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State ex rel. C.F.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

May 22, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF C.F. and B.F.

          Appealed from the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 158, 525, Honorable David N. Matlock, Judge.

          GEORGE E. HARP Counsel for Appellant Elizabeth Bryant.

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee The State of Louisiana.

          SARAH M. HOOD CHARLES K. PARR Assistant District Attorneys, RENEE´ P. COTE Counsel for C.F. and B.F.

          ANDREW L. RANDALL, JR., Counsel for Appellee, Jeremy F.

          Before PITMAN, COX, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         The trial court adjudicated two children, C.F. and B.F., to be in need of care and, after a disposition hearing, placed them in the custody of their father, Jeremy F., and his wife, Leslie F. Jeremy's ex-wife, and mother of the children, Elizabeth Bryant, appealed the judgment of disposition. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         On February 20, 2018, Pansey Rogers, an employee of the Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"), filed an affidavit in support of an instanter order concerning C.F. and B.F. The affidavit stated that as a result of Rogers's investigation into this case, she had gleaned the following facts:

         On August 9, 2017, the DCFS received a report that two children, C.F., a deaf, 12-year-old male, who communicated through sign language only, and B.F., a 7-year-old female, were the victims of abuse by Bryant and her boyfriend, Randy Lemoine. The report stated that Bryant had been seen hitting C.F. across his face and that the children were verbally abused by both Bryant and Lemoine.

         On August 14, 2017, Bryant and Lemoine were asked to submit to drug screening, and both objected. That same day, an anonymous source at the apartment complex where Bryant and the children resided told DCFS that approximately a week before, a man had B.F. standing in a corner and told her to "stand your MF ass in the corner or I will send your MF to Johnny Gray Jones."[1]

         During the investigation that day, Rogers observed C.F. at his home. His right eye was black, but appeared to be healing. When C.F. was interviewed a few days later, he signed, through an interpreter, that his black eye was the result of his mother slapping him many times. He stated that she yells at him and often hits him. On that day, his left eye was black.

         At B.F.'s interview by Rogers, she stated that when she got into trouble at home, she would be punished by having to sit on her bed and having the television withdrawn. She also stated that no one had hit C.F.

         Both children were examined by a physician. At B.F.'s examination, she was asked to tell "good stuff" about her mother. She responded that her mother and Lemoine would "go outside and smoke," but could not recall anything else. Her maternal grandmother prompted her and said, "You went swimming," but B.F. stated that her mother was too tired. She reported that when she gets in trouble, her mother takes away her toys or she is spanked with a belt. B.F. has been diagnosed with ADHD and takes medication for that condition.

         C.F.'s examination revealed that he is hearing impaired, has ADHD and needs dental care. He reported that his mother hits his face. Bryant informed the physician that the children were very rambunctious and overwhelming. The physician suggested that she try reinforcing sign language and get counseling.

         On August 31, 2017, Bryant was drug screened through urine and hair samples by The Company Clinic of Louisiana ("CCLA"). The samples were sent to Quest Diagnostics Laboratory ("Quest Lab") in Kansas for testing. She tested positive for marijuana.

         On September 21, 2017, Bryant was referred to DCFS's Family Services program to receive domestic violence and substance abuse assessments and random drug screens. Because C.F. wears a cochlear implant, Bryant was instructed to complete the procedures necessary for the implant to work, such as recharging the batteries. She informed DCFS that when C.F. was nine years old, she gave him the choice of whether to wear the device, and he chose not to wear it because he heard only loud screeching noises when he wore it. She stated that she offered him the choice because he always violently objected when she tried to make him wear it. She also admitted that she did not take him to the audiologist for years.

         Although DCFS attempted to follow Bryant's case, she was uncooperative, would not complete her treatment plan, would not submit to the random drug testing and avoided the agency. DCFS assigned Beverly Hamilton to Bryant's case.

         In February 2018, DCFS received a second report concerning Bryant and C.F., which alleged that Bryant was taking C.F.'s ADHD medicine. Rogers interviewed C.F. at school, and C.F. signed that he was supposed to take two pills in the morning, but that he was only getting one, and that his mother would take the other. Also, he was still not wearing his cochlear device and had not worn it all year.

         DCFS interviewed B.F. who told investigators that Bryant's new boyfriend, Joshua James, would spank her behind and would drag her to her room by her arm and squeeze it very tightly even though ...


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