Michigan Child Abuse Registry Petition Gains Traction As Mother Pushes For Online, Public Database
A Michigan mother and thousands of supporters were pushing this week for the state to put together a public, online child abuse registry, which if created would be one of the first databases of its kind in the United States. Erica Hammel’s Change.org petition on Monday morning was 450 signatures away from the 10,000 it needed. What she wants is an easily searchable website similar to sex offender databases, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Michigan’s Department of Human Services — similar to other states — keeps an internal list of people who police have investigated for child abuse or neglect, but the public can’t access it. “It just seems like there’s a real gap in our system. Parents can’t find the information to protect their child from someone convicted of child abuse,” Democratic state Rep. Sarah Roberts told the Detroit Free Press.
Hammel, a 26-year-old who lives in St. Clair Shores near Detroit, started circulating the petition after her now-2-year-old son, Wyatt, was assaulted in 2013. His father’s girlfriend at the time allegedly shook Wyatt, causing brain damage and temporary blindness. Only after the incident did Hammel find out the girlfriend had been previously convicted of child abuse — twice. “I went on OTIS, which is the Offender Tracking Information System — couldn’t find her,” CBS Detroit reported Hammel said. “I even searched the sex offender registry — couldn’t find her.” If Hammel’s petition reaches 10,000 signatures, she’ll take it and an accompanying bill to Michigan’s House of Representatives, Senate and governor’s office.
Most states have laws allowing certain people to access child abuse and neglect records, including welfare services, doctors, police officers, judges, attorneys and parents, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway in Washington, D.C. But many states are forbidden from giving this information to the public. “I feel like this law is justice for Wyatt,” Hammel said. “This law could save hundreds of kids’ lives.”
Child abuser in Wyatt’s Law case sentenced
“Rachel, Wyatt will be the last child you put your hands on,” and with that the sentencing phase for Rachel Edwards began Thursday.
The mother of the abused child, Erica Hammel continued her tear fought statement, “Every time you eat your food, I want you to think about how Wyatt can’t eat his, (because) he chokes and gags.” When you talk on the phone I want to think about how Wyatt can’t say one word and communicate his needs and wants.” When you feel confined in your cell, I want you think about how Wyatt is confined to his leg braces. When you get a headache I want you to think about the shunt that is permanently installed in Wyatt’s brain, to drain fluid.”
The woman who was convicted in the child abuse case that has been life shattering for both her little victim and his family met her fate Thursday as she was sentenced for second degree child abuse. Rachel Edwards was sentenced by Judge Richard Caretti, of the 16th Circuit Court in Macomb County, Michigan, to 33 months to 10 years for a case that has garnered national attention as the mother of the child who suffered irreversible brain damage, as his mother, Erica Hammel fights for legislation to create a registry of those who are convicted of child abuse to be named for her son, Wyatt Rewoldt.
On Nov. 1, 2013 the world that Wyatt knew and that of his mother, Erica changed forever. Wyatt was rushed to the hospital from Ms. Hammel’s ex-husbands house for severe head and several other injuries. Edwards was the girlfriend of Hammel’s ex-husband. Wyatt spent 7 weeks in the hospital where it was revealed that Wyatt suffered a brain injury from being shaken so violently that he was temporarily blinded, is unable to talk and is undergoing therapies four times a week.
“This crime has forever changed Wyatt’s and my life,” Hammel said. “He will never be normal. He will forever be haunted by what happened to him. He was robbed of so many things because of what Miss Edwards did to him. “You took my son’s innocence away, but I will not let you take his dignity,” Hammel, 26, of St. Clair Shores told Edward who plead no contest to second-degree child abuse in Macomb County Circuit Court. Edwards received credit for 236 days served in the county jail. She is to have no contact with Wyatt or his family. Hammel’s continued “I am going to make it my life’s mission that when Ms. Edwards gets out of prison, she or any other person who physically abuses a child, will have to register as a child abuser — just like a sex offender.”
The proposed registry would be the first in the country to be accessible to the public as there are registry that are held by states department of welfare for children that only state workers can access. If such a registry was accessible at the time Hammel would have been alerted to the fact that her child was in hands of a convicted child abuser – twice. In both cases, Edwards both pled guilty to child abuse involving a boy who was the son of a man she previously dated. Edwards pleaded no contest to third-degree child abuse in 2011 and was found guilty of fourth-degree child abuse by a jury in a subsequent case in 2013.