In May of 2012, at the tender age of 3, Kilah Davenport was cruelly beat by her stepfather. She had to have emergency brain surgery that involved removing a portion of her skull to relieve swelling on her brain but was still left with permanent brain damage and in a wheelchair. The injuries she sustained caused complications that led to Kilah’s death in March of 2014, just a few weeks before her 5th birthday.
This terrible event encouraged the development of the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act, which was just signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. This law will require the U.S. Attorney General to issue reports on child abuse punishments in the United States to ensure that the penalties are strict enough when the child in question has suffered from serious bodily, mental, or emotional harm. A similar law also named after Kilah was passed in April 2013 in North Carolina, calling for stricter penalties for child abusers. In such a case as Kilah’s where serious injury was intentionally inflicted, the abuse would be considered a Class B2 felony. Previously, North Carolina classified this as a Class C felony. Thus, if Kilah’s Law had been enacted before Kilah was beaten, instead of her stepfather being required to serve 7-10 years in prison, he could have been made to serve anything from 7 to nearly 33 years in prison.
These laws are great steps in ensuring the safety of children and the proper justice for their abusers. With all hope, the actions taken by the Attorney General under this new federal law will encourage states to reflect on their own child abuse law and change them to make them more effective at protecting our children.
This article submitted by Katie Frake
As a long time Hennepin County CASA volunteer guardian ad-Litem, I witnessed many brutal acts against very young children (two year old’s, four and five year old children) and never saw a perpetrator punished.
Judges and administrators repeatedly pointed out to me that children don’t make good witnesses as they are easily confused by the cross examination process and the legal system just does not work for the vast majority of traumatized children.
One man molested children over an eleven year period in one of my state ward cases. He was never made a party to any legal action. It is a crime in and of itself that the U.S. child protection system has so little