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In re Taurice M. (Anonymous)

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

February 8, 2017

In the Matter of Taurice M. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, petitioner-respondent; Gregory A. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondents. (Proceeding No. 1) In the Matter of Aniya K. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, petitioner-respondent; Gregory A. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondents. (Proceeding No. 2) In the Matter of Elijah K. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, petitioner-respondent; Gregory A. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondents. (Proceeding No. 3) In the Matter of Janice M. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, petitioner-respondent; Gregory A. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondents. (Proceeding No. 4) Docket Nos. N-29664-12, N-29665-12, N-29666-12, N-29667-12

          Mark Brandys, New York, NY, for appellant.

          Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, New York, NY (Fay Ng and Jane L. Gordon of counsel), for petitioner-respondent.

          Seymour W. James, Jr., New York, NY (Tamara Steckler and Judith Stern of counsel), attorney for the children (no brief filed).

          WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., LEONARD B. AUSTIN, ROBERT J. MILLER, JOSEPH J. MALTESE, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal by Gregory A. from an order of fact-finding of the Family Court, Kings County (Ilana Gruebel, J.), dated October 8, 2015. The order, insofar as appealed from, after a hearing, found that the appellant sexually abused the child Janice M. and derivatively neglected the children Taurice M., Aniya K., and Elijah K.

         ORDERED that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, without costs or disbursements.

         The Family Court's finding that the appellant sexually abused the child Janice M. is supported by a preponderance of the evidence (see Family Ct Act §§ 1012[e][iii]; 1046[b][i]; Penal Law § 130.30; Matter of Melody H. [Dwayne H.], 121 A.D.3d 686; Matter of Jada A. [Robert W.], 116 A.D.3d 769; Matter of Amelia V.M.B. [Davidson B.], 107 A.D.3d 980). Janice M.'s out-of-court statements to her therapist and two caseworkers were corroborated by medical records (see Family Ct Act § 1046[a][iv]) establishing that Janice M. had become pregnant (see Matter of David H. [Octavia P.], 127 A.D.3d 1084; Matter of Commissioner of Social Servs. of City of N.Y. v Joseph B., 207 A.D.2d 885; Matter of Cleo K-H., 172 A.D.2d 524; Matter of Kimberly K., 123 A.D.2d 865; Matter of Nicole V., 123 A.D.2d 97, affd 71 N.Y.2d 112). Contrary to the appellant's contention, "corroborative evidence as to the identity of an abuser is not required" (Matter of Amelia V.M.B. [Davidson B.], 107 A.D.3d at 981; see Matter of Eddie Z.B. [Henrietta W.], 117 A.D.3d 1041; Matter of Justina S., 180 A.D.2d 642; Matter of Fawn S., 123 A.D.2d 871, 873; Matter of Kimberly K., 123 A.D.2d at 865; Matter of Nicole V., 123 A.D.2d at 105). The credibility of Janice M.'s initial claim that she was impregnated by a teenage neighbor was a determination for the court given the conflicting evidence that, once the appellant learned that Janice M. was pregnant, he told her to say that the teenage neighbor was the father (see Matter of Luis N.P. [Alquiber R.], 127 A.D.3d 1201; Matter of Shavar B., 7 A.D.3d 619). There is no basis in the record to disturb the court's assessment of the witnesses' credibility (see Matter of Dylan G. [Victor M.], 119 A.D.3d 786).

         "[A] finding of sexual abuse of one child does not, by itself, establish that other children in the household have been derivatively abused or neglected" (Matter of Monica C.M. [Arnold A.],107 A.D.3d 996, 997; see Matter of Kyanna T. [Winston R.],99 A.D.3d 1011; Matter of Starr H.,156 A.D.2d 1025). The appellant's abuse of Janice M. occurred while the children Taurice M., Aniya K., and Elijah K. were asleep and the mother was at work, and the appellant's admitted role was one of caretaker for the children. The appellant demonstrated a fundamental defect in his understanding of his duties as a person with legal responsibility for the care of children, and the Family Court properly found that Taurice M., Aniya K., and Elijah K. were derivately neglected (see Matter of ...


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