, the magistrate filed an order, which was adopted by the trial court on July 7, 2015, granting the motion to allow father to attend K.R.'s medical appointments and to have visitation rights subject to supervision.

         {¶ 9} On July 8, 2015, mother filed a motion for permanent custody of K.R. On September 9, 2015, the magistrate filed, and the trial court adopted, a decision dismissing mother's July 8, 2015 motion for permanent custody and ordering FCCS maintain temporary custody of K.R. On September 28, 2015, an amended case plan for K.R. was filed.

         {¶ 10} On February 2, 2016, D.M., who alleged she was K.R.'s grandmother, filed a motion for legal custody of K.R. On April 27, 2016, over 16 months after receiving temporary custody of K.R., FCCS filed a motion for permanent custody of K.R.

         {¶ 11} On January 19, 2017, FCCS filed a complaint in the trial court asserting Z.R. was an abused, neglected, and dependent child.[1] Specifically, the complaint asserted four causes of action: abused child pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(C), abused child pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(D), neglected child pursuant to R.C. 2151.03(A)(2), and dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C). On January 20, 2017, the magistrate filed an order granting temporary custody of Z.R. to FCCS. On March 20, 2017, the trial court filed a judgment entry amending the complaint, dismissing the cause of action of abuse pursuant to R.C. 2151.031(D), and the cause of action of neglect pursuant to R.C. 2151.03(A)(2), and finding Z.R. to be an abused and dependent child.

         {¶ 12} On April 14, 2017, a case plan for Z.R. was filed. On April 17, 2017, the magistrate filed a decision, which was adopted by the trial court, granting FCCS temporary custody of Z.R., and approving and adopting the April 14, 2017 case plan for Z.R.

         {¶ 13} On July 13, 2017, FCCS filed a motion for permanent custody of Z.R. On August 16, 2017, the trial court filed a decision and entry dismissing the February 2, 2016 motion for legal custody of K.R. due to D.M.'s failure to prosecute.

         {¶ 14} On October 20, 2017, CASA filed its reports as the guardian ad litem, recommending the court grant FCCS's motions for permanent custody of the children. On March 23, 2018, FCCS filed a second motion for permanent custody of Z.R. On June 4, 2018, the trial court commenced a hearing on the motions for permanent custody.

         {¶ 15} At the hearing on June 4, 2018, mother testified that at the time of trial K.R. was four years old and Z.R. was one year and eight months old. Mother stated that A.R. signed an affidavit stating he was the biological father of K.R. Although he did not legally establish paternity for Z.R., mother stated A.R. was the biological father.

         {¶ 16} In November 2013, when K.R. was born, parents were living together on Wisconsin Avenue in Columbus. Eight days after his birth, mother called an ambulance to take K.R. from their house to Nationwide Children's Hospital because he was lethargic. Mother stated K.R. woke up as soon as they arrived at the hospital when a nurse touched him with her cold hands. After a couple hours, K.R. was released from the hospital and mother took him home.

         {¶ 17} On the same day, approximately half an hour to an hour after being released from the hospital, mother again called for an ambulance because K.R. was not breathing and was limp in her arms. Mother attempted to perform CPR on K.R. and observed blood coming from his nose. K.R. was again taken by ambulance to Nationwide Children's Hospital where he stayed for slightly under one month.

         {¶ 18} K.R. was diagnosed with nonaccidental trauma, resulting in medical issues from which he continued to suffer at the time of the hearing. Mother stated K.R. had broken ribs, blood on the brain, a fractured arm, and seizures. At the time of the hearing, K.R. had cerebral palsy, developmental delays, an Individualized Education Program ("IEP"), and difficulty walking. Mother stated K.R. had a number of medical appointments, though fewer at the time of the hearing than previously.

         {¶ 19} Mother agreed that someone injured K.R., but denied knowing who did it. However, mother testified that K.R. was alone with father when he was injured. Mother stated she did not want to believe that father had caused the injuries at the time, but knew at the time of the hearing that "he was the only one that it could have been." (June 4, 2018 Tr. at 57.)

         {¶ 20} FCCS received custody of K.R. in December 2013 while he was in the hospital. In August 2014, K.R. returned to mother's sole custody under a protective supervision order.

