IN THE INTEREST OF W.D., A.D., F.D., Z.D., and S.D., Minor Children, W.D., Sr., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County, Linnea M.
N. Nicol, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
G. Knudson, Decorah, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Anagha Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Whitney L. Gessner of Gessner Law Office, Monona, guardian ad
litem for minor children.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
five children.Upon our de novo review, we affirm.
Standard of Review and Statutory Framework.
Iowa Code chapter 232 (2018), parental rights may be
terminated if the following three conditions are true: (1) a
"ground for termination under section 232.116(1) has
been established" by clear and convincing evidence, (2)
"the best-interest framework as laid out in section
232.116(2) supports the termination of parental rights,"
and (3) none of the "exceptions in section 232.116(3)
apply to preclude termination of parental rights."
In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472-73 (Iowa 2018). Our
review is de novo, which means we give the juvenile
court's findings of fact weight, especially the
court's credibility assessments, but we are not bound by
those findings. See id. at 472. "For evidence
to be 'clear and convincing,' it is merely necessary
that there be no serious or substantial doubt about the
correctness of the conclusion drawn from it." Raim
v. Stancel, 339 N.W.2d 621, 624 (Iowa Ct. App. 1983);
see also In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa
Background Facts and Proceedings.
the father and K.D. is the mother of five children, all of
whom were born before 2013. The parents were married in or
about 2005, and their oldest child was born in March 2006. In
October 2006, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)
received a report of child abuse allegedly perpetrated by the
father against the infant. The DHS determined the report that
the father denied the infant critical care in failing to
provide proper supervision was founded.
January 2013, the family again came to the attention of the
DHS after it received reports of child abuse. Following a DHS
assessment, the reports against both parents for denying
their children critical care in failing to provide proper
supervision were determined to be founded. Services were
offered to the family, and the case was closed in the late
summer or early fall of 2013.
August 2013, the DHS received a report that the family was
living in an RV-type home, a fifth-wheel trailer that was not
suitable for children.
The parents and [five] children were residing in [a] camper
at a relative's home. Law enforcement [officials]
observed piles of garbage on [the] floor of the camper,
animal feces accessible to the children, food items on the
floor, dirty dishes and piles on the floor leaving it
difficult for the children to maneuver through the items.
Through the assessment . . . it was discovered that there
were many concerns with the parents' parenting ability.
conclusion of the assessment, the DHS found the new reports
against the parents for denying their children critical care
in failing to provide adequate housing were founded. Services
were again offered to the family. The DHS has continued to be
involved with the family since that time.
the August 2013 report, the family moved in with the
father's mother and her husband. In October 2013, it was
alleged the father kicked one of the children in the shin
causing a bruise, but the report was not confirmed. There
were other concerns about the father's anger and
aggression, including that he was making threatening
statements towards the children's school. The mother and
the children then moved into a new place, and the father
continued to live with his mother. The parents have remained
November 2013, it was relayed to the DHS that the mother
reported "inappropriate sexual contact between the
children." The mother told the DHS worker that the
parents' four-year-old "daughter had come out of the
bathroom prior to a visit with [the father] and asked if [the
father] was going to touch her anymore and grabbed her
private area." The mother set up counseling appointments
for the children, and the children were interviewed at the
child protection center. Following protective interviews, the
professionals did not find the information obtained from the
children was congruous; the children were not able to give
any details and appeared to be reporting things that they had
heard. The report of sexual abuse was not confirmed.
January 2014, the DHS received another allegation the father
had sexually abused a relative. In that instance, the
father's minor nephew reported the father had touched the
nephew "on the private part of his body" on top of
his pants. This report of sexual abuse was determined to be
founded, and the case was referred for criminal prosecution.
Thereafter, the DHS suggested the father participate in a
"psycho-sexual evaluation to determine risk of
re-offense, risk to the children, and if any treatment is
recommended." The DHS stated the visitation with his
children would remain supervised minimally until the father
was evaluated, and, if the father did not participate,
"the visitation [would] stay supervised long-term."
The juvenile court in its October 2014 dispositional order
adopted the DHS's case plan, including the recommendation
that the father participate in the psycho-sexual evaluation.
The father refused to participate "until he [was] either
officially charged or the charges [were] dropped." The
father did continue to have supervised visits with the
children every other weekend, and those visits were without
father was charged with indecent contact with a child
relating to the allegations by his nephew in March 2014. The
case was ultimately "resolved with a plea to the lesser
included charge of assault for which the children's
father was sentenced to ten days in jail on June 23,
2015." The father then "agreed to participate in a
psycho-sexual evaluation." At the time of the September
2015 discretionary-review hearing, the father had an
evaluation scheduled for ...