THE CIRCUIT COURT OF STAFFORD COUNTY Victoria A. B. Willis,
J. Ilijevich for appellant.
Catherine Miller Saller; Elizabeth Carpenter-Hughes, Guardian
ad litem for the minor child; Williams Stone Carpenter
Buczek, PC, on brief), for appellee. Appellee and Guardian ad
litem submitting on brief.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Decker and Russell Argued by
J. HUMPHREYS, JUDGE
By order dated March 27, 2018, the Circuit Court of Stafford
County (the "circuit court") granted the Stafford
Department of Social Services' ("DSS") petition
to terminate appellant Adam Yafi's ("Yafi")
parental rights to L.Y., pursuant to Code §
16.1-283(E)(iii) and 16.1-283(E)(iv). The circuit court found
by clear and convincing evidence that termination was in
L.Y.'s best interests after Yafi was convicted of felony
child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury to Y.Y.,
L.Y.'s half-brother, and because Yafi subjected Y.Y. to
aggravated circumstances. On appeal, Yafi alleges the following
assignments of error:
1. The [circuit] court erred by finding that the parental
rights of the appellant should be terminated when the
Department of Social Services failed to present sufficient
evidence that it provided reasonable and appropriate efforts
to assist the appellant to remedy the conditions which led to
the child's foster care placement.
2. The [circuit] court erred by finding that the parental
rights of the appellant should be terminated pursuant to Va.
Code Ann. § 16.1-283 (E) when the Department of Social
Services failed to present sufficient evidence that the
appellant was the cause of injuries to a minor child and that
termination was in the best interest of the minor child when
there was no evidence that she was a victim of abuse or
January 27, 2017, Deputy Scott Fulford ("Deputy
Fulford") of the Stafford County Sheriff's Office
received a rescue call for the Yafi residence. Deputy Fulford
was later told to meet the ambulance and first responders at
Mary Washington Hospital.
hospital, Deputy Fulford observed the ambulance transporting
Y.Y., a four-year-old child. Deputy Fulford initially
observed "a very large lump" on the center of
Y.Y.'s forehead, as well as other visible bruises and
scratches. Upon closer examination, Deputy Fulford observed
"red marks on his left cheek[, ]" "a large
black and blue bruise on his right temple[, ]" and red
scratch marks on his neck that "appeared to be recent,
as well as scratch marks that appeared to be old."
Deputy Fulford also noted numerous bruises and abrasions on
Y.Y.'s left shoulder, left wrist, and right forearm, and
both elbows and knees. As Y.Y. was being examined, Deputy
Fulford was able to take photographs of the child's
injuries. Although Y.Y. appeared to be asleep to Deputy
Fulford, Y.Y.'s injuries were so severe that they caused
a coma, seizure, permanent blindness, permanent brain tissue
loss, and a change in Y.Y.'s remaining brain tissue.
Additionally, Y.Y.'s T1 vertebra was "crushed into
the nature and severity of Y.Y.'s injuries, Y.Y. was
flown to the pediatric intensive care unit at Virginia
Commonwealth University ("VCU") Medical Center.
There, Y.Y. was treated by Dr. Robin Foster ("Dr.
Foster"), a pediatric emergency medicine physician and
director of the child protective team. When Dr. Foster first
examined Y.Y. on January 27, 2017, she noted that
[Y.Y.] was intubated in our pediatric intensive care unit,
which means he had a breathing tube in and was being
mechanically ventilated. His exam was notable for bruising
that was present in the middle of his forehead that was
somewhat purplish in coloration. Bruising was present on the
right side of his eye, lateral to his eye. He had a large
hematoma bruise on his left scalp that was soft and boggy and
had linear abrasions through the surface of it. His right
eyelid was drooping, which is called ptosis. His right eye
was laterally deviated and stuck over here off center. His
right pupil was blown and very enlarged and fixed and would
not respond to light. And his left pupil was smaller, but
also not responsive to light.
On his eye exam, you could see blood that was pooling in the
back of the eye using an ophthalmoscope. He had several other
scattered bruises on his trunk and a large circular bruise on
the inside of his right forearm and several scattered bruises
on his lower extremities as well. He was agitated and moving
his arms and legs in sort of a random fashion, not consistent
with a seizure.
family members were present when Dr. Foster first observed
Y.Y. Dr. Foster also noted that, while Y.Y. was awake when
she first met him, "his arms and legs were moving and
thrashing around with the airway breathing tube in place . .
. [h]e was trying to talk around the tube, which you
can't really do, . . . [a]nd so he held on to my hand and
wouldn't let go."
point, Dr. Foster reviewed the Mary Washington Hospital
records that contained reports from emergency personnel who
responded to the Yafi residence. Dr. Foster found that the
first responders observed Y.Y.'s limbs in an extended,
decerebrate posture. According to Dr. Foster, such posturing
is consistent with chronic brain injury or a seizure. The
records also reflected that Y.Y. was foaming at the mouth,
which, according to Dr. Foster, was also consistent with a
seizure. Doctors at Mary Washington Hospital rated Y.Y. as a
three on the Glasgow Coma Scale.
Dr. Foster reviewed CT and MRI scans taken at both Mary
Washington Hospital and VCU Medical Center, she observed
various blood collection areas on both sides of Y.Y.'s
brain. Dr. Foster described that Y.Y. suffered from subacute,
acute, and chronic blood collection. As explained by Dr.
Foster, subacute blood collection "is indicative of
blood that is more than three or four days of age and less
than two weeks of age." Acute blood collection "is
less than four to seven days" of age. Chronic blood
collection "is greater than two weeks of age." Dr.
Foster compared Y.Y.'s injuries to those suffered by an
inadequately restrained individual involved in a "high
speed motor vehicle accident in which there is a rapid
acceleration-deceleration and the brain shifts within the
remained hospitalized at VCU Medical Center from January 27
to February 20, 2017. During that time, Y.Y. suffered from
multiple ongoing issues in addition to his injuries. Y.Y.
"had significant issues with feeding . . . secondary to
[his] underlying neurologic issues." Y.Y. also worked
with a number of specialists to aid with his rehabilitation,
including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and
neurologists. Psychologists and psychiatrists also treated
Y.Y. because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder
before Y.Y.'s transport to VCU Medical Center, Kathryn
Burner ("Ms. Burner"), a child protective services
worker and DSS employee, went to Mary Washington Hospital and
observed Y.Y. According to Ms. Burner, Y.Y. was unconscious
at the time and appeared to have multiple injuries. While at
the hospital, Ms. Burner learned that Y.Y.'s father,
Yafi, had been brought to the hospital on January 24, 2017,
following an attempted suicide. Yafi was in intensive care,
unresponsive, and on life support at that time.
Burner eventually travelled to the Yafi residence after
learning that another child, L.Y., resided at the home.
Police officers accompanied Ms. Burner. There, she met Hayat
Benfaraj ("Benfaraj"). Also present at the
residence was Y.Y. and the ...