15, 2017 Session
Appeal from the Juvenile Court for Davidson County No. 208898
Sheila Calloway, Judge
an appeal of the termination of a father's parental
rights to his two minor daughters. The father is currently
serving a thirty-four year prison sentence for criminal acts
committed against his daughters. The children's mother
filed a petition to terminate the father's rights to the
children. Following a bench trial, the court below held that
statutory grounds existed to terminate the father's
parental rights and that it was in the children's best
interest to do so. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Arnold B. Goldin, and Kenny Armstrong, J.J., joined.
Willis Jones, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
C. Mark J. Downton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE
Facts & Procedural History
Fred C. ("Father") and Appellee, Melanie C.
("Mother") married in 1997 and divorced in 2009.
Two children were born to the parties during their marriage
(the "Children"). When the Children were ages six
and four, they told Mother they were being sexually abused by
Father. On November 19, 2009, a jury convicted Father of
seven counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated
sexual battery. Father appealed to the Tennessee Court of
Criminal Appeals, which affirmed Father's convictions on
three counts of rape of a child and the two counts of
aggravated sexual battery. The Tennessee Supreme Court
granted Father's Rule 11 application for permission to
appeal and affirmed the decision of the Court of Criminal
Appeals on November 10, 2014. Father is currently serving a
thirty-four year sentence with an anticipated release date in
21, 2015, Mother filed a petition to terminate Father's
parental rights to the Children, who were by then ages
fourteen and twelve. Mother alleged several grounds for
termination related to Father's sexual abuse of the
Children and his criminal convictions stemming therefrom.
Father was appointed counsel to defend against Mother's
to trial, Father filed a motion to stay and/or to continue
the termination proceedings until he exhausted all avenues of
post-conviction relief in his criminal matter. Father also
filed a motion to disqualify attorney Sharon Reddick from
representing Mother in the termination proceedings. Father
argued that, pursuant to Rule 1.11 of the Tennessee Rules of
Professional Conduct, Ms. Reddick should be disqualified from
representing mother in the termination proceeding because she
was previously the prosecutor in the criminal case against
Father that formed the basis of Mother's petition to
terminate his parental rights. The trial court heard both of
Father's motions on March 8, 2016, and denied his
requests to stay the termination trial and to disqualify Ms.
Reddick as counsel for Mother.
trial on the termination petition was held on March 9 and 11,
2016. The court heard testimony from Mother, Father, the
Children, Father's relatives, and others. Father's
criminal convictions were entered as exhibits to establish
grounds for termination of his parental rights. Early on the
morning of March 11, 2016, Mother moved the court to amend
her petition to terminate parental rights to allege that
Father's rights should be terminated based on the sole
ground that he had been convicted of crimes rising to the
level of severe child abuse, aggravated sexual battery, and
aggravated assault as set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated
section 36-1-113(g)(ll). The court allowed Mother's
amendment over Father's objection.
court took the matter under advisement at the conclusion of
the trial, and on March 30, 2016, the court entered an order
terminating Father's parental rights to the Children. The
court found that grounds existed to terminate Father's
rights, in that Father had been found guilty of committing
severe child abuse under a prior court order. The court
further found that termination of Father's rights was in
the best interest of the Children.
presents the following issues for review on appeal, which we
1. Whether the trial court erred by denying Father's
motion to stay and/or continue the parental ...