Lawmakers: Change WI loophole that lets children be placed with abusers (like Richard)

A story alert from the local paper just came on my brand-new (used) Samsung Galaxy S7 (my first actual, good smartphone, not some cheapo thing that doesn’t work):

‘Ethan’s Law’: Story on boy’s tragic final day moves lawmakers to close fatal loophole in Wisconsin law, improve child protections

Ethan Hauschultz was placed with an uncle who was a known child abuser, with convictions–but because he pled to lesser charges, social workers were forbidden to even consider the convictions as a bar to placing children with him.  This uncle, who could not use physical violence to punish, used other methods on the children under his care, which proved to be fatal.  Though it was actually another child who carried out the punishment, it was at the uncle’s direction while he was away from home.  Story here.

Now, two lawmakers want to keep this from happening again.

Today’s article would explain why Richard’s step-child, Tracy’s child, was placed back with Richard and Tracy even after Richard nearly choked her to death. He was charged with Child Abuse, but it was dismissed and the charges reduced to Battery after he pled no contest.  (Story here.)  I always wondered why the [email protected]$k I saw all four of their kids, including the step-child, with Richard and Tracy after the charges and the conviction.  A man who can choke a 9-year-old child is not fit to have any children around him–and this was not the only thing he had ever done to her.  Richard and a mutual friend both told me of things that had happened before; the mutual friend said Richard had beaten the crap out of her when she was real little.  Yet there she was, still with Richard, rather than placed with her father as I would’ve expected.

This loophole in state law would explain why this happened.  But after the Hauschultz case hit the papers, lawmakers now want to change that loophole:

Hauschultz, who in 2009 had admitted to beating a child with a wooden carpentry tool, had been found guilty of felony child abuse. But through a plea bargain, the conviction went on his record as disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that doesn’t involve violence.

That created a loophole that eventually proved fatal to Ethan.

Had Timothy Hauschultz been convicted of child abuse in the 2009 case, Wisconsin law would have barred human services workers from placing children in his care. But because there was no child abuse conviction on his record, caseworkers were barred from even considering the incident — though pages of detail were available in a public file in a courthouse a short walk from the human services office.

Jacque’s bill would bar human services workers from placing a child in the custody of any adult who’d admitted in court to abusing a child, pleaded “no contest” to a child-abuse charge or been convicted of a lesser offense via a plea bargain in a child abuse case.

 

Download this article as an e-book

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *