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Name: L.A. County DCFS v. Superior Court
Case #: B250059
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/17/2013

Dismissal of a dependency petition was error where the substantial lapse in time since father’s convictions for sexually abusing unrelated male children did not overcome the presumption father’s son was at risk in his care. Father was convicted of sexual offenses against a ten-year-old boy in 1986 and a six-year-old boy in 1989. He served seven years in prison and was then committed as a sexually violent predator (“SVP”) for 13 years. In 2011, two years after his release, he fathered a male child, S.G., who was removed from his care in 2013, due to the parents’ substance abuse and father’s status as a registered sex offender. A petition was filed, alleging S.G. was at risk pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (b) and (d). The juvenile court dismissed the petition, holding insufficient evidence established S.G. was at risk. The appellate court reversed the dismissal of the dependency action. A presumption of substantial risk of abuse or neglect exists when the parent has a prior conviction for sexual abuse, or is required to register as a sex offender. Father failed to overcome this presumption. Although his crimes occurred 25 years earlier with unrelated children, father had spent a limited amount of time out of confinement, had not continued in therapies deemed critical to preventing recurrence, and continued to minimize the severity of his crimes. The probability and severity of the possible sexual abuse was high enough to require finding that a substantial risk existed.