Docstoc
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR DOCSTOC USERS
Try the all-new QuickBooks Online for FREE.  No credit card required.

Filed 92910 In re Sarah L. CA41

Document Sample
Filed 92910 In re Sarah L. CA41 Powered By Docstoc
					Filed 9/ 29/ 10 In re Sarah L. CA4/1
                      NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for
publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication
or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.


                    COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

                                                  DIVISION ONE

                                           STATE OF CALIFORNIA



In re SARAH L. et al., Persons Coming
Under the Juvenile Court Law.
                                                                 D057019
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY,
                                                                 (Super. Ct. No. J517610A-D)
         Plaintiff and Respondent,

         v.

NICHOLAS L.,

         Defendant and Appellant.


         APPEAL from judgments of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Carol

Isackson, Judge. Affirmed.



         Nicholas L. appeals judgments declaring his minor children Sarah L., Joshua L.,

Christa L. and Nick L. (collectively, the minors) dependents of the juvenile court and

removing them from his custody. Nicholas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
support the court's jurisdictional findings and dispositional orders. We affirm the

judgments.

                  FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

       In 2003 the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency)

received a referral that the minors had witnessed domestic violence between Nicholas and

the minors' mother, Christina K. 1 Christina sought help at a domestic violence shelter,

got treatment and separated from Nicholas. Christina and Nicholas informally shared

custody of the minors, but had many custody disputes. Nicholas eventually obtained

legal custody in family court.

       In 2005 Christina contacted law enforcement to report Nicholas hit Joshua with a

belt as punishment for crying. Nicholas admitted he spanked Joshua with a belt and

grabbed him by the collar. Nicholas promised not to use physical discipline in the future,

agreed to participate in therapy, and enrolled in parenting classes. After Christina

reported the incident, Nicholas prohibited her from visiting the minors. In 2007 Nicholas

moved with the minors to Florida, where they stayed for almost two years. During this

time the minors were unable to visit their mother.

       Nicholas continued to physically discipline Joshua by grabbing his neck,

slamming him to the floor, choking him and punching him in the ribs. Because Sarah felt




1      Christina has not appealed.

                                             2
powerless to stop Nicholas's harsh treatment of Joshua, she became depressed and

suicidal and started cutting herself.

       After Nicholas and the minors returned to San Diego, Christina located them and

resumed visits with the minors. Nicholas's violence toward Joshua continued. One night,

while Christina was visiting the minors in Nicholas's home, Nicholas forced her to have

sex with him. Nicholas left the bedroom door open, allowing Sarah to hear her mother

crying and saying "no." Sarah reacted by cutting her wrist with a razor.

       In September 2009 Christina contacted Agency after Nicholas hit Nick in the

mouth with the back of his hand. Nick's mouth was red and swollen, and he s aid it hurt.

Nick and Christina reported Nick's mouth was bleeding. The next day Sarah called the

police. The minors cried as they explained what had happened to Nick, and said they

wanted to live with Christina. The minors were afraid that Nicholas wo uld hit them for

reporting the incident.

       Agency social workers interviewed the family. Nick said Nicholas hit him with a

belt on several occasions, leaving marks. Christa and Sarah reported Nicholas hit Joshua,

grabbed him by the shirt and pushed him up against a wall. Nicholas admitted hitting

Nick, but claimed he only lightly tapped him to get his attention. Nicholas denied forcing

Christina to have sex with him while the minors were home. He also denied having a "no

crying" rule. The minors belie ved they would not be safe at home because Nicholas

would be upset with them for talking to the social workers.




                                            3
       Agency took the minors into protective custody and filed petitions in the juvenile

court under Welfare and Institutions Code 2 section 300, alleging Joshua and Nick had

suffered, and were at substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm as a result of

Nicholas's excessive discipline and physical abuse (§ 300, subd. (a)); Sarah was

suffering, or was at substantial risk of suffering, serious emotional damage and there was

no parent capable of providing appropriate care for her (§ 300, subd. (c)); and the minors

were at substantial risk of harm as a result of the abuse of their siblings (§ 300, subd.

(j).)3 The court detained the minors in foster care and ordered supervised visits for

Nicholas.

       The case was reassigned to social worker Mark Hood, who interviewed the family

before the jurisdiction hearing. Nicholas denied physically abusing Joshua, stating he

only threatened his children to get their attention. Sarah said she stopped cutting herself.