         {¶ 21} Several months after K.R. returned to mother's custody, mother took K.R. to Nationwide Children's Hospital because he had a rash, which mother believed was the result of bed bugs. K.R. was diagnosed with petechiae resulting from suffocation, but mother disagreed with the diagnosis. Mother stated that K.R. had what she believed was a rash on his face, ears, chest, and back. Mother also stated K.R. had a bruise on his head from falling into a coffee table while learning to walk.

         {¶ 22} Mother denied that anyone caused K.R.'s injuries, claiming they were caused by bed bugs. Mother stated she was living separately from father and was not in a relationship with him at the time of K.R.'s second injuries. In December 2014, FCCS again received temporary custody of K.R., which it retained at the time of the hearing.

         {¶ 23} In September 2016, Z.R. was born. Mother entered into a voluntary case plan with FCCS, allowing her FCCS caseworker, Roni Bair, and a nurse to visit her at home to ensure Z.R.'s needs were being met. Mother stated she only left Z.R. alone with his maternal grandmother. However, after Z.R. was born, she lived with father, her sister, her sister's partner, and her sister's son.

         {¶ 24} When Z.R. was approximately six weeks old, mother took Z.R. to the Ohio State University Hospital because he was throwing up. Mother stated Z.R. was released from the hospital with instructions to take him to Nationwide Children's Hospital if he continued throwing up. Three days later, on October 22, 2016, mother called an ambulance to take Z.R. to Nationwide Children's Hospital because he was having difficulty breathing.

         {¶ 25} Z.R. was diagnosed with brain bleeding, rib fractures on both sides, and nonaccidental trauma. As a result of his injuries, Z.R. was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Mother agreed that someone hurt Z.R. Although mother stated only she and maternal grandmother were alone with Z.R., father was still in the house with Z.R. Mother stated that father "would be in other rooms with [Z.R.] or when I was sleep[ing], [father] would get up in the middle of the night [with Z.R.] if he needed a diaper changed or anything." (June 4, 2018 Tr. at 69.) Mother ended her relationship with father as a result of her belief that father caused the children's injuries. Mother stated she had no contact with father for almost two years.

         {¶ 26} In October 2015, FCCS received temporary custody of Z.R., which it retained at the time of the hearing. The children were later found to be abused.

         {¶ 27} In 2017, mother received medication from ViaQuest for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD") and depression. Mother began seeking treatment for mental health issues at North Central beginning May 24, 2018, less than two weeks before the hearing.

         {¶ 28} Mother agreed she was required as part of her court ordered case plan to attend the children's medical appointments and to understand what the children's special and medical needs were and to verbalize them. Mother stated she had not been to the children's medical appointments prior to January 2018 because she had depression. She overcame her depression on her own without medication or counseling. Mother asserted she had been more consistent in attending the children's medical appointments since January 2018. Mother claimed she had only missed 10 of the children's 52 medical appointments since January 2018, in addition to being late to three appointments.

         {¶ 29} Mother disagreed that it would be difficult to take her children to medical appointments, stating "I mean if I drove myself there, well how hard would it be to put the kids in the car and drive in there?" (June 4, 2018 Tr. at 87.) Mother admitted she does not have a driver's license, but continues to drive her car. She stated she would not drive without a license with the children in the car.

         {¶ 30} The case plan required mother to have housing and income sufficient for the children. She had been evicted four times from housing in her own name and one time from a property that was in her grandmother's name. Approximately one week before the hearing, she stopped living with her mother and signed a 24-month lease on a residence. Mother admitted that her new residence needed some work to be completed in order for it to be safe, such as installing a railing on the stairs, putting screens on windows, and putting carpeting over the tacks in the floor. However, she stated the work was being done that day to remedy the issues.

         {¶ 31} Mother denied she ever had issues retaining housing because she struggled with maintaining a steady income. Mother claimed she was employed at Columbia Home Health Aide since the end of February 2018, making almost $1, 000 every two weeks.

         {¶ 32} Prior to January 2018, mother had not been visiting the children consistently. In September 2017, her visits with the children were reduced from twice to once a week due to the fact that she was missing so many visitation appointments. Since January 2018, mother had been visiting the children ...


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