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In re O.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF O.H. and P.H., Minor Children, T.H., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan C. Cox, District Associate Judge.

         The father appeals a dispositional order in a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding that denied him visitation with his two minor children. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas A. Hurd of Law Office of Thomas Hurd P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kristi A. Traynor, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Karl Wolle of Juvenile Defender Office, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         Thomas Harlow appeals the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) dispositional order that denied him visitation with his two minor children. He claims there are sufficient safeguards to protect the children during visitation and the no-contact order that resulted from his charge for committing sexual abuse in the second degree is unconstitutional. Because the order is in the children's best interests, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On October 1, 2016, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) removed O.H. and P.H. after the father and P.H.'s mother were arrested following allegations they sexually abused the mother's other child, T.W., [1] while he was visiting the mother's home. According to police reports, the father forced the mother and child to perform oral and vaginal sex while the father watched. The reports also allege that O.H. witnessed the incident and P.H. was in another room. During the criminal proceedings, the court entered a no-contact order prohibiting the father from contacting "any person under the age of eighteen."

         On October 4, 2016, the State filed a CINA petition that alleged O.H. and P.H. to children in need of assistance. In its October 11 order following the subsequent removal hearing, the court confirmed removal and placed the children under the care of their paternal grandparents. The court ordered the mother and father to participate in "all available jail programming" along with other services offered by DHS. On November 16, 2016, the court adjudicated O.H. and P.H. as children in need of assistance. The court also found the paternal grandparents did not provide proper care and placed temporary legal custody of O.H. with her maternal grandparents. Temporary legal custody of P.H. was placed with her maternal aunt and uncle.

         On December 7, the court held a dispositional hearing. At the time of the hearing, the father was incarcerated. The father requested in-person visitation with his children, or in the alternative, video visitation. In its order, the court confirmed O.H. and P.H. were children in need of assistance. The court also denied the father's request for visitation. The court explained:

The father's request for visits with the children is denied. Any contact with children is prohibited by the criminal no contact order. The court further finds it is not in the children's best interests. [The father] has not received sex offender treatment. Furthermore, the court finds one ...

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