Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, a Minor Peoria County, Illinois Honorable Mark E. Gilles, Judge, Presiding. Circuit No. 11-JA-102
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wright
JUSTICE WRIGHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Carter and McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Mother, Robin B., appeals from the trial court's orders finding the minor, K.B., was neglected due to an injurious environment and that mother was dispositionally unfit. We affirm.
¶ 3 On April 21, 2011, when K.B. was 16 years old, the State filed a petition alleging K.B. was neglected by way of an injurious environment. Specifically, the State alleged mother en- trusted K.B., a female, to the care of her live-in paramour named Jay C. Brown, a registered sex offender, while mother served a 180-day sentence in the McLean County jail. Mother also had ongoing case with Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for allowing a physically abusive former paramour to supervise her children. In addition, mother was arrested in October 2010 in McLean County for retail theft, and she had other previous criminal convictions. Mother married Brown on February 25, 2011, but she did not inform DCFS of this marriage.
¶ 4 While mother's criminal case was pending in McLean County, mother and her caseworker, Cheryl Lawson, discussed the living arrangements for the children if mother was incarcerated. Mother's neighbor was discussed as a potential caregiver, but this arrangement was not "written in stone."
¶ 5 On April 18, 2011, the court sentenced mother to serve 180 days in custody for retail theft, and she immediately began serving her sentence. When mother failed to appear for a meeting with Lawson on April 20, 2011, Lawson arrived at mother's home on April 21, 2011, and found K.B. in the care of Brown. Lawson took protective custody of K.B.
¶ 6 The adjudicatory hearing took place on October 3, 2011, and began with the State introducing a certified copy of Brown's conviction for aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16(d) (West 2006)) for knowingly committing a sexual act with a female victim at least 13 years of age but under the age of 17. The State also submitted reports demonstrating DCFS charged mother in both 2007 and 2010 for substantial risk of physical injury to her children.
¶ 7 The State's first witness, Karla Allen, a child protection service worker for DCFS, testified that mother offered K.B. the option to stay with either Brown or her neighbor, who also had an open case with DCFS, while she was in jail. Allen stated that because mother had an open case with DCFS, she was required to inform the agency of K.B.'s living arrangements. She also testified that in February 2011, mother lied about her relationship with Brown by claiming they were not together. Brown did not respond to Allen's request for an interview, but Allen was satisfied that Brown did not engage in any sexual contact with K.B.
¶ 8 Lawson, a caseworker for Children's Home Association of Illinois (Children's Home), testified that she was the assigned caseworker for mother, who had other children ranging in age from 9 to 17, including K.B. According to Lawson, after mother's arrest for the 2010 retail theft, the other children moved to Maine to reside with their maternal grandmother. However, K.B. was on probation in Tazewell County and did not to move to Maine with her siblings.
¶ 9 Mother testified at the hearing. She admitted she knew Brown was a registered sex offender. She claimed Brown had successfully completed his probation for the sex offense before their marriage on February 25, 2011.
¶ 10 The trial court found that K.B. was neglected because mother, upon her incarceration, allowed K.B. to decide on a "day-to-day basis" whether she wanted to live with Brown, a registered sex offender, or mother's neighbor, who also had an open case with DCFS. While the court concluded Brown had not engaged in any inappropriate contact ...