Joshua denied recent physical abuse. Christa could not remember any physical abuse of

her brothers other than one incident involving Joshua. Christa and Joshua said they were

not afraid of Nicholas. Nick said visits with Nicholas went well. Based on this

information, Hood recommended the court dismiss the petitions and return the minors to

Nicholas's custody. However, counsel for the minors objected to this recommendation,

and the court set the matter for a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing.



2      Statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.

3      Agency's petitions originally contained allegations under section 300, subdivision
(b), which the court later dismissed.

                                              4
       In the meantime, Nicholas completed a parenting class and participated in

individual therapy. Christa and Joshua attended supervised visits with Nicholas, but then

refused to have contact with him. Conjoint therapy sessions between Nicholas and

Joshua were cancelled after Joshua consistently became ill during the scheduled

appointment time.

       Shortly before trial, Hood reassessed the case, noting the minors wanted to live

with Christina, and the three older children refused to have contact with Nicholas. Hood

now recommended the court sustain the allegations of the petitions, remove the minors

from Nicholas's custody and order reunification services.

       At a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing in February and March 2010,

10-year-old Christa testified Nicholas had strict rules, including not allowing her to be in

the kitchen or have access to the refrigerator. If any of the children broke a rule,

Nicholas would get upset, yell, and hit Joshua or Nick. Christa saw Nicholas hit, grab

and choke Joshua on three occasions. When Nicholas occasionally spanked Christa, it

burned. Christa did not want to live with Nicholas or have unsupervised visits because

she was afraid of him. She did not want to have supervised visits with him because he

made negative comments about her siblings.

       Christa's therapist, Shameka Curtis, testified she was addressing Christa's mild

anxiety regarding Nicholas. Christa disclosed she was afraid for her safety, feared

Nicholas would treat her like he treated Sarah, and was worried that Nicholas would hit

Nick if he were returned home.



                                              5
         Sixteen-year-old Sarah testified she felt constant stress when she lived with

Nicholas. He frequently insulted her, made demeaning comments, and threatened to play

cruel mind games with her. Nicholas imposed many restrictions on the minors, such as

prohibiting them from playing at friends' homes or having friends come to their home.

Nicholas monitored the minors' telephone calls and did not allow them to whisper to each

other.

         Sarah said Nicholas hit or punched Nick in the chest, back and legs whenever

Nick wet the bed. Although Nicholas never hit her, Sarah was sure he would do so if he

got really upset. Sarah cried when Nicholas hit Joshua or Nick. When she complained to

Nicholas about his treatment of the boys, he would forbid her to talk to anyone for three

days. Because Sarah felt powerless when Nicholas hit the boys, she started pinching and

cutting herself as a way to avoid crying.

         Sarah refused to have contact with Nicholas because she worried he would try to

manipulate and control her. She feared Nicholas's behavior would escalate if she and her

siblings were returned home.

         Thirteen-year-old Joshua testified about the physical abuse Nicholas inflicted on

him for many years, including lifting him by the collar or neck, slamming his head to the

floor, choking him, slapping him in the face and punching him in the chest, shoulder and

arm. When Sarah called the police after Nicholas hit Nick in the mouth, Joshua was

afraid Nicholas would get upset and become physically violent. Joshua worried that

Nicholas would blame him for the court's involvement. Joshua was afraid to live with



                                               6
Nicholas, and refused to go to an unsupervised visit with him because he did not feel

safe.

        Donald Jaszewski, Joshua and Nick's therapist, testified that Nick had not

disclosed much about physical abuse in the home, other than to say Nicholas was

sometimes mean. Jaszewski was treating Joshua for anxiety and depression. Joshua felt

intimidated by Nicholas, who physically abused him and called him names. Joshua felt

unsafe because of the violence. Visits with Nicholas made Joshua feel anxious. Two

conjoint therapy sessions between Joshua and Nicholas did not go well.

        Social worker Hood testified he initially recommended the court dismiss the

dependency petitions so Agency could offer Nicholas voluntary services. Hood recently

learned the details of the physical abuse that occurred. The older children refused to visit

Nicholas. Sarah wanted to remain out of Nicholas's care, and Josh, Christa and Nick

wanted to live with Christina. Hood changed his recommendation, and now believed the

court should assume jurisdiction and remove the minors from Nicholas's custody.

