IN THE INTEREST OF D.B., T.B., A.M., and A.T., Minor Children, STATE OF IOWA, Petitioner-Appellant, JAMI HAGEMEIER, Guardian Ad Litem, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan C. Cox,
District Associate Judge.
State and guardian ad litem appeal from the dismissal of the
child-in-need-of-assistance petitions. AFFIRMED IN
PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED WITH
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellant State.
J. Hagemeier of Williams & Hagemeier, P.L.C., Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for all appellant children, and attorney
for A.M. and D.B.
M. Wegner of Graham, Ervanian & Cacciatore, L.L.P., Des
Moines, attorney for T.B. & A.T.
P. Graves of Graves Law Firm, P.C., Clive, for appellee
H.R. Ginkens of Ginkens Law Firm, P.L.C., West Des Moines,
for appellee father of D.B. & T.B.
M. Northfield, Urbandale, for appellee father of A.M.
D. Mays of Mays and Clausen Law Office, Newton, for father of
and McDonald, JJ.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
State and the guardian ad litem appeal from the dismissal of
the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petitions, which
alleged the children were CINA pursuant to Iowa Code section
232.2(6)(b) and (c)(2) (2017). Because the State proved by
clear and convincing evidence that A.T., T.B., and D.B.
should be adjudicated CINA, we reverse and remand with
directions. We affirm the decision of the juvenile court
dismissing the CINA petition as to A.M.
and Christopher are married and have five children between
them. A.M., age fourteen, is Alicia's child with Michael.
M.B., age eleven, is Christopher's child with A.L. (who
lives in Florida). A.T., age twelve, is Alicia's child
with Randy. T.B., age six, and D.B., age seven months, are
Alicia's children with Christopher. Alicia is employed as
a certified medical assistant. Christopher is a trucker who
is on the road several days a week. Due to Christopher's
absence, Alicia was the primary caregiver for all the
and M.B. have had a difficult relationship. M.B. continued to
see a therapist after the previous juvenile court proceedings
were closed. In August 2016, Alicia and Christopher had M.B.
undergo a psychological examination, which indicated M.B. is
mentally lower functioning, has "strong emotional
reactions, " and "directs her negative emotions
towards others in her life [particularly Alicia, so] that she
can then blame them for the loss of her fantasized perfect
relationship with her father."
August 2016, five days after giving birth to D.B., Alicia had
a "massive heart attack, " which requires a
lifelong need for medication. She is to keep her "stress
level down." 
November 2016, A.M. went to live with his father, Michael.
January 25, 2017, by ex parte order, M.B., A.T., T.B., and
D.B. were removed from Alicia and Christopher's home
based upon a report to DHS that Alicia had hit M.B. and
caused a bloody nose.
T.B. was interviewed and stated that M.B. gets spanked with a
spatula, Christopher slapped M.B., and M.B. had a bloody
nose. In an interview with a child protective worker, M.B.
reported being hit in the face by her father and being
consistently grounded or in trouble. She also reported having
to eat hot sauce with added cayenne pepper as punishment; not
receiving any gifts for Christmas; being told she is
"fat, stupid and bad"; being punished for loading
the dishwasher wrong; being beaten with a spatula; being
forced to perform wall squats or run up and down the stairs
for extended periods of time; and being forced to stand at
the dinner table while everyone else got to sit.
State sought to have D.B., T.B., A.T., and A.M. adjudicated
CINA pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b) and (c),
asserting they were at risk of physical or emotional harm as
a result of abuse or neglect by Alicia and Christopher. After
the removal and adjudication hearing had begun,
before the State presented all its evidence, the court issued
an order returning D.B. to his parents.
parties stipulated to M.B.'s continued removal and CINA
adjudication. A.M. remained living with Michael, who
stipulated to A.M.'s removal and CINA adjudication. While
Alicia agreed with A.M.'s placement with Michael, she
contested adjudicating A.M. a CINA.
Cunningham testified she was the therapist for A.T., T.B.,
and M.B. She starting seeing A.T. in 2015 "because she
was having some acting out behaviors at home and at school
due to relationship stressors that she had with her father
and potential abandonment that she was experiencing with them
not having a strong relationship." Ms. Cunningham
testified A.T. consistently denied any abuse in Alicia and
Christopher's home as to herself or her siblings.
Cunningham stated she also started seeing M.B. five or six
months after sessions started with A.T.:
[M.B.] was brought to my office because she was having acting
out behaviors at home and at school which presented oddly for
her age for some of the things she was doing or not doing. So
as an example hygiene or lack thereof. Issues were brought up
just her not having some of the same interests that children
her age generally would have.
Cunningham recommended a psychological evaluation be prepared
for M.B. She was asked if M.B. is "good at accepting
responsibility for her actions?" Ms. Cunningham stated:
Not at all. She-and that was another reason for the request
for the psychological evaluation. When I was stating that she
seems delayed, she has a very difficult time being
accountable, and she-even when you ask her about something
that she's done, you would get a very what we call matter
of fact a very blank stare almost as if she, you know, went
to another place and didn't know what you were talking
Q. She denied that behavior that was reported to you?
A. She wouldn't speak, and with continued probing some
sessions I would have better luck with her stating, yes, I
did that thing whatever that thing was by the end of the
session, but the majority of the time especially when