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Father may lose sons if he molests a daughter, court decides

Abusive Behavior

SAN FRANCISCO -- A father who sexually molests his daughter may also lose custody of his sons, even if he never harmed them, the California Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday.

In a ruling written by Justice Ming W. Chin, the state high court upheld the decision of juvenile court judge in Los Angeles to take responsibility for a father’s five children and permit him only supervised visits.

“When a father severely sexually abuses his own child, the court may assume jurisdiction over, and take steps to protect, the child’s siblings,” Chin wrote.

The court said the facts of the case should determine the outcome. “We merely hold the evidence in this case supports the juvenile court's assertion of jurisdiction.”

The juvenile court found the father had raped his 14-year-old daughter and molested her over three years.

His three sons said they had never been mistreated, had been unaware of the abuse and wanted to live with both their parents, the court said.

Although a younger daughter faced more danger from her father than his sons,  “this does not mean the risk to the sons is nonexistent,” Chin wrote.

The children were permitted to live with their mother, but an outside monitor was required to be present when he visited their home.

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Twitter:@mauradolan

maura.dolan@latimes.com

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