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In re A.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 6, 2018

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

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights to two daughters. AFFIRMED.

          Randall L. Jackson of Law Office of Randall L. Jackson, Des Moines, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kathryn K. Lang, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Erin E. Mayfield of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A father, Jesse, appeals the juvenile court order terminating his parental rights to two daughters, four-year-old Ale.W. and six-year-old Ali.W. He contends the State did not present clear and convincing evidence of a ground for termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2017) and termination was not necessary because the girls remained in the custody of their mother. Because in confirming removal from the father, the juvenile court made factual findings that Jesse sexually abused his older daughter, we conclude sufficient evidence supports termination of his parental rights to both children under paragraphs (d) and (j). Moreover, given Jesse's criminal conduct, the mother's continuing custody does not justify preserving his parental rights.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) first became involved with this family in December 2016 following allegations Jesse sexually abused his older daughter, Ali.W. In January 2017, the juvenile court affirmed removal of both daughters from Jesse's custody and placed them with their mother, where they have remained throughout these proceedings. The court adjudicated the children in need of assistance (CINA) under Iowa Code section 232.2(6).

         The DHS reached a founded child-abuse assessment against Jesse. The report concluded the allegations of sexual abuse-specifically sexual abuse in the second degree, lascivious acts with a child, and incest-were founded based on Ali.W.'s reports that Jesse perpetrated numerous sex acts against her, including placing his penis in her vagina and touching her vagina with his finger. The investigation also led to criminal charges. Jesse entered an Alford plea[1] to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse causing injury and received an indeterminate five-year prison sentence. Upon release he will register as a sex offender. The district court entered a no-contact order (NCO) between Jesse and Ali.W.

         In January 2018, the juvenile court held a hearing on the State's petition to terminate Jesse's parental rights. The State cited paragraphs (d), (j), and (m) for both girls and paragraph (f)[2] for Ali.W. The court found clear and convincing evidence to terminate Jesse's parental rights to both children under paragraph (d) and to Ali.W. under paragraph (f). The court did not rule on paragraphs (j) and (m). Jesse appeals.[3]

         II. Analysis

         A. ...


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