GOSHEN — The Child Abuse Registry created by Public Law 52, known as “Kirk’s Law,” is available online a month sooner than originally scheduled. The registry is available on the public access site at publicaccess.courts.in.gov/CAR#.
The law was proposed after 19-month-old Kirk Coleman died at the home of his former New Paris baby sitter, 61-year-old Jackie Rolston. Coleman died Oct. 29, 2014.
Kirk’s Law was sponsored by then Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury in March 2016 after the family of Coleman asked him to offer a law that would require anyone convicted of a felony crime against children to be included on a state registry. In less than three months, the law was signed by then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and directed the Indiana Supreme Court to create a searchable, public database of people convicted of a crime of child abuse.
Rolston was given the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison after being convicted of felony battery resulting in the death of a child by a jury Nov. 30, 2016.
Yoder said he was pleased to know the registry was available online.
“From my perspective, it’s gratifying to see it come to fruition. It was a long journey and pretty painful at times,” Yoder said, referring to Coleman’s family who lobbied for Senate Bill 357 and testified in Rolston’s trial during November 2016.
“It’s gratifying to see it (the registry) working and hopefully prevent anymore atrocities from happening like what happened to the Garza (and Coleman) family,” Yoder said.
Yoder said he hopes see other states follow suit and establish a child abuse registry.
“This is good legislation and states do copycat good legislation,” Yoder said. “I anticipate this happening and rightfully so. This is a good idea and we need to do everything we can to protect our children and this seems like a pretty intelligent way to go about it. Politicians and the whole political system get a bad name a lot of times, but this is a case where elected officials and those who experienced stuff like this (Coleman’s death) can work together to improve our society. To me, it feels good to be a part of that and that’s how it’s supposed to work.”
Coleman’s grandmother Angie Garza said she received an email from Judge Mary Willis, chief administrative officer of the Indiana Supreme Court Office of Judicial Administration, about the registry going online Monday.
“The registry was to be up and running by July and it is up now,” Garza said, with tears in her eyes. “This is such and amazing thing. We are beyond happy that the registry is up and running. It goes to show that all our hard work has paid off and Kirk Antonio’s name will continue on as a legacy and live on forever. I want to thank Carlin Yoder for taking the time to listen to us. This dream would never have become a reality without his help.”
Garza said her grandson has received his justice.
“Finally our sweet ‘Angel’ gets the justice he so much deserves,” Garza said, “and now we hope she (Rolston) can never hurt another child again. She is finally held accountable for her actions.”
The child abuse registry is pulling data from its database of all felony convictions, according to Mary DePrez, office of judicial administration, director and counsel for trial court technology of the Indiana Supreme Court.
Since July 1, 2012, courts have been completing an abstract of judgment for every felony conviction and convictions prior to that date may be found in archives such as the criminal history archive maintained by the Indiana State Police or information available through mycase.in.gov., DePrez said.
“We currently include all sex offenses because the information about the age of the victim is not available in the electronic court records,” DePrez said. “We have made some slight adjustments to the language in the registry that should help clarify who is included and the clarification is added to the home page. After running a query of the database today (Monday), there are 9,472 unique individuals that have one or more convictions that match the criteria in the statute. The total number of individual offenders in this database with one or more felony convictions is 144,125.”