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In re A.B.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Clermont

September 3, 2019

IN RE: A.B.

          APPEAL FROM CLERMONT COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No. 2017JC04983

          D. Vincent Faris, Clermont County Prosecuting Attorney, Nicholas Horton, for appellee

          Kenneth M. Miller, 717 West Plane Street, for appellee father

          Dever Law Firm, Scott A. Hoberg, for appellant

          CASA for Clermont Kids, Nathan Bell, guardian ad litem

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Kylee Bowling ("Mother"), appeals the decision of the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, denying her motion for additional parenting time. For the reasons outlined below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Mother and Colton Brandenburg ("Father") are the parents of A.B., a girl born in July 2016. Initially, Mother was the sole caretaker and provider for A.B. and her twin sister. However, when the children reached six months old, Father began visiting with them and ultimately "served [Mother] with DNA test papers" to establish his paternity of the children. Thereafter, Father began exercising regular parenting time with A.B. and her sister.

         {¶ 3} In the early morning hours of March 24, 2017, Mother discovered blood in A.B.'s diaper. According to Mother, she had dropped the children off at her boyfriend's parent's home on her way to work on March 23, 2017. Aside from five hours in which the children were with Father, the children stayed at Mother's boyfriend's parent's home until Mother picked them up around midnight. Upon discovering the blood in the baby's diaper, Mother took A.B. to the hospital. After A.B. was examined, it was determined that she had suffered a tear to her hymen, which the hospital suspected was a result of sexual abuse. Because the hospital suspected A.B. had been abused, it notified Clermont County Children's Protective Services ("CPS") and the Clermont County Sherriff's office. The hospital then completed a rape kit on A.B., which revealed the presence of a single sperm cell in A.B.'s mouth.

         {¶ 4} In June 2017 Father filed a motion to establish parental rights and responsibilities and a motion for temporary emergency custody. Two days later, CPS filed a complaint based upon the sexual abuse allegations. The complaint alleged that A.B. was abused, and further indicated that because no perpetrator had been identified and A.B. was with both parents on the date the injury occurred, CPS was concerned for A.B.'s safety. Accordingly, CPS requested the court to inquire into the alleged abuse and to either grant temporary custody of A.B. to CPS or to grant temporary custody to Mother with protective supervision.

         {¶ 5} Thereafter, Father withdrew his motion for temporary emergency custody and A.B. was adjudicated abused. As a result, CPS received temporary custody of A.B. and she was placed in the care of Mother's great aunt and uncle. A case plan was then established, which described the concerns Mother and Father needed to address in order to reunify with A.B.

         {¶ 6} In October 2017 a hearing was held before a magistrate regarding Father's June 2017 motion to establish parental rights and responsibilities. At the hearing, the investigator assigned to A.B.'s case testified that his investigation into the sexual assault of A.B. remained open but was in inactive status. The investigator described his investigation into the incident, and indicated he was able to exclude Father as a suspect, but still had "a lot of concerns" with excluding Mother. According to the investigator, he had interviewed Mother extensively, and determined she was the only individual alone with A.B. on the night of the incident. He further testified that while he found Father credible, he had concerns with Mother's credibility.

         {¶ 7} A.B.'s guardian ad litem also testified at trial and recommended that A.B. be placed with Father. According to the guardian ad litem, she had no apprehensions regarding Father, but was concerned with Mother's history of mental illness, the investigator's inability to exclude Mother as a suspect in the criminal case, and certain evidence that Mother favored A.B.'s sister over A.B.

         {¶ 8} The caseworker assigned to A.B.'s case also testified at trial, and recommended granting custody of A.B to Father. Specifically, the caseworker noted that her recommendation was based, in ...


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