Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Court punishes dad when mom is the abuser

Here is one of those rare appeals from the California juvenile dependency court.
LA v DE ruled:
In October 2007, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition on behalf of then six-year-old A.E. and three-year-old H.E. The father, D.E., and the mother, who is not a party to this appeal, were in the process of divorcing after an eight-year marriage. The parents shared legal custody of the children; mother had primary physical custody and father had visitation rights. DCFS’s petition was sparked by A.E.’s complaint to father that mother struck H.E. with a spatula hard enough to leave a black bruise, a matter that mother admitted. Father, in turn, reported this to the police in a 911 call.

So DCFS (aka CPS) took the kids away based on these concerns:
First, mother on several occasions struck both children with hard objects, violently enough to leave black and blue bruises. This was so even though mother had participated in counseling and anger management classes. ... Fourth, while at the inception of the proceedings in the fall of 2007 father had voiced understandable concerns about mother’s boyfriend who had a prior conviction for having sex with a minor and who also spoke disparagingly about father to the children, ...

The fifth incident is perhaps the one to cause the most concern. At the close of the hearing on February 20, 2008, father volunteered the observation that there really was “no abuse of the children” and that “[i]t’s a nonissue.”
So the dad ultimately regretted getting CPS involved, and for that, he had to be punished. The dad was ordered to attend anger management classes!

The appellate court jusitified punishing the dad because:
We disagree with father’s claim that there is no evidence that supports the counseling order because “[father] was non-offending; the issues in the case involved the mother’s inappropriate physical discipline of the girls.” The point is that D.E., as the father, is responsible for the children’s safety and well-being and must therefore unequivocally oppose harsh and unsuitable corporal punishment. But, rather than stating unequivocally that he was opposed to beating the children with hard objects, on February 20, 2008, father denied that there had been any abuse and stated that he would never again report such beatings to the authorities.
This is crazy. It was the mom who was convicted of physical abuse. The mom has custody of the kids, and the dad just has visitation rights. And yet somehow the dad "is responsible for the children’s safety".

To CPS, there is just one thing that is worse than a child-abusing parent, and that is a parent who is not sufficiently subservient to the CPS authorities. The mom beat a 3-year-old black and blue with a spatula. And yet the dad is worse in their eyes just because he expressed regret about calling 911.

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