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In re A.R.C.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R.C. III, S.Q.S., and J.W., Minor Children, S.Q.S., Mother of A.R.C. III and S.Q.S., Appellant, A.R.C. JR., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Mary L. Timko, Associate Juvenile Judge.

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

John S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant-mother.

Joseph W. Kertels of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, for appellant-father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick Jennings, County Attorney, and Dewey Sloan, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Tod J. Deck, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

A mother and a father appeal, separately, from the juvenile court order terminating their respective parental rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) and (h) (2013). The mother and the father both contend that the juvenile court erred in terminating their parental rights because the State did not present clear and convincing evidence of statutory grounds for termination. Additionally, the father contends the closeness of his bond with the children weighs against termination. We affirm on both appeals.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

The father has two children with the mother: A.C. (born 2011) and S.S. (born 2009). The father has a third child, J.W. (born 2009), with another woman. At issue are the father's parental rights to A.C., S.S., and J.W. Also at issue are the mother's parental right to A.C. and S.S. Although J.W.'s mother's parental rights were terminated, she did not appeal.

The father has a long, violent criminal history. In October 2006, at just seventeen years old, he was arrested for threatening and extorting adolescent girls. In early 2007, he was convicted of harassment and subject to a five-year restraining order. In September 2007, he threatened another person with a knife. In July 2009, he stabbed a man during a street fight. In early 2010, he assaulted his sister.

The mother and the father have a deeply troubled relationship rife with domestic violence. Their violent relationship and verbal disputes frequently played out in front of the children. The documented course of their domestic violence is largely responsible for the involvement of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in this case. At least three domestic abuse reports resulted in child protective services (CPS) assessments prior to adjudication. As the termination of parental rights in this case centers on the ongoing nature of domestic violence placing the children in imminent danger, we will briefly recount the reported domestic disputes.

In June 2010, the DHS received its first report of domestic violence occurring between the mother and father. The report alleged that the father was very controlling and would not allow the mother to have a cell phone, see her family, or go to work. It was also reported that the father's abuse left large bruises on the mother's arms. The mother and father denied any abuse, and the mother claimed she ...


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