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Hanke v. Hanke

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
615 A.2d 1205 (1992)


Mary Elizabeth Hanke and Dan Hanke  separated after Mrs. Hanke’s 11-year-old daughter from an earlier marriage told her mother than Mr. Hanke had sexually abused her. The incident of sexual abuse occurred just once, while Mr. Hanke was drunk, but he had physically abused the same stepdaughter in a manner involving sexual undertones for a long period before then. Mr. Hanke admitted to the sexual abuse, was criminally charged, and received a suspended sentence as a result of a plea bargain. At the time of the parties’ separation, Mrs. Hanke was pregnant and eventually gave birth to a daughter. The couple divorced in August 1990 when the daughter was three or four years old. In March 1991, the court awarded Mr. Hanke four-hour unsupervised visitation periods with the daughter every other week. In May 1991, the couple’s daughter told a teenage family friend that Mr. Hanke had touched her in an inappropriate place. Mrs. Hanke observed scarring in the girl’s genital area and brought her to a medical facility for examination. The doctor reported that prior abuse could not be excluded. Mr. Hanke was examined by a mental health evaluator by court order. The evaluator recommended that Mr. Hanke be prohibited from spending time alone with his daughter. Mr. Hanke’s attorney, along with attorneys representing the child and the county department of social services all recommended that any visitation between Mr. Hanke and his child be supervised. A small amount of evidence suggested that Mrs. Hanke was overreacting and that Mr. Hanke was not a threat. At some point, Mrs. Hanke relocated with the child to her home state of Kentucky, an event that clearly irritated the judge. In August 1991, the court granted Mr. Hanke overnight visitation with his daughter. One of four friends of Mr. Hanke was to be present during such visits. Because Mrs. Hanke refused to allow visitation, the court had the child removed from her custody. Mrs. Hanke appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Bell, J.)

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