#childmolestor | Michigan Senate approves creation of child abuse offenders registry


LANSING, MI – In 2013, Erica Hammell received a call from her ex-husband about their 1-year-old son Wyatt.

The St. Clair Shores mother heard over the phone that her son was transported to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit for treatment of a massive brain hemorrhage, according to the hospital. The father’s girlfriend at the time, Rachel Edwards, was later charged with abusing Wyatt, who survived the ordeal.

She pleaded no contest to second-degree child abuse and is now serving two years and 10 months to 10 years in prison, according to state corrections records. Before that, Edwards served two probation sentences for previous child abuse offenses.

State lawmakers have since worked with Hammell to create “Wyatt’s Law.” The legislation would create a registry of child abuse offenders maintained by the Michigan State Police.

On Wednesday, Wyatt’s Law took a big step towards enactment.

The Michigan Senate approved Senate Bill 371 by a wide bipartisan vote of 33-2 on April 28. Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, is the main bill sponsor. Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, and Democrats such as Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, also co-sponsored.

“Sometimes great things happen from great tragedy,” Hertel said on the Senate floor. “Anybody that has met Wyatt would know that.”

The bill would create a computerized registry of people convicted of child abuse in Michigan maintained by MSP. Other provisions include:

  • The database would include each individual’s legal name and aliases, their date of birth, what municipality they list in their residential address and a brief summary of convictions.
  • A requirement that the state police maintain a website for public use with basic information on offenders. Information such as the name of the victim, an individual’s social security number, any arrests not resulting in a conviction, email addresses used by the offender and ID numbers would still be private.
  • A requirement that the registry is shared with regional state police posts, local law enforcement agencies and sheriff’s departments.
  • Use of nonpublic, private information by someone other than the individual registered in the database would be a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine.

The implementation of the child abuse offender registry would cost approximately $5 million to start and $2.5 million annually to maintain, according to Senate Fiscal Agency analysis. This is based on costs to run Michigan’s sex offender registry, which is also run by state police.

Hertel praised the bravery of Hammell to push forward with the legislation, knowing that it could bring back the trauma Wyatt and she suffered eight years ago.

“Instead, they took that moment in their lives, that tragedy in their lives and are using it to invest in all children in Michigan,” he said.

There were 27,894 confirmed victims of child abuse in 2020, according to statistics from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kid Count Data Center. A year earlier, that number was 35,636 victims.

Wyatt’s Law would be a “tool” for parents, law enforcement and social workers to make “informed decisions” on the wellbeing of children, Hertel said.

“Legislation like this is why I – and I’m certain many of you – got into public service in the first place,” he told his fellow state senators. “This bill identified a problem in our system, and if it is solved, it will make Michigan a better and safer place to live and raise a family.”

The bill now heads to the House for further deliberation. If approved there with no amendments or revisions, it would head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for potential enactment.

Read more from MLive:

Michigan House votes to move primary elections to June

Former Michigan health director who resigned abruptly to testify in Thursday House hearing

Sexual harassment, ethics reforms and pandemic relief: The week in Michigan politics



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