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Maurissa J. B. v. Ingrida K.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

December 5, 2019

MAURISSA J. B., Petitioner-Appellee,
INGRIDA K., Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 19-OP-23 Honorable Mary H. Nader, Judge, Presiding.

          McLAREN, JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          McLAREN, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Respondent, Ingrida K., appeals from a plenary order of protection entered against her for the protection of F.K., born May 20, 2011, the daughter of Ingrida's husband, Thomas K. (Tom), and petitioner, Maurissa J. B. Maurissa and Tom never married. On appeal, Ingrida argues that the evidence was insufficient to support the plenary order of protection and that the remedy imposed by the trial court, prohibiting all contact between Ingrida and F.K. for two years, is too harsh. We reverse.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 From 2013 to sometime in 2016, Maurissa was incarcerated in Wisconsin for 2½ years. During Maurissa's incarceration, F.K. lived with Tom in Antioch. In April or May 2014, when F.K. was almost three years old, Ingrida moved into Tom's home with her daughter, Victoria. In November 2014, Ingrida and Tom had a son, Dillan. In June 2017, the trial court entered a parenting order that provided that F.K. would reside with Tom. The order also provided that Maurissa would have parenting time with F.K. every other weekend, during spring break, and for three consecutive weeks during summer break. In addition, Maurissa and Tom would alternate holidays. In December 2018, Ingrida and Tom hired Belle Gramer as a nanny for their children. Belle quit this job in early January 2019.

         ¶ 4 On January 7, 2019, Maurissa filed a petition seeking an emergency order of protection pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (Act) (750 ILCS 60/101 through 401 (West 2018)). The petition alleged the following. Since F.K. had lived with Tom and Ingrida, "about 4 ½ years," Ingrida "has been emotionally abusive to [F.K.]." On December 12, 2018, Ingrida pulled F.K. by the hood and yelled at F.K., "you lie to me now what is going to happen when you get older, you are going to land up in jail." On the same day, Ingrida also shamed F.K. in front of another child and made fun of her in front of a boy at the bus stop. On December 14, 2018, Ingrida shoved F.K. and emotionally abused her. On January 2, 2019, Ingrida beat F.K. with a wooden spoon, pushed her, and told her to get up and walk. On the same day, Belle heard Ingrida hitting F.K. and F.K. crying. On January 3, 2019, F.K. told Belle that she is afraid of Ingrida, that Ingrida hits her all over her body with a wooden spoon, and that most of F.K. 's bruises are on her legs so that no one can see them. On January 4, 2019, F.K. told Maurissa that Ingrida hit her, and Maurissa saw a bruise on F.K.'s right thigh.

         ¶ 5 The trial court, Judge Mark Gerhardt presiding, granted the emergency order of protection the same day it was filed. The trial court's order stated that Tom is F.K.'s primary caretaker. The court found that F.K. had been abused by Ingrida, and it ordered Ingrida to stay at least 200 feet away from the residence in Antioch while F.K. is present. The court granted Maurissa "the physical care and possession of [F.K.]." However, the court reserved Maurissa's request for temporary custody of F.K.

         ¶ 6 On January 17, 2019, the following colloquy occurred while the trial court and the parties were discussing scheduling a hearing on the entry of a plenary order of protection:

"THE COURT: I still have a lot of things on my call to get rid of. Is there any possibility that you can come back at 2:30 or 3 this afternoon?
MS. KUZNIEWSKI [(MAURISSA'S ATTORNEY)]: I have an appointment with my accountant.
THE COURT: You do?
MS. KUZNIEWSKI: It's so hard to get into see her. Otherwise I would try and reschedule it.
MR. LOIZZO [(INGRIDA'S ATTORNEY)]: I could make that work, Judge. *** My problem is my client is living in a hotel because she can't live in the house.
MS. KUZNIEWSKI: My client would be willing to keep the child with her until that time-until the time of the hearing.
MR. LOIZZO: I'm sure she would.
MS. KUZNIEWSKI: Absolutely." (Emphases added.)

