Indiana – Angie Garza stood in front of lawmakers on Wednesday with a tearful plea. She asked them to prevent another child from dying as her 19-month grandson did.
Those lawmakers responded.
With a unanimous vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee took the first step toward creating what may be the nation’s first public registry of people convicted of child abuse and neglect.
The bill, authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, requires the state to create a publicly searchable website that lists all persons convicted of crimes against children, akin to the sex offender registry.
Such information exists but access is limited to police and employers doing background checks for workers in licensed child care facilities.
The origins of the proposal lie in the tragedy of Garza’s family.
Her grandson, Kirk Coleman, died in October 2014 while in the care of an Elkhart County woman whom Garza later learned was previously charged with battering a toddler and temporarily barred from caring for children.
While the woman told Garza that her grandson accidentally choked while eating, a pathologist later ruled his death a homicide caused by blunt-force injuries to the head.
“We’ve been trying to get justice ever since, not only for him, but for all children,” Garza said during emotional testimony.
Yoder said he was approached by Garza last fall, after Jackie Rolsten of New Paris, Ind., was charged in Kirk Coleman’s death.
Garza said her family had known Rolsten for many years, but they had no knowledge of her criminal history. In 2006, Rolsten was arrested on a felony child-battery charge involving a 2-year-old. She later pleaded to child neglect.
Though her prison term was suspended, Rolsten was ordered by a judge to stop her in-home childcare business while on probation. That order expired before she started taking care of Kirk.
“We had no idea,” Garza said.
Rolsten, now awaiting trial in Elkhart County on a charge of felony-battery resulting in death, didn’t need a state license to care for Kirk. Because she never cared for more than five children in her home, she fell outside of state licensing requirements.
Officials say thousands of such unlicensed childcare providers operate across the state.
Yoder said a registry will fill a gap by giving parents a place to see if someone coming into contact with their children has any prior child-abuse convictions.
“If there’s any good that can come from this, this may be it,” he said.
Still, the bill faces hurdles.
On Wednesday, a State Police official estimated it may cost up $300,000 a year to create and maintain such a registry. At this point, Yoder’s bill comes with no funding.
Supporters of the idea – including Senate Judiciary Chairman Brent Steele, R-Bedford – promised to find it a way to pay for it.
“I don’t care about the fiscal impact,” said Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. “When it comes to the safety of children, I don’t care if we have to spend a million dollars.”
Other states have child abuse registries, but public access is limited.
Michigan lawmakers debated creating a public registry like the one Yoder wants after lawmakers there heard testimony from a family with a story similar to Garza’s.
That measure stalled when the American Civil Liberties Union raised concerns that the registry could have an unintended consequence: Someone may be less willing to report a spouse or family member suspected of abuse because they know the individual will be placed on the registry.
The ACLU also argued the registry is a kind of perpetual punishment, not allowing for people who’ve been rehabilitated to get off the list.
Larry Landers, head of the Indiana Public Defender Council, said a public child-abuse registry may face similar challenges. He noted that Indiana’s sex offender registry, a public website that lists the names and addresses of persons accused of sex crimes, has faced multiple court challenges.
Those issues matter little for Kirk’s mother, Anissa Garza, who wept quietly Wednesday as she sat with a dozen family members to watch the hearing.
The measure must still pass the Senate, then move to the House for a hearing, but Garza said she is relieved that it is gaining support.
“I wouldn’t want to see this ever happen to any other parent,” she said.
Quiet Possibly A Statement From The
Master Architect And Master Builder
We hope everyone caught in this bad weather is safe and warm tonight, and before I continue, I want every single one of you to know that you are in my Prayers.
I am quiet sure that there will be more than a few that takes exception to my choice of words…. SO, just so they don’t have to think too hard, I want to call your attention to HEADING #2, and I am talking about THE MASTER ARCHITECT AND MASTER BUILDER OF THIS EARTH, AND EVERY OTHER THING.
You see, I Happen To Know That HIS SON Cares A Great Deal About Children!!!!
Our Children are still being ignored by Washington.
But I do want to say THANK YOU!!!! to the state of Colorado, to Law Enforcement, and TO CPS, this is a VERY POSITIVE thing for CPS to work so closely with Law Enforcement for THE GOOD of Children, Parents, and in fact EVERYONE in Colorado,
I find it ironic that “someone” STRETCHED THE TRUTH by saying temperatures had risen since the 1800’s, and ocean temperatures had risen.
What’s ironic???? (I got 1 little thing to say first)
I will say that a whole lot of people should be glad for “The Climate Change” (LOL), otherwise this could very well be the next ice age beginning….
OK, what is ironic is the fact that the last time there was this much snow around NY was in 1859.
SO, without further ado, I have one (1) Award to hand out tonight, and I’m quiet sure you all will figure out the recipient.
