The Department of Social Services wasn’t required to try to reunite a toddler with his father before terminating parental rights after the father’s conviction for felony child abuse against the toddler’s 4-year-old brother.
The 4-year-old’s hospital physician testified to the nature and severity of his head trauma, comparing the injury to one that would be suffered by an unrestrained individual involved in a high-speed motor vehicle accident. She also testified that the crushing or splintering of the child’s vertebra was clearly a non-accidental injury. She further opined that the child’s injuries occurred on more than one occasion. As a result of his injuries, the child is permanently blind and has a permanent loss of brain tissue, which will affect his developmental milestones and cognitive function.
The father argues in part that his parental rights to his younger son shouldn’t have been terminated because the toddler was not the victim of any assault or abuse. But the facts of this case represent precisely the kind of situation Code § 16.1-283(E)(iii) is designed to address. That subsection expressly permits the termination of the parental rights of any or all of a parent’s children when he or she has been convicted of felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury if the victim of the offense was a child of the parent at the time of the offense.