Lawmaker continues work on bill with stiffer punishments for child abuse

by: Torie Wells Updated:

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UNION COUNTY, N.C. - Eyewitness News has new information about a plan to strengthen child abuse laws in North Carolina. It would be called Kilah's Law, after a 3-year-old girl police say was severely abused by her stepfather.

Eyewitness News has watched as Kilah Davenport continues to recover and as communities and leaders have rallied behind a push for tougher child abuse laws.

"There's not a single person who I think can look at that child and not say, ‘We do better. We can do a lot better,’" said N.C. Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union County.

Now, many are watching to see how. Horn is working to write a new law with stiffer punishments for people who abuse children, but he said there are some challenges. He wants to make sure the law doesn't go too far and that it still protects everyone’s rights.

"Need to make sure you protect the rights of family to run their family, to discipline their children appropriately," Horn said.

Horn also wants to make sure it's enforceable and effective.

"Will prosecutors prosecute, will judges accept cases, will juries find people guilty?" he said.

And to make sure it passes quickly, Horn said he will not push for a statewide registration for child abusers right now, similar to a sex offender registry.

Kilah's grandmother said she understands if the registry doesn't happen right away. She said it is more important for a law to be put in place that makes offenders pay for the crimes they've done.

Horn said the law is on the fast track.

"As long as we continue to involve everyone, there's not doubt in my mind that we can file the bill in the first week that we are back in session, move it right to committee and get it to the floor and the Governor's desk," he said.

Kilah and her family will be at Mint Hill Madness on Saturday. They will be on a float and then at a booth, educating people about the law.