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In re B.P.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

September 4, 2013



Appeal from the Order March 1, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County Orphans' Court at No(s): 29 of 2012, 30 of 2012




Appellant, B.A.P., Sr. (Father), appeals the March 1, 2013 orders terminating his parental rights to his daughter, M.P., and his son, B.P., Jr.[1]After careful review, we affirm.[2]

The relevant facts and procedural history, as gleaned from the certified record, follow. M.P. and B.P., Jr. first came to the attention of the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau (WCCB) on September 2, 2008, based on reports that Mother used pain pills, left M.P. without adequate care, and that her home was overcrowded and inappropriate. N.T., 3/1/13, at 27. WCCB put a safety plan into place that required household members and caretakers to be drug and alcohol free around M.P. and B.P., Jr. Id. WCCB opened its case formally on September 12, 2008, to assist Mother with transportation, housing, budgeting and parenting. Id. at 27-28. As part of the safety plan, WCCB contracted with M & N Drug and Alcohol Testing Services to monitor the parents' compliance with the drug and alcohol conditions of the safety plan. Subsequently, Father tested positive for THC on February 3, 2009, and refused to submit to a drug test on February 8, 2009. Id. at 32

On October 6, 2008, Mother filed a charge of simple assault against Father and, on November 10, 2008, procured a protection from abuse (PFA) order against him based on the assault. Id. at 28. The trial court granted Mother primary physical custody of M.P. Father said that he would not abide by the PFA. Id. at 32.

On February 25, 2009, Father attempted to contact Mother through third parties, in violation of the PFA. Father refused the offer of anger management classes because he thought they would be a waste of time. Id. at 33. Father was arrested on February 29, 2009, and charged with terroristic threats and simple assault against a friend of Mother. The charges were dismissed when witnesses failed to appear to testify against him. Id. at 32. Charges of indirect criminal contempt, burglary, harassment, and stalking were filed against Father on March 3, 2009, after he entered Mother's residence through a window. Id. These charges were dismissed when Mother refused to pursue them. Id.

Mother facilitated Father's violation of the terms of the PFA on March 18, 2009, when she permitted Father to have contact with M.P. Id. The police responded to the incident and had to use force to enter Mother's residence when she refused them entry. Id. at 33-34. The police arrested Father but charges were again dismissed when Mother refused to pursue them. Id. at 34.

WCCB initiated another safety plan on April 14, 2009, by which Mother was ordered not to consume controlled substances nor permit Father to have contact with M.P. without prior approval of the trial court. Nevertheless, based on Father's violation of the PFA and allegations of drug trafficking in Mother's home, the trial court adjudicated M.P. dependent on May 8, 2009. WCCB placed M.P. in foster care on June 11, 2009. The trial court ordered Father to complete anger management through Catholic Charities, undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, submit to random drug screens, and continue with mental health treatment. Id. at 35. The trial court also granted Father two-hour supervised visitation at the home of M.P.'s paternal great-grandmother. Id. at 36.

On June 23, 2009, Ms. Sluka, a provider with Project STAR who had been providing parenting and other services to Mother and Father, reported that Mother and Father were back together. Id. at 36. Mother refused an offer of couples counseling. Id.

Father was arrested for public drunkenness on July 8, 2009, and Ms. Sluka reported that Father was at Mother's residence throwing furniture on July 15, 2009. Id. at 36. When Ms. Sluka was unable to calm Father down, she drove Mother and M.P. to the home of M.P.'s foster mother to get away from Father. Id. at 36-37. Subsequent visits between Father and M.P. were moved to the WCCB play room. Id. at 37.

Father began to refuse random drug screens as of August 17, 2009. Id. at 37. In September 2009, Father reportedly threatened Mother with a firearm because he had heard that she was seeing another man, and Mother and Father were reported to be fighting with each other on September 28, 2009. Id. at 38.

On November 9, 2009, the trial court found that Father had made no progress towards reunification. The trial court ordered Father to undergo drug, alcohol and mental health treatment, ordered Mother and Father to begin couples counseling, to work with Project STAR on parenting, and to submit to random drug screens, and ordered Father to complete anger management through Catholic Charities. Id.

Father began to comply with the trial court's orders but, on March 25, 2010, admitted to M.P.'s foster mother that he had punched Mother's paramour and had followed Mother in her car until Mother slammed on the brakes, causing Father's car to slam into her car. Id. at 40-41. Father was arrested on April 15, 2010, and, as a result, was discharged from drug and alcohol treatment and mental health treatment. Id. at 39. On May 10, 2010, the trial court again ordered Father to complete drug and alcohol treatment, to be subject to random screens, and to have a mental health evaluation. Id. at 41. Father's visitation was to be at the discretion of WCCB. Father was discharged unsuccessfully from anger management classes on July 14, 2010.

B.P., Jr. was born in August 2010, and, as of September 10, 2010, Mother and Father were permitted unsupervised visitation with M.P. Thereafter, on October 19, 2010, M.P. was permitted to return home, provided Mother and Father had clean drug screens and cooperated with service providers. Id., at 42.

Father was released from prison on April 26, 2011. WCCB placed M.P. and B.P., Jr. with Father and required him to supervise their time with Mother because, on the previous day, Mother had been found on her bed, unresponsive, with B.P., Jr. lying face down under the bed. Id. at 43.

Father tested positive for cocaine on July 11, 2011. As of July 25, 2011, Mother and Father stopped providing random drug screens and stopped going to couples counseling. It was reported that Father struck Mother on July 17, 2011, and threatened to kill her. Id. at 44.

On July 29, 2011, Mother filed another PFA against Father, alleging that Father forced her to have sex with him, and that Father had threatened to kill her. Id . at 44. On August 2, 2011, a WCCB caseworker found Father hiding in a closet at Mother's residence in ...

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