Senate approves bill that would create child abuse registry

Indiana Statehouse
(WISH Photo/Ron Nakasone)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Senate has passed a bill inspired by the death of an Elkhart County toddler that would create a public registry of people convicted of child abuse or neglect.

The legislation, which would create a list similar to online sex-offender registries, was passed by the Senate on Wednesday on a 49-0 vote.

The bill, known as “Kirk’s Law,” was inspired by the death of 19-month-old Kirk Coleman, who died of a brain injury in October 2014 while being cared for by a babysitter, who had previously pleaded guilty to child neglect in connection with a 2006 incident involving another child. The woman is awaiting trial on a charge of felony battery resulting in death.

Angie Garza, Coleman’s grandmother, told the Elkhart Truth on Wednesday that she’s “more than excited” about the bill’s success in the Indiana Senate.

“It brings tears to my eyes to know our senators care about our children,” she said.

Kirk’s family decided to pursue the creation of a registry after learning of the babysitter’s prior conviction. If they had known of her criminal past before Kirk’s death, they may not have selected her to care for the boy, Garza has said.

Republican state Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury authored the bill. He calls it “just one more tool” that parents would be able to use to help assure the safety of their children.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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