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Villasaldo v. Arkansas Dep't of Human Servs.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

September 17, 2014

SAMANTHA VILLASALDO, APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, APPELLEE

APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT. NO. JV-2011-261(III). HONORABLE ANNIE HENDRICKS, JUDGE.

H. Keith Morrison, for appellant.

Tabitha Baertels McNulty, Office of Policy and Legal Services, for appellee.

Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.

Glover and Vaught, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 63

BILL H. WALMSLEY, Judge.

Appellant Samantha Villasaldo appeals from the Sebastian County Circuit Court's termination of her parental rights to her son J.G. (DOB: 4-9-2010).[1] Villasaldo argues that there was insufficient evidence to support termination. We affirm.

On April 4, 2011, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect based on allegations that J.G. had sustained a skull fracture and several broken ribs. J.G. was adjudicated dependent-neglected on September 15, 2011, due to physical abuse by an unknown offender and for both parents' failure to protect their son.[2] DHS was ordered to provide services to Villasaldo, including active-parenting classes, parenting-without-violence classes, psychological evaluations, and counseling.

On December 11, 2012, DHS filed a petition for termination of Villasaldo's parental rights on grounds that J.G. had been adjudicated dependent-neglected, remained outside his mother's custody in excess of one year, and, despite a meaningful effort by DHS to rehabilitate her, Villasaldo had not remedied the conditions that caused the child's removal; [3] that other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition that demonstrated that returning the child to Villasaldo's custody was contrary to the health, safety, or welfare of J.G.; [4] and that J.G. was subjected to aggravated circumstances based on the severity of his injuries and because it was unlikely that additional services would result in successful reunification with Villasaldo.[5]

A termination hearing was held on February 13, 2013. Dr. Karen Farst, who examined J.G. at Arkansas Children's Hospital on April 1, 2011, testified that he suffered a complex skull fracture and five broken ribs. She testified that such injuries were not typically caused by routine

Page 64

household accidents, and she opined that the injuries resulted from one or two incidents of child abuse. Dr. Farst testified that the parents gave no history that could account for J.G.'s injuries. According to Dr. Farst, there was virtually no change in Villasaldo's demeanor when she was informed that her baby had been physically abused.

Villasaldo testified that she had fully complied with the case plan implemented by DHS. She confirmed that, around the time J.G. was injured, she was living with her parents and minor brother and that at times Guzman lived with them. Villasaldo testified that her family told her that they had no knowledge of the abuse and that Guzman did not provide a credible explanation for J.G.'s injuries. Villasaldo ...


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