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State ex. rel. S.G.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 5, 2019


          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Morehouse, Louisiana Trial Court No. JD 11-49 Honorable Sharon Marchman, Judge

          VARHONDA EUGENIA BURRELL Counsel for Appellant, Mother

          COURTNEY W. FRANKLIN Counsel for Appellee, State of Louisiana DCFS

          THE LOWERY LAW FIRM By: Scotty Wayne Lowery Counsel for Minor Children, S.G., D.G., and A.G.

          FRED D. JONES Counsel for Appellee, Father of D.G. and S.G.

          Before MOORE, GARRETT, and THOMPSON, JJ.

          GARRETT, J.

         FG, the mother of SG, DG, and AG, appeals from a trial court judgment terminating her parental rights and freeing the children for adoption. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court judgment.


         On January 11, 2017, 12-year-old SG told a teacher and counselor at her school that she wanted to kill herself because her stepfather, CG, had been touching her inappropriately, including "putting his thing in her crotch." The latest incident occurred the night before, and SG had not bathed or changed clothes. SG also said that her mother and stepfather physically abused her, as well as her brother, DG, who was 13, and her younger sister, AG, who was three. SG reported that her mother and stepfather beat her with a belt. She showed the teacher bruises on her right hand and right upper thigh. She said her stepfather slapped her and dragged her by her hair. SG said that her brother, DG, gets punched in the face when he does something wrong and AG gets "whippings on her butt."[1]

         The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") was contacted and a worker was sent to the school to interview SG and DG. The mother was summoned to the school and informed of the allegations. She laughed and stated that SG was lying. The mother was instructed that SG needed to go to the hospital for an examination and to have a rape kit completed. She told SG, "I hope it hurts, when they are all in your stuff." The DCFS worker offered to take them to the hospital, but the mother refused.

         The mother took SG home and the DCFS worker went to the home to make contact with CG. He denied touching SG and refused to allow the DCFS worker to come into the house. He stated that the mother and SG were not at home. When the DCFS worker insisted, CG allowed her inside, where she encountered the mother and SG. The mother told the worker that she instructed SG not to change clothes, but she did so anyway. The mother denied that SG had bathed. When the DCFS worker informed the mother that SG still needed to go to the hospital, CG, the mother, and the children got into their vehicle. The DCFS worker informed the mother that, due to the accusations, SG should not be around CG. The worker transported the mother and SG to the hospital. According to the worker, the mother was on her cellphone with CG almost constantly.

         At the hospital, SG told the nurse that her mother washed her in accordance with CG's instructions. SG told the nurse that CG told the mother "to make sure that she washes her good." The DCFS worker questioned the mother, who then admitted that SG had bathed, but denied telling her to do so.

         The trial court issued an oral instanter order on January 11, 2017, followed by a written order on January 12, 2017, removing the children from the home based upon the affidavit of the DCFS worker setting forth the facts stated above.

         All three children were initially placed in the same foster home. At a hearing on January 20, 2017, the children were continued in state custody. A court appointed special advocate ("CASA") volunteer was assigned to the case.

         On February 16, 2017, the state filed a petition to declare the children to be children in need of care ("CINC"). The petition was filed against the mother, CG, and KS, the biological father of DG and SG. The state alleged passive sexual abuse by the mother, in that she observed possible sexual abuse of SG by CG, and yet left the children in his care, that she interfered with the investigation by having SG bathe before going to the hospital to have a rape kit completed, and that she showed a lack of concern for the safety and well-being of the children after learning of the allegations of sexual abuse.

         At some point during these proceedings, the state brought criminal charges against the mother and CG. They fled to Florida, but were apprehended and extradited to Louisiana. They remained in jail during the remainder of these proceedings. The status of the criminal charges against them was not shown on this record.

         A hearing was held on March 8, 2017. The mother and CG were not present because they were being extradited from Florida. However, the mother's attorney was present in court to represent her. Psychological evaluations were ordered for DG and SG.

         On April 14, 2017, the trial court approved case plans with a goal of reunification. Also on that date, at a hearing in court, the mother stipulated that the children were CINC. The CINC petition was dismissed as to CG. It was reported that DG had two episodes of self-harm and he stated that his mother told him not to like SG because she was the cause of the family being split apart. SG had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons three times and was moved to a different foster home because she was a danger to herself and the other children in the original foster home.

         The DCFS determined that the mother had an extensive history with the agency dating back to 2006. Her parental rights to another child, not at issue here, were terminated and the child was freed for adoption. CG also had a history with the agency, stemming from a May 2015 complaint of lack of adequate supervision.

         A hearing was held on July 12, 2017. SG had been transferred to another foster home and then was admitted to Brentwood Hospital, a psychiatric facility. A permanency/case review judgment was entered on July 12, 2017. The court found that the children continued to be CINC. Custody was maintained in the DCFS and the case plan goal continued to be reunification.

         In a prehearing report from the DCFS filed with the court in December 2017, it was stated that DG had been discovered "mutually masturbating with another child" in the foster home. DG also admitted sexually molesting AG and another child in the foster home. He was removed from the foster home and admitted to Brentwood.

         SG had been placed in numerous foster homes and psychiatric facilities. She exhibited several "meltdowns." During the first incident at the original foster home, SG climbed into a ditch and played in the mud. She told the DCFS worker, "This is just how I calm myself down." During subsequent incidents, the police were summoned. SG hit the officers and threw car seats at them. Allegedly, she stated that she would continue to act out until she was allowed to go with her mother.

         AG had become clingy and was sad and distant if she did not receive an individual's sole attention. AG had recently become paranoid that she would be removed from the foster home. She had inquired why one of the children in the home was adopted, but she and DG were not. AG asked if she was going to go away like SG and DG. The DCFS recommended that the case plan goal remain reunification, with a concurrent goal of adoption.

         A hearing was held on January 10, 2018. At that time, the CASA volunteer filed a report suggesting that the case plan goal be changed to adoption. Because several of the attorneys had not received the report, the matter was continued.

         In a prehearing report to the court by DCFS in February 2018, the agency stated that DG had been placed at the Methodist Children's Home in Sulphur, Louisiana. SG had made numerous threats of suicide and was back in Brentwood. The agency was preparing to admit her to the Methodist ...

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