Below are excerpts from Fox 17 News, May 2, 2016 by Cassy Arsenault and Inquisitor News March 11, 2016 by Meaghan Ellis
LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan mother is on a mission to start a child abuse registry after her son was severely beaten, and for the rest of the now 3-year-old’s life he will have to work to overcome his brain injury.
Erica Hammel says Wyatt’s Law would be a critical tool as cases of abuse and neglect in Michigan continue to climb. She was devastated when her then 18-month-old son became a victim of abuse at the hands of his father’s girlfriend, Rachel Edwards. She said she tried everything to keep Wyatt safe, but it wasn’t enough.
In February 2013 her perfect family life came to a halt. Wyatt’s father stopped coming home. He was having an affair with Edwards. He eventually left Hammel for Edwards a few months later. Hammel says she was always suspicious of Edwards, but when she searched the internet and court records she found nothing. She later learned that Edwards had been convicted of third-degree child abuse twice prior to the incident with Wyatt. Both times, she received only probation.
“If I had just had this one piece of information I truly believe this would have never happened to Wyatt,” Hammel said. Wyatt was left blind in both eyes and couldn’t walk, talk or eat after the abuse. He has had four brain surgeries and two eye surgeries.
“The prosecutor told me that when Wyatt’s case came in and came to their office, it came in as a homicide because they didn’t think he was going to make it,” Hammel said.
Edwards was sentenced to 33 months to 10 years in prison after pleading no contest to the second-degree child abuse charges in connection with Wyatt’s injuries. But Hammel says she is up for parole in a year. Hammel said this is the exact reason Wyatt’s Law is so necessary.
“Child abuse laws are lenient. Abusers are not getting enough prison time, they are not getting tough enough sentences, and that’s a huge issue across the board. And because these people are spending a lot of time in prison, or aren’t getting prison time at all, this is exactly why we need Wyatt’s law,” said Hammel.
Wyatt’s Law has been sitting in committee with state lawmakers for roughly six months. Hammel says it’s a simple law that allows the state to publish a list of convicted child abusers.
Hammel believes a public registry of convicted child abusers could have prevented her son from being severely brain injured. If a person was convicted of third of fourth degree child abuse they would be on the registry for five years, and for first or second degree they would stay on it for 10 years. However, unlike the sex offender registry there is an opportunity for people to get off of it.
The bill has recently been moved from the Judiciary committee to the Families, Children, and Seniors committee. The head of that committee is Tom Hooker. Hammel and child abuse victims and their parents are urging you to contact Representative Hooker to get this law passed through.
Wyatt’s story has garnered national attention, as many others agree that child abuse registries should be mandated nationwide. Now, petitions have been launched in other states, and Wyatt’s Law has been introduced into legislature. Although Wyatt has made vast improvements, he still has a long road to recovery ahead.
You can also sign an online petition in support of the law on change.org its page in support of the legislation.
Do you think there should be a public registry for child abusers? Share your thoughts.
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Catherine MacWillie is the CEO of Custody Calculations and a Child Custody and Divorce Coach. She has 32 years experience dealing with Family Law. 24 years as a law enforcement officer responding to radio calls dealing with divorce and custody issues and a first responder to child abuse investigations in addition to other related assignments. She spent ten years researching Family Law and divorce including cause, effect, impact, solutions to the many issues that arise during divorce and custody proceedings. The last eight years as a Coach.
She is the past president of Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC). A prior board member of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO). An advisory board member of International Support Network of Alienated Families (ISNAF). A member of Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG). A member of the 2014 Parental Alienation Colloquium, Long Beach, California. A member of the 2016 Parental Alienation Think Tank, Beverly Hills, California.
In 2017 her research on divorce, crime and parental alienation will be presented in Prague, Czechoslovakia at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH) a prestigious event with participants coming from around the globe to present.
For additional information go to CustodyCalculations.com or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,YouTube, Vimeo, or call 702-675-5120. https://www.gofundme.com/2j8wyjss