Friday, February 20, 2009

Lawmakers propose restrictions on those convicted of assault of a child

Pierce and Russell Woodruff lived through every parent's worst nightmare when they asked 33-year-old family friend Matthew Christiansen to babysit their 15-month-old son Eryk. The man beat the child, leaving him with broken bones and serious brain injuries. Doctors told the parents they didn't think Eryk would live.
Matthew Christiansen pled guilty and is serving 10 years in prison. The Woodruffs want to do everything they can to prevent the same tragedy from happening again.
Rep. Chris Hurst met with the Woodruffs on Thursday and talked about what lawmakers could do. The Woodruffs told Hurst they want those convicted of first-degree assault of a child to face severe punishment and not be allowed, by law, to work with children -- as child care providers or teachers, for example -- or to serve as coaches or youth group leaders like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Hurst worked with the Woodruffs and the lawmakers from the district where the Woodruff's live -- Representatives Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) and Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens) -- on legislation (HB 2279) to achieve those goals.
Dunshee said he was happy to find a bipartisan solution to this issue.
"It's rare to find such cooperation across the aisles and across the rotunda," Dunshee said. "I appreciate how everyone come together yesterday and got behind this legislation to better protect kids across this state."
Photo: Pierce and Russell Woodruff, the mother and father of Eryk Woodruff, stand with Eryk's Law authors (from left to right) Reps. Hans Dunshee, Mike Hope and Christopher Hurst.