Pennsylvania has provided Megan’s Law, a sex offender registry, where people can search for offenders by name, photograph and location. Unlike the sex offender registry, the child abuse central registry remains private. Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System provides comprehensive public access to court records online upon request but the central registry differs. The child abuse central registry is the state’s database containing the names of those being investigated and convicted of child abuse in Pennsylvania.
Since 2015, two Clinton County, Pennsylvania grandmothers, Donna M. Kshir and Lee Roberts, have been fighting to make it happen. They believe opening the central registry will give parents the opportunity to protect their children from the unknown. The two started campaigning to open the child abuse central registry after 2-year-old Conner Bachuss lost his life to child abuse.
The Kentucky toddler’s killer, Ronald Saunders II, had a very violent past dating back to his time in the military, but his past was hidden on the private registry. After serving 5.5 years in prison, on a plea deal, for torturing and killing the toddler, Saunders would be released from prison and re-offend, abusing another child within a month of his release.
On Wednesday, May 4th, Ms. Kshir sat down with Pennsylvania State Representative Republican Stephanie Borowicz to seek sponsorship. The duo spoke for approximately 45 minutes. Although Borowicz shared kind words for Ms. Kshir and Roberts’ work to protect children, and she also supports protecting children at this time she needs more time to read thoroughly through the proposed bill.
Kshir remains determined to see Pennsylvania lead the way, setting an example for other states to follow on the importance of protecting children. The measure would require the Pennsylvania State Police to open the current private computerized database of individuals convicted of child abuse offenses in the state, including their name, date of birth, photograph, the tier of the crime and the location the crime took place which is often needed to find in court records.
The duo has already met with Denise Maris, Democratic candidate for the 76th District for State Representative. Maris has shown her full support and if elected will sponsor the proposal and present it to the House on their behalf.
Maris is a mother of 4, a grandmother of 2 and a strong voice for our children. As a former elementary school bus driver, Ms. Maris understands that our most vulnerable population is not only our seniors but our children. Maris said, “We must protect them (children) with all the tools available to us for without our children, we have no future. We are in a time where knowledge and technology are at our fingertips, but with that also come predators and abusers that can take advantage of a system that is broken.”
In addition to candidate Maris, Ms. Kshir also reached out to Elijah Probst, who is also a Democratic candidate for the 76th District for State Representative. Probst responded, “I’m personally not very familiar with the child abuse central registry and I would need to do some research before saying for sure. Passing any piece of legislation is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts, but I’ll always strive to pass legislation and serve in the way that best supports the district if elected.” Ms. Kshir hopes to meet with Probst in the weeks to come.
If the bill is passed into law the duo want to name the law Anson’s Law, after 9-year-old Anson Stover who suffered unspeakable abuse, was placed into a bathtub, and died from the injuries inflicted on him at the hands of his aunt.
Ms. Kshir used her influence seeking Conner’s Law alongside Conner’s mother, Mashanna Bachuss-Waggoner, to get justice for the toddler. Conner’s Law became law, with a signature from Governor Steve Beshear in March 2015. Manslaughter in the first degree, which carries a 10-20 year sentence, now includes fatal child abuse. Abusers must serve 85 percent of that sentence before being released.