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In re S.H.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

December 4, 2014

In re S.H., D.H., M.H., A.H., S.W. and S.B., Minors
v.
Angel H., Respondent-Appellant) (The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

Page 1242

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox County, Illinois, Circuit No. 12-JA-11. Honorable James R. Standard, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

In proceedings seeking the termination of respondent's parental rights based primarily on the sexual abuse of respondent's daughter by respondent's paramour, the termination of respondent's parental rights to one son was vacated on the ground that the wardship case of the son had been closed previously and the son's custody had been awarded to his father, and the son had never been adjudicated abused, neglected, or dependent or made a ward of the court at the dispositional hearing in the instant case; however, the finding that respondent was unfit and that the termination of respondent's parental rights was in the best interest of her children was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Louis P. Milot, of Peoria, for appellant.

John T. Pepmeyer, State's Attorney, of Galesburg (Richard Leonard, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

PRESIDING JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Carter and O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

LYTTON, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

Page 1243

[¶1] In December 2013, the State filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of respondent, Angel H., as to her children, S.H., D.H., M.H., A.H., S.W. and S.B. The trial court found respondent unfit pursuant to sections 1(D)(m)(i), 1(D)(m)(ii), 1(D)(m)(iii), 1(D)(g), and 1(D)(b) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D) (West 2012)). Following a best interests hearing, the court terminated respondent's parental rights. Respondent appeals, arguing that the trial court (1) lacked jurisdiction to terminate her parental rights as to M.H., (2) erred in finding her unfit and (3) erred in determining that it was in the children's best interests to terminate her parental rights. We vacate the trial court's decision to terminate respondent's parental rights as to M.H. and otherwise affirm.

[¶2] FACTS

[¶3] In April 2012, the State filed a neglect petition alleging that S.H., D.H., M.H., A.H., S.W. and S.B. were neglected due to an injurious environment in that, among other things, S.H. (born September 25, 2002) alleged that she was sexually abused when she was eight and nine years old by respondent's paramour, that respondent refused to believe S.H., that respondent refused to cooperate with investigators regarding the abuse allegations, that after being taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) three of the minors were found to have yeast infections, and that respondent is currently facing felony charges for permitting the sexual abuse of a child and endangering the life or health of a child.

[¶4] By agreed order, the neglect case involving M.H. was closed and custody was awarded to the minor's father (Knox County case No. 12-F-55). On September 11, 2012, the trial court entered an adjudication of neglect as to the remaining five children.

[¶5] On October 2, 2012, respondent was found dispositionally unfit. S.H., D.H., A.H., S.W. and S.B. were made wards of the court, and respondent was ordered to complete certain tasks before the children would be returned to her custody. The court ordered respondent to (1) attend individual domestic violence therapy and joint therapy for the children's victim issues, (2) establish a legal source of income and suitable housing upon her release from jail, (3) maintain participation in drug and alcohol abuse support groups, (4) establish a consistent parent-child visitation schedule, (5) report all incidents of domestic violence and secure orders of protection if warranted, (6) discontinue relations with anyone prone to domestic violence, (7) participate in parenting classes, and (8) complete a psychological evaluation.

[¶6] On December 6, 2013, the State filed an amended petition to terminate respondent's parental rights pursuant to " section 2-13(5)" of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/2-13(5) (West 2012)). The petition alleged that respondent was unfit in that she failed to (1) make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions that were the basis for the removal of the children under section 1(D)(m)(i) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(m)(i) (West 2012)), (2) make reasonable progress between September 11, 2012, and June 12, 2013,

Page 1244

toward the return home of the children under section 1(D)(m)(ii) of the Adoption Act, (3) protect her children from conditions within their environment injurious to their welfare under section 1(D)(g) of the Adoption Act, and (4) maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the minor's welfare under section 1(D)(b) of the Adoption Act. An addendum was added on March 25, 2014, alleging respondent failed to make reasonable ...


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