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In re B.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF B.B. and E.B., Minor Children, S.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court order adjudicating two children in need of assistance.

          Ryan M. Dale, Council Bluffs, for appellant father.

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

          Vicki R. Danley, Sidney, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A father, Seth, appeals a juvenile court order adjudicating two of his children, E.B. and B.B., in need of assistance, under Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b) (2017). He contends the State did not present clear and convincing evidence he engaged in physical abuse or neglect or was imminently likely to do so. He also argues continued adjudication is not in the children's best interests. We find adjudication is supported as to his son B.B. but not his daughter E.B.[1] Therefore, we affirm in part and remand in part.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         This family came under the court's jurisdiction in November 2017 when the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) concluded a founded child-abuse assessment against Seth for physical abuse of thirteen-year-old B.B. The teenager has a history of severe behavioral problems. He attends an alternative school and has an individualized education program. The record contains numerous reports of B.B.'s threatening and aggressive behaviors in school. B.B. attends counseling for a host of mental-health diagnoses, including disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention deficit disorder.

         On November 8, 2017, Seth "grounded" B.B. and told him to stay in his bedroom, but B.B. would not cooperate. After B.B. came into the living room, Seth returned his son to the bedroom and "hog-tied" his hands and feet behind his back with a cord. When B.B. slipped from the restraints, Seth dragged B.B. by the arm through the house back to his bedroom. The struggle left a four-inch-square scrape on B.B.'s back. B.B. also alleged when he grabbed a doorframe, Seth punched him in the chest. No visible injury resulted from the alleged punch. Two of Seth's other children-nine-year-old E.B. and seventeen-year-old T.B-were home at the time. Seth's two eldest children were over eighteen years of age.

         During the abuse assessment, a child protective services worker interviewed E.B., who was in fifth grade. She recalled Seth and B.B. were "flailing around" until Seth grabbed B.B.'s arm and dragged him back to his room. She did not see her brother tied up. She said her parents discipline her by sending her to her room as well, but B.B. refuses to listen.

         The record shows Seth has physical limitations from a severe whiplash injury that ruptured a disk and permanently damaged his spinal cord. He walks with the assistance of a cane. Seth also takes medication for his diagnosed anxiety disorder and depression and has been seeing a mental-health counselor.

         After the early November events, the juvenile court removed B.B. and E.B. from Seth's care and placed them with their mother, who subsequently filed for divorce from Seth. On February 11, 2018, the juvenile court adjudicated B.B. and E.B. as CINA, finding the November 8 incident to be physical abuse. The court decided Seth and B.B. needed to engage in family therapy. The court also ordered Seth to obtain a mental-health evaluation and follow all recommendations of the provider. It ...


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