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House bill expands Kansas mandate on reporting alleged child abuse

May 17, 2017 ·  By Tim Carpenter for



The murder of a 7-year-old boy fed to pigs after his death in Kansas City, Kan., underscored testimony Tuesday on a House bill mandating adults residing with children to report suspected physical, mental or emotional abuse to authorities.

Existing law in Kansas requires teachers, social workers, firefighters, police, psychologists, therapists and other professionals — no laypersons — to forward information of alleged neglect or exploitation to law enforcement or state officials.

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee took up House Bill 2425, which would add to the list of mandatory reporters any adult residing in a home with children.

The death in 2015 of Adrian Jones, who was starved and subjected to horrific abuse, was at the forefront of the committee’s deliberations. The boy’s father and stepmother were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, but evidence existed that a member of the household, believed to be an uncle, chose not to step forward to report treatment of the child.

“We have passed legislation to protect children from violent abusive situations,” said Rep. Louis Ruiz, a Democratic lawmaker from Kansas City, Kan. “It is time to add another level of protection to, hopefully, prevent this situation from ever happening again.”

Andrew Wiens, director of policy and legislative matters at the Department for Children and Families, said the agency wouldn’t endorse or oppose the bill expanding the roster of mandatory reporters.

“This may strengthen the process to serve vulnerable children who are or have been victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation,” Wiens said.

Shawn Sullivan, budget director for Gov. Sam Brownback, said enactment of the measure could result in additional state investigations and more children being removed from homes and placed in foster care.

Adrian Jones, the boy who died, was enrolled in a home school operated by his father. The child died in September or October 2015, but the family didn’t report the death. During a domestic violence call at the residence, police learned the boy was missing and found his decomposed body in a pig sty.

Video and digital photographs showed the child was beaten with a broom handle, prohibited with alarms from eating food in the house and forced to stand in rancid water up to his neck.

Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the DCF, said in a statement the agency “thoroughly investigated” each incident of alleged abuse or neglect involving Adrian Jones. Gilmore said the family moved between Missouri and Kansas, which complicated oversight and delivery of services. DCF’s last contact with the family was in 2012 — three years before the boy’s death.

Mark Dupree, the district attorney in Wyandotte County, said the House bill fell short because it didn’t change DCF protocol for investigation of suspected child abuse. He said DCF ought to be required to make in-person physical contact with a child suspected to be a victim of mistreatment.

The state should enhance oversight of physical and mental well-being of children in home schools, Dupree said. The boy’s father registered such a school at the address where the body was recovered, and keeping the child out of public school may have contributed to secrecy about the abuse.

Dupree expressed concern that nonoffending adults living in a violent home environment might be placed at greater peril when complying with the bill’s mandate that each disclose information to authorities.

“It (the bill) addresses a small subset of circumstances,” the county prosecutor said. “Oversight of nonaccredited private schools, coupled with specific changes to DCF policy requirements, would provide better tools for our state in combating abuse and neglect of vulnerable children.”


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