IN RE HOPE H. et al.
Briefs: September 27, 2017
Cilluffo, Esq., Portland, for appellant mother
M. McGee, Esq., South Portland, for appellant father
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
Department of Health and Human Services
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
The mother and father of Hope H., Jason J., and Kristopher J.
appeal from the judgment of the District Court (Springvale,
Foster, J.) terminating their parental rights to
their twin sons pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §
4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), (iv) (2016). The
mother also appeals from the same judgment terminating her
parental rights to her daughter pursuant to the same
statutory provisions. The parents both challenge the
sufficiency of the evidence to support the courts finding of
at least one ground of parental unfitness and the courts
determination that termination of their parental rights was
in their children's best interests. The mother also
challenges the courts exclusion of the children's
grandmothers testimony as hearsay.
Contrary to the parents contentions, competent evidence in
the record supports the courts findings that the parents are
unwilling or unable to protect the children from jeopardy and
otherwise take responsibility for the children within a time
reasonably calculated to meet the children's needs and
that the father has failed to make a good faith effort to
rehabilitate and reunify with the children pursuant to 22
M.R.S. §4041 (2016). The court appropriately exercised
its discretion in concluding that termination of their
parental rights was in the children's best interests.
Furthermore, the record shows that the court did not abuse
its discretion in excluding the grandmothers proffered
testimony regarding "[s]ome of the stories that Hope has
made up." We affirm the judgment.
Clear and convincing evidence in the record supports the
courts findings that the mother and the father are unable or
unwilling to take responsibility for the children and protect
them from the risks of harm that have persisted since the
court issued the jeopardy order. 22 M.R.S.
[¶4] The initial jeopardy order was based upon the
inability to appropriately address their boys behavioral
challenges and mental health needs; emotional harm due to
[their] inability to obtain and maintain adequate, sanitary
and stable housing for [themselves] and the children; and the
risk of harm based on the mothers lack of support around her
daughter[s] ... reports [and the fathers] sexually
inappropriate communications with her.
... Jeopardy also consists of a risk of harm to the boys[ ]
based on [the fathers] conduct to their half-sister.
Until July 2016, approximately a year and a half after her
daughters disclosure of the fathers sexually inappropriate
communications, the mother maintained that the daughters
disclosures were the product of a delusion and insisted on
having her evaluated for a delusional disorder. Despite her
daughters consistent statements and medical examinations that
ruled out the possibility that her daughter had any disorder,
at the termination hearing the mother maintained doubts about
the truth of her daughters disclosures regarding the father.
The father continues to deny that anything happened, although
he acknowledges the courts finding to the ...