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Name: In re I.J.
Case #: S204622
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/09/2013

Father’s continuous and prolonged sexual abuse of his daughters was sufficient to justify removal of his sons from his custody, even where father did not abuse sons. The appellate court upheld a juvenile court’s finding that father sexually abused his daughter over a three month period, and held that this finding supported the determination that the daughter and her younger sisters were dependents of the court under section 300. The Supreme Court granted review to determine whether a father’s sexual abuse of his daughter supported a determination that his sons were juvenile court dependents when there was no evidence the father sexually abused or otherwise mistreated the boys, and they were unaware of their sister’s abuse before the dependency proceedings began. The Supreme Court held that a father’s prolonged and egregious sexual abuse of his own child may provide substantial evidence to support a finding that all his children are juvenile court dependents. The serious and prolonged nature of father’s sexual abuse of his daughter under these circumstances supports the juvenile court’s finding that the risk of abuse was substantial as to all the children. Even if it can be assumed that the risk to the daughters was greater than that to the sons, it does not mean the risk to the sons was nonexistent. However, in upholding jurisdiction in this case, the court noted that it was not holding that the juvenile court is compelled as a matter of law to assume jurisdiction over all the children whenever one child is sexually abused. It held only that the evidence in this case supported the court’s assertion of jurisdiction.