Bill inspired by Union Co. girl passes House; Alleged abuser pleads not guilty

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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WASHINGTON - A federal bill inspired by a girl from Union County looks like it will pass Congress.

The House unanimously passed the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act on Monday.

Also Monday, a nearly identical bill was introduced in the Senate. Following Senate approval, the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act will be sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

Kilah suffered severe brain damage after police say her stepfather beat the then 3-year-old last year. The law would require the U.S. Attorney General to track child abuse penalties in all states.

"This (Attorney General) report will show which states take child abuse seriously, and which states would give child abusers a slap on the wrist," said Leslie Davenport, Kilah's grandmother. "Our hope is that states with lenient penalties will be embarrassed into action by this legislation."

Kilah’s alleged abuser, Joshua Houser, pleaded not guilty to felony child abuse in court on Tuesday. If convicted, he faces four to six years in prison.

Kilah’s family and about a dozen friends were in court for the hearing. Kilah was at the courthouse, but her grandmother told Eyewitness News she was not in the courtroom because Kilah appears to get upset when she hears Houser’s voice.

Leslie Davenport said the trial will force the family to relive what happened.

“And that's the hard part -- having to relive what actually happened, what actually happened to Kilah on that day. So it's not going to be easy for any of us but I'm ready to get it over with and move on,” she said.