        Nicholas testified he did not have a rule that the minors could not cry or whisper to

each other. He denied calling the children names, but admitted he occasionally cursed at

Joshua. Nicholas admitted holding Joshua against a wall, and hitting, pushing and

shoving him as a form of discipline. He admitted those actions were not appropriate.

Nicholas denied physically disciplining Sarah or Christa. When he "popped" Nick in the

mouth, it did not cause any swelling or redness.

        After considering the evidence and argument of counsel, the court sustained the

allegations of the petitions, declared the minors dependents and removed them from

                                              7
Nicholas's custody. The court placed Sarah in foster care and placed the other mi nors

with Christina.

                                        DISCUSSION

                                                I

       Nicholas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the court's

jurisdictional findings that: (1) Joshua and Nick suffered or were at risk of suffering

serious physical harm as a result of Nicholas's use of corporal punishment (§ 300, subd.

(a)); (2) Sarah was seriously emotionally disturbed or at substantial risk of suffering

serious emotional harm (§ 300, subd. (c)); or (3) the minors were at substantial risk of

harm as a result of the abuse of their siblings (§ 300, subd. (j)).

                                               A

                                      Standard of Review

       In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, we consider the entire

record to determine whether substantial evidence supports the juvenile court's findings.

Evidence is "substantial" if it is " 'reasonable, credible, and of solid value.' " ( In re S.A.

(2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 1128, 1140, citation omitted.) We do not pass on the credibility

of witnesses, attempt to resolve conflicts in the evidence, or weigh the evidence. Instead,

we draw all reasonable inferences in support of the findings, view the record favorably to

the juvenile court's order and affirm the order even if other evidence supports a contrary

finding. (In re Casey D. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 38, 52-53; In re Baby Boy L. (1994) 24

Cal.App.4th 596, 610.) The appellant has the burden of showing there is no evidence of a



                                                8
sufficiently substantial nature to support the order. (In re L.Y.L. (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th

942, 947.)

                                               B

                   Substantial Evidence Supports the Court's Findings
                 Under Section 300, Subdivision (a) as to Joshua and Nick

       Section 300, subdivision (a) provides a jurisdictional basis for the court when:

"The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious

physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally upon the child by the child's parent . . . . For the

purposes of this subdivision, a court may find there is a substantial risk of serious future

injury based on the manner in which a less serious injury was inflicted, a history of

repeated inflictions of injuries on the child or the child's siblings, or a combination of

these and other actions by the parent . . . which indicate the child is at risk of serious

physical harm. . . ." The statute excludes from the category of serious physical harm

"reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of

serious physical injury." ( Ibid.)

       In enacting section 300, the Legislature intended to protect children who are

currently being abused or neglected, "and to ensure the safety, protection, and physical

and emotional well-being of children who are at risk of that harm." (§ 300.2, emphasis

added.) The court need not wait until a child is seriously abused or injured to assume

jurisdiction and take the steps necessary to protect the child. (In re Heather A. (1996) 52

Cal.App.4th 183, 194-196; In re Michael S. (1981) 127 Cal.App.3d 348, 357-358.) The




                                               9
focus of section 300 is on averting harm to the child. ( In re Jamie M. (1982) 134

Cal.App.3d 530, 536.)

       Here, the evidence showed Nicholas used excessive discipline on Joshua by

grabbing him by the neck, lifting him by the neck or shirt collar, scratching him,

slamming his head to the floor, choking him, slapping him in the face, and punching him

in the chest, ribs, shoulder and arm. The physical abuse caused Joshua to have scratches,

soreness and bruises. As to Nick, the evidence showed Nicholas hit him in the mouth,

causing redness, swelling and bleeding. Nicholas also hit Nick with a belt, leaving

marks. These repeated incidents and resulting harm were not within the range of legally

acceptable punishment, and thus, were sufficiently serious to support the court's exercise

of jurisdiction under section 300, subdivision (a). (See In re J.K. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th

1426, 1439.)

