Heard: July 9, 2018.
Petition filed in the Barnstable County/Town of Plymouth
Division of the Juvenile Court Department on November 4,
case was heard by James J. Torney, Jr., J.
Michael S. Penta for the mother.
Richard A. Salcedo for Department of Children and Families.
Zeldis for the child.
Rizwanul Huda for the father.
Present: Blake, Sacks, & Ditkoff, JJ.
a trial in the Juvenile Court, a judge found the mother unfit
to parent her daughter Xarina, terminated her parental
rights, and approved the plan of the Department of Children
and Families (department). On appeal, the mother argues that
in the circumstances of this case, it was error for the judge
to terminate her parental rights when the father's rights
were not terminated. She also claims it was error for the judge
to approve the plan proposed by the department. We affirm.
was born in September, 2006. The mother and the father
divorced in 2009. Following the divorce, the mother had legal
and physical custody of Xarina. When Xarina was approximately
two years old, a report pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 51A
(51A report), was filed against the mother alleging neglect
of the child. Thereafter, the father was awarded sole legal
and physical custody of Xarina.
father married his current wife, Susan, in 2011, and they
have two children together. The department investigated
numerous allegations against the family, including that the
father had physically abused Adam, Susan's son from a
prior relationship. In October, 2014, the department received
a 51A report after school staff noticed bruises on Adam. As
part of its investigation, the department's social
workers spoke with Xarina, who, after some resistance,
reported that she saw her father hitting Adam and pushing him
to the ground. She also said that she did not want to get
anyone into trouble and that the father told her that if she
spoke to the department, she would be taken away. She stated
that she did not feel safe in the home and thought someone
would "kill her." In November, 2014, the department
filed a petition pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 24,
alleging that Xarina was in need of care and protection. She
was removed from the father's home and placed in the
custody of the department that same day.
investigation report filed in February, 2015, stated that the
department had little to no contact with the mother, and her
whereabouts were often unknown. None of the mother's five
children is in her custody. She has a history of