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Elkhart County family advocates for child abuse registry

After losing her grandchild, an Elkhart County woman is advocating for a child abuse registry. On Wednesday she received news that the bill may be one step closer to becoming law.

In 2014, 19-month old Kirk Coleman died while in the care of a babysitter.

“How has the past year and half been without him?”

“A nightmare, a nightmare,” responds Angie Garza, Kirk Coleman’s grandmother. 
 
Garza describes her life without Kirk. 
 
“Saturday and Sundays was grandpa and bubba time and it’s odd to get up on Saturday and Sunday morning and not have that,” says Garza. 
 
Since losing the 19-month-old, the Garzas spend their time bringing awareness to child abuse.
 
“We want to make sure no other family has to go through what we have gone through,” says Garza.

An autopsy determined Kirk died after being hit on the head.

During that time he was in the care of a baby sitter who the Garzas thought they knew and could trust.

“We had found out that she had a previous history of child abuse and at that time we were thinking why isn’t there some sort of registry the same way as a sexual abuse offender registry,” says Garza.

In 2006 Jackie Rolston was charged with battery and neglect of a child. The battery was dismissed. 

Now, less than 10 years later she faces battery resulting in the death of a child.

A binder with a ‘Justice for Kirk’ label shows four months of research. Garza has spent many hours working with Senator Carlin Yoder forming bill no. 357.

The bill requires state police to maintain a registry of convicted child abusers.

“If this bill could save one life it would be worth it,” says Garza.

In 2015, the number of physical abuse cases investigated by the Department of Child Services increased by 10%.

“That’s not good. So I think that a child abuse registry would help everybody to kind of just see what’s in their area,” says Garza.

On Wednesday, Senator Yoder said the bill will be read in a week. If passed, the bill will move onto the Senate, making it one step closer to the Governor's desk.

He adds the only concern he has received is the amount of work that the bill would put on police.

Garza hopes the bill becomes a law that stops what she says are preventable crimes.

“There are many second offenders and if they would have been on a list the first time then they would of maybe not had the opportunity to do it again,” says Garza. 

Rolston’s trial is set for Monday at Elkhart County Superior Court three.

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