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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. K.P.W.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 7, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
K.P.W., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.P.W., a Minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 29, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FG-02-81-10.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Michael C. Wroblewski, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Jane S. Blank, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor A.P.W. (Jeffrey R. Jablonski, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Graves, Espinosa, and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Defendant K.P.W. appeals from a December 20, 2011 judgment of guardianship terminating her parental rights to her daughter, A.P.W. The judgment also terminated the parental rights of the child's father, R.S., Sr.[2] The Law Guardian supports the trial court's decision to terminate K.P.W.'s parental rights. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

K.P.W. and R.S., Sr. are the biological parents of two children: A.P.W., born March 6, 2009, is now four years old; and R.S., Jr., born August 26, 2007, is now five.[3] K.P.W. is also the mother of two older daughters: B.W., born April 11, 2002, and H.W., born April 30, 2004, who are in the custody of their father, S.W. In addition, K.P.W. and M.S. are the parents of a daughter Mo.S. born on July 21, 2011, and a son Ma.S., Jr. born on May 4, 2012. These two children are in the custody of K.P.W. and M.S.

The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS or the Division) first became involved with K.P.W. in June 2007, when it received a referral from The Learning Place, a daycare center in Hackensack, alleging that B.W. and H.W. frequently arrived "in dirty clothes and without enough food." On June 26, 2007, a Division caseworker met with K.P.W. regarding the allegation. During this meeting, K.P.W. "denied any mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence history." The caseworker observed that the home was "clean and neat, " stocked with "plenty of food, " and that B.W. and H.W. were clean and "appear[ed] to be happy and well cared for." Accordingly, the caseworker concluded that the allegation of neglect was unfounded.

However, during the course of its investigation, the Division learned from the Saddle Brook Police Department that there were reports of domestic violence involving K.P.W. and R.S., Sr. The police reports can be summarized as follows:

October 1, 2006: K.P.W. told the police that R.S., Sr. sexually assaulted her at knifepoint[4] on September 29, 2006, and again on September 30, 2006, but she did not want to sign criminal complaints because there was a possibility that she was pregnant with R.S., Sr.'s child;
November 19, 2006: K.P.W. reported to the police she was sexually assaulted by R.S., Sr. in her apartment on the previous evening;
December 23, 2006: K.P.W. reported she had been arguing with R.S., Sr. and he kicked the door in to gain entry to her apartment;
January 9, 2007: R.S., Sr. was arrested after he gained entry to K.P.W.'s apartment through a window;
March 4, 2007: K.P.W. told the police her ex-boyfriend came to her apartment in violation of a temporary restraining order and assaulted her "by pulling her hair and pushing her head into the wall";
March 5, 2007: K.P.W. told police that during the incident on March 4, 2007, she was sexually assaulted by R.S., Sr.;
May 5, 2007: The police went to K.P.W.'s apartment in response to a third-party complaint because K.P.W. and R.S., Sr. were having a loud argument;
May 11, 2007: K.P.W. reported R.S., Sr., her live-in boyfriend, was missing "and may be in need of mental health assistance";
June 25, 2007: The police responded to a third-party complaint because K.P.W. and R.S., Sr. were having a verbal argument;
June 28, 2007: R.S., Sr.'s mother reported her son and K.P.W. were "fighting, " but when the police arrived at K.P.W.'s apartment, both parties ...

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