K.s.-W. v. Officer, No. WD 75753.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtANTHONY REX GABBERT
Citation412 S.W.3d 452
PartiesIn the Interest of K.S.-W., Plaintiff. C.P.S., Appellant; D.B.W, Appellant Pro Se, Appellant, v. Juvenile Officer, Respondent; Missouri Children's Division, Respondent, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. WD 75753.
Decision Date22 October 2013

412 S.W.3d 452

In the Interest of K.S.-W., Plaintiff.
C.P.S., Appellant;
D.B.W, Appellant Pro Se, Appellant,
v.
Juvenile Officer, Respondent;
Missouri Children's Division, Respondent, Respondent.

No. WD 75753.

Missouri Court of Appeals,
Western District.

Oct. 22, 2013.


[412 S.W.3d 453]


Donald Forrester, Valerie Sieverling, Laurie Snell, Kansas City, for appellant.

Gary Gardner, Jefferson City, for respondent.


Before Division One: VICTOR C. HOWARD, P.J., JOSEPH M. ELLIS, and ANTHONY REX GABBERT, JJ.

ANTHONY REX GABBERT, Judge.

C.P.S. and D.B.W. (Appellants) appeal the circuit court's judgment adopting the commissioner's findings that sustained Juvenile Officer allegations that K.S.-W. was in need of care and treatment and subject to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to Section 211.031.1, RSMo. Cum.Supp.2010, due to parental neglect.

In December of 2003, when K.S.-W. was ten years old, the Children's Division placed K.S.-W. in the foster home of Appellants after he was abused in his prior foster home. Appellants adopted K.S.-W. and his brother, D.J., in December of 2006.

In August of 2010, when K.S.-W. was seventeen years old, he was placed in the Woodward Sexual Offender Program. In the program, participants are required to take a polygraph test and discuss incidents of sexual abuse they perpetrated along with any sexual acts perpetrated on them. During the polygraph test, the examiner asked K.S.-W. if he had ever been sexually abused at home and he initially said, “No.” The test indicated that K.S.-W. failed that question and the examiner and staff discussed this with him further. K.S.-W. then reported that he had improperly touched his older half-brother who had cerebral palsy, that he had molested a current foster brother, and that Appellant C.P.S. had abused him. K.S.-W.'s allegations with regard to C.P.S. were “hotlined” to the Children's Division and Children's Division staff interviewed Appellants on September 24, 2010, and again on December 16, 2010, regarding the allegations.

Based on those interviews, the Juvenile Officer filed a petition on March 30, 2011, alleging that K.S.-W. was in need of care and treatment pursuant to Section 211.031

[412 S.W.3d 454]

because of Appellants' “neglect.” The petition alleged that K.S.-W. had a history of sexual abuse, that K.S.-W. had exhibited sexualized behaviors, and that he had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The petition alleged that, despite Appellants' knowledge of K.S.-W.'s history and behaviors, the parents admitted that they had “engaged in ‘cuddle time’ with K.S.-W. in the parents' shared bed at times when both parents were naked and covered with only a sheet or blanket.” The petition alleged that Appellant C.P.S. admitted to Children's Division staff that, on more than one instance during cuddle time with the child, C.P.S.'s penis was erect. The petition alleged that C.P.S. admitted that he took K.S.-W. on a biking trip, during which trip he and K.S.-W. slept naked in the same bed and once engaged in cuddle time during that trip. Finally, the petition alleged that Appellant D.B.W. knew or should have known of C.P.S.'s behaviors with K.S.-W. and failed or refused to protect the child from C.P.S.

The circuit court heard evidence regarding the Juvenile Officer's petition on May 17, 2011, July 8, 2011, August 26, 2011, November 22, 2011, February 24, 2012, March 22, 2012, April 5, 2012, and April 6, 2012. On September 21, 2012, the court sustained each allegation in the petition and found K.S.-W. to have been abused and/or neglected by Appellants and subject to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to Section 211.031.1. Appellants appeal the court's judgment.

