One Step Closer to Opening the Central Registry

My best friend Lee Cougardawn Roberts and I are seeking legislation to become law that would require the State Police to open the current private computerized database of individuals convicted of child abuse in Pennsylvania.

On April 5, 2023 I sat down with Republican State Representative Stephanie Borowicz. Lee divides her time between Clinton County, Pennsylvania and Crestview, Florida, and was unexpectedly called away on an animal rescue mission in Crestview so she couldn’t attend the meeting. This time around, Stephanie offered support and suggested we meet with Republican Senator Cris Dush. As an added bonus, Stephanie offered to sit in on that meeting.

Central Registry Roadblock

The biggest roadblock we have faced has been the misunderstanding of Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System and the central registry.

Opening the central registry, Donna Kshir (left) and Lee Cougardawn Roberts
Donna Kshir (left) and Lee Cougardawn Roberts

The central registry is a private computerized database of individuals convicted of child abuse and the Unified Judicial System provides comprehensive public access to court records online and upon request.

The two are very different. One protects individuals who have been convicted of child abuse and the other allows the public to search and view court cases but information housed by the Unified Judicial System can be hard to place together unless you know someone’s full name, birthdate, county, and state.

Without that information, you have no idea where to begin to look to see if they have committed a crime. It can take days or weeks or even months to research someone. Let’s be honest with ourselves. How many people have days and weeks to research someone’s past before befriending them or getting involved with them?

Cougardawn – Roberts added, “Unless it’s a high-profile case chances are even if you attempted to look it up, you wouldn’t find it.”

We decided to fight to open the central registry after my friend, Mashanna Bachauss-Waggoner lost her toddler son, Conner, to unspeakable crime by her then-boyfriend Ronald Saunders II.

Following Conner’s death, Bachuss-Waggoner worked on Conner’s Law – Kentucky for over 3 years, along with help from Senator Danny Carroll, Representative Gerald Watkins, Representative Steven Rudy, Will Coursey, Joni Jenkins, Richard Heath, Senator Whitney Westerfield, Representative John Tilley, Representative Thomas Kerr,. Jason Batts and Sheriff Jon Hayden of the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department, Donna Kshir a child advocate at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children, her husband Eirik S. Waggoner and Bachuss-Waggoner’s friends, family and children.

After serving 5.5 years in prison, on a plea deal, for brutally torturing and killing the Kentucky toddler, Saunders was released from prison, and within a month he abused a 15-month-old girl. The toddler’s mother, April Brandt, had no idea Saunders had a violent past. If the central registry was public Brandt would have never gotten involved with Saunders, and her child would not be scarred for life.

We started this fight in 2015.

For more information on opening the central registry, visit our official website, or on our radio show The Daily with Donna Kshir.