Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Court of Appeal:
Justice Bendix Says Risk to 10-Year-Old Daughter May Be Slight, but Harm That Would Ensue If Father Did Commit Molestation Would Be Great, Validating Judge Soto’s Order
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A father’s possession of child pornography was a sufficient basis, in and of itself, for removing his 10-year-old daughter from his custody, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
The father, Justin R., argued on appeal “that his mere possession of child pornography does not demonstrate that he poses a substantial risk of harm to his daughter,” Justice Helen Bendix of Div. One recited, in an unpublished opinion.
“We disagree,” she responded.
The father, who was arrested based on his possession of child pornography, was at the time living apart from his wife in the same house, and has since been barred from it. Police found 614 pornographic images and 54 porn videos—some of which featured girls in his daughter’s age group—on his external hard drive, with 192 such images on his PC.
Justin R. was convicted of felony possession of child pornography.
Monitored Visits Only
In the dependency proceeding, he did not contest the jurisdictional finding, but did challenge the dispositional order under which he is allowed to see his daughter, S.R., only during monitored visits.
That order was made by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Philip L. Soto, who heard testimony from the father’s expert witness, a psychologist, who testified that there is no established connection between possession of child pornography and overt acts upon a child. The witness testified that Justin R. “is certainly a ‘fantasy driven’ and not a ‘contact driven’ offender.”
Nonetheless, Soto determined that the father “is an extreme risk to the child, because even though the likelihood that he will do something to her physically...may be small, the risk of harm is great.”
“On this record, we find substantial evidence that at the time of the disposition hearing, there was a cognizable and unmitigated, but arguably low, probability that Justin R. would perpetrate a hands-on offense against S.R. if he had unmonitored contact with her.”
The case is In re S.R., B300214.
Cristina Gabrielidis was the appointed lawyer for Justin R.
Los Angeles Deputy County Counsel O. Raquel Ramirez acted for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
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