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Click here for the full text of this decision The evidence showed the mother’s conduct before, during and after the births of her sons presented more than just the threat of abstract injury. Having reviewed all the evidence, the court concludes the jury could have found by clear and convincing evidence that the mother’s continuing course of conduct was a danger now and in the future to her children’s emotional and physical well-being. FACTS:During trial court proceedings to terminate the parental rights of Crystal Fleming to her two children, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services’ care detailed Fleming’s life from the time she came into the department’s care as a 10-year-old who had been physically abused by her father and sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. Fleming repeatedly ran away from foster homes, was violent toward others and was suicidal. She was diagnosed with several mental and emotional problems. Fleming got pregnant with her first child when she was 17 and living in a group home. She was placed in a substance abuse treatment center, and, although she admitted to using drugs, she maintained that she did not have a drug problem. Fleming received no prenatal care, and she tested positive for marijuana at baby’s birth, so the department placed this child in foster care. The department set out six goals for Fleming to meet to reunite her with her child. The only one she completed within a year was to visit regularly with the child. During this time she gave birth to a second child. Because she had been beaten up by drug dealers and lived with a physically abusive man, the department put this child in foster care, too. Six months later, Fleming finally began counseling, although she still refused to go to drug counseling. The psychologist acknowledged her young age, but still found her lacking in coping skills. On the day Fleming unilaterally decided to stop counseling, police were called to a domestic dispute between her and her boyfriend. At trial, Fleming generally denied the drug allegations made by the department. She said she was learning to deal with stress, but that she did not think she needed therapy because she had forgotten about the abuse she suffered as a child. Fleming admitted to having an abusive boyfriend, one whom she twice called the police on for hitting her while she was pregnant. She appeared at trial with a new boyfriend, whom she said had several drug arrests and had just recently been let out of jail. She said she had been working for three weeks at Wal-Mart, that she had housing and that she had arranged for a babysitter. She said she wanted to get her children back to “break the cycle.” Three people testified in Fleming’s behalf: her boyfriend’s aunt, who said she’d be babysitting; her night supervisor at Wal-Mart, who said she’d passed a drug test and that he’d be willing to accommodate her schedule changes; and a woman who had overcome circumstances similar to Fleming’s, who was not serving as Fleming’s mentor. The jury found Fleming endangered her children and that termination was in their best interest. Fleming first challenges the jury findings that: 1. she either knowingly placed or knowingly allowed R.F. and L.C. to remain in conditions or surroundings that endangered their physical and emotional well-being; or 2. she engaged in conduct that endangered their physical or emotional well-being; and 3. termination was in the children’s best interest. HOLDING:Affirmed. Fleming contends: 1. evidence of her drug use was insufficient because neither child was physically or emotionally endangered by her use of marijuana; 2. her prior suicide attempts were simply “cries for help,” rather than serious attempts, and she had not engaged in any such behavior since the birth of her two children; 3. she had not assaulted anyone since her children’s birth and, years earlier, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with a symptom being aggressive behavior; 4. she called police when her on-again, off-again boyfriend physically abused her; and 5. she was striving to complete the service plan and loved her children. Noting Fleming’s history of violent, aggressive behavior, drug use, suicide attempts (one while she was pregnant), as well as her failure to meet the department’s goals for her, rejection of continued therapy and relationships with abusive, drug-addicted men, the court determines that “the evidence showed Fleming’s conduct before, during, and after the births of her sons presented more than just the threat of abstract injury.” “Having reviewed all the evidence, we conclude the jury could have found by clear and convincing evidence that Fleming’s continuing course of conduct was a danger now and in the future to her children’s emotional and physical well-being.” OPINION:Francis, J.; Moseley, Richter and Francis, JJ.

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