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Woman’s Name Removed from Child Abuse Registry Because After-Acquired Evidence Cannot Salvage a Substantiation that Lacked Sufficient Evidence At the Time It Was Made

In In re K.R., 2015 VT 58 (April 10, 2015), the Vermont Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Human Services Board that upheld a child abuse substantiation against petitioner.

Holding: The Human Services Board’s findings did not support the conclusion that K.R. had committed child abuse. The substantiation was based upon the fact that K.R. refused to comply with DCF recommendations, and there was no risk that K.R.’s son was actually at risk. During later proceedings, in 2011, there was evidence that petitioner admitted to daily drug use. However, after-acquired evidence cannot save a substantiation that lacked sufficient evidence at the time.

Dissent: Reiber, C.J., filed a lengthy dissent, arguing that the Human Services Board was entitled to consider after-acquired evidence concerning the accuracy or reliability of a substantiation determination.

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