US Senate Passes Kilah's Act, Family Reacts

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by WCCB Charlotte

 CHARLOTTE, NC -- "Kilah is living on, and her name is going to live on.  We've made history," said Leslie Davenport, grandmother of 4-year-old Kilah Davenport: the young namesake of Kilah's Act.

The US Senate has passed Kilah's Act, named after a Monroe girl severely beaten by her stepfather.  The legislation will force states to take child abuse, and its punishment, more seriously.  The law is named after Kilah Davenport.  The 4-year-old died in March, almost two years after she suffered a fractured skull and permanent brain damage.  

Kilah's grandmother Leslie Davenport says Kilah's memory lives on.  "We got a law, once it's signed by the President, that will carry her name forever, and we will save children's lives."

The US House passed the measure in December.  The Act requires the US Attorney General to outline every state's child abuse punishments.  The goal is to basically shame states into increasing prison time for felony child abuse cases.  Representative Robert Pittenger co-sponsored the bill, and tells WCCB Wednesday's vote was both thrilling and sickening.  Sickening, because we need such laws.

Another co-sponsor, Senator Richard Burr, tells WCCB, "I only regret Kilah did not survive to see her issue championed.  God bless her and her family."

North Carolina adopted Kilah's Law last year.  It makes the maximum sentence for a serious child abuse charge nearly 33 years.  

A jury convicted Kilah's stepfather, Joshua Houser, of felony child abuse in March.  He was sentenced under the old guidelines to at least seven years in prison.  Kilah's family is waiting to hear if Houser will face additional charges because of her death.  Leslie Davenport tells WCCB she plans to go to the Union County DA's office Thursday to demand answers.

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