On Oct. 13, 2013, JoAnn Otten got a call that her granddaughter Miley wasn’t breathing. The girl’s father was convicted of child abuse, having violently shaken the 7-month-old more than once. He also squeezed her, causing multiple bruises and a fractured leg. He’s serving one to 15 years in prison, and has a parole hearing scheduled for 2023.
During the days she spent in the hospital with her daughter and granddaughter, Otten said she vowed to do everything she could to prevent child abuse. So she now is the board chairwoman of the Friends of Sanpete Children’s Justice Center. And she was at the Utah Legislature on Tuesday to talk about House Bill 149, Miley’s Bill.
“I made a vow once Miley was hurt to do everything I possibly could to protect children,” Otten said. “The cost of this bill is nothing compared to the cost of taking care of a severely beaten child.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, creates a Child Abuse registry, similar to the Sex Offender Registry. The registry would list anyone convicted of felony child abuse, felony child endangerment and human trafficking. People convicted of first-degree felonies would be listed for life, Owens said. Those convicted of second- and third-degree felonies would be listed for 10 years. So if they didn’t reoffend, the state would remove their names from the list.
The registry would be under the Department of Human Services. Indiana lawmakers passed a similar registry last year — the first in the nation, Owens said.
Owens said the registry gives children a voice. They can’t carry weapons, and they don’t usually file charges against adults. “As adults, we are their voice.”
This bill is for single mothers and single fathers; it’s for families who send their children to church activities, to scouting events, daycare, or even to another child’s house to play, Otten said.
People on the registry would pay $100 per year.
Members of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee unanimously passed the bill. It now moves to the full House for a vote. A previous version of the bill would have added child abuse to the Sex Offender Registry.