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State ex rel. A.C.

Court of Appeals of Utah

June 8, 2017

State of Utah, in the interest of A.C., a person under eighteen years of age.
v.
State of Utah, Appellee. K.C., Appellant,

         Second District Juvenile Court, Farmington Department The Honorable Janice L. Frost No. 1139124

          Jason B. Richards, Attorney for Appellant.

          Sean D. Reyes, Carol L.C. Verdoia, and John M. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee

          Martha Pierce, Guardian ad Litem

          Before Judges J. Frederic Voros Jr., Stephen L. Roth, and David N. Mortensen.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         ¶1 K.C. (Mother) appeals the March 23, 2017 "findings, conclusions and dispositional order" entered on the State's amended petition for protective supervision. Specifically, Mother appeals that part of the order substantiating the Division of Child and Family Services' (DCFS) supported finding that Mother failed to protect A.C. from sexual abuse by Mother's boyfriend. We affirm.

         ¶2 Mother neither admitted nor denied the allegations of the amended petition. Accordingly, the juvenile court deemed the factual allegations to be true. See Utah R. Juv. P. 34(e) ("Allegations not specifically denied by a respondent shall be deemed true."). The juvenile court found that Mother's boyfriend was a registered sex offender who sexually abused a twelve-year-old girl in January 2004, and that he was convicted of rape of a child, a first degree felony, and sentenced to six years to life in prison. The juvenile court found that Mother was aware of her boyfriend's criminal history and aware that he was a registered sex offender. "Knowing and having reason to know about her boyfriend's sex abuse history, [Mother] allowed her child and [her boyfriend] to have contact with each other and reside together." While Mother and A.C. resided with Mother's boyfriend, the boyfriend sexually abused A.C. In an interview with law enforcement, A.C. said that the boyfriend and A.C. showered together nude. A.C. also told law enforcement that the boyfriend threatened that she would be grounded if she did not shower with him. A.C. described an incident where the boyfriend digitally penetrated her vagina while they were resting in bed together.

         ¶3 The following additional factual findings are relevant to Mother's claims in this appeal. In 2012, prior to getting into a relationship with the boyfriend, Mother met with the boyfriend's counselor and got permission to start dating him. Prior to being released from his counseling, the boyfriend passed a polygraph test and a PPG.[1] After dating for two years, Mother and her children moved in with the boyfriend. Parole officers continued to supervise the boyfriend and came in to check on the family until August 2016 when he was released from parole. Mother signed a form with the boyfriend's parole officer "indicating that it was appropriate for the boyfriend and her daughter to have contact with each other." After DCFS initiated a child welfare investigation of suspected abuse, Mother signed a safety plan that included requirements that Mother and A.C. would not reside with Mother's boyfriend, and that Mother would not allow contact between the boyfriend and A.C. Mother and the child thereafter moved in with Mother's parents.

         ¶4 The juvenile court's "review findings, conclusions, and order" of March 21, 2017, addressed the substantiation issue that had been under advisement at the adjudication hearing. In that order, the juvenile court found that Mother's "actions in allowing a live-in relationship with the known sex offender was not reasonable or prudent because [Mother] placed her child in a position of being sexually abused." The court also found, "It was not reasonable for [Mother] to have her child reside with a known sex offender, " and "was likely not reasonable for [Mother] not to have ensured that her boyfriend would only have supervised contact . . . with the child." Finally, Mother's "actions were not reasonable in preventing sexual abuse and her failure to act reasonably caused her child to be sexually abused by her boyfriend." The juvenile court found in the March 21, 2017 order that the boyfriend sexually abused A.C. and that Mother neglected A.C. by failing to protect the child. In the subsequent dispositional order entered on March 23, 2017, the juvenile court found, "by a preponderance of the evidence that the supported findings of [DCFS] are substantiated and includes the finding in its order, within the meaning of Utah Code Ann. § 78A-6-323 and 62A-4a-1006."

         ¶5 Utah Code section 78A-6-323 states, in relevant part:

(1) Upon the filing with the court of a petition under Section 78A-6-304[2] by the Division of Child and Family Services or any interested person informing the court, among other things, that the division has made a supported finding that a person committed a severe type of child abuse or neglect as defined in Section 62A-4a-1002, the court shall:
(a) make a finding of substantiated, unsubstantiated, or without merit;
(b) include the finding described in Subsection (1)(a) in a ...

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