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An expert’s opinion that a man claiming to have hit his wife and daughter was probably suffering from delusions caused by nicotine withdrawal or the use of a nicotine patch when he made the false admission led an appellate court to reverse a finding that the man had neglected his children. The man, identified only as A.V. in the court’s unsigned opinion, apparently thought he could get help with his smoking problem by telling a nurse that he had hit his wife and daughter. The decision will be published Monday. The man’s wife, daughter and son all denied that he had abused the wife or the then-10-year-old daughter. The caseworker, the child’s teacher and pediatrician stated that they never saw any evidence of abuse. The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, 1st Department in In re Alisa V., 4802, unanimously reversed Family Court Judge Jody Adams’ neglect finding and dismissed the neglect petition because “the record shows that the Administration for Children Services (ACS) did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence 1) that appellant father inflicted excessive corporal punishment on his daughter … , that he placed her in imminent risk of harm by engaging in domestic violence … , or that he has a mental illness that makes him a threat to his children.” Mr. V. was reported to the ACS a few days after he told a nurse practitioner and then a psychologist that he had hit his wife and daughter. He admitted making the statements but explained that he was trying to get a referral to someone who would help him stop smoking. He later testified that the beating had actually happened in a nightmare that was a side effect of his use of nicotine patches. The five-judge appellate panel said the testimony of Mr. V.’s psychiatric experts “renders plausible” his statement that the abuse happened in a nightmare. The two experts agreed that when Mr. V. made the statements to the nurse and psychologist, “he was probably suffering from delusional episodes caused by nicotine withdrawal or the use of a nicotine patch,” the court noted. Furthermore, the psychologist to whom Mr. V. admitted the disputed incident testified that based upon his “actions, statements, demeanor and tone of voice, he could have been delusional,” the opinion said. In light of the family’s denial of abuse, the lack of corroborating evidence from the child’s teacher or pediatrician or the ACS caseworker that the abuse occurred, “and the experts’ testimony concerning the illusions and the reasons for them, [ACS] did not sustain its burden [of proof],” the court concluded. Presiding Justice Joseph P. Sullivan and Justices Ernst H. Rosenberger, Eugene L. Nardelli, Israel Rubin and David Friedman formed the appellate panel. Lawrence H. Bloom appeared for Mr. V. Patricia S. Colella represented the Legal Aid Society, the law guardian for Alisa V. Assistant Corporation Counsel Mordecai Newman handled the appeal for the Administration for Children’s Services.

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