Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Child of Gustavus E.

Supreme Court of Maine

March 22, 2018

IN RE CHILD OF GUSTAVUS E.

          Submitted On Briefs: March 7, 2018

          Lewiston District Court docket number PC-2016-62

          Richard Charest, Esq., Lewiston, for appellant father

          Lome Fairbanks, Esq., Lewiston, for appellee petitioners

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

          PER CURIAM

         [¶l] In this child protection action commenced by three petitioners, the father of the child appeals from a judgment entered by the District Court (Lewiston, Dow, J.) terminating his parental rights pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(A)(1)(b) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2017). The father primarily contends that the court erred by invoking the "rebuttable presumption" contained in 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1-A)(A), (B)(8) (2017) in its unfitness analysis because, he asserts, the evidence in its entirety does not support a finding of unfitness. Additionally, he argues that there is insufficient record evidence to support the court's finding that termination of his parental rights is in the child's best interest. Because the court did not err in either respect, we affirm the judgment.

          I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] In September 2016, the mother, along with two other petitioners, filed a petition for child protection, see 22 M.R.S. § 4032(1)(C) (2017), which alleged that the child was in jeopardy due to the father's recent conviction of unlawful sexual contact (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(M) (2017).[1] In October 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a motion to cease reunification with the father based on the aggravating factor of his conviction. See 22 M.R.S. § 4002(1-B)(A)(1) (2017); 22 M.R.S. § 4041(2)(A-2)(1) (2017). In November 2016, the mother, who is the child's legal custodian, see 22 M.R.S. § 4002(5) (2017), filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights to the child. See 22 M.R.S. § 4052(1) (2017).[2] In April 2017, the court held a hearing on all pending matters: the petition for child protection; the petition to terminate the father's parental rights; and the Department's motion to cease reunification with the father.

         [¶3] By order dated July 14, 2017, the court granted the Department's motion to cease reunification with the father and terminated the father's parental rights. After the court entered judgment, the father appealed the court's termination of his parental rights. He primarily argued that the court misapplied the rebuttable presumption contained in 22 M.R.S. § 4055(l-A)(A), (B)(8) by shifting the evidentiary burden to the father in contravention of our August 2017 opinion in In re Evelyn A, which held that "a court may reach an ultimate finding of unfitness only if the evidence in its entirety supports that finding by clear and convincing evidence" and that the parent whose rights are at stake has "neither a burden of production nor a burden of persuasion or proof regarding the 'presumption' addressed in section 4055(1-A)." 2017 ME 182, ¶¶ 31-32, 169 A.3d 914. Because In re Evelyn A. was published after the hearing and the entry of judgment in this case, we granted a stay pending further trial court action. After reconsideration of the testimony and evidence presented during the April 2017 hearing, the court issued an amended judgment dated October 31, 2017, terminating the father's parental rights.

         [¶4] The court, in its amended judgment, found the following facts, which are supported by competent record evidence:

The father is incarcerated and is under probation conditions that prohibit contact with children Respondent-father was convicted of Unlawful Sexual Contact, Class C, on February 9, 2016
The victim of the father's crime was the daughter of his live-in partner. The father was in a stepparent role for that child at that time. The father touched that child's vagina on multiple occasions when the child was between six and eight years old. The Court finds this conduct to be heinous and abhorrent to society.
In February, 2017, the father completed six months of voluntary sex offender treatment called cognitive-behavioral interventions for sex offenders. This treatment was offered ... by the Department of Corrections (DOC). This treatment does not require offenders to admit the sexual abuse. The six-month duration of the treatment is much different from the three-year sex offender treatment program offered at other facilities in DOC or to probationers in the community. In addition to being six times longer, that program requires offenders to admit to sexual abuse. When the father started the treatment, the DOC administered the STATIC-99 assessment, which placed the father at moderate to high risk for re-offense. By the time the father completed the treatment, the DOC had adopted the policy of administering a dynamic risk assessment, the Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale, at both ends of the treatment. The father's score on that assessment placed him at low risk for ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.