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In re Anaishaly C.

Appellate Court of Connecticut

June 10, 2019

IN RE ANAISHALY C. et al.[*]

         Argued January 16, 2019.

         Appeal from the Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, Dyer, J.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          David J. Reich, for the appellant in AC 41830 (respondent father).

          Joshua Michtom, assistant public defender, for the appellant in AC 41889 (respondent mother).

         Rosemarie T. Weber, assistant attorney general, with whom, on the brief, were George Jepsen, former attorney general, and Benjamin Zivyon, assistant attorney general, for the appellee in both cases (petitioner).

         DiPentima, C. J., and Keller and Elgo, Js.


         ELGO, J.

         [190 Conn.App. 669] The respondent mother (mother) and the respondent father (father)[1] appeal from the judgments of the trial court terminating their parental rights with [190 Conn.App. 670] respect to their minor children, Anaishaly C. and Khrianalis C.,[2] and appointing the petitioner, the Commissioner of Children and Families (commissioner), as the statutory parent.[3] The respondents contend that the court improperly concluded that (1) they failed to achieve the requisite degree of personal rehabilitation required by General Statutes § 17a-112, and (2) termination of their parental rights was in the best interests of the children. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

          The following facts, which the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence, and procedural history are relevant to the resolution of this appeal. On August 28, 2012, the father was arrested on charges of assault in the third degree and disorderly conduct after he punched and kicked the mother during an argument at their residence, leaving a boot shaped imprint on her back. The mother was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Although the father told police officers that he had consumed several drinks, the police report noted his ability to articulate his thoughts clearly and calmly. According to the police report, the mother told officers that Anaishaly, who was born in June, 2011, and was fourteen months old at the time, was living with the respondents and had not witnessed the assault. Thereafter, a no contact protective order was issued by the criminal court. The order barred the father from initiating any contact with the mother and required him to vacate the home that they shared.

         On October 21, 2014, the mother met with a Department of Children and Families (department) social worker and its domestic violence consultant. At that time, the mother indicated that she was afraid of the [190 Conn.App. 671] father and informed the department about his ongoing abuse. She told the department personnel about the incident that occurred on August 28, 2012, and about another occasion in which the father had choked and had assaulted her, which left a scar on her forehead. On October 22, 2014, after the mother signed a safety plan in which she agreed to have no contact with

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the father,[4] the department brought her and Anaishaly to a domestic violence shelter. During October, 2014, the mother received drug treatment because she had rendered a positive urine test during a substance abuse assessment.

         On October 27, 2014, the department learned that the mother and Anaishaly were no longer at the shelter after a department worker called the cell phone number provided by the mother and the father answered. He stated that he was at work and that the mother was at home with Anaishaly. Later that day, the mother spoke with a department worker. She reported that she had bipolar disorder, expressed her reluctance to return to the shelter, and recanted the allegations that the father had abused her physically. On that same date, the commissioner assumed temporary custody of Anaishaly, who was then three years old, pursuant to an administrative ninety-six hour hold. On October 30, 2014, the commissioner filed a neglect petition as to Anaishaly and obtained an ex parte order of temporary custody. That order was sustained at a hearing held on November 5, 2014.[5]

         [190 Conn.App. 672] At 4:11 a.m. on January 1, 2015, police were called to the respondents’ address. The police report indicated that the father had kicked in the front door of the apartment and attempted to punch the mother. Responding officers observed the damaged door, overturned furniture, and other vandalism. The father was not at the scene when the police arrived. The police returned to the residence again at approximately 6 a.m., at which time the mother told the police that she had received a telephone call from the father, who had threatened to "kill her" and "burn down" the apartment. (Internal quotation marks omitted.) The police discovered the father on the premises and arrested him on charges of threatening, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and possession of a hallucinogenic substance. The police report noted that the father was "acting like he had consumed some kind of drug(s) and alcohol." Tablets, later identified as the illegal drug ecstasy, were found on the father’s person. The police report also noted that the father was combative during booking. On January 2, 2015, another full no contact protective order was issued against the father, which prohibited him from having any contact with the mother and required him to stay 100 yards away from her. He subsequently was convicted of threatening and received a six month suspended jail sentence as a result of this incident.

          Anaishaly was adjudicated neglected and committed to the commissioner’s custody on February 24, 2015. Thereafter, the department

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referred both respondents to various rehabilitative services in order to facilitate their reunification with Anaishaly. During 2015, the [190 Conn.App. 673] mother successfully completed an intimate partner violence course, substance abuse treatment, and a parenting education course.

         The father’s progress reports revealed mixed results. Although a department report received on March 18, 2015, indicated that he had attended all sessions in a parenting education course, he did not appear to gain insight about "how to effectively parent and display an image of a good father to his child." He also received drug treatment, from which he was discharged on September 29, 2015. Although his drug tests were negative on August 3, August 17 and September 28, 2015, he tested positive for opiates on September 8, 2015, and positive for oxycodone on September 14, 2015. The father claimed that the positive urine tests resulted from his use of his mother’s prescription pain killers to treat a back injury. Following his completion of a family violence program on November 17, 2015, the department believed that he made progress in that program.

          Khrianalis was born in August, 2015. After being discharged from the hospital, she lived with the respondents. Approximately six months after Khrianalis was born, the department referred the respondents to the Village for Children & Families (Village) for reunification services in an effort to reunify Anaishaly with the respondents and Khrianalis. The Village began providing reunification services on March 3, 2016. On the basis of the respondents’ satisfactory participation with the Village, the department returned Anaishaly to the respondents’ home on a trial basis on May 31, 2016.

          Approximately one month later, on June 28, 2016, neighbors overheard the father cursing at the mother, followed by loud noises coming from the respondents’ apartment. Several tenants were concerned that it sounded like the father was physically abusing the mother. A department social worker met with the respondents the next day. Both respondents denied that [190 Conn.App. 674] there had been any physical violence. They told the department social worker that they had not argued but had discussed an accusation that the father had been seen with another woman earlier that day. The department social worker also learned that the mother was pregnant. The department social worker spoke with Anaishaly, who was five years old at the time. Anaishaly reported to the department social worker that she and Khrianalis had stayed the previous night at their paternal grandmother’s home. She also reported that she had observed the mother and the father arguing and had observed the father hit the mother. Anaishaly proceeded to describe verbally and physically where and how the father hit the mother, pointing to her left cheek when asked where the mother was hit. She ...

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