Father Can’t Be Isolated From Family, Court Says | Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Back issues
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Father Can’t Be Isolated From Family, Court Says

(CN) - A special parole condition barring a Native American man from living with his children or dating his fiancee is "substantively unreasonable," the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.

The three-judge panel in Seattle overturned the conditions imposed on Timothy Eric Wolf Child, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of northeastern Montana.

Wolf Child pleaded guilty last year to attempted sexual abuse for trying to have sex with a drunk, passed-out 16-year-old girl at a house party when he was 22. He stopped when another girl walked into the room.

He was sentenced to 7 years and two months in prison, and 10 years probation.

At his sentencing hearing in August, the federal judge imposed several special conditions of his parole, including that Wolf Child can't live with or "be in the company of" anyone under 18, and can't date or socialize with anyone with minor children, unless he first obtains written permission from his probation officer.

Those conditions barred him from being with his own three children and fiancee, with whom he has two younger kids. Wolf Child appealed, claiming the conditions were unreasonably strict.

The 9th Circuit agreed.

Wolf Child has "a significant liberty interest" in "residing with or being in the company of his own daughters and socializing with his fiancee," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote.

To deprive him of this libery interest, the federal judge had to base the conditions on ample evidence that they were necessary "for deterrence, protection of the public, or rehabilitation," the court ruled.

"Because the district court made no such findings ... and it conducted no individualized examination of Wolf Child's relationship with the affected family members, it committed procedural error," Reinhardt wrote.

Absent supporting evidence, Reinhardt said the limitation on Wolf Child's interactions with his kids and fiancee was "substantively unreasonable."

"[N]othing in the commission of the instant offense, an attempted assault on a stranger, suggests that Wolf Child would violate a familial relationship or present a danger to his own daughters. To the contrary, the evidence in the record supports a finding that he is a good, caring and loving father," Reinhardt wrote (original emphasis).

"For this reason, on remand the district court may not reimpose any prohibitions on Wolf Child residing with or being in the company of his own daughters or socializing with or dating his fiancee during his ten-year term of supervised release."

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