In re Parental Rights to L.P.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
PartiesIn the Matter of the Parental Rights to L.P.
Docket Number38168-4-III,38169-2-III
Decision Date22 December 2022

In the Matter of the Parental Rights to L.P.

Nos. 38168-4-III, 38169-2-III

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

December 22, 2022



This appeal concerns the termination of parental rights for the parents' youngest son, L.P. The family unit consists of the parents and their six children. When the dependency petition was filed, three sons and one daughter were adults. One minor daughter, R.P., and one minor son, L.P., remained in the home. The dependency was filed after an adult daughter, A.P. disclosed that she had been repeatedly raped by her father and one of her older brothers while growing up. The younger daughter, R.P., later confirmed that she was also the subject of sexual abuse by her father and another brother. The parents do not dispute the order terminating their rights to R.P.

During the dependency, the Mother[1] refused to acknowledge that the abuse occurred and had taken the position that she would not sever her relationship with her


husband or sons. While both parents participated in some of the ordered services during the dependency, they refused services directly related to the abuse. After three years, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (Department) petitioned for termination of the parental rights of the parents to their youngest son, L.P. At the termination trial, the court found that the Father and two oldest sons sexually abused the two female children, A.P. and R.P. The court also found that despite overwhelming evidence of the abuse, the Mother refused to acknowledge its possibility, refused to leave her husband for the safety of the children, and would therefore be unable to protect her children from the Father. The superior court concluded that the Department had proved all statutory and constitutional factors necessary for termination of the parental rights to L.P.

On appeal, the parents contend that the Department failed to prove the statutory factors establishing lack of fitness, particularly that necessary services were not offered or provided to help them to correct their parenting deficiencies. They further challenge whether termination was in the best interests of L.P. The Mother also argues that she was not notified, in violation of her due process rights, that her physical mobility was a parental deficiency. The parents contend that the sexual abuse remains unproven, and L.P. is not in danger since he is male and has never been abused. We disagree and affirm the order terminating the parental rights to L.P.



The following facts are taken from the trial court findings, trial exhibits and trial testimony.

The parents have been married since 1990 and have six children: one minor son, L.P. (age 10 at time of trial); one minor daughter, R.P.; one adult daughter, A.P.; and three adult sons, C.P., B.P., and N.P. The Father is the sole financial provider of the family. The Mother has physical limitations that impede her mobility and limit her ability to work outside the home.

In July 2017, when she was 21 years old, the parents' adult daughter, A.P., called Child Protective Services (CPS) alleging that her father had sexually abused her and her younger sister, R.P.[2] A.P. told CPS that her adult brother, C.P., had also been abused by her father. R.P. confirmed her own abuse by her father and added that she had been raped by her older brother, B.P. The Father admitted to some inappropriate touching but claimed that A.P. initiated it. He denied sexual intercourse with A.P. and any sexual contact with R.P.

The Father admitted that A.P. previously disclosed her sexual abuse at a family meeting. The Mother denied any prior knowledge of sexual abuse allegations and denied that A.P. had disclosed the abuse during a prior family meeting. She denied that the


Father had sexually abused any of their children. Both parents accused A.P. of having "mental problems." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 176. R.P. and L.P. were subsequently removed from the home and ultimately placed together with a foster family whose home was deemed safe, stable, and appropriate. The parents were granted supervised visits with L.P.

During an August 2017 family team decision meeting (FDM) with the Department, A.P. and R.P. again disclosed sexual abuse in the home. A.P. repeated an earlier allegation that C.P. had been sexually abusing her after seeing their father abuse A.P. The Mother continued to deny that the Father had abused any of their children. The parents refused the suggestion that the Father move out of the family home.

In October 2017, the Department and the parents agreed to the entry of dependency disposition orders for R.P. and L.P. The dependency safety concerns identified by the Department included: (1) the Mother was in complete denial that this could have happened to her children and could not be vigilant, (2) two older brothers had sexual contact with both daughters, and (3) L.P. is at a vulnerable age. RP (Oct. 29, 2020) at 692-93.[3] The Department determined that the Father's primary parental deficiency was


sexual abuse of the children. The Mother's primary parental deficiency was her failure to protect the children from sexual abuse.

