In re Interest of Ayodele F.

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In re Interest of Ayodele F.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Monday, January 27, 2014

SUMMARY: The juvenile court did not err in adjudicating the child where there was evidence that the mother used inappropriate physical discipline; however, there was no evidence that the mother did not prevent her daughter from inappropriate sexual contact. The mother was provided due process because the juvenile court did not improperly rely on an excluded exhibit and the mother had an attorney at the adjudication hearing. 

The State of Nebraska filed a petition on November 8, 2012, alleging that Azibataram (Azi) placed Ayodele (DOB 2/2004) at risk of harm due to, among other counts, use of inappropriate physical discipline, failure to provide proper housing, care, and supervision, and failure to protect Ayodele from inappropriate sexual contact. An adjudication hearing was held January 18, March 8, March 25, and June 11, 2013. Ayodele testified in chambers that her mother’s boyfriend, Richard, whipped Ayodele with a belt, used duct tape to cover her mouth when she was loud, and once choked her until she blacked out. Ayodele also testified that Azi would put her in time out in a dark garage for up to three hours. Ayodele and Richard would play checkers in bed in their underwear. The intake assessment worker assigned to the case testified that Ayodele had told him about the physical abuse such as spanking and time outs in the garage. Azi testified that she had no concerns about Richard’s behavior in regards to Ayodele. Azi stated Richard would frequently be alone with Ayodele in the evenings due to Azi’s work schedule, but this did not concern her. Azi admitted to spanking Ayodele and once using a wooden spoon to hit her, but claimed she never used any other object to hit her daughter and only put Ayodele in the garage occasionally. The juvenile court adjudicated Ayodele on June 13, 2013.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the adjudication. The juvenile court credited Ayodele’s testimony and the testimony of two intake assessment workers that Azi used inappropriate physical discipline and verbal abuse. Azi herself admitted to using a wooden spoon and time outs in a dark garage to discipline Ayodele. Azi claimed the juvenile court erred in relying on the removal affidavit, but the court had excluded the exhibit and there was no evidence it relied on it in adjudicating Ayodele. Azi also was not denied due process because she had an attorney at the adjudication hearing. The juvenile court did not err in determining Ayodele should remain in the custody of DHHS.