Submitted January 8, 2019
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Family
Division (NEG-127-17) (Hon. Tara J. Fentress, Magistrate
Judge) (Hon. Julie H. Becker, Reviewing Judge).
Patricia M. Spicer was on the brief for appellant C.R.B.
A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia,
Loren L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, Stacy L. Anderson,
Acting Deputy Solicitor General, and Pamela Soncini,
Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief for appellee
District of Columbia.
Abimbola Imoisili, guardian ad litem for appellee H.R., filed
a statement in lieu of brief in support of appellee District
Glickman and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Steadman, Senior
McLeese, Associate Judge.
C.R.B. challenges the trial court's determination that
C.R.B.'s daughter H.R. was a neglected child. We affirm.
where noted, the following facts appear to be undisputed. One
day in February 2017, C.R.B. became concerned when she saw
her daughter H.R., who was seven years old at the time,
talking to a stranger in a restaurant. C.R.B. told H.R. not
to talk to strangers, but H.R. continued to speak with the
stranger. C.R.B. then threatened to spank H.R. when they
C.R.B. and H.R. returned home, C.R.B. told H.R. to remove her
clothes in preparation for a spanking. H.R. did not comply.
C.R.B. then proceeded to hit H.R. C.R.B. testified that she
hit H.R. on the bottom with the palm of her right hand. The
magistrate judge, however, perceived inconsistencies in
C.R.B.'s account of the incident. For example, C.R.B.
first testified that there was "no struggle" but
then acknowledged that H.R. was "wriggling around."
Additionally, C.R.B. initially testified that H.R. "fell
to the floor" during the spanking but later stated that
H.R. was "wriggling around while standing up" and
"never went to the floor."
to C.R.B., at some point during the spanking, a ring on
C.R.B.'s hand struck H.R. in the face. C.R.B. could not
recall whether the ring was on her left or right hand. As a
result of the incident, H.R. suffered a "purplish-red,
curved scratch and bruising along [H.R.'s] upper cheek
bone, under her right eye." No medical attention was
required for the injury, which took approximately three days
following day, school personnel contacted the Child and
Family Services Agency (CFSA), concerned about possible
physical abuse of H.R. CFSA social worker Amy Vokes
interviewed H.R. at school. After the conversation, and in
light of the proximity of the injury to H.R.'s eye, Ms.
Vokes became concerned about physical abuse. Ms. Vokes took a
photo of H.R.'s injury.
Vokes also interviewed C.R.B. C.R.B. told Ms. Vokes that
C.R.B. "had the kinds of kids you have to beat,"
which the magistrate judge took to indicate that beatings
were routine. C.R.B. testified, however, that she uses
spanking as a last resort and that she uses the words
"beat" and "spank" interchangeably. Ms.
Vokes attempted to develop a safety plan with C.R.B.,
including using non-physical forms of discipline, but C.R.B.
told Ms. Vokes ...