We review juvenile adjudication proceedings under the standard applied in other court-tried civil cases and will affirm the judgment unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law. In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App.2011). We view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the judgment and defer to the credibility determinations of the circuit court.1Id. Pursuant to Rule 116.02, at all juvenile hearings involving adjudication of a petition's allegations, the rules of evidence shall apply. The court's evidentiary decisions are reviewed for abuse of discretion. McGuire v. Kenoma, 375 S.W.3d 157, 164 (Mo.App.2012).

Appellants raise four points on appeal. As we reverse and remand on their third point, we do not address their first, second, and fourth points. In Appellants' third point on appeal, they contend that the court erred in considering and relying on evidence irrelevant to the allegations in the petition, or hearsay, because the court sustained objections to the admission of such evidence or stated that no consideration was being given to evidence that did not support allegations in the petition.

[412 S.W.3d 455]

We agree that the court erred in considering and relying on prejudicial evidence that proved to be irrelevant to the allegations in the petition.

The Juvenile Officer's petition alleged that K.S.-W. was without proper care, custody or support necessary for his well-being and was subject to jurisdiction pursuant to Section 211.031.1 due to parental neglect. The petition then delineated specific admissions that Appellants were alleged to have made with regard to behaviors that the Juvenile Officer considered neglectful. Because of the specificity of the allegations and the fact that the petition focused on admissions by Appellants, not allegations by K.S.-W., the Juvenile Officer objected to, and the court sustained, evidence outside the parameters of those allegations. When the child's therapist testified that it was “likely, from the beginning, that [K.S.-W.] was going to make allegations against his parents, because many children like [K.S.-W.] do,” the Juvenile Officer objected. The Juvenile Officer stated: “I'm going to object to the answer and ask that it be stricken. Nowhere in this petition is it contained that [K.S.-W.] made any allegations with regard to the parents. That is not what we are adjudicating.” When the therapist testified that children, such as [K.S.-W.] are afraid of abandonment and “frequently have not learned what the truth means,” the Guardian Ad Litem objected that the statement had no relevance to the pending allegations. The court sustained the objection and indicated that it would disregard the testimony. The Juvenile Officer reminded the court on several occasions that the petition was to be the court's focus. The court made it clear that it...

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2 practice notes
  • K.R. v. A.L.S. (In re A.L.R.), WD79123
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 26 Julio 2016
    ...notice of the specific allegations of abuse or neglect against them, and the opportunity to defend against those charges." In re K.S.-W., 412 S.W.3d 452, 457 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013) (quoting In re Y.S. W, 402 S.W.3d 600, 604 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013)). 17. See supra note 16. 18. See supra note 16. ......
  • Juvenile Officer v. C.P.S. (In re Interest of K.S.W.), WD 77453
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 17 Febrero 2015
    ...the Juvenile Officer's petition at that time, and, on appeal, this Court reversed and remanded for rehearing in In re K.S. – W., 412 S.W.3d 452, 457 (Mo.App.2013). That opinion recites the pertinent background facts as follows:In December of 2003, when K.S.-W. was ten years old, the Childre......
2 cases
  • K.R. v. A.L.S. (In re A.L.R.), WD79123
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 26 Julio 2016
    ...of the specific allegations of abuse or neglect against them, and the opportunity to defend against those charges." In re K.S.-W., 412 S.W.3d 452, 457 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013) (quoting In re Y.S. W, 402 S.W.3d 600, 604 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013)). 17. See supra note 16. 18. See supra note 16. 19......
  • Juvenile Officer v. C.P.S. (In re Interest of K.S.W.), WD 77453
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 17 Febrero 2015
    ...the Juvenile Officer's petition at that time, and, on appeal, this Court reversed and remanded for rehearing in In re K.S. – W., 412 S.W.3d 452, 457 (Mo.App.2013). That opinion recites the pertinent background facts as follows:In December of 2003, when K.S.-W. was ten years old, the Childre......

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