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IN THE INTEREST OF: K.M.G.

JANUARY 07, 1987

IN THE INTEREST OF: K.M.G.




BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, P.J., PRATHER AND GRIFFIN, JJ.

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This appeal addresses the application of full faith and credit principles to judicial proceedings of a sister state. The Mississippi proceedings began when the Youth Counselor of the Harrison County Family Court filed a complaint seeking an adjudication that the minor K. M. G. was an abused child. The child's father, Charles T. Greene, Jr., filed and was granted a motion to dismiss on grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel since the issue was previously litigated in a Ohio Court. Dissatisfied with the dismissal, the child's mother, Mrs. Rene Paulette (Joynes) Greene, appeals assigning the following errors:

(1) The court erred in dismissing the petition which it had earlier directed to be filed in the interest of the four year old infant female child who was alleged to have been sexually abused.

 (2) The court erred in finding that the Ohio Court had jurisdiction.

 (3) The court erred in holding that the doctrine of collateral estoppel or res adjudicata applied in this case.

 I.

 Charles Thomas Greene and Rene Paulette (Joynes) Greene were divorced in Ohio on September 26, 1980. Custody of the minor child and support payments were awarded to Mrs. Joynes, and visitation rights were granted to Mr. Greene. There was no provision in the Ohio divorce decree which forbade the mother from taking the child out of the jurisdiction of the court. Joynes moved with the child to Mississippi in 1981 and remarried. On January 4, 1983, Mr. Greene made a motion in the Ohio Court to issue a contempt citation after Mrs.

 Joynes omitted a visitation period between Greene and the child in 1982.

 Mrs. Joynes answered the contempt citation in the Ohio Court and filed a motion to discontinue visitation. Joynes' motion alleged that Greene" sexually abused "the child during a December, 1982 visit, and this accusation was the basis for discontinuance of the father's visitation.

 Although no guardian ad litem was appointed for the child in Ohio, a full hearing was held on Joynes' accusation. The evidence offered in support of Joynes' allegations was the same as that offered in the motion hearing now on appeal: (1) Joynes testified that upon K. M. G.'s return from a visit with her father in December, 1982, Joynes noticed a rash in the child's vaginal area; (2) on January 5, 1983, K. M. G. told Joynes that" her bottom was sore "and that her father had" split [her] open "; (3) a deposition of Dr. Andrews, a psychologist, who treated the child from January through May, 1983 was admitted into evidence.

 The Ohio Court found:

 While the Court has considered the deposition of Dr. Andrews, his testimony alone is not dispositive. The plaintiff/wife has supplied no medical proof to show that the child has been sexually abused. The only existing physical abnormality was a rash that the plaintiff/wife stated appeared to be a normal diaper rash. Accordingly, plaintiff/wife's motion to terminate visitation is not well taken and is overruled.

 After this adverse ruling in Ohio, Joynes then filed a request that the Family Court of Harrison County, Mississippi consider her plea. The Harrison County Family Court directed that a petition be filed in the interest of K. M. G. At the hearing, the Family Court Prosecutor appeared representing the State of Mississippi; attorneys appeared representing Charles Thomas Greene and Rene Paulette (Joynes) Greene; and the Assistant Family Court Administrator appeared as guardian ad litem representing K. M. G. On the grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel, the Harrison County Family Court dismissed the motion filed on behalf of the father and upheld the previous ruling of the Ohio Court stating:

 While this Court might very well have ruled in a manner opposite of the Ohio Court, the law applicable to this case leaves the Court to the inescapable ...


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