In re Roy T.

126 Misc. 2d 172, 481 N.Y.S.2d 257 (1984)

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In re Roy T.

New York Family Court, Monroe County
126 Misc. 2d 172, 481 N.Y.S.2d 257 (1984)

Facts

Roy, a three-and-a-half-year-old, lived with his grandmother, Doris, who had temporary custody of Roy under the supervision of a county agency, pursuant to a court order. The order permitted Roy’s father (defendant) (father) to have visitation with Roy. One morning after the father’s visitation, Doris noticed that Roy had marks on his chest and stomach. Roy told Doris that the father had burned him with a cigarette. Doris took Roy to the pediatrician to examine the burns. A few days later, Doris heard the father tell Roy that the burns were accidental. Roy’s caseworker visited and discussed the burns with Roy and Doris. The state (plaintiff) then alleged that Roy was an abused and neglected child. At trial, the court chose to hear Roy’s unsworn testimony, as permitted by statute. Roy testified that, in the presence of others, the father was smoking a cigarette while Roy was lying in his lap. Roy testified that he tried to grab the cigarette because the father was blowing smoke in Roy’s face, and the father purposefully burned Roy. Roy’s testimony established that the incident was extremely upsetting and that he would long remember it. The pediatrician testified that he observed five circular lesions on Roy’s stomach. The lesions had blistered and scabbed but were healing properly and did not require treatment. It was the pediatrician’s opinion that Roy had been injured with a hot object that was the size of the lesions, causing second-degree burns. The pediatrician concluded that the injuries did not meet the statutory definition of abuse because the injuries did not create a substantial risk of “protracted disfigurement” or “protracted impairment of physical or emotional health,” though the scars would probably be visible for up to two years. The father claimed that Roy had grabbed the cigarette, which fell on Roy, burning him. The father testified that the burns were accidental and that he believed that he had acted reasonably and appropriately. When the trial concluded, the trial court was charged with determining whether the father had abused Roy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Affronti, J.)

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