Father sought an Order of Protection (OP) against stepfather of Father’s three daughters. Stepfather lived with Mother and the three girls.
Father alleged that stepfather physically and sexually abused two of the girls. The girl’s ages were then 7 and 4 (S.C.).
The Court entered a plenary OP, after hearing. A plenary OP lasts for two years. The stepfather was ordered not to have any contact with the three girls. The Father would be awarded immediate custody if the stepfather were to move back in with Mother and the children.
The stepfather appealed. He argued that hearsay had been used improperly. He said he should not have been ordered to stay away from the girls.
The youngest girl, S.C., had met with Ms. Hoffman through DCFS. Ms. Hoffman interviewed S.C… S.C. did not appear in court. Ms. Hoffman reported in court what S.C. had told Ms. Hoffman.
The stepfather had many, many objections to Ms. Hoffman’s testimony. One of his objections was that S.C. was available to come to court. Therefore, S.C. should have testified herself.
Another objection was that the court should have held a hearing to determine the reliability of S.C.’s statements. The court had not done that.
Section 606(e) of Marriage Act governs the admissibility of hearsay in this case. The OP impacted the children’s custody. The OP continues to affect their custody during pendency of the OP. Section 606(e) did not require a hearing on reliability. Such a hearing is not needed in a bench trial. A bench trial is a trial without a jury.
The OP stayed in place.
Countryman v. Racy, 2017 IL App (3d) 160379, August 9, 2017.
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