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In re Marcus E.

Supreme Court of Maine

October 5, 2017

IN RE MARCUS E.

          Submitted On Briefs: September 27, 2017

          Randy G. Day, Esq., Garland, for appellant mother

          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, GORMAN, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] The mother of Marcus E. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Bangor, Campbell, J.) terminating her parental rights to Marcus pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2016).[1] She challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the judgment. Because the evidence supports the courts findings and discretionary determination, we affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] On September 23, 2015, the mother agreed to the following language of a jeopardy order for the child and his sibling:[2]

The minor children are in circumstances of [j]eopardy to their health and welfare in the care and custody of their mother ... due to threat of serious harm. [The mother] allowed [the children] to live in the same home as her father . . . despite the fact that her father was convicted of sexually abusing her as a child. . . . [The childs sibling] was sexually abused by [the mothers father] while in [the] mothers care. [The mother] did not take adequate steps to protect her children and still resides with [her father]. [She] has struggled to recognize the risk posed to her children.

         [¶3] On April 24, 2017, based on competent evidence in the record, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother was unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy and unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the child within a time reasonably calculated to meet his needs and that termination of her parental rights is in the childs best interest. See 22 M.R.S. § 4055(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii); In re Robert S., 2009 ME 18, ¶ 15, 966 A.2d 894. The court based this determination on the following findings of fact:

[M] other has made no progress, whatsoever, on the central issue in this case. Mother has gained no insight into the risk that her father presents to her children. Rather than gaining insight, mother is trying to convince people that her father does not pose a risk to children. The ... mother continues to demonstrate poor judgment and a complete lack of protective capacity with respect to her children.
. . . The court does not believe that mother will keep her father away from [the child] if [the Department] is not involved. Mother does not have the ability to recognize and protect [the child] from unsafe people and unsafe situations. Nothing has changed in two years....
[The child] has been placed with [his foster parents] since February of 2016. [They] have provided a loving, safe, and stable home for [him]. [They] have been providing excellent care for [him]....
... [The foster parents] love [the child] very much, and they want very much to adopt him. [The child] needs a safe and permanent home, which mother is unable to provide.

         [¶4] Given these findings and the courts other specific findings of fact, all of which are supported by competent evidence in the record, the court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that the mother was unfit and that termination of the mothers parental rights, with a permanency plan of adoption, is in the childs best interest. See In re Robert ...


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