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STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of ELIZABETH YOUNT, Minor.
FAMILY INDEPENDENCE AGENCY,
August 30, 2005
Wayne Circuit Court
LC No. 04-426799-NA
ALICIA B. YOUNT,
Before: Zahra, P.J., and Gage and Murray, JJ.
Respondent-appellant appeals as of right from the trial court order terminating his
parental rights to the minor child under MCL 712A.19b(3)(b)(i), (g), and (j). We affirm.
The trial court did not clearly err in determining that statutory grounds for termination
had been established. MCR 3.977(J); In re Gazella, 264 Mich App 668, 672; 692 NW2d 708
(2005). The evidence showed that the minor child pointed to a picture of respondent-appellant
and stated his name. In her explicit statements of sexual activity, she named respondentappellant as the perpetrator. Her sexual acting-out behavior demonstrated clear imitations of
sexual intercourse and other sexual activity inappropriate for her age. The actual observable
behavior and language were sufficient evidence of sexual abuse by respondent-appellant.
Further, when the minor child was living with respondent-appellant, he took her to live with his
girlfriend and her daughter and, while living there, engaged in acts of domestic violence against
the girlfriend that resulted in his incarceration. He then gave the minor child to an underage
brother who lived in an inappropriate home. At the time of trial, respondent-appellant did not
have sufficient employment to support a child, and was living in a home that was inappropriate
for the minor child.
Furthermore, the evidence plainly does not establish that termination of respondentappellant’s parental rights was contrary to the best interests of the minor child. MCL
712A.19b(5); In re Trejo, 462 Mich 341, 353; 612 NW2d 407 (2000). In addition to the
evidence establishing the statutory grounds for termination, there was testimony that the minor
child started screaming and would not go to respondent-appellant when she saw him, which
belies his claim that there was a strong bond between them.
Finally, respondent-appellant contends that he was denied the effective assistance of
counsel. We review this unpreserved constitutional question for plain error affecting
respondent’s substantial rights, i.e., error that is outcome determinative. People v Carines, 460
Mich 750, 763-764, 774; 597 NW2d 130 (1999). None of the errors alleged by respondentappellant would have changed the outcome of the proceedings. First, the trial court did not rely
on the speculative testimony during the tender years hearing in its decision to proceed to trial on
the petition. Second, there was sufficient independent corroborating testimony concerning the
minor child’s use of profanity and sexual acting-out behaviors that any error in failing to
sequester the witnesses did not affect the outcome of the trial. Finally, petitioner-appellee also
had a certified copy of respondent-appellant’s domestic violence conviction that it could have
entered into evidence had respondent-appellant’s attorney chosen to do so.
/s/ Brian K. Zahra
/s/ Hilda R. Gage
/s/ Christopher M. Murray