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In re C.L.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF C.L. AND A.P., Minor Children, M.L., Father, Appellant, A.L., Mother, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

A mother and father separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.

Sarah Stork Meyer of Clemens, Walters, Conlon & Meyer, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant father.

Daniel A. Dlouhy, Dubuque, for appellant mother.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Katherine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, Ralph Potter, County Attorney, and Joshua Vander Ploeg, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Colista Anglese of Hammer, Simon & Jensen, P.C., Dubuque, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, J.

A mother and father appeal separately from the termination of their parental rights. The mother appeals from the termination of her rights to two children, A.P. and C.L.; the father appeals the termination of parental rights to the one child he fathered, C.L.[1] We affirm the termination rulings as to both the mother and the father.

I. Facts and proceedings.

This court previously heard an appeal by the father contesting C.L.'s adjudication as a child in need of assistance (CINA) in this case. In re C.L., No. 12–1836, 2012 WL 6190820 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2012). We incorporate those facts here:

The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services [DHS] in May 2012 when C.L.'s three-year-old half-sibling A.P. was found to have an unexplained, non-accidental skull fracture and numerous bruises. The family consists of the parents of C.L., who are married, C.L., and A.P. A.P.'s injuries occurred sometime during the evening of May 4, 2012, while he was at his mother's home or his paternal grandmother's home. At the time, a court order prevented any contact between C.L.'s parents because of domestic violence. C.L.'s father was residing with his mother in the same trailer park as C.L.'s mother. The only people who had access to A.P. on the evening of May 4 were his mother, C.L.'s father, and C.L.'s paternal grandmother.
The court issued temporary removal orders concerning both children in June, and they were placed with the maternal grandparents. Both the mother and C.L.'s father denied any knowledge of how A.P. sustained the injuries, but suggested the child suffered the skull fracture from banging his head against a wall. The explanations given by A.P.'s mother and stepfather were not consistent with the medical evidence. Following a child protection assessment, [DHS] issued a founded report of physical abuse with C.L.'s father as the perpetrator. It also found the mother and stepfather denied critical care to A.P. and failed to provide adequate medical care to the child.
Following a contested removal hearing in June, the court found returning the children home would be contrary to their welfare because of the allegations of physical abuse. The court ordered the children to remain in [DHS]'s custody for continued relative placement. The State then petitioned to have both children adjudicated in need of assistance under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b) and (c)(2) (2011). After a contested removal and adjudication hearing in August, the court found clear and convincing evidence supported the State's allegations and adjudicated ...

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