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In Re Dalton

OPINION FILED JULY 31, 1981.

IN RE WILLIAM DALTON ET AL., MINORS. — (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

KAREN DALTON, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. BERNARD E. DREW, JR., Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE REINHARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal by respondent, Karen Dalton, from an order finding her and Lawrence Dalton unfit parents and terminating their parental rights in their natural children, William Dalton and Cheryl Lynn Rugg. The issue presented for our review is whether the evidence presented to the trial court was sufficient to find the children neglected and the respondent, Karen Dalton, an unfit parent whose parental rights should be terminated.

The procedure involved in the termination of parental rights involves provisions of both the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.) and the Adoption Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 40, par. 1501 et seq.) First, there must be a finding of neglect and the child must be adjudged a ward of the court pursuant to the Juvenile Court Act. The Act defines neglect in the following manner:

"(1) Those who are neglected include any minor under 18 years of age

(a) who is neglected as to proper or necessary support, education as required by law, or as to medical or other remedial care recognized under State law or other care necessary for his well-being, or who is abandoned by his parents, guardian or custodian; or

(b) whose environment is injurious to his welfare or whose behavior is injurious to his own welfare or that of others.

(2) This Section does not apply to a minor who would be included herein solely for the purpose of qualifying for financial assistance for himself, his parents, guardian or custodian." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 37, par. 702-4(1)(b).)

In an amended petition it is alleged here that the minors were neglected by reason of the following facts:

"COUNT II

The minors are neglected in that they are persons under the age of 18 years whose environment is injurious to their welfare by reason of the following:

(a) The minors' father, Lawrence Dalton, is a convicted felon, and unfit as a parent, having been convicted of Murder, Kidnapping and Sexual Assault in the State of Wisconsin.

(b) The minors' father, Lawrence Dalton, has threatened the minors and beaten them.

(c) The minors' father, Lawrence Dalton, has choked Barbara Filipski until she fainted and has pointed guns to the head of Barbara Filipski and Karen Dalton, while in the presence of the minors.

(d) The minors' father, Lawrence Dalton, played `Russian Roulette' with the minors, pointing a loaded gun at the head of the minors and pulling the trigger.

(e) The minors' mother, Karen Dalton, being aware of the facts, alleged in subsections b, c, & d, and being aware of the facts leading to the convictions of Lawrence Dalton, as stated in subsection (a), did nothing to protect the minors from the dangers of their environment, and acquiesced in the creation and maintenance of said injurious environment.

(f) That the minors' mother, Karen Dalton, has engaged in prostitution, adultery, and homosexual activity, and has worked as a nude dancer, thereby making her unfit to be a mother.

COUNT III

The minor, William Dalton, a person under the age of 18 years, is neglected in that his behavior is injurious to his ...


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