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In re K.G.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

December 18, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF K.G., Minor Child, R.P., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton, District Associate Judge.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights.

Jean Capdevila, Davenport, for appellant father.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Janet L. Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, Michael J. Walton, County Attorney, and Julie A. Walton, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Christine Frederick of Zamora, Taylor, Woods & Frederick, Davenport, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, J.

The father's parental rights[1] were terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2013). On appeal, he contends there is not clear and convincing evidence the child cannot be returned to him at the present time. Because the father failed to protect his child's siblings when he was in a position to help and must have been aware of their need for protection, there continues to be a risk of harm to the child if returned to his care. We affirm the termination of R.P.'s parental rights.

I. Scope and Standard of Review.

We review termination orders de novo. In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40 (Iowa 2010). While we are not bound by the juvenile court's findings of fact, we accorded them weight, especially in assessing witness credibility. In re D.W., 791 N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). We will uphold an order terminating parental rights if the record contains clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds identified in Iowa Code section 232.116(1). Id. Evidence is "clear and convincing" if no "serious or substantial doubts" exist as to the legal conclusions that can be drawn from it. Id.

II. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Upon our de novo review of the record, we find following.

The child, K.G., was removed from the mother's (Holly's) care immediately after birth in September 2011 due to the August 2011 removal of K.G.'s half-siblings—sister, N.J., age eight; and a brother, age twelve. A prior opinion of this court described the plight of N.J. in the family home:

This family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2011, based on allegations of denial of critical care and failure to provide adequate supervision and clothing to N.J. At that time, N.J., born in 2003, was walking to school without appropriate clothing for the cold weather and there were also concerns she was being locked in her room at home. Staff members at N.J.'s elementary school were also concerned about her small size and about reports from N.J. that she was not allowed to eat before or after school. DHS met with the family twice—once in February and once in March of 2011. N.J.'s adoptive ...

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