State launches registry of those convicted of child abuse

Tribune staff reports

A database that recently launched lists the names of people convicted of child abuse in the past five years.

State officials hope the new child abuse and neglect registry will become the tool parents use to ensure their children are cared for by someone trustworthy.

The online registry is similar to one listing convicted sex offenders.

Parents can search people by name at public.courts.in.gov (click on the link for the child abuse registry).

A person’s name will appear in the search results if they’ve been convicted of child neglect, battery or sexual assault against a child or child selling — crimes that statistics show are being reported more regularly throughout the state.

The site is maintained by the state’s division of court administrators and is updated every 30 days. It lists the name of the offender and the county where they were found guilty. It also includes the person’s age, their last known city of residence, a photograph and a description of their crime.

The database was inspired by a case out of Elkhart County. Nineteen-month-old Kirk Coleman died in October 2014 after suffering a brain injury while in the care of a babysitter who had a history of child abuse. Officials say the woman had been convicted of child neglect in 2006. The boy’s family said had they known the babysitter’s criminal history, they would not have left the child in her care.

The bill proposing the registry passed the House and Senate unanimously during the 2016 session. It was signed into law by then-Gov. Mike Pence in March 2016.