IN THE INTEREST OF T.A. and D.A., Minor Children, M.A., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Decatur County, Monty W.
Franklin, District Associate Judge.
father appeals from the adjudication of his children as
children in need of assistance. REVERSED.
J. Tingle of Tingle Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
A. Clark, Lamoni, for minor children.
by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
father, M.A., appeals from the adjudication of his
children-T.A., age ten, and D.A., age six-as children in need
of assistance (CINA). Both children were adjudicated CINA
pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2017), and T.A.
was also adjudicated under section 232.2(6)(d). M.A. contends
there is not clear and convincing evidence supporting the
grounds for adjudication. Because we find there is
insufficient evidence under either ground, we reverse.
Background Facts & Proceedings.
a case first initiated by T.A. and D.A.'s
thirteen-year-old half-sibling, S.H., who made allegations of
sexual contact alleged to have been committed by M.A., her
step-father. If the allegations are supported by clear and
convincing evidence, the acts would clearly support a CINA
adjudication of both T.A. and D.A. The question we face is
whether the evidence is sufficient to support the
adjudication in light of both the evidence detracting from
the truthfulness of the allegations and the very limited
record relied upon by the State. Although S.H. and T.A.
underwent a forensic interview, no recordings or transcripts
of the interviews were admitted into evidence, and neither
the children nor the interviewer testified.
February 2017, S.H. reported that M.A. had subjected S.H. to
sexual contact. S.H. also reported T.A. had written a note to
S.H. revealing T.A. had also been touched inappropriately by
M.A. According to testimony by the child protective worker,
in an interview with a forensic interviewer at the Child
Protection Center (CPC), S.H. reported M.A. asked her on
occasion to show him her "bad spots" in order to
get things in return. For example, S.H. stated M.A.would
sometimes take her driving and request to see her "bad
spots" before he allowed her to drive the vehicle. S.H.
also reported M.A. touched her "bad spots" on more
than one occasion. S.H. recalled a specific incident when she
and M.A. were in the family's detached garage and M.A.
touched her. S.H. stated she reported the abuse to the mother
the previous summer, but M.A. denied the abuse when
confronted and no further actions were taken.
initially asked by the child protective worker, T.A. stated
M.A. had not touched her inappropriately. However, a week
later during her interview at the CPC, T.A. reported M.A.
told her to go into the bathroom on more than one occasion,
remove her clothes, and lie down. T.A. stated M.A. would then
get on top of her and his body would be shaking. T.A.
described one occasion when she was playing a game and M.A.
asked her to go to the bathroom and remove her clothing. She
recalled the specific pajamas she was wearing. T.A. stated
M.A. told her to lie down on the floor and he kissed her
"privates." T.A. stated she told S.H. about the
incident by writing her a note.
these allegations by S.H. and T. A. were supported by
substantial evidence, there would be support for the CINA
adjudication of the children. But the record also contains
significant evidence detracting from the credibility of S.H.
and T.A.'s allegations.
when initially interviewed by the child protective worker,
T.A. reported she had not been subjected to sexual contact by
M.A. But because S.H. told the child protective worker that
T.A. was also abused, one week later both children were
required to undergo a forensic interview. It was not until
the CPC interview that T.A. reported sexual contact. Sometime
during that one- week period, S.H. and T.A. spoke together.
The child protective worker testified at the adjudication
hearing that when asked by the forensic interviewer T.A.
acknowledged she had ...