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In re Child of Jonathan D.

Supreme Court of Maine

January 24, 2019

IN RE CHILD OF JONATHAN D.

          Submitted On Briefs: January 17, 2019

          Heidi M. Pushard, Esq., Lewiston, for appellant Father

          The Department of Health and Human Services did not file a brief

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

          PER CURIAM

         [¶1] Jonathan D. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Montgomery, J.) terminating his parental rights to his child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii) (2017).[1] We affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] On July 7, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a child protection petition when the child was approximately fifteen months old. See 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2017). The petition alleged that the father is a registered sex offender with a history of serious untreated mental health issues and that the mother was unable to keep unsafe persons-including the father- away from the child. On August 3, 2016, the Department requested a preliminary protection order. The court [Oram, J.) held a hearing on the Department's request on August 16, 2016, and entered an order transferring custody of the child to the Department the following day.

         [¶3] On November 1, 2016, the court [Dow, /.) held a jeopardy hearing and, after issuing findings of facts, entered an order relieving the Department of its obligation to pursue reunification efforts with the father based on the aggravating factor of his 2008 conviction of unlawful sexual contact (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(E-1) (2017), involving a two-year-old child. See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4002(1-B)(A)(1), 4035(1), (2) (2017). Despite the cease reunification order, the court ordered the Department to provide the father with sex offender treatment and individual counseling.

         [¶4] On January 25, 2018, the Department filed a petition for termination of the father's parental rights. The court [Montgomery, J.) held a hearing on the petition on April 10, 2018, and, on May 14, 2018, issued an order granting the Department's petition to terminate the father's parental rights. Based on the testimony presented at the hearing and other competent evidence in the record, the court found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of the father's parental rights is in the best interest of the child because he is unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child within a time which is reasonably calculated to meet the child's need. 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii).

         [¶5] The court based its decision on the following factual findings, all of which are supported by competent evidence in the record.

As a very young child, [the father] was subjected to egregious ... abuse as well as neglect. He has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, including schitzo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, PTSD, and depression. This extended and severe childhood trauma has likely caused and/or exacerbated [the father's] mental illness and demonstrable anger.
In 2008, [the father] was convicted of Class B Unlawful Sexual Contact and sentenced to five years with all but two years suspended and six years of probation. His crime involved sexual contact with a two-year-old girl while babysitting her. . . .
. . . .
As for sex offender treatment, [the father's] engagement has been sporadic over the course of the last six or so years. Despite repeated attempts to engage in the therapy, he has expressed a lack of confidence in the efficacy of such treatment and at least twice refused to ...

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