Whitmer signs 'Wyatt's Law' into office, creating public child abuse registry

After years of wrangling in the state legislature, a woman's mission to codify a statewide child abuse registry has been realized. 

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed "Wyatt's Law" into state law. The package of bills creates an electronic case management system that the public and others can use to track confirmed cases of those who have abused or neglected children. 

The information, now available to parents and guardians of children throughout the state plugs a gap of available knowledge that Erica Hammel said could have kept her son Wyatt Rewoldt from the abuse he experienced years ago.

"It’s been a 7 1/2-year journey that hasn’t been easy," Hammel said in a statement. "But Wyatt’s life hasn’t been easy and that has always continued to push me to get this done. What happened to Wyatt could have been prevented had pertinent information been easily accessible."

"Starting today, countless children’s lives in Michigan will be saved because that information is NOW easily accessible. I’m so thankful to every legislator who has helped make this happen. There is and never will be ANY excuse for child abuse." 

Democrats and Republicans sponsored nine separate bills that were part of the package that Whitmer signed. The bills passed the Michigan Senate in April.

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Wyatt experienced irreparable brain damage at the hands of a previously convicted child abuser. The individual, a woman who cared for him until 2013, had a prior child abuse conviction that Hammel wasn't aware of, despite her checking.

The public list would include very basic information about those convicted of child abuse crimes, like their name, birthday, city, and county. It would also add to another registry with limited availability maintained by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.