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10/28/88 In Re David Henry Et Al.

October 28, 1988



of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Debra Munjak, Respondent-Appellant)

530 N.E.2d 571, 175 Ill. App. 3d 778, 125 Ill. Dec. 413 1988.IL.1580

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Margaret O. Coffin, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. LINDBERG, P.J., and UNVERZAGT, J., concur.


Respondent, Debra Munjak, appeals from the judgment of the trial court finding her to be an unfit parent and terminating her parental rights. Respondent contends that the trial court erred by (1) failing to bar testimony from witnesses who had not been disclosed prior to trial; (2) finding that respondent was unfit because she failed to make reasonable progress toward the return of her children; and (3) finding that respondent was unfit because she exposed the children to continuous and substantial neglect and failed to protect them from conditions within their environment which were injurious to their welfare. We affirm.

Prior to February 1984, respondent gave birth to six children fathered by three different men. Respondent was first married to Martin Munjak and gave birth to three sons, Dean, Derrick, and Daniel Munjak. Respondent subsequently divorced Martin Munjak and married Robert Henry. As a result of that union, respondent gave birth to a fourth son, David Henry. Respondent subsequently separated from Robert Henry and began living with Frank Woodhall. Respondent then gave birth to two daughters, Deanna and Deliah Woodhall. In February 1984, all six children ranging in age from nine months old to 14 years old lived with respondent and Frank Woodhall at respondent's home in Westmont, Illinois.

On February 24, 1984, officers from the Du Page County sheriff's department and the Du Page County probation department went to respondent's home to interview respondent's eldest son, Dean Munjak. Respondent met the officers on the front steps of the home and permitted them to enter the home after being advised that they had a court order to do so. The premises and occupants were in deplorable condition at that time. The residence itself is a one-story dwelling with a garage. An industrial size trash dumpster filled with open trash and furniture was located in the driveway, and trash was scattered around the dumpster and front yard of the residence. Full garbage bags were also observed around the exterior of the house, and trash covered the ground three to four feet around the outside walls of the house in almost all directions. The garage was similarly filled with trash and broken furniture. The interior of the house emanated a strong odor of feces, urine, and body odor. The rooms of the house were lit by only two light bulbs, one in the kitchen and one in the living room. The floors of the house were generally dirty and covered with trash. In addition, dog and cat feces and urine were on the floors throughout the house. Respondent kept two dogs, 10 baby chickens, and three to seven cats in the home. The bedrooms contained soiled bedding and unwashed clothing which smelled of urine and body odor. The mattresses were filthy and similarly smelled of urine. The dining room was filled with trash, and the ceiling in that room was damaged and appeared to be caving inward. An 18-inch strip of flypaper was hanging in the dining room and was covered with dead flies. A second strip similarly covered with dead flies was located in the kitchen. The kitchen floor was dirty, and the countertops were stacked with unwashed dishes. The stove and refrigerator were discolored, and the stove was dirty and encrusted with old food. The bathroom floor and fixtures were similarly dirty and covered with trash. The children were all uniformly dirty and smelled of urine. Some of the children had visible sores on their faces and arms.

One of the officers at the scene subsequently contacted the Department of Children and Family Services . Charles Munson, an investigator from DCFS, arrived at the residence a short time later. Respondent told Munson that the condition of the house and surroundings was due to financial problems. Respondent subsequently attributed the condition of her home to her own medical problems and the conduct of her boyfriend, Frank Woodhall. According to respondent, she underwent treatment for hemorrhaging on December 24, 1983, and was told to have complete bedrest. Respondent stated that for the next three months she did nothing around the house. During that time, Frank Woodhall would bring bags of trash to the residence where he would sort through them looking for something to sell. Respondent asserted that the condition of the premises resulted from Frank leaving the remainder of the trash scattered around the inside and outside of the home.

The children were removed from respondent's home and placed in foster care. The youngest child, nine-month-old Deliah Woodhall, was initially taken to the Westmont police department. She was observed to be very thin, dirty, and smelled of urine. Upon removing her diaper, officers found open sores around her genitals, and fecal matter in the folds of loose skin in her genital area and thighs. Deliah was subsequently transported to Hinsdale Sanitarium and Hospital, where she was examined. According to the examining physician, Deliah's open sores were caused by infrequent changing, malnutrition, and poor care. The doctor also observed that Deliah had a flattened skull and was suffering from a failure to thrive. Deliah was admitted to the hospital for treatment and subsequently placed in foster care. Respondent was charged and convicted of criminal child neglect and was placed on probation.

In June and July 1984, respondent met with representatives of DCFS to go over the conditions for regaining custody of the children. These conditions were memorialized in the first of a series of client service plans prepared for respondent. Among the conditions or tasks included in the first client service plan were that (1) respondent provide a home of adequate size for all of the children; (2) respondent maintain the home so that it is clean and fit for human habitation; (3) respondent obtain adequate financial support for herself and for all of her children; (4) respondent permit DCFS personnel to inspect the residence; (5) respondent notify DCFS when the residence was ready for inspection; (6) Frank Woodhall provide support for his children when they were returned; (7) respondent and Frank Woodhall obtain counseling on issues surrounding their relationship; (8) respondent resolve her marital relationship with Robert Henry; (9) respondent notify DCFS in the event that respondent and Frank Woodhall separate; (10) respondent have a medical checkup for her current pregnancy (respondent was pregnant with her seventh child, her third by Frank Woodhall); (11) respondent properly care for her new baby to be born in September 1984; and (12) respondent permit DCFS personnel to follow up with a pediatrician for the new baby when born. A separate plan was also put into place for respondent's first husband, Martin Munjak, allowing him to obtain custody of his three sons, Dean, Derrick, and Daniel. Those children were subsequently placed in Martin Munjak's care and are not part of the instant action.

Respondent gave birth to Dylan Woodhall in September 1984. Dylan was removed from respondent's custody at the hospital and placed with the paternal grandparents.

Between July 1984 and October 1986, DCFS prepared five complete client service plans for respondent. The tasks of each plan were basically the same, and respondent's progress on the tasks was reviewed at six-month intervals. At each evaluation it was determined that respondent had failed to make any progress on the tasks set out for her. As a result of her pattern of noncompliance, DCFS referred her case to an adoptions screening committee in July 1985, to determine whether respondent's failure to make progress on the tasks warranted the institution of proceedings to terminate her parental rights. Notwithstanding an affirmative response to that inquiry, DCFS continued to prepare client service plans for respondent until termination proceedings were begun in October 1986. In the interim, respondent and Frank Woodhall separated. However, prior to their separation, respondent became pregnant with her eighth child, her fourth by Frank Woodhall. That child, Dustin Woodhall, was born on March 14, 1986. At that time, respondent was living with her parents and was ...

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