FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT
[NO. 66FJV-13-582] HONORABLE LEIGH ZUERKER, JUDGE.
Jonathan R. Streit, for appellant.
Goff, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Rogers appeals the Sebastian County Circuit Court's order
terminating his parental rights to his daughter, A.B. (born
July 25, 2007). His sole challenge to the termination order
is that there was insufficient evidence of the statutory
ground supporting the termination. We affirm.
case originated with a referral to the child-abuse hotline
due to concerns a hospital had regarding the care A.B.'s
mother, Markita Bell, was providing to A.B.'s newborn
sister, L.B. Thereafter, the Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) removed L.B. from the custody of Bell and
filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency neglect
on October 7, 2013. DHS filed an amended petition for
emergency custody and dependency-neglect on November 12,
2013, adding A.B. as a dependent juvenile; however, A.B. was
not removed from Bell's custody. Quincy Johnson was
listed as A.B.'s putative father.
December 10, 2013, L.B. was adjudicated dependent-neglected
at the adjudication hearing, and A.B. was deemed
dependent-neglected by virtue of L.B.'s adjudication.
L.B. remained in foster care, and A.B. remained in Bell's
custody as of the review hearing on February 11, 2014, the
permanency-planning hearing on August 12, 2014, and the
fifteen-month permanency-planning hearing on November 18,
2014. On January 29, 2015, DHS filed a petition for the
termination of parental rights against Bell as to L.B. only,
and Bell's parental rights as to L.B. were involuntarily
February 12, 2015, DHS received a hotline call alleging that
Bell was engaged in prostitution and using illegal drugs
while A.B. was with Bell. DHS exercised a seventy-two-hour
hold on A.B. on February 23, 2015, and on February 26, 2015,
DHS filed a petition for emergency custody and
dependency-neglect regarding A.B. An order was entered on
April 3, 2015, finding probable cause existed for A.B. to
remain in foster care. An adjudication order finding that
A.B. was dependent-neglected was entered on May 14, 2015.
Johnson was noted as A.B.'s putative father in these
review-hearing order was entered on December 11, 2015.
Johnson was listed as A.B.'s putative father, and the
circuit court noted Rogers's attendance at hearings on
November 10 and 30, 2015. Rogers submitted to DNA paternity
testing on January 27, 2016. The following day, Rogers was
arrested and was subsequently sentenced to three years in the
Arkansas Department of Correction.
permanency-planning hearing was held on February 16, 2016, at
which time the circuit court set a concurrent goal of
adoption. DHS filed a petition on April 26, 2016, seeking to
terminate the parental rights of Bell and Johnson to A.B.
Rogers was not mentioned. A fifteen-month review order was
entered on June 23, 2016, in which the court found that,
based on DNA testing, Rogers was A.B.'s legal father. The
court set the matter for a termination hearing.
24, 2016, DHS filed an amended petition for termination of
parental rights against Rogers, as the legal father of A.B.
With respect to Rogers, DHS alleged that (1) A.B. had lived
outside the home of her parents for more than twelve months
and that Rogers had willfully failed to maintain meaningful
contact with her; (2) factors had arisen subsequent to the
filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that
demonstrated that placement of A.B. with Rogers was contrary
to her health, safety, or welfare, and despite the offer of
appropriate family services, Rogers had manifested the
incapacity or indifference to remedy the subsequent factors;
and (3) Rogers had been sentenced in a criminal proceeding
for a period of time that would constitute a substantial
period of A.B.'s life. Rogers, who was incarcerated at
the time, filed a statement indicating that he expected to be
released in the summer of 2016 and that he wanted to be
considered as a placement option for A.B. The court entered
an order appointing counsel for Rogers on July 7, 2016.
November 17, 2016 termination hearing, DHS family-service
worker, Lisa Walton, testified that she first met Rogers on
August 31, 2015. She advised him that DNA testing was
required and had been requested. She further advised Rogers
that he needed to obtain appropriate housing, income, and
transportation. She told Rogers he needed to attend parenting
classes, which she offered. Rogers reported to Walton that he
had a home and received SSI benefits for mental-health issues
but that he did not have a vehicle. He said that he is a
convicted felon, is on parole for two years, and was looking
for a job. Rogers told Walton that he already had a
mental-health therapist, and Walton recommended that he
return to his therapist and get back on his medications.
Walton also recommended that he resolve his legal issues.
testified that she met with Rogers a second time on October
25, 2016. He had just been released from prison the week
prior. Rogers advised that he was living with his mother, had
SSI, and was looking for a job and an apartment. He also
stated that he had completed parenting, anger-management, and
communication classes while incarcerated.
opined that A.B. would be subjected to potential harm if
placed in Rogers's custody because they did not have a
bond. Walton testified that A.B. is adoptable despite her
special needs ...