Sunday, 7 November 2010

SBS: Cusody appeal

This is a juvenile dependency case involving Lucy C. (Lucy) and Destiny C. (Destiny). Lucy was born in July 2004 and is the daughter of appellant Stefanie M. (mother) and Steven C., who is not a party to this appeal. Destiny was born in November 2007 and is the daughter of mother and appellant Edgar C. (father). The juvenile court has appointed guardians for Lucy and terminated its jurisdiction over her. The court also terminated the parental rights of mother and father to Destiny and approved a permanent plan of adoption.
Mother appeals the juvenile court's order denying her petition for a modification order pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 and terminating her parental rights.1 Father appeals the court's order terminating father's parental rights. We affirm.
1. Father's Abuse of Lucy
The events that led to this action began on July 6, 2007. On that day Lucy was sent to a bedroom by mother and her boyfriend father for a "time out" as a form of discipline for misbehavior. Mother, father, and Lucy were living together, and mother was pregnant with Destiny. When father went into the bedroom he found that Lucy, who has cerebral palsy, was not sitting still. Father confronted Lucy. Lucy responded by crying and kicking him. Father reacted by violently shaking her. This caused Lucy to have a seizure.
Mother called 911 and Lucy was taken to a hospital emergency room.
A medical examination revealed that Lucy had subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages caused by a non-accidental trauma and "shaken baby syndrome." Prior to the incident, Lucy had developmental delays in communication, daily living skills, and socialization and motor skills. The incident caused Lucy to suffer significant "global deterioration" in all these areas.
Father at first denied shaking Lucy. However, a polygraph test conducted by the police indicated father's deception regarding his knowledge of what happened to Lucy. Father ultimately admitted on videotape to the police that he violently shook Lucy. After his admission, however, father repeatedly minimized his abuse of Lucy, stating that he was only trying to discipline the child but did not mean to hurt her.
Mother did not blame father for the incident. Even after father admitted his wrongdoing to the police, mother did not hold father accountable. In an interview with a social worker for respondent Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), mother tried to minimize father's action by saying that father was merely trying to wake Lucy up.

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