         ¶ 7 The hearing on the entry of a plenary order of protection occurred before Judge Mary H. Nader on January 18, 23, and 24, 2019. Maurissa testified as follows. Maurissa married Matt B. in June 2016. Maurissa and Matt live in St. Charles and they "have [Matt's] girls," nine-year-old twins, Angelica and Elizabeth, "part-time." F.K. lives with Tom and Ingrida.

         ¶ 8 Maurissa testified that on or about January 3, 2019, she received a message through Facebook from Belle and her mother, Karena Gramer. On January 4, Maurissa attempted to obtain an order of protection at the Kane County courthouse on behalf of F.K. and against Ingrida. Maurissa was sent to the McHenry County courthouse, where she filed for the emergency order of protection on January 7, 2019. While F.K. was at Maurissa's home the weekend of January 4, 2019, she was not her usual bubbly self and had a bruise on her right thigh. When F.K. was at Maurissa's home the weekend prior to Maurissa's testimony, while the emergency order was in place, F.K. was "a little more bubbly, a little more smiley, a little more outgoing than normal." When Maurissa took F.K. back to Tom's house on Sunday, "[s]he just did not want to go home. She was crying. She said this is all my fault. You know, how can I fix the situation." F.K. had no behavior problems at school and her report card said that F.K. was "a ray of sun shine [sic]." F.K. had no behavior issues at Maurissa's home except once she was punished for not brushing her teeth and she had to go to bed five minutes early.

         ¶ 9 During direct examination by Ingrida's attorney, Maurissa testified as follows. The emergency order of protection required Ingrida to be out of her house while F.K. was present. While the emergency order of protection was in effect and when F.K. was at Tom's house, Maurissa asked police to go there for "wellness checks," "[j]ust to make sure [F.K.] was okay."

         ¶ 10 Belle testified as follows. From December 10, 2018, until January 3, 2019, Belle worked for Ingrida and Tom in their home as a nanny for three children: 4-year-old Dillan, 7-year-old F.K., and 11-year-old Victoria. Belle testified that she worked in Ingrida and Tom's home for four weeks and slept in the home for a total of ten nights. F.K. visited Maurissa once in a while, and Victoria visited her father once in a while. Karena worked with Ingrida and recommended Belle to her. Dillan was Ingrida and Thomas's son. Belle was pregnant and 21 years old when she began working for Ingrida and Tom. Belle lived with her boyfriend when she was not staying at Ingrida and Tom's home. When Belle slept at the home, she slept in the basement, and the family slept upstairs. F.K. and Victoria shared a bedroom.

         ¶ 11 Belle testified that, on December 10, 2018, while Ingrida drove Belle from her home in Milwaukee to Ingrida and Tom's home, Belle became concerned for F.K. because of things Ingrida said about her. Ingrida told Belle that "there was something wrong with [F.K.], and that she had bad genes from both her parents, and *** she would end up in jail just like her mom." When Belle and Ingrida arrived home that evening, Ingrida and Tom left the house, and Belle watched the children and played a board game on the floor with F.K. and Victoria. When Ingrida and Tom returned home, Ingrida saw Belle and F.K. on the floor together and "started yelling for [F.K.] to stay away from [Belle], and that [Belle is] pregnant, and [Ingrida] said [to F.K.], what's wrong with you, and [Ingrida] told [Belle] that [F.K.] always seeks attention from everyone that comes over." Ingrida then told F.K. to "play with her own things and go play by herself." F.K. walked off with her head down. F.K. looked "pretty skittish like she didn't know which way to walk to, and what to do with herself."

         ¶ 12 Belle testified that the morning of December 12, 2018, while she and Ingrida were leaving the house to take F.K. and Dillan to the bus stop, F.K. opened the door, stepped back, and accidentally stepped on Dillan's foot. Dillan said "ow." Belle testified that Ingrida "grabbed [F.K.] by the hood and yanked her back and yelled at her, saying, "What's wrong with you? He's just a baby. Why would you do that to a baby? What kind of a sister are you?" When they walked outside, Ingrida continued to yell at F.K. about lying to her the night before, saying "Oh, you lie to me now. What are you going to be like when you get older? Are you going to be like one of the bad kids? Are you going to be in jail like your mom?" At the bus stop, Ingrida asked a little boy if F.K. was good on the bus and the boy nodded. Ingrida said, "All my years of yelling at you paid off finally." F.K. was not ...

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