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M.F. v. Perry County Children Services

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Perry

December 30, 2019

M.F. A MINOR, BY KARISMA Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
PERRY COUNTY CHILDREN SERVICES, ET AL. Defendants-Appellees

          Appeal from the Perry County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 17CV263

         JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED

          FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: HARVEY ABENS IOSUE CO., L.P.A. DAVID L. HARVEY IIII MATTHEW B. ABENS JASON T. HARTZELL

          FOR DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES: ISAAC WILES BURKHOLDER, ET AL. MATTHEW S. TEETOR J. STEPHEN TEETOR

          Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          Delaney, P.J.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-appellant M.F. appeals from the March 15, 2019 Entry on Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Children Services and Employees of the Perry County Court of Common Pleas. Defendants-appellees are Perry County Children Services and present or former employees Amy L. Frame, Wendy Wion, and Rick Glass.

         {¶2} This is a consolidated appeal of 5th Dist. Perry No. 19-CA-0003 and 5th Dist. Perry No. 19-CA-0004.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶3} The following facts are adduced from the parties' Civ.R. 56 evidence. A thorough discussion of the facts may also be found at M.F. v. Perry Cty. Children & Family Services, S.D.Ohio No. 2:15-CV-2731, 2017 WL 6508573, affirmed, 725 Fed.Appx. 400 (6th Cir.2018).

         {¶4} K.F. is the Mother of two minor children, M.F. ["Son"] and H.F. ["Daughter"]. Perry County Children Services [the "Agency"] removed the children from Mother's care in August 2013.

         {¶5} The children were ultimately placed in the kinship care of Tim and Wendy Snider. Mother approved placement with the Sniders, as did the Perry County Probate Court, upon completion of a home study and background checks. The children knew the Sniders before the placement and had a bonded relationship with them. The Sniders agreed to take the children to all scheduled visitations and appointments. The placement allowed the children to stay together, in the same school district, and in the same town as Mother.

         {¶6} During the placement, the Sniders lived in a mobile home with their grandson, John M. Bush. Bush shared a bedroom with Son, with each sleeping in a separate bunk bed. The evidence demonstrated Bush showered with Son several times at a communal campground.

         {¶7} Appellee Wendy Wion was the family's caseworker at the Agency from January 2014 until September 2014. Wion completed home visits and reported the children to be happy and safe in the kinship placement. Wion's reports were generally positive, although not uniformly; Wion reported the Sniders requested counseling for Son due to anger problems, that Daughter sustained a dog bite, and that Daughter was observed masturbating under a blanket in the living room of the residence. The latter incident did not raise any "red flags" for Wion.

         {¶8} The Sniders testified at deposition that they thought Wion knew Bush lived with them. Wion testified, however, that she was told each of the children had their bed in their own bedroom and documented this belief in her notes. Wion testified that she observed Bush at the home only once and was told he was "visiting."

         {¶9} Mechelle Siemer, a family friend, provided respite care for the children. In Spring 2014, Daughter complained about a rash in her pelvic area. Siemer also noticed negative changes in Son's behavior. In spring or summer 2014, Siemer contacted the Agency to ask about counseling for Son. At some point, Siemer approached the probate judge at a community function and told her that children in Siemer's respite care were being sexually abused. Siemer believed the judge left a voice mail message for Wion asking her to call back.

         {¶10} Approximately one week later, Siemer contacted the Agency to speak to Wion, but was turned away by a receptionist. Siemer also testified that she told the Agency the children found a Playboy magazine at the Sniders' home or camper and looked at it.

         {¶11} Wendy Snider testified that around the time the children found the magazine, Son told her Bush "tried to stick…his [Bush's] thing…in his [Son's] butt." Snider did not believe Bush would hurt the children. Son recanted the story soon thereafter and Snider did not report the allegation.

         {¶12} On September 10, 2014, Siemer called Wion and asked to meet with her regarding the children. Wion suggested she could meet Siemer at a home visit at the Sniders' the next day. Siemer did not show.

         {¶13} On September 17, 2014, the children disclosed to Siemer that Bush had sexually abused them. Siemer immediately called police, and called Wion and the probate judge the next day.

         {¶14} The same day, the Agency interviewed the children at school, removed them from kinship placement with the Sniders, and placed them in foster care.

         {¶15} The children were eventually ...


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