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L.C. v. Dep't of Public Welfare

IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


October 29, 2009

L.C. IN RE: S.W., PETITIONER
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT

Submitted: October 2, 2009

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge, HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge, HONORABLE KEITH B. QUIGLEY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

SENIOR JUDGE FRIEDMAN

L.C. petitions for review of the January 7, 2009, order of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), which upheld the decision of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (Bureau) to dismiss L.C.'s request for a hearing to determine whether DPW should expunge reports of child abuse by L.C. We affirm.

In May of 2006, after investigating reports of alleged child sexual assault, Child Protective Services (CPS) issued an "indicated report" of child abuse by L.C.*fn1 CPS notified law enforcement officials of the report, and criminal charges were filed against L.C.

L.C. requested that DPW expunge the "indicated report," and, when DPW denied that request, L.C. requested a hearing.*fn2 The Bureau dismissed L.C.'s request based on his conviction of the criminal charges, explaining that the "indicated report" is now a "founded report," and there is no right to a hearing on a "founded report." L.C. requested reconsideration, which was granted, but, on January 7, 2009, DPW upheld the Bureau's determination. L.C. now petitions this court for review.*fn3

L.C. argues that DPW erred by changing the "indicated report" to a "founded report" before the appellate courts have completely resolved his appeals from the criminal conviction. We disagree.

Section 6303 of the Child Protective Services Law defines "founded report" as a child abuse report made pursuant to "any judicial adjudication" of guilt to a criminal charge involving the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.*fn4 23 Pa. C.S. §6303. Thus, DPW was not required to wait until L.C. exhausted his appeals to change the "indicated report" to a "founded report."

Accordingly, we affirm.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 29th day of October, 2009, the order of the Department of Public Welfare, dated January 7, 2009, is hereby affirmed.

ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge


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