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J.F.G. v. Pearl River County Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 13, 2017

J.F.G. AND C.L.G. APPELLANTS
v.
PEARL RIVER COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/11/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PEARL RIVER COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. DAWN H. BEAM JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: JAMES L. GRAY

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: STEVEN PATRICK WANSLEY

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. This is an appeal from Pearl River County Chancery Court where the chancellor terminated the parental rights of the appellants. On appeal, the appellants assert that (1) the chancellor did not find that the grounds for termination of parental rights were established by clear and convincing evidence, (2) the chancellor did not consider all evidence before her, and (3) the State did not prove the grounds for termination of parental rights by clear and convincing evidence. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

         ¶2. J.F.G. is the biological mother of the minor children.[1] C.L.G. was the legal father of three, and the biological father of two, of the minor children.[2]

         ¶3. In August 2012, the Pearl River County Department of Human Services (DHS) received a report of (1) sexual abuse of one of the minor children and (2) drug use by the mother.[3] Per an order from the Pearl River County Youth Court, the minor children were placed in DHS custody, where they have remained continuously.[4] The mother and father were subsequently arrested for possession of a controlled substance. On November 14, 2012, the minor children were adjudicated as neglected by the youth court.

         ¶4. The mother and father entered into service agreements with DHS in November 2012. Both failed to successfully complete their respective agreements. The mother failed to (1) complete drug rehabilitation, (2) maintain sufficient housing, (3) maintain visitation with the minor children, and (4) complete a psychological exam. She was also arrested in March 2013 for use of crystal methamphetamine. After the March 2013 arrest, she was admitted to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield and completed a twenty-eight day drug-treatment program. After completion of the program, DHS and the mother entered into a second service agreement in May 2013. She failed to complete that agreement when she (1) failed to pay child support, (2) failed to maintain adequate housing, and (3) admitted to using crystal methamphetamine again in November 2013. She was arrested again and sentenced to a program overseen by the drug court.

         ¶5. The father failed to (1) complete drug treatment in a reasonable time, (2) maintain employment and housing, (3) maintain visitation with the minor children, (4) clear pending legal issues, and (5) complete a psychological exam. He tested positive for methamphetamine, and was also arrested and incarcerated for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute during this time.

         ¶6. On April 30, 2014, following the mother's and the father's repeated failures to satisfy the requirements of the service agreements, the youth court determined that reunification was no longer in the best interests of the minor children and changed the recommendation of the permanency plan from reunification to termination. On October 22, 2014, DHS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother and father.

         ¶7. A one-day trial was held on December 9, 2015. At trial, two DHS social workers testified, the original social worker assigned to the case during the pertinent events and the social worker assigned to the case during trial. The original social worker testified to the above facts regarding the allegations of abuse and neglect, the parents' service-agreement failures, and the reports of drug use. In recounting forensic interviews conducted between the minor children and the forensic interviewer, the original social worker also testified that from 2008 to 2012 while the mother was at work, she kept her children at the home of a longtime friend. During this time the friend was living with a registered sexual offender, who was romantically involved with the friend.[5] While at the friend's home, one of the minor children was inappropriately touched between her legs and buttocks by the sexual offender, was repeatedly asked if she would engage in fellatio with the sexual offender, and observed the sexual offender ...


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