The dependency disposition order for L.P. ordered services for the parents. Family counseling was not a necessary service capable of correcting the parental deficiencies of the parents in the foreseeable future.


The Department met with the Father to discuss his service plan. Ordered services included sexual deviancy evaluation with polygraph, psychological evaluation, parenting education, and mental health treatment. A polygraph is an essential tool in sexual deviancy evaluations.

The Father submitted to a sexual deviancy evaluation with Ken Schafer in November 2017. The Father understood all services required of him but refused the court-ordered polygraph. Mr. Schafer was aware of the allegations of abuse against C.P. He felt that questions specific to every sibling, including C.P., were necessary on the polygraph. Mr. Schafer's report indicated that the Father "opted to not participate in a polygraph assessment even though it was fully funded by DSHS [Department of Social &Health Services]." Ex. 37 at 2. The Father told Mr. Schafer that:

[H]e does not believe that it would be beneficial as he does not trust the outcomes; it is not admissible in court; and that he has enough character witnesses to attest that he has done nothing wrong with any of his children.
[The Father] was made fully aware that his choice to not participate in the polygraph may also be detrimental to him ....[The Father] indicated that he understood the possible ramifications of his choice to not participate in a Sexual History Polygraph examination.

Ex. 37 at 11. The Father's refusal to submit to a polygraph limited Mr. Schafer's assessment to the Father's self-reports. According to Mr. Schafer, the Father presented himself in an "overly virtuous manner." CP at 180 (FF 2.14.37). He primarily worried for himself and showed little to no concern for his minor daughter. Mr. Schafer did not recommend a parenting course or mental health assessment based on the Father's complete denial of sexual abuse and unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions. For the same reasons, Mr. Schafer found that the Father was not amenable to any treatment. He also felt sexual deviancy treatment would be futile. The court found Mr. Schafer's opinion to be compelling.

As of June 2018, the Father was not compliant with completing his sexual deviancy evaluation due to his failure to submit to a polygraph examination. The court ordered him to finish a polygraph "per Ken Schafer." Ex. 6 at 12. The Father testified that he was not comfortable with Mr. Schafer and decided to arrange an independent polygraph because he understood that it was ordered by the court. Mr. Schafer later became aware of the Father submitting to two polygraphs with another provider. He was not contacted to participate in them and thus did not consider it an adequate substitute to complete his own assessment. Mr. Shafter felt that "significant issues [were] identified


through this-this whole process. I don't think it's normative to have that many individuals . . . associated with [the Father] . . . that are indicating some-some level of sexual mistreatment, sexual abuse being conducted by a family member." RP (Oct. 26, 2020) at 283-84. These red flags made Mr. Shafer question whether the environment in the Father's home would be safe for any child regardless of gender.

The Father had a psychological evaluation in December 2017 with Dr. Jameson Lontz. Dr. Lontz found the Father's self-reporting regarding the sexual contacts with A.P. inconsistent. Dr. Lontz found that the Father demonstrated a moderate sexual violence reoffense score, counting sexual contact with children as sexual violence for scoring purposes. It was based on the Father's history, attitudes, and insights. Dr. Lontz diagnosed the Father with passive-aggressive presentation and paraphilic disorder, which are personality disorders that are difficult to treat. Paraphilic disorder means "intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviors that involve sexual activity with prepubescent people." RP (Oct. 26, 2020) at 395. Dr. Lontz opined that violent acts against one vulnerable group increase the risk of violent acts against other vulnerable individuals. Treatment prognosis depends on volition, and the Father demonstrates denial of abuse and lack of insight, making his prognosis poor.

Dr. Lontz did not recommend a parenting course because it would not resolve the Father's sexual abuse or change his lack of concern for his daughter. Dr. Lontz also


opined that individual counseling would be futile because the Father would not be willing to engage. He did not think the Father should be left alone...

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