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Care and Protection of Vieri

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire

October 18, 2017

CARE AND PROTECTION OF VIERI. [1]

          Heard: September 11, 2017.

         Petition filed in the Berkshire County Division of the Juvenile Court Department on October 26, 2015., The case was heard by Judith A. Locke, J.

          Daniel R. Katz for the mother.

          Andrew J. Haile, Assistant Attorney General, for Department of Children and Families.

          William A. Comeau for the child.

          Green, Sullivan, & Sacks, JJ.

          SULLIVAN, J.

         Vieri's adoptive mother, who is also his maternal grandmother (mother), appeals from an adjudication that Vieri is in need of care and protection pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 26. On appeal the mother challenges the Juvenile Court judge's determination that she is currently unfit to parent Vieri. We affirm.

         Background.

         We summarize the judge's findings and the evidence consistent with those findings. Vieri was born in September, 2001. The mother adopted Vieri and his older brother, Alan (a pseudonym), in November of 2006, when Vieri was five years old and Alan was seven.[2]

         In June, 2014, the Department of Children and Families (department) began an investigation arising from concerns that Vieri was neglected. A little over a week later, the town health department, which had had ongoing contact with the mother over various issues in the home, responded to complaints of a sewage leak in the home. Ultimately, over 2, 500 gallons of raw sewage were removed from the basement.

         The mother left Vieri, then thirteen, and Alan "on [their] own most of the summer" of 2015. During this time, Vieri was arrested twice; he was charged with possession of alcohol and shoplifting in July. Later in September, 2015, Vieri was charged with larceny for stealing $800 from the mother. Vieri testified, and the judge credited, that he took the money because the mother left him and Alan without food. The department subsequently created an interim service plan for the mother, which included cooperating with the department and meeting with the assigned social worker, providing food in the home, keeping the home clean, and not leaving Vieri home alone without adult supervision.

         In October, 2015, an agent of the town health department went to the home to conduct a site assessment. The agent described the home as that of a "hoarder."[3] The agent also found the outside of the home littered with bulky waste. The basement floor contained sewage residue from the earlier backup, and an area of standing liquid; it was unclear whether this was water or sewage. However, there was some new backup carrying the odor of raw sewage. There was also contaminated furniture in the basement and a contaminated biomat on the basement floor.

         As a result of the charges against him, Vieri was placed on pretrial probation on October 20, 2015. On October 25, 2015, at the request of the police, the department's emergency response workers met with Vieri at the police station after he had had a dispute with the mother. Vieri told the workers that he smoked marijuana and had "taken acid, " and that his grandmother also smoked marijuana and used pills and cocaine. He stated that he did not want to return home, that there was no heat in the home, and that there was usually no food as well. The department filed the underlying care and protection petition on October 26, 2015. When the emergency response workers subsequently inspected the home, they found ...


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