       Nicholas asserts the minors' accounts of physical abuse were inconsistent and

unreliable. He is essentially asking us to reweigh the evidence and substitute our

judgment for that of the juvenile court. This we cannot do. (In re Casey D., supra, 70

Cal.App.4th at p. 53.) The court expressly found the testimony of Joshua, Sarah and

Christa, all of whom described the abuse inflicted by Nicholas, was reliable. The court

also considered, but rejected, Nicholas's testimony that the physical discipline he used did

not result in serious injury to Joshua or Nick. In this regard, we defer to the trial court,

having no power to judge the effect, value or weight of the evidence, consider the

credibility of witnesses or resolve conflicts in the evidence. ( In re S.A., supra, 182

Cal.App.4th at p. 1140; In re Rubisela E. (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 177, 194.) "We review

                                              10
a cold record and, unlike a trial court, have no opportunity to observe the appearance and

demeanor of the witnesses." (In re Sheila B. (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 187, 199-200.)

       In any event, substantial evidence supports the court's jurisdictional findings that

Joshua and Nick were at substantial risk of serious physical harm inflicted

nonaccidentally by Nicholas. Although "the past infliction of physical harm by a

[parent], standing alone, does not establish a substantial risk of physical harm," evidence

of past conduct may be probative of current conditions if there is some reason to believe

these acts may continue in the future. ( In re Rocco M. (1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 814, 824.)

       The evidence here showed Nicholas physically dominated and intimidated Joshua

and Nick. He threatened to "knock [Joshua] out," and repeatedly used excessive physical

discipline for relatively minor transgressions, such as when Joshua failed to put away

boxing gloves, when Joshua got bad grades in school, or when Nick repeated the word

"Mom" to get his mother's attention. Consequently, Joshua and Nick were afraid to live

with Nicholas.

       Further, when Agency investigated allegations of physical abuse in 2005, Nicholas

promised to refrain from using physical discipline, agreed to participate in therapy, and

enrolled in parenting classes. However, the pattern of abuse continued and even

escalated, permitting a reasonable inference that Nicholas's violent acts may continue in

the future because he had not learned and applied appropriate disciplinary techniques and

effective communication skills. (See In re Petra B. (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 1163, 1169 [a

parent's past conduct is a good predictor of future behavior].) As the juvenile court

found, Nicholas minimized his use of physical discipline and lacked awareness of the

                                             11
impact his behavior had on the minors. From this, the court could reasonably find the

manner in which Nicholas used corporal punishment constituted excessive force and

placed Joshua and Nick at substantial risk of serious future injury. (§ 300, subd. (a).)

                                              C

                    Substantial Evidence Supports the Court's Finding
                     Under Section 300, Subdivision (c) as to Sarah

       Nicholas contends the evidence was insufficient to support the court's finding

under section 300, subdivision (c) that Sarah was seriously emotionally disturbed or was

at risk of serious emotional damage. He asserts that at the time of the jurisdiction

hearing, Sarah was a bright, independent and well-adjusted 16-year-old, who was not

experiencing any emotional problems other than mild depression and anxiety.

       Section 300, subdivision (c) provides a basis for juvenile court jurisdiction if

"[t]he child is suffering serious emotional damage, or is at substantial risk of suffering

serious emotional damage, evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or

untoward aggressive behavior toward self or others, as a result of the conduct of the

parent or guardian or who has no parent or guardian capable of providing appropriate

care. . . ." Under this provision, juvenile court intervention is appropriate when: (1)

Agency can show parental fault, which caused the emotional harm; or (2) the child is

suffering serious emotional damage through no fault of the parent, but the parent is

unable to provide appropriate care. (In re Shelley J. (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 322, 329, 330

[court properly assumed jurisdiction under § 300, subd. (c) where minor was suffering




                                             12
serious emotional damage due to deplorable conditions in the home and minor had no

parent capable of providing appropriate care].)

       In making its jurisdictional findings, the court must determine "whether

circumstances at the time of the hearing subject the minor to the defined risk of harm."

(In re Rocco M., supra, 1 Cal.App.4th at p. 824, italics omitted.) As we previously noted,

the court may consider past events when determining whether a child presently needs the

juvenile court's protection, as long as there is some reason to believe the acts may

continue in the future. (In re Diamond H. (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1127, 1135,

disapproved on another ground in Renee J. v. Superior Court (2001) 26 Cal.4th 735, 748,

fn. 6; In re Rocco M., supra, at p. 824.)

