The Modern Family and Juvenile Dependency

Modern Family Caution Father Child Interaction Sexual Abuse

Stepfathers and fathers have to be very careful how they touch, embrace, and kiss their step-daughters, the children of their significant others, and minors. Any kind of touching that could be misconstrued by others will likely be disclosed at some point and will likely destroy your family life. It could also result in serious criminal consequences.

In a recently reported case, a 13-year-old girl ran away from home. When located, she reported she did not want to return home because her stepfather hugged her from behind and grabbed her breasts. On another occasion she alleged he touched her breasts, bottom, and kissed her on the mouth. A month later, after juvenile court proceedings had started, the girl recanted and said her stepfather had only slapped her bottom to get her to hurry up and accidentally touched her breasts when he hugged her. When confronted with her earlier statements, she said the inappropriate touching had occurred approximately twice per week over a span of six months. She related the touching occurred when her mother and younger brothers were not around. She inferred she was bribed by the stepfather to keep quiet when he bought her a cell phone. The stepfather testified he hugged his stepdaughter normally and kissed her on the forehead and cheek. The mother and younger bothers had never witnessed any inappropriate touching. The court made a true finding that the stepfather had molested the stepdaughter and made her and her younger brothers dependents of the court. The father had to leave the family home and stay away from the home and his stepdaughter. He participated in counseling and parenting classes.  At the disposition hearing, the counsel for DCFS (Department of Child Family Services) argued the father should not have joint custody of his sons and should only have monitored visitation with them. The boys and their attorney wanted to have contact and visits with their father. The court acknowledged there was a split among the appellate courts in the State of California on the issue of whether a man who has been found to have molested a minor female, on that fact alone, poses a risk of molesting his younger sons. This court distinguished those cases and ruled that, absent evidence the father posed a serious risk of harm to his sons, the facts did not justify detaining his sons from him and restricting him to monitored visitation with them.  In re Alexis S., et al, (2012) 2012 DJDAR 5003.

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