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Beeckman v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

March 18, 2015



Jeff Rosenzweig, for appellant.

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

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


Appellant Frank Beeckman appeals from the White County Circuit Court's adjudication of dependency-neglect as to his three teenage children, M.B. (DOB: 2-22-1998), G.B. (DOB: 10-16-1999), and R.B. (DOB: 12-28-2001), on the bases of abuse, neglect, and parental unfitness. Beeckman argues that (1) the trial court violated his due-process rights by refusing to order the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to disclose what form of abuse he was accused of committing, (2) there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of dependency-neglect because the evidence showed that M.B. physically resisted reasonable discipline, and (3) the trial court should have converted the dependency-neglect case into a family-in-need-of-services (FINS) proceeding. We affirm.

I. Procedural History

DHS filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect on June 26, 2014, alleging that Beeckman's children were dependent-neglected on the bases of abuse, neglect, and parental unfitness.[1] Attached to the petition was an affidavit describing the facts leading up to the allegation of dependency-neglect. It provides under paragraph two:

b. On June 24, 2014, Family Service Worker Laura Holmes received a phone call requesting assistance at the Beeckman home. FSW arrived at the scene at approximately 3:30 P.M.. Once at the home, FSW observed three police cars parked in the road, and Mr. Beeckman standing on the lawn in handcuffs. Mr. Beeckman stated that he did not hit his son, [M.B.], with a chair but had only tried to take the chair away from [M.B.]. Frank stated that [M.B.] hit him multiple times on his legs. Mr. Beeckman had no injuries. Mr. Beeckman stated his son, [G.B.], witnessed the entire thing and would explain what had happened. FSW went inside the home and found [G.B.], [M.B.], and [R.B.]. [G.B.] stated that [M.B.] was being made to do push-ups as a form of punishment by their father. [G.B.] stated that Frank was not satisfied with the way that [M.B.] was doing the push-ups and that he kicked him and told him to do it right and to stop being a baby. [G.B.] stated that [M.B.] then refused to do any more push-ups. [G.B.] stated that is when Frank took a rolling chair and started throwing it repeatedly at [M.B.] while [M.B.] was still on the floor. [G.B.] also stated that on 06/23/2014, his father, made him pull weeds in the yard from 5:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. and refused to allow him to come inside when a thunderstorm hit. FSW spoke with [M.B.] about the event and [M.B.] agreed to what his brother had previously stated and showed FSW the scratches on his right arm and on the side of his face. In addition [M.B.] added that approximately three days ago, his father, pulled his hair and slammed his head into the floor for not doing a push-up correctly. [M.B.] showed FSW the knot on the back of his head from the incident. [M.B.] also added that since he and his siblings have been out of school that his father, has only been allowing them one meal per day. FSW was concerned for the health and safety of the children and the Department of Human Services placed [M.B.], [G.B.], and [R.B.] on a 72-hour hold on 06/24/2014 at approximately 4:30 P.M., having removed them from their father's custody and care.[2]
[c]. CHRIS history shows TRUE finding in 2007 for Cuts, Welts, and Bruises and Striking a Child age 7-18. Frank Beeckman is listed as offender.

3. The juveniles' health and safety are in danger due to the physical abuse by their father, Frank Beeckman.

II. Adjudication Hearing

G.B. testified he or his siblings got punished every single day. The most common form of punishment was doing push-ups, and 100 push-ups was the standard number for misbehavior. On the day in question, M.B. did not do his assigned chore, which was washing dishes, and Beeckman ordered him to do push-ups. According to G.B., M.B. was either doing them incorrectly or not doing them fast enough, and Beeckman began kicking M.B. and then picked up an office chair with wheels and hit him multiple times. G.B. testified that, while M.B. may have been cursing at Beeckman while doing the push-ups, M.B. did not hit their father.

Detective Steven Cochran with the Searcy Police Department testified he took photos of the scene and M.B.'s injuries. Cochran stated he ...

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