RALEIGH, N.C.--Governor Pat McCrory signed Kilah's Law, House Bill 75/Senate Bill 70 into law today.
The bill increases the penalties for convicted child abusers to a Class D felony and requires their official record show that the abused was younger than 16 years of age. Before this law, child abuse was classified as "domestic violence" on official records.
“It is our duty to protect North Carolina's children to the best of our abilities,” said Governor McCrory. “It is my hope that Kilah’s Law will help stop child abuse in our state. I'd like to thank our legislators for coming together to work on such a necessary bill. I especially want to recognize Kilah and her family for their support of this legislation and thank the Davenports for allowing Kilah to represent such a meaningful law.”
Kilah's Law is named after 4-year-old Kilah Davenport, a child brutally abused while in her step-father's care. Kilah suffered serious brain damage, a fractured skull, a broken collarbone and other injuries as a result of the attack in 2012. Her step-father, Joshua Houser, is currently in the Union County Jail awaiting trial.
Kilah survived the attack. She and her family joined Governor McCrory along with lawmakers for the bill signing Wednesday afternoon.
Representatives Craig Horn, Sarah Stevens, Dean Arp and Rick Glazier sponsored House bill (HB75). On the Senate side, the bill (SB70) was sponsored by Senators Jeff Tarte, Tommy Tucker and David Curtis. Kilah’s Law passed all committees and both chambers of the General Assembly with unanimous support.
The bill sponsors from Kilah’s home county of Union offered a few thoughts about this new law in her name:
“The passage of Kilah’s Law, House Bill 75, is a victory for the children and for a caring North Carolina,” said Rep. Horn. “People that intentionally injure those that are the least capable of defending themselves must be punished to the maximum reasonable extent. Kilah’s Law both increases the punishment and causes the implementation of a system to specifically identify child abusers. I am grateful to the co-sponsors, proud of the North Carolina General Assembly and indebted to Kilah Davenport for being the face of Kilah’s Law.”
“I’m proud to be a co-Sponsor of Kilah’s Law on behalf of Kilah, Kirby, Leslie and Brian Davenport,” said Rep. Arp. “The Davenports have been so brave and courageous in speaking out about Kilah’s horrific ordeal and struggles. Their voice and efforts will ensure Kilah’s tragedy will not happen to other children and justice will be served if it does.”
“No one can undo the acts of violence committed upon Kilah Davenport,” said Sen. Tucker. “We can, however, send a very clear message that North Carolina, as a civil and just society, will not allow this child’s suffering to continue in vain.”