The trial court’s judgment upholding the denial by the Department of Children and Family Services of plaintiff’s request for the expungement of an indicated report of child abuse in connection with a child with behavioral problems she adopted was reversed, since there was no evidence that any abuse occurred for purposes of section 3(b) of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County, No. 12-MR-79; the Hon. Michael T. Caldwell, Judge, presiding.
Rebecca M. Lee, of Gummerson Rausch Wand Lee Wombacher, LLC, of Woodstock, for appellant.
Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Sharon A. Purcell, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellee.
Panel JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Birkett and Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Plaintiff, Karen Shilvock-Cinefro, appeals the trial court's judgment upholding an order of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (the agency) that denied her request for the expungement of an indicated report of child abuse. We reverse because there was no evidence that abuse occurred under section 3(b) of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (Act) (325 ILCS 5/3(b) (West 2010)).
¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND
¶ 3 On November 22, 2011, the agency entered on the central register an indicated report of abuse for allegation of harm No. 14, tying/close confinement, based on an incident in which plaintiff used duct tape, a sheet, and rope to restrain her adopted deaf child, N.C., in a vehicle in order to transport her to a hospital for assistance with behavioral problems. Plaintiff filed a request to expunge the report, and a hearing was held.
¶ 4 With the exception of the use of rope as a restraint, the facts are not in dispute. Plaintiff is a social worker and a licensed nursing home administrator, with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in sociology and gerontology. Plaintiff and her husband have four biological children and, including N.C., three children adopted from China. Plaintiff home-schools the four youngest children.
¶ 5 Plaintiff and her husband became interested in adopting N.C. when they saw her on a video from a Chinese orphanage. They could tell that she was hearing impaired and they had previously adopted a hearing-impaired child from China. They believed that N.C. should be adopted before she turned 14, because, at that time, she would age out of the orphanage. N.C. had originally been found at a bus station in China when she was around six years of age, and she had been in the orphanage for eight years. Although her birth date based on Chinese records placed her at around 14 years of age, a later dental exam estimated that she might be two or three years younger. At the time of the events at issue, N.C. was around 5 feet tall and weighed 70 to 80 pounds. N.C. did not speak, although there was evidence that she knew some limited sign language and had some writing skills. N.C. had been given hearing aids, and plaintiff arranged for her to be further evaluated for the possibility of cochlear implants. N.C. was also severely nearsighted, and plaintiff got her new glasses.
¶ 6 In June 2011, plaintiff, her husband, and two of her biological children traveled to China to get N.C. When they arrived, they learned that N.C. spent weekdays at a rehabilitation institute and returned to the orphanage on weekends. While they were in China, N.C. exhibited behavioral problems. In one instance, she purposely attempted to walk in front of an oncoming vehicle, and plaintiff's husband grabbed her and pulled her out of the way. In another instance, N.C. ran up behind plaintiff's husband and rammed an umbrella into his buttocks. She also bit plaintiff and hit plaintiff's husband. During the plane trip back to the United States, N.C. refused to stay in her seat, pinched plaintiff's husband, and was difficult to control.
¶ 7 After arriving in the United States, N.C. continued to have behavioral problems, including throwing a lamp at plaintiff, spitting, screaming, and crying, and scratching and biting herself. N.C. also took off her seatbelt while in the family's van, causing plaintiff to get in the backseat and hold her hands. On other occasions, N.C. bit plaintiff, plaintiff's husband, and one of the other children, causing bruises. One of plaintiff's other children was afraid of N.C. During the incidents, plaintiff would try to comfort N.C. by rubbing her head and arms. Plaintiff would use timeouts or hold her. She also would hold her to prevent her from ...