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
J. McClaren, for appellee Franklin County Children Services.
Sweeney Law, LLC, and James S. Sweeney, for appellant A.G.
R. Venters, Public Defender, and George M. Schumann, for
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
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
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
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
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. 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
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
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
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
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 ...