IN THE INTEREST OF T.S., Minor Child, M.D., Intervenor, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, Amy L.
Zacharias, District Associate Judge.
paternal grandmother appeals the denial of her motion to
intervene following termination-of-parent-rights proceedings.
Heims, Council Bluffs, for appellant intervenor.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. Mailander of Mailander Law Office, Anita, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
grandmother, Malasondra, appeals the juvenile court's
denial of her motion to intervene following termination of
her son Shawn's parental rights. She believes she can
provide a safe, permanent home for her granddaughter, T.S.
But the juvenile court decided intervention was not in the
child's best interests because Malasondra and her husband
"were not a suitable long-term placement option"
for T.S. Finding no error in the juvenile court's
analysis, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
a fifth grader. Her biological parents are Shawn and
Karissa. T.S. lived with Shawn until fall 2016 when
he used crack cocaine while caring for her. Later that year,
Shawn was convicted in Minnesota of two counts of sexually
abusing his cognitively-delayed sister-starting when she was
thirteen years old. He received an indeterminate fifteen-year
prison sentence. As a result of those events, the Iowa
juvenile court terminated his parental rights to T.S. in May
mother, Malasondra, successfully petitioned to intervene in
the CINA proceedings. She asked the court to place T.S. with
her and her husband, Jeffrey, in their Minnesota home. In
response, the juvenile court ordered a home study under the
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). A
social worker from the Minnesota Department of Human Services
conducted the study and denied approval for placement, citing
serious concerns about Malasondra's ability to protect
T.S. from possible harm.
social worker was troubled by Malasondra's minimization
of Shawn's sexual abuse. Shawn pleaded guilty to
repeatedly sexually abusing his sister, G.S., over a period
of several years while they both lived at home with
Malasondra. But Malasondra characterized the sex acts between
Shawn and G.S. as consensual; disbelieved G.S. when she
sought help; and blamed G.S. for ruining Shawn's life. In
addition, G.S. reported her stepfather, Jeffrey, physically
abused her as a young child when he was intoxicated.
Malasondra denied these claims. In response to the sexual
assault investigation, Malasondra told police officers G.S.
made up stories. Malasondra told the social worker Shawn went
to jail for drug use-not as a result of his sexual abuse
convictions. The grandmother also admitted she knew Shawn was
abusing drugs while caring for T.S. but she was not concerned
about his parenting under the influence because other family
members always stepped in to take care of her.
social worker concluded:
Malasondra's greater concern about her son, Shawn, the
perpetrator of sexual abuse and the minimization of any
impact or suffering by his victim, [G.S.], raises concerns.
Her acknowledgment of a component of the abuse pattern in
her home and the victim's report of attempting to tell
her at the time also raise questions about her willingness
to believe and protect a victim if she favors the
perpetrator. These elements raise serious issues regarding
the safety and empathy available to a child in relative
placement. Even Malasondra's view that [T.S.'s]
father was a good parent while he used drugs ...