In re M.W.Annotate this Case
M.W. was born in August 2010. M.W. lived with his young parents in the maternal grandparents’ home for several months before moving into an apartment that the maternal grandfather built over a garage located fifty feet from the grandparents’ home. During the approximately three years that the parents lived there, the mother and her parents were M.W.’s primary caregivers, as father worked two jobs and was away from the home much of the time. In 2013, father was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault on minors under the age of thirteen and four counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. Father was also charged with two counts of obstructing justice, one count of violating an abuse prevention order, and one count of violating conditions of release. M.W. was not the putative victim of any of the charged crimes. Ten of the twelve counts were felonies, the most serious of which (aggravated sexual assault on a minor under the age of thirteen) had a potential life sentence with a mandatory minimum of ten years to serve. The lewd-and-lascivious-conduct counts had a mandatory minimum sentence of two years to serve. The Department for Children and Families (DCF) substantiated father for abuse based on the conduct that led to the criminal charges. Father administratively appealed the substantiation, and that appeal was stayed pending resolution of the criminal charges. In the meantime, a petition was filed to terminate his parental rights as to M.W. He appealed a superior court order that ultimately terminated those rights, contending that an extended pre-trial incarceration could not support the family court’s termination order. Finding no reversible error as to the termination petition, the Supreme Court affirmed.