The parties had six children. Four of them were special needs children that they had adopted. Father had visited websites that contained child pornography. Mother discovered this when she was using the computer at home.
Mother went to court to get an Order of Protection against Father. Father was found guilty. He was removed from the house. He then began to live in his car by himself. Father was employed as the administrator of a facility that provides therapy for special needs children. The court restricted Father from having any access to the children. Only supervised visitation was allowed.
Mother told the court that she knew Father looked at pornography during their marriage. Mother admitted that she never saw Father threaten, abuse, or behave sexually toward their children. Mother was “not sure” if the children were in danger of harm. But, Mother said she was concerned for the children’s safety.
The children all had access to the iPad with the pornography on it. The court said they would suffer “serious emotional damage” if they stumbled across one of the sites. The court believed “there’s also the risk that Father might act out based on the sites. The court said this would be devastating.
The trial court said that Father’s acts could be called abuse and harassment. Father appealed. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court.
The Appellate Court said there was no question that Father looked at pornographic websites. But, that is not harassment. Mother did not prove to the trial court that Father knew she or the children would have emotional distress from his looking at these sites. Father would have to know his conduct was practically certain to lead to emotional distress. Otherwise, it just does not fit the definition of ‘harassment.’
The Appellate Court did feel that the trial court attempted to protect the children.
In re Marriage of Young, 2013 IL App (2d) 121196.
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