Evidence Insufficient to Support Neglect Finding, Criteria Explained/Repetition of Child’s Out-of-Court Statement Does Not Corroborate It
In reversing Family Court’s finding of neglect, the Third Department explained the analytical criteria and noted that a child’s out-of-court statement about his alleged consumption of alcohol was not corroborated by the child’s repetition of the statement:
“[A] party seeking to establish neglect must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, first, that a child’s physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired and second, that the actual or threatened harm to the child is a consequence of the failure of the parent or caretaker to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship” … . “In order for danger to be imminent, it must be near or impending, not merely possible” … , and regarding degree of care “the statutory test is minimum degree of care not maximum, not best, not ideal” … .
…[W]e note that one factual determination made by Family Court as supporting its finding of neglect was that respondent allegedly pressured [the child] to take a sip of her eggnog and brandy beverage at the party. The child did not testify, but the court found that his out-of-court statement was sufficiently corroborated because he had made such a statement to two different adults, although he had both denied and affirmed the allegation to one of the adults. While the corroboration requirement is low …, “[i]t is well settled that ‘repetition of an accusation by a child does not corroborate [that] child’s prior account'” … . Here, the out-of-court repetition of the statement did not provide sufficient corroboration and the statement should not have been considered as part of the neglect determination. Matter of Cadence GG…, 2015 NY Slip OP 00261, 3rd Dept 1-8-15