       The petition filed on behalf of Sarah alleged she had an emotional disorder or

disability requiring mental health treatment, and she had no parent capable of providing

appropriate care. The evidence showed Sarah was depressed and suicidal, and she began

pinching and cutting herself because she felt powerless to prevent Nicholas from

physically abusing Joshua. Sarah engaged in these behaviors as a way to express her

feelings because Nicholas discouraged her from crying. On one occasion, Sarah cut her

wrist with a razor as a way to cope when Nicholas forced Christina to have sex with him.

Sarah was under constant stress as a result of Nicholas's unreasonably rigid rules and his

frequent insults, demeaning comments and threats to play cruel mind games with her.

Nicholas was not a parent who was capable of providing Sarah with appropriate mental

health care.



                                             13
       At the time of the jurisdiction hearing Sarah was no longer cutting herself.

However, she had ongoing symptoms of depression, and recently told her psychiatrist she

felt "really horrible" and wondered if life was worth living. Sarah's most recent diagnosis

was major depressive disorder, and her psychiatrist recommended psychotropic

medication to manage symptoms, which included depression, anxiety, insomnia and

nightmares, binging on food and smoking marijuana. Contrary to Nicholas's

characterization of Sarah, this was not a well-adjusted teenager who simply wanted to

gain independence from her parents. (Cf. In re Brison C. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1373,

1377-1378, 1380 [insufficient evidence to support finding under § 300, subd. (c) where

minor was healthy, never engaged in self-destructive behavior and had no diagnosis of a

mental disorder].)

       Moreover, Nicholas had a poor track record of complying with services designed

to protect his children. Although Nicholas promised to forego using corporal punishment

on the minors, participated in therapy and attended a parenting class, he continued to

physically abuse Joshua and Nick. He has never acknowledged Sarah's serious emotional

problems, and he denied calling her names, belittling her or discouraging her from

expressing her emotions in a healthy way. Based on this evidence, the juvenile court

could reasonably find Nicholas would not follow through with mental health treatment

for Sarah. Substantial evidence supports the court's findings as to Sarah under section

300, subdivision (c).




                                            14
                                               D

                    Substantial Evidence Supports the Court's Findings
                            Under Section 300, Subdivision (j)

        Nicholas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence under section 300, subdivision

(j) to support the court's findings the minors were currently at substantial risk of harm as

a result of the abuse of their siblings. He asserts the minors were not siblings of an

abused child, and were not at risk of being abused.

        Section 300, subdivision (j) provides a basis for juvenile court jurisdiction where

"[t]he child's sibling has been abused or neglected, as defined in subdivision (a), (b), (d),

(e) or (i), and there is a substantial risk that the child will be abused or neglected, as

defined in those subdivisions." In determining the risk of abuse or neglect to the sibling,

the court looks to factors such as the circumstances and nature of the abuse or neglect, the

sibling's age and gender, the abusive parent's mental condition, and any other factors the

court considers probative as to whether there is a substantial risk to the sibling. (§ 300,

subd. (j); In re Maria R. (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 48, 64-65 [court has great latitude,

under any of the enumerated subdivisions, to exercise jurisdiction as to a child whose

sibling has been found to have been abused]; In re Joshua J. (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 984,

994.)

        As we previously concluded, substantial evidence supports the court's

jurisdictional findings that Joshua and Nick had been abused within the meaning of

section 300, subdivision (a). Thus, each of the minors qualifies as a sibling of an abused

child under section 300, subdivision (j). The evidence also supports a finding there is a

                                               15
substantial risk that each of the minors will be abused or neglected based on Nicholas's

physical abuse of Joshua and Nick. Although Nicholas had made progress in individual

therapy and claimed he would no longer use corporal punishment, he continued to

minimize his use of physical violence, both toward the minors and Christina, and he

lacked insight as to the impact his behavior had on the minors. Thus, substantial

evidence supports a finding Joshua and Nick remained at risk of further abuse under

section 300, subdivision (j).

       Sarah and Christa were also at risk of physical abuse by Nicholas. Although Sarah

reported Nicholas had not hit her, she described how he berated, controlled and

threatened her. She was confident that he would resort to physically abusing her if

sufficiently provoked. Consequently, Sarah lived in fear, became depressed, and engaged

in self-destructive behaviors to cope. The evidence showed Nicholas had spanked

Christa, using force that caused the spanking to "burn." Christa's fear of being hit by

Nicholas was also grounded in having seen him hit her brothers when he became angry.

