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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. M.A.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 14, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
M.A. and I.B., Defendants-Appellants. IN THE MATTER OF IS.B., N.B., A.B., M.B. and IL.B., Minors.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued June 3, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FN-04-0524-11.

T. Gary Mitchell, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant M.A. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. Mitchell, of counsel and on the briefs; Beatrix W. Shear, Deputy Public Defender, on the briefs).

Gregory K. Byrd, Designated Counsel, argued the cause for appellant I.B. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. Byrd, on the brief).

Nancy R. Andre, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Ms. Andre, on the brief).

Todd Wilson, Designated Counsel, argued the cause for minor M.B. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney; Mr. Todd, on the brief).

Christopher A. Huling, Designated Counsel, argued the cause for minor A.B. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney; Mr. Huling, on the brief).

Melissa R. Vance, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for minors IS.B., IL.B. and N.B. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney; Ms. Vance, on the brief).

Before Judges Sabatino and Maven.

PER CURIAM

In these consolidated appeals, [2] defendants M.A. (Mary)[3] and I.B. (Ivan) appeal from a Family Part determination that they abused and neglected their seventeen-year-old daughter, M.B. (Monica). The judge found the child was harmed as the result of repeated acts of sexual assault by Ivan that Mary should have known was occurring but did not prevent, and by Mary's alleged threats to report Monica to federal immigration authorities if she did not recant her accusations. We affirm the findings against Ivan but conclude that the evidence presented against Mary was insufficient to support the finding of abuse and neglect as to her and reverse.

I.

We glean the facts in this matter from the record evidence. Monica was born in September 1993 in Honduras to Ivan and Mary, and the family relocated to the United States when she was ten years old. Monica has four younger siblings, all of whom lived in the home.

This matter was first brought to the attention of the Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) on May 17, 2011, by a police officer responding to allegations of sexual assault. Specifically, Monica accused Ivan of engaging in oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse with her. The pastor of Monica's church contacted the police after learning of the sexual assaults from Monica's boyfriend, in whom Monica had confided. The matter was assigned to Division caseworker Dyann Blackwell (Blackwell).

Blackwell interviewed Monica and her family members at their residence. Mary denied any knowledge of the sexual abuse. She stated that she and the other children had been in Honduras for two months, having returned in mid-April. Monica did not go with her because she was in school, though Mary did not explain why the other school-aged children were able to go.

Monica told the caseworker that when she was fifteen, she revealed to her parents that she had sex with her boyfriend and they made her break up with him. From that time onward, Ivan began talking to Monica about sex, telling her that he could teach her how to have sex the right way, how to be a good wife, and "guide her through everything." He initiated these conversations with her while they were alone and eventually manipulated Monica into allowing him to perform oral sex on her. This first incident occurred in Monica's bedroom when no one else was home. The abuse escalated to vaginal intercourse and, on one occasion, anal ...


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