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In re Doe

August 9, 2010

IN THE MATTER OF: JANE DOE, JOHN DOE, JOHN DOE I, AND JANE DOE I, CHILDREN UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE.
IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & WELFARE, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
JANE DOE II AND JOHN DOE II, RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Carolyn M. Minder, Magistrate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melanson, Judge

2010 Opinion No. 55

Orders terminating parental rights, affirmed.

In these consolidated appeals, Jane Doe II and John Doe II appeal from the magistrate's orders terminating their parental rights to their children S.C., B.C., M.C., and E.C. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Between October 2001 and September 2009, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare received eighteen referrals regarding Jane and John Doe and the care of their children. Throughout this time period, the Department provided extensive in-home services and other resources to Jane and John in order to address concerns about the health and safety of their children. In January 2006, three of the children were declared to be in imminent danger due to possible sexual abuse by John and the unsanitary living conditions of the home.*fn1 At that time, the children were removed from the custody of their parents and placed in foster care. After an investigation, the children were reunified with their parents in May 2006. However, referrals persisted after the children were returned to their parents, and the Department responded by providing continued services, resources, and evaluations.

On September 3, 2009, the four children, ranging in age from eight years to three years, were once again declared to be in imminent danger due to the unsanitary conditions of their home. Upon arrival at the Doe home, a police officer noticed a strong odor of urine and other foul smells. Once inside, the officer discovered a screwdriver on the floor in one of the children's bedrooms near an exposed electrical outlet, knives on the floor of the residence, numerous toothbrushes scattered throughout the home, piles of unwashed clothes cluttering the floor, dirty dishes stacked throughout the kitchen, soiled diapers stuck to the bathroom tile, a pile of dirt in the kitchen, and urine and feces stains on the floor of the bathrooms and the children's bedrooms. The children's beds smelled strongly of urine and it appeared to the officer that the children had been urinating on the floors and walls of their bedrooms. Piles of garbage and plates of molding food were also found on the floor throughout the home, including in Jane and John's bedroom.

Jane and John were arrested, and the children were removed from the home and placed into the temporary custody of the Department. Prior to being placed in foster care, the children were interviewed and evaluated by Children At Risk Evaluation Services (CARES). During a medical examination, evaluators discovered that the children had physical injuries consistent with sexual abuse, including bruising, acute and chronic anal and genital changes, and genital cuts and burns. While in foster care, the children received medical care to treat their injuries and began attending individual therapy sessions with licensed therapists.

During an interview with police, Jane admitted that she would punish her children for wetting or soiling their beds by inserting toothbrushes and other objects into their genitals and/or anal areas. She also confessed that she would prick the children's genitals with sewing needles.

After further investigation, Jane was charged with five counts of injury to a child and five counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object.*fn2 Jane implicated John in the abuse of the children and accused him of separately molesting the children on multiple occasions but later recanted. In his interview with officers, John denied molesting his children or being aware of his wife's treatment of the children. However, based on the condition of the home, John was charged with four counts of injury to a child.*fn3

A case plan for John was approved by the magistrate which set forth reasonable efforts for reunification or, alternatively, the termination of parental rights. The plan required John to obtain psychological and psychosexual evaluations, follow all recommendations of the evaluations, obtain a risk assessment, comply with all sentencing requirements involving his criminal charges, maintain a home environment free of health and safety violations, and obtain Department authorization prior to allowing any individuals to reside in his home.*fn4

At a review hearing, the magistrate approved a permanency plan for the termination of parental rights. Subsequently, the state filed a petition seeking termination of Jane and John's parental rights. A trial was held on the state's petition, and the magistrate entered an order terminating Jane and John's parental rights. Jane and John appeal.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In an action to terminate parental rights, due process requires this Court to determine if the magistrate's decision was supported by substantial and competent evidence. State v. Doe, 143 Idaho 343, 345, 144 P.3d 597, 599 (2006). Substantial and competent evidence is such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Id. at 345-46, 144 P.3d at 599-600. This Court will indulge all reasonable inferences in support of the trial court's judgment when reviewing an order that parental rights be terminated. Doe v. Doe, 148 Idaho 243, 246-47, 220 ...


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