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In re A.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R. and A.R., Minor Children, A.R., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig M. Dreismeier, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his twin children. AFFIRMED.

          Roberta J. Megel of State Public Defender Office, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Marti D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his twin children, born in 2016. He contends (1) the record lacks evidence to support the grounds for termination cited by the district court, (2) the department of human services failed to make reasonable reunification efforts, and (3) termination was not in the children's best interests.

         I. Grounds for Termination

         The district court terminated the father's parental rights on more than one statutory ground. We may affirm the decision if we find clear and convincing evidence to support any of the grounds. In re S.R., 600 N.W.2d 63, 64 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999). We focus on Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) (2016), which requires proof of several elements, including proof the child cannot be returned to the parent's custody.

         The case began with the five-month old half-sibling of the twins, who were still in utero. The father[1] cared for the half-sibling while her mother worked. One day, the mother returned from work to find the infant in severe distress. She was taken to a hospital, where professionals diagnosed her with a skull fracture and subdural hematoma.

         The department intervened and questioned the father about events leading up to the hospitalization. He stated he tossed the child into the air and inadvertently let her slip through his hands. The child fell to the floor and soon began breathing oddly.

         An emergency room physician found it extremely unlikely that the child sustained the severe injuries to her head in the type of fall described by the father. The more likely explanation, in her view, was shaking of the baby, which involved greater force than the force occasioned by a fall. The physician later opined the child sustained abusive non-accidental injuries.

         The State charged the father with willful injury resulting in serious injury and child endangerment. He was jailed and released on bond, subject to an order prohibiting contact with the child. While on release, he interacted with mother and child at his parents' home. The district court ordered the child removed from the mother's care for facilitating the interaction and the father was jailed for violating the no contact order. The father ultimately pled ...


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