On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Department of Children and Families, Docket No. AHU 04-008.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Graves and Sabatino.
On July 30, 2003, N.B., a fifteen-year-old resident of the Woodbridge Child Diagnostic and Treatment Center (Woodbridge) accused R.R., a youth worker supervisor employed by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), of kneeing him in the groin. The matter was investigated by the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Law Guardian Office, and by letter dated September 9, 2003, R.R. was notified the OPD substantiated the allegation that he physically abused N.B. on July 30, 2003.
After R.R. appealed the OPD determination, the matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for a fact-finding hearing.
The OAL hearing was conducted on April 19, August 1, August 31, and September 26, 2005. On March 7, 2006, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded the evidence presented by DYFS and R.R. was in "equipoise," and he reversed the OPD finding that R.R. physically abused N.B. in violation of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c). On November 16, 2006, the final agency decision rejected the ALJ's decision and affirmed the finding of abuse.
On appeal, R.R. presents the following arguments:
POINT I THE STANDARD FOR REVIEWING THE FINAL DECISION OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY.
THE FINAL AGENCY DECISION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL CREDIBLE EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD.
THE ALJ PROPERLY CONSIDERED ALL RELEVANT EVIDENCE TO MAKE HIS CREDIBILITY DETERMINATION.
After reviewing these contentions in light of the entire record and the applicable law, we are satisfied they do not warrant extended discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D) and (E). We conclude that the final agency decision is supported by substantial credible evidence, and we affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in the agency's well- reasoned written decision, with only the following comments.
As noted by the ALJ, the purpose of the administrative hearing was to determine "whether R.R. committed abuse by kneeing N.B. in the groin area." During cross-examination on August 1, 2005, N.B. provided the following testimony:
Q: . . . I just want to be clear, N., as to what happened when Mr. R. came into the lobby and I believe you testified that you went in the opposite direction he was directing you towards, is that right?
Q: Then you said he came up behind you and grabbed your shoulders and kneed you in the groin, is that right?
A: He grabbed my shoulder, pulled me, and then started pushing me towards the back door, and then I started pushing him back, and as I was pushing him he pulled me ...