Daycare owners to be sentenced in heinous Child Abuse case
SAN ANTONIO, TX – A San Antonio man, his wife and his brother could serve a combined 85 years in prison, after agreeing to separate plea deals in one of the most horrendous child abuse cases in Bexar County in recent memory.
Tim Archuleta, Iliana Archuleta and Rogelio Archuleta are all scheduled to be sentenced within the next six weeks, more than three years after they were accused of starving and beating Tim and Iliana’s three adopted children inside a far northwest-side home.
According to a criminal complaint from October 2012, the then 8-year-old boy and 10-year-old twins were forced to sleep in a locked bathtub, which included a communal bucket they were forced to relieve themselves in.
Investigators determined the children were severely malnourished, at times had been forced to eat sticks of butter and pour bleach into their wounds.
One child told investigators he was forced to bite off part of his sister’s ear, according to a previous report on the case.
Authorities became aware of the abuse after one of the children was hospitalized with a bone infection.
All three adopted children, as well as Tim and Iliana’s two biological children were removed from their custody after the arrest, a CPS spokeswoman confirmed at the time.
The spokeswoman said Thursday all five children remain in foster care.
At the time of their arrests, Tim and Iliana Archuleta owned Honey Tree Daycare on Culebra Road.
Investigators have previously said the abuse did not appear to happen at the facility, which was shut down and has since changed its name and re-opened under new owners.
Tim Archuleta, 46, applied for deferred adjudication Wednesday.
It is unlikely he will avoid jail time however, since prosecutors opposed his application and have asked the court to sentence all three defendants “for a term up to the maximum allowed by the cap”.
Tim Archuleta agreed to a plea deal which caps his punishment at 20 years in prison.
He was facing five counts of injury to a child, causing serious bodily injury.
“It’s up to the judge at this point,” James Tocci, Tim Archuleta’s attorney, said via telephone Thursday.
Tocci declined to discuss details of the abuse case until the plea deal was finalized.
Iliana Archuleta, 43, applied for deferred adjudication in December.
Her application has been opposed by prosecutors.
Iliana Archuleta’s plea deal caps her possible prison sentence at 30 years.
She remains free on bond, but did not respond to a request for comment left at her last known address, a home in the 7900 block of Oak Pointe where the abuse took place.
Rogelio Archuleta, 30, faced six count of injury to a child, causing serious bodily injury.
He applied for deferred adjudication in October.
His application has also been opposed by prosecutors.
Rogelio Archuleta’s possible prison sentence has been capped at 35 years.
Attorneys representing Iliana and Rogelio did not respond to calls for comment Thursday.
Tim and Rogelio Archuleta remain at the Bexar County jail.
The district attorney’s office declined comment until after the trio was formally sentenced.
Morgan County, Colorado – Caregivers, law enforcement officers and others in Morgan County are still adjusting to Colorado’s new method for reporting child abuse.
This month is the one-year anniversary of the statewide child abuse and neglect hotline, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS. The hotline was created by the Colorado Department of Human Services in an effort to give “mandatory reporters”—those who are required by law to report suspected child abuse—and others a single phone number to call whenever they’re concerned about a child, no matter where they are.
In 2015 the hotline received more than 26,000 calls statewide, but many people are still using the old, county-specific numbers, and Morgan County is no different.
Before 2015, people who suspected a case of child abuse would typically call the police or the Morgan County DHS directly. The new hotline automatically links callers to the appropriate call-taker for their county. In Morgan County, that’s usually someone in the DHS, who then notifies the police if necessary.
“There are goods and bads to it,” Fort Morgan police chief Darin Sagel said.
The hotline slightly delays police officers’ response time in emergencies, he said. Sagel also worries that some severe cases aren’t being reported to the police, since individuals who call the hotline are “not always equipped to tell how extensive the abuse is.”
But Jacque Frenier, director of the Morgan County DHS, said the hotline can save callers time by directing them to the right local organization immediately. It’s also helpful for those who don’t know which county the child lives in, or don’t speak English, she said.
“Initially, there were some hiccups,” she said. “But they’ve got most of them fixed now… the county’s mandatory reporters were used to calling us directly, but they’re getting used to it.”
The DHS has a few screeners whose job is to take calls about child abuse and determine the cases’ severity. In about three cases out of four, they then pass it along to the police. The only exceptions are cases which they determine require more assessment.
Many mandatory reporters, like teachers and medical workers, still call DHS or the police directly because those are the numbers they’re familiar with. Altogether, Frenier estimated her organization gets about 50 calls a month reporting child abuse or neglect.
Above all, she said it’s important to gather as many details about the situation as possible before calling the hotline. The more information DHS workers and law enforcement have, the faster they can respond.
“Many of us want to do the right thing, but some are unsure about first steps,” Robert Werthwein of the Colorado Department of Human Services said in a press release about the hotline. “This hotline can, and in many instances, should be step one.”