Father Abused Son by Making Him Watch Porn
(CN) - An Arkansas father abused his disabled, fifteen year old son by forcing him to watch pornography, a state appellate court judge ruled, reversing a lower court decision.
In February 2010, the Arkansas Department of Human Services received an anonymous tip that the boy, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, was being abused by his father, and had been forced to watch pornographic videos on three separate occasions.
The Arkansas State Police Crimes against Children Division investigated the claims, and found no evidence to substantiate the initial claim of sexual abuse. However, the investigators did find the father, indentified only as "R.F." in court documents, had shown his son porn and recommended his placement on the state's Child Mistreatment Registry.
The father challenged this determination, but an administrative law judge found the agency had presented sufficient evidence to substantiate claims the boy, while confined to a wheel chair, was exposed to pornography from the age of seven or eight.
R.F. immediately appealed to the state circuit court, which reversed the administrative law judge's decision's, finding it was not supported by substantial evidence and was therefore arbitrary.
In handing down its decision voiding R.F.'s inclusion on the Child Mistreatment Registry, the circuit court said it was concerned about the age of the complaint - the exposure to porn evidently occurring several years earlier - and the circumstance under which it arose, after the divorce of the child's parents.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services appealed. Upon review of the case, Judge Phillip Whiteaker decided for the agency.
At the heart of the controversy was R.F.'s contention that the decision to include him on the registry was improperly based on allegations his ex-wife made during their divorce proceedings, a time when she "held a grudge against him."
R.F. said his ex-wife had since recanted the allegations and no longer wished to pursue them.
But Judge Whiteaker found the father was misstating the facts.
"While W.F. [as the ex-wife is identified in court documents] did express her desire that the matter be dropped by DHS, she fell far short from recanting her testimony," the judge wrote. "Rather, she clearly testified that R.F. forced R.R.F. [their son] to watch pornographic videos."
Whiteaker continued: "The ALJ found W.F. to be credible. The ALJ concluded that R.F. showed a video, which was purely sexual in nature with no identifiable story line or serious literary value, to R.R.F. when he was seven or eight years and was wheelchair bound and could not leave of his own volition.
"We find that substantial evidence supports the agency decision and that the appellant has failed to demonstrate that the proof before the administrative tribunal was so nearly undisputed that fair-minded persons could not reach its conclusion. Additional, these findings, as stated by the ALJ, fall squarely under the definition of sexual abuse under the child-maltreatment statute."
Under Arkansas law, the definition of sexual abuse includes the forced watching of pornography or live sexual activity by a person by a person 18 years of age of younger.
Whiteaker also took issue with R.F.'s contention that his failure to deny the allegations weighed too heavily in the administrative law judge's ruling.
"While the court did note that R.F. had failed to deny the allegations, it also found that W.F.'s credible testimony supported the maltreatment finding. Her testimony alone was sufficient to support the allegations," Whiteaker wrote.