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In re J.V.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

December 22, 2015

IN RE J.V

Submitted on Briefs December 17, 2015.

On the briefs: L. Clinton Boothby, Esq., Boothby Perry, LLC, Turner, for appellant father.

Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, and JABAR, JJ.

OPINION

Page 959

MEAD, J.

[¶1] The father of J.V. appeals from a judgment entered by the District Court (Lewiston, Dow, J. ) terminating his parental rights to the child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2) (2014). Because we agree with the court's finding that the father " acted toward [the] child in a manner that is heinous or abhorrent to society," 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1-A)(A) (2014), and because he failed to rebut the resulting presumption of parental unfitness, see id., we affirm the judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] The court made factual findings by clear and convincing evidence, which are supported by competent record evidence. See In re M.S., 2014 ME 54, ¶ 13, 90 A.3d 443. The father's ex-girlfriend, whom the court found to be a credible witness, testified at the hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services's petition for termination of parental rights that on April 22, 2014, after she tried to go home following an argument with the father, he pulled her back into his residence by the hair and refused to let her leave. In an incident lasting two to three hours, the father threw her up against a wall. The child, then age seven, was upstairs in his bedroom.

[¶3] The next morning, the father allowed the victim to return to her own nearby home. He then repeatedly sent the child to the victim's home with notes threatening to destroy the belongings that she had left behind. That afternoon, she returned to the father's residence to get her things. The victim testified that when she did,

the next thing I knew . . . I was on the bathroom floor . . . and [the father] was . . . holding my head down on the floor and trying to duct tape me and had a knife to my throat and he had [the child]

Page 960

sharpening knives so he can cut me up into pieces later, and he had [the child] sit on my legs so ...

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