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Name: In re I.C.
Case #: A141143
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/06/2015
Subsequent History: Review granted 10/28/2015: S229276

Three-year-old minor’s hearsay statements about sex abuse by father were sufficient evidence to sustain petition. The minor was removed from father and placed with mother after the juvenile court sustained an allegation that father had molested his three-year-old daughter. The juvenile court ordered that father continue to be removed from the family home until further order of the court. Respondent moved that the appeal be dismissed because mother had not appealed, and therefore reversal of the jurisdictional findings as to father would not affect the juvenile court’s jurisdiction (the court had sustained drug abuse allegations regarding mother.) The appellate court declined to dismiss the appeal, finding that the collateral consequences of the findings against father could be significant, and served as the basis of the dispositional order which required father to live apart from his children. Father argued that substantial evidence did not support the jurisdictional findings. The evidence came from a three-year-old child who was at times clear in her statements about what happened, and at other times very unclear and confused. The minor’s hearsay statements that “daddy put his penis on me” were the only evidence. The minor did not testify, could not be cross-examined, and there was no corroboration. The appellate court rejected father’s argument and affirmed. The hearsay statement was not only found in the social worker’s report, it was also contained in a video of the minor being interviewed. The juvenile court relied on the video to judge credibility. The totality of evidence concerning the surrounding circumstances established the truthfulness of the minor’s hearsay statement. The juvenile court’s decision to receive evidence of the minor’s statement is supported by substantial evidence and properly served as the basis for asserting jurisdiction.