Update Georgia Sex Offender Laws

Update Georgia Sex Offender Laws

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Cristin Smith started this petition to Governor Brian Kemp and

Parents across the world are having to put their trust in others to watch their children every day. We stress and pray that we choose what’s best; that when we aren’t with our children, those who are caring for them are doing so to the highest standards.

We had our youngest son back in 2017.  Like many families, we depend on two incomes.  If you have children of your own, then you know that finding dependable and trustworthy childcare is no easy task. All the daycares that we thought would be good for our son were full, and so we thought an in-home daycare would be ideal with our baby being around less children and germs, and getting more one-on-one time.

We were given a few names and started the interview process. We checked 10+ references and also got a background check on the sitter we thought was the best fit. We thought we had done everything right.

Things seemed to go well for the first year. Our baby seemed happy and healthy. We were told that there was no smoking around the children (which was a must for us), they wouldn’t be left with anyone else without permission, and would truly be loved and cared for as any baby should be.

Around November of 2018, a middle-aged man was inside the home when I dropped our baby off at the sitter’s house.  He was sitting in the living room.  I’d never seen him before, but assumed he was a relative or friend.  Whom else would be there at 7:30am?  I did ask and was told it was a friend from their church.  He was hired to work around their farm for extra money.  I had no reason not to trust our sitter, but something deep down told me to stay more alert.

I only saw the man one other time.  He was outside working, just as I was told he was going to be.  I still felt a little uneasy, but again, had no reason to doubt my sitter.

It wasn’t until one Sunday afternoon in February of this year that things began to really change. I received a text message from our sitter saying that she had left her husband. Things weren’t working out at the moment and she needed some time to think things through.  She told me that she would be staying with her sister – which was right down the road from her house.  I was caught off guard.  This came out of nowhere.  Again, I had no reason to not trust our sitter.  She had loved us well for this entire year.  I did quiz her about her sister and others that might be around my baby, but was assured he was safe and no one would be home during the day.  I also asked around our community to make sure her sister was a good person.  I didn’t get any negative feedback.

I dropped my son off that first day and he screamed.  I assumed it was because it was a new place. I thought he would get used to it soon and things would go back to normal.  But after a week, it didn’t get better; it got worse.  He was waking up and screaming in the middle of the night.  My baby wasn’t himself.  We went to meet with a local daycare to try to see what our options were.  They weren’t able to get us in until May.  We just kept hoping every day of that week she’d call and say she was moving back home or we could find a suitable daycare with an opening.

The following week, things got worse. Come to find out there weren’t small marital problems going on that were going to be repaired as we were told.  There was an affair—with a convicted child molester. The man whom I saw in her living room and chopping wood one day in her yard and whom I was told was hired help from her church was the offender.

For months, while we parents and the sitter’s husband were away at work, she pretended that our children were safe in her care. For months, a known child molester sat in her house with 6 children ages 12 months to 2 years old.

Immediately after the first report came to me, I frantically left work and called my husband and had him meet to get our son.  The sitter, of course, denied it all.  We went to the police and plead for justice. We were then sent by our pediatrician to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for a sexual abuse exam.  My precious 18-month old son screamed as he was being held down and his gentiles examined.  My husband and I looked at each other, with tears and fear in our eyes, wondering how on earth did we miss this? 

As the days went on more and more details came out.  Unbeknownst to us, our child was being left with strangers during the day, around cigarette smoke and around multiple criminals.

At first, we were hopeful that we were going to see these two monsters behind bars. We were told that the molester wasn’t allowed to be around daycares and that it was written within his probation and that hopefully the sitter could be charged with child endangerment.  Certainly our criminal justice system would make sure justice was served. 

Weeks later, we got a phone call saying that the molester’s probation didn’t specify he couldn’t be in a daycare*, only that he couldn’t live within 1000 feet of one. Seriously?  How can it be illegal for a sex offender to not live within 1000 feet of a daycare, but he can go and sit in one for hours at a time?

Our son, thankfully, didn’t have any signs of abuse, but other children did.  It doesn’t mean our child wasn’t exposed to abuse or wasn’t abused, it just means at the time of the exam, there were no signs.

Why aren’t daycares protected better from sex offenders?  Why can someone put my child at risk and have no consequences? 

A level 2** child molester, currently on probation, should have never had the legal right to enter any type of childcare facility.  Our criminal system failed my child, and the other children being watched in this home.

Furthermore, no person keeping children for pay, outside of short-term babysitting jobs, should go unlicensed without punishment and should be held accountable for whom is around the children under their care.

Offenders shouldn’t have more rights than innocent children. It’s time for us to speak up, speak out, and say enough is enough.  Georgia, we want out children protected!

I’m now petitioning our justice system to review our current sex offender laws and asking that our congressmen and congresswomen make it a criminal offense for any sex offender to enter any daycare facility, licensed or unlicensed.  If you can’t live by one, you can’t enter one.

I’m also seeking assistance in updating our childcare laws for in-home facilities. I am asking that any person or entity keeping 3 or more children for pay outside of short-term babysitting jobs shall be held liable for the children in their care.

I ask for your support as we move forward from our nightmare and make changes to protect our children.

 

 

*Georgia Sex Offender Law specifies that a daycare is any place or person keeping 3 or more children for pay whether they are licensed or not. Georgia law also states that anyone keeping more than 3 children for pay must be licensed.


**Level-2 sex offender: A convicted sex offender, defined by US law as a person who has been determined by the evidence reviewed in the sentencing court to have a moderate risk of re-offending.

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!