Robin Hart will be allowed to see her 3-month-old granddaughter the first Thursday of every month at the home of the baby’s foster parents, and if the visits go well, she could see the infant more often, an Erie County Family Court judge said Thursday at a hearing.
The baby was born Oct. 3 to Hart’s daughter, Nora Brooks, and Matthew W. Kuzdzal, with whom Brooks lived on the West Side with her 5-year-old son, Eain Clayton Brooks.
The baby, named Hope, was taken from Brooks at birth by child protection officials and placed in the custody of foster parents after Eain died Sept. 17. Authorities said the boy suffered a brain injury and died after Kuzdzal beat him the evening of Sept. 15, while Brooks was away from their apartment.
Kuzdzal, 26, has been charged with second-degree murder and sexual abuse. He is being held without bail.
At Thursday’s hearing before Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin, Walter A. Nosek, representing the Erie County Department of Social Services, said arrangements have been made for Hart to visit Hope the first Thursday of every month.
Hart asked the judge why she can see her granddaughter only once a month.
Hart suggested the action was in retaliation for a notice of claim she filed against Erie County in December. The notice indicated that Hart, as administrator for Eain’s estate, intended to sue the county for negligence in his death, contending that it failed to adequately investigate her complaints that Eain was being abused.
The judge said that in general, the rights of a grandparent are given less weight than those of a child’s mother. She said the main concern is what’s best for the child, not the adults.
She said that if Hart’s visits with Hope go well, they can be expanded.
After the hearing, Hart said outside the courtroom that her daughter does not want her to visit Hope. She said she has seen Hope only three times since she was born.
Rodwin in October issued an order of protection against Kuzdzal, barring him from any contact with Hope.
At that time the judge also issued an order giving Brooks supervised access to Hope through Erie County Child Protective Services for visits at least twice a week.
Peter P. Vasilion, Brooks’ attorney, said Brooks has been in counseling through Child and Family Services and has been visiting Hope regularly.
The judge adjourned the case to March 11.