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In re M.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum

July 29, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF: M.S. and L.S., DEPENDENT CHILDREN

          Appeal from the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case Nos. 21630183 & 21730050

          For Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX Prosecuting Attorney Muskingum County, Ohio By: GERALD V. ANDERSON II Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

          For Defendant-Appellant R.S. MICHAEL J. CONNICK Michael J. Connick Co., LPA.

          JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.

          OPINION

          BALDWIN, J.

         {¶1} Appellant R.S. appeals from the February 27, 2019 Entry of the Muskingum County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, terminating her parental rights and granting permanent custody of M.S. and L.S. to Muskingum County Children Services (MCCS).

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶2} Appellant R.S. is the biological mother of M.S. (DOB 11/18/2011) and L.S. (DOB 4/6/2017). On December 1, 2016, MCCS filed a complaint alleging that M.S. was a dependent child. On the same date, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) was appointed. Following a shelter care hearing on December 2, 2016, M.S. was placed in the temporary custody of the Agency.

         {¶3} On March 24, 2017, prior to L.S.'s birth, appellant was arrested for causing a disturbance at a local gas station. She was jailed for disorderly conduct and tested positive for methamphetamines.

         {¶4} On February 27, 2017, the trial court held hearings for adjudication and disposition. M.S. was found to be a dependent child and the trial court ordered that she continue in the temporary custody of MCCS. The trial court further ordered that visitation between M.S. and her mother would be at the discretion of the Agency.

         {¶5} On April 7, 2017, MCCS filed a complaint alleging that L.S. was a dependent and neglected child. As memorialized in an ex parte order filed on April 7, 2017, L.S. was placed in the temporary custody of MCCS. On June 26, 2017, L.S. was found to be a dependent child and the trial court ordered that she remain in the temporary custody of the Agency. The State dismissed its allegation of neglect.

         {¶6} On July 6, 2018, MCCS filed a Motion for Permanent Custody of the two children. A hearing on the motion was held on November 20, 2018.

         {¶7} At the hearing, Gary Wolfgang, Ph.D. testified that he was a psychologist and clinical counselor and that he did a psychological evaluation on R.S. The following testimony was adduced when he was asked what conclusions he drew from her ability to parent:

         {¶8} A. Well, I found that there were significant limitations based on her mental health issues and presentation in the interview. She has - - she had a long-standing history of methamphetamine abuse that had been five years in duration. She was reportedly clean from that drug at the time we met, but she would seem to meet the criteria for bipolar disorder, personality disorder, potentially ADHD, and she had multiple symptoms over the course of our interview time. She had a very great deal of difficulty with the process.

         {¶9} Q: But you were able to complete the evaluation; correct?

         {¶10} A: Yes.

         {¶11} Q: And what - - did you draw any other conclusions concerning her?

         {¶12} A: Well, you know, those diagnoses that I've already stated. She reported at the time she was out of work except for a workshop that she was working as part of the mental health center. She didn't have a place to live. She was homeless at least at that time.

         She had very little in the way of a support system. She talked about an individual who was her support system who she admitted had either raped her or had exploited her sexually.

         She was refusing psychotropic medications that had previously been prescribed by two different providers and found to have been necessary for her care, and there were a wide range of significant concerns found.

         {¶13} Transcript at 7-8. Dr. Wolgang opined that appellant needed the medications and also needed a job and a home and needed to be clean from her substances. As of the second of their three appointments, appellant had not yet enrolled in a rehabilitation program. Based on the "severity of her really lifelong history of mental health and behavioral difficulties", Dr. Wolfgang believed that even with treatment, appellant's prognosis was "guarded to poor." Transcript at 9. His report was admitted as an exhibit. When asked, it stated that this evaluation was done with psychological certainty.

         {¶14} On cross-examination, Dr. Wolfgang testified that a crisis center through Allwell could provide appellant with some of the services that he thought were necessary. The last time that Dr. Wolfgang saw appellant was on May 17, 2017.

         {¶15} The next witness to testify was Kelly Lee, a counselor at Muskingum Behavioral Health (MBH). She testified that she had seen or worked with R.S. and that due to R.S.'s mental state, they put her in outpatient treatment. According to Lee, appellant attended 10 sessions and missed 13 and was still in the program. Appellant's last attendance was on November 1, 2018 and appellant had started in February. Lee testified that appellant was usually supposed to be attending weekly sessions but that sometimes "it goes a little bit longer, but that appellant had not been there weekly and had missed 13 individual and 5 group sessions. Lee testified that she was counseling appellant for addiction and that appellant had a "severe ...


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