Based on the circumstances and nature of Nicholas's use of physical punishment, and his

failure to fully accept responsibility for it, a reasonable inference could be drawn that

without court intervention, Nicholas's mistreatment of Sarah and Christa would escalate

to physical abuse. Substantial evidence supports the court's findings as to Sarah and

Christa under section 300, subdivision (j).

                                              II

       Nicholas challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the court's

dispositional orders removing the minors from his custody. He asserts there was no clear

                                              16
and convincing evidence of substantial danger to the minors' safety, given his expressed

remorse and participation in voluntary services.

                                             A

                                     Standard of Review

       Before the court may order a child physically removed from his or her parent, it

must find, by clear and convincing evidence, the child would be at substantial risk of

harm if returned home, and there are no reasonable means by which the child can be

protected without removal. (§ 361, subd. (c)(1); In re Kristin H. (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th

1635, 1654.) The court can also remove from parental custody a child who is suffering

severe emotional damage, and there are no reasonable means by which the child's

emotional health may be protected without removal. (§ 361, subd. (c)(3).) The

jurisdictional findings constitute prima facie evidence the child cannot safely remain in

the home. (§ 361, subd. (c)(1).)

       The juvenile court has broad discretion in making dispositional orders to protect a

child's best interests. (In re Nada R. (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 1166, 1179.) The parent

need not be dangerous, and the child need not have been actually harmed before removal

is appropriate. The focus of the statute is on averting harm to the child. (In re Diamond

H., supra, 82 Cal.App.4th at p. 1136; In re Jamie M., supra, 134 Cal.App.3d at p. 536.)

We review the court's dispositional findings for substantial evidence. ( In re Kristin H.,

supra, 46 Cal.App.4th at p. 1654.)




                                             17
                                              B

             Substantial Evidence Supports the Court's Dispositional Orders

       At disposition, the court ordered the minors removed from Nicholas's custody,

placed Joshua, Nick and Christa with Christina, and placed Sarah in foster care. The

court's removal orders were based on findings that Joshua and Nick had suffered, and

were at substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm as a result of Nicholas's

excessive discipline and physical abuse; Sarah was suffering, or was at substantial risk of

suffering, serious emotional damage and there was no parent capable of providing

appropriate care for her; and the minors were at substantial risk of harm as a result of the

abuse of their siblings. (§ 300, subds. (a), (c) & (j).) As we already concluded,

substantial evidence supports these findings.

       The evidence also showed the minors would be at substantial risk of harm if

returned home because Nicholas had not yet shown, despite his claims to the contrary,

that he would use proper disciplinary techniques. Nicholas maintained he never choked

Joshua to punish him for using a cell phone, and he denied punching Joshua. He

characterized his use of corporal punishment as "strict discipline," as getting the boys'

attention, and as roughhousing. From this, the court could reasonably infer Nicholas did

not believe his actions were inappropriate, and thus, he would continue to physically

abuse the minors. (See In re S.A., supra, 182 Cal.App.4th at p. 1140.)

       As to Sarah, the evidence showed she had a diagnosis of major depressive

disorder, a history of cutting herself, and she had recently expressed suicidal ideation.


                                             18
Nicholas denied calling her names or otherwise emotionally abusing her, thus supporting

a finding he would not provide her appropriate mental health treatment were she returned

to his care.

       Further, Sarah refused to have any contact with Nicholas because she was afraid

he would continue to manipulate and control her. Christa and Joshua were also afraid of

Nicholas and did not want to be alone with him, even for a visit. (Cf. In re Jasmine G.

(2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 282, 286, 288-289 [minor did not fear her parents, who expressed

remorse for using excessive physical discipline on her, and she wanted to go home].)

The court considered evidence that Nicholas was making progress in therapy, as well as

Nicholas's testimony denying and minimizing the physical abuse, and found Nicholas

still lacked awareness of the impact of his behavior on the minors. Substantial evidence

supports the court's findings the minors would be at substantial risk of harm if returned

home, and there were no reasonable means by which the minors could be protected

without removing them from Nicholas's custody.




                                            19
                                  DISPOSITION

    The judgments are affirmed.



                                                NARES, J.

WE CONCUR:



          BENKE, Acting P. J.



                     IRION, J.




                                      20

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:7
posted:10/12/2010
language:English
pages:20