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A. M. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/13/88)

decided: April 13, 1988.

A. M., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal Of: A. M., File No. 21-86-050, C.D. No. 51-14151, dated December 23, 1986.

COUNSEL

Loralyn McKinley, for petitioner.

John C. Fekety, Assistant Counsel, with him, Ruth O'Brien, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 328]

A.M. (Petitioner) appeals from the decision of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) adopting the Recommendation of the hearing officer and denying Petitioner's appeal requesting expungement of the indicated report of abuse. We reverse.

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 329]

On August 6, 1979, sometime around 6:00 p.m., S.M. was brought to the emergency room of Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children by her uncle. She was seen there by Dr. Mark Reber, who at that time was a pediatrician with the Hospital. Dr. Reber conducted a routine physical examination of the child indicating that she had welts on the left side of her face and on her arms and trunk. Dr. Reber described the welts as being linear and of a width which would suggest that they were made with an object such as a belt. S.M. also had an abrasion on her right side and a hematoma on her left ear.*fn1 None of S.M.'s injuries required treatment. S.M. was diagnosed as a battered child, and the required suspicion of child abuse petition was filed. S.M. was released from the emergency room to her maternal grandmother. She was five years old at the time.

Upon investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS) of Dr. Reber's report of suspected child abuse, a determination was made of indicated child abuse, with Petitioner being the perpetrator of said abuse. Petitioner seeks to have this report expunged on the basis that it is being maintained contrary to law because it is inaccurate.

Our scope of review in the instant case is to determine whether DPW's adjudication comports with the applicable law, its findings are supported by substantial evidence, and whether Petitioner's constitutional rights were violated. Cruz v. Department of Public Welfare, 80 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 360, 472 A.2d 725 (1984).

Child abuse is defined in pertinent part in Section 3 of the Child Protective Services Law (Law), Act of November 26, 1975, P.L. 438, as amended, 11 P.S. ยง 2203, as "serious physical or mental injury which is not explained

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 330]

    by the available medical history as being accidental, . . . of a child under 18 years of age, if the injury . . . has been caused by the acts or omissions of the child's parents or by a person responsible for the child's welfare. . . ."* ...


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