Bill which would establish an online registry of persons convicted of child abuse or neglect will reappear in 2018

06/08/2017 02:15 PM

COVINGTON – A bill which would launch a registry, similar to the current sex offender registry, that would include names of people convicted of child abuse or neglect was discussed on Wednesday during the Interim Joint committee on Judiciary meeting in Covington.

The legislation, filed during the 2017 legislative session as House Bill 129, was and will be, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, who says that her bill would provide a way for parents to make sure that the person they have chosen to care for their child has not been convicted of abuse.

The bill passed the House in 2017with an 84 to 0 vote, but stalled in a Senate committee and did not come up for a floor vote in that chamber.

The legislation is named “Sophie’s Law” for Sophie Diaz, a 4-month old who was abused by her babysitter, causing her to suffer serious injuries.

Sophie’s mother Jennifer Diaz, told committee members as she held her daughter, that passing the bill might keep other parents and their children from suffering the pain and terror that she, her husband and her child faced.

“On November 26, 2014, the day before Thanksgiving, was the day that changed my life,” Diaz said. “I received a phone call while at work from Desiree Rankin and, under the impression that my baby Sophie was having seizures, I left immediately and rushed her to Children’s Hospital. I will never forget sitting in the hallway talking to social workers and listening helplessly to Sophie scream for 20 minutes while my husband tried to comfort her as he watched the doctor pry her eyelids open with clips.”

Heather Wagers, of the Kentucky State Police believes that the cost of the registry would be paid by part of the money collected for misdemeanor and felony expungements.

“Fifty dollars would come out of misdemeanor petitions and $250 from felony petitions, and based on our current numbers, that would appropriate $300,000 in the past year to this,” Wagers said.

Committee chair Rep. Joe Fischer asked Wuchner about other states which have a similar registry.

Sen. Danny Carroll questioned Wuchner about whether HB 129 duplicates Senate Bill 236, which was passed earlier this year. That bill gives parents, school systems and others who run youth programs access to confidential information about whether someone has committed child abuse or neglect, as determined by state social service officials.

“Is this not a duplication, is this an investment that we need to make, because that information is already available through the law that we passed?,” Carroll asked.

“Both cabinets didn’t see it as a duplication or a waste of investment because it’s different, because it is those convictions,” Wuchner said.

According to Childhelp for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse, yearly referrals to state child protective services involve 6.6 million children and around 3.2 million of those children are subject to an investigated report. In the United States, a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.


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