On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Gloucester County, Docket No. FN-08-79-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 14, 2011
Decided Before Judges A. A. Rodriguez and Ashrafi.
Defendant, J.D., the father of E.V., a girl born in April 1994, appeals from: (1) the July 29, 2010 order finding that he caused E.V. to become an abused and/or neglected child as defined by N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21; and (2) the August 19, 2010 order denying reconsideration. We affirm.
These are the relevant facts. Defendant had sole custody of E.V. since 2008. E.V.'s mother (K.V.) is not a party to this appeal. In March 2009, defendant sought the Division of Youth and Family Services' (DYFS) assistance, complaining that E.V., who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, was acting out. DYFS referred E.V. to Devereux Behavioral Health Center (Devereux) to address her anger control problem, oppositional defiance to family and authority figures, childhood trauma, and depression. On July 14, 2009, however, defendant removed E.V. from Devereux against the advice of its staff and without authorization from DYFS.
E.V. resumed living with her father.
On November 8, 2009, there was an incident at a park near defendant's residence. Local police informed DYFS that defendant assaulted E.V. and forcibly attempted to remove her from the area. E.V. needed medical attention after the incident and the local police took her to the hospital.
DYFS performed a Dodd*fn1 removal. At a Dodd hearing, defendant explained that, although he had taken his daughter out of Devereux, he had established family counseling at his home, and was sending her to another program, My Father's House, for drug rehabilitation. He was going to Parent's Anonymous. Judge Mary K. White determined that DYFS "needed to take custody of E.V. immediately," and ordered joint treatment for E.V. and defendant.
At a factfinding hearing on the charges of unauthorized removal from Devereux and the park incident, E.V. testified that on November 8, 2009, between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., she was with friends at First Beach park near where she lived with her father. After she had been there about an hour, her father arrived.
E.V. testified that when defendant arrived:
I was with a couple of friends and my dad pulled up and my friends and I were in a circle and they kind of huddled me towards the middle of the circle. He said is E.V. there and my friend answered no. He asked it again and before my friend -- as he was saying no, he grabbed me by my hair, threw me on the ground and just started hitting me and, you know, kicking me. My friend -- and we were just, you know, fighting it and then it went to the car as fighting also. He tried getting me in the car. My friends were yelling more at him to stop. He started yelling back at my friend and then like my friend tried to grab his shoulder like to get him off of me and he hit my friend and that's when my friend hit him back. My friends had him on the ground. They called the cops and the cops told them to keep him restrained till the cops got there.
She added that defendant hit her with a closed fist, and he struck her everywhere. Her jaw subsequently hurt on the left side, as well as her head and stomach. Following the incident, E.V. was taken to the ...