Should a man who molested his 6-year-old stepdaughter also lose custody of his 2-year-old son? Not unless there’s specific evidence that he’s likely to molest the boy as well, says a state appeals court.
The issue has divided appellate courts in California and is now before the state Supreme Court in another case. In a 2-1 ruling Monday, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the molesting of a daughter does not, by itself, create a “substantial risk” that the same parent will molest his son.
The court said there was evidence that the father, David R., had fondled his stepdaughter and forced her to masturbate him at an apartment he was painting. The court did not say when the incident happened or whether David R. was prosecuted.
The father did not challenge a court order removing his daughter from his custody but appealed a Los Angeles Superior Court judge’s decision that also removed his 2-year-old son. The judge in that case said it was well established that “both sexes are at risk when this type of sexual abuse occurs.” But the appeals court said studies don’t support that conclusion.
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