The family of Dominick Calhoun, the young boy beaten to death in Argentine Township last year, is pushing for a bill that would hand down stiffer punishment for child abusers. The group took the effort to Lansing Thursday as the proposed law was being introduced to lawmakers.
Dozens of supporters, family and friends gathered outside the steps of the state Capitol with signs in hand wearing white t-shirts and blue ribbons in honor of little Dominick.
"I'm happy but I'm sad because everyday I think of him. He would have been 6-years old on Monday. He would have been in the first grade. He would be showing me what he drew and I don TMt get to see that," said Dominick TMs paternal grandfather, Rick Calhoun.
The rally comes 18-months after the tragic beating of little Dominick. He was just 4-years old when he was found dead in his Argentine Township apartment in April of 2010. Investigators said he was tortured and beaten to death by Brandon Hayes, his mother's boyfriend while she, Corrine Baker stood by.
"If you look at all the pictures and things you can't help but wonder why," said Rick.
For months Rick and a growing number of supporters campaigned online and worked hard at putting together Dominick's Law.
"I hope it saves one child. If it saves just one child then we've done our job, said Donna Hasman, who helped put the proposed bill together.
The law would make it a crime to abuse a child in front of another child and increase sentences for convicted abusers from a minimum of five years in prison to life.
Rick says he knows nothing will bring Dominick back but he hopes this law will prevent other children from suffering abuse the way Dominick did. By this law we know we're going to be helping," said Rick.
State Representative Paul Scott sponsored the bill and say he hopes it sends a message to would be offenders. "The goal here is to make sure everyone has a clear understanding that Michigan is not going to tolerate child abusers and we're going to have one of the toughest penalties in the country," said Rep. Scott
Rick says getting the bill in front of lawmakers is a bittersweet victory. "I just know that Dominick would look me in the eye and tell me good job Grandpa.
Here's a short summary of Dominick' Law provided by State Representative Paul Scott's office:
- First degree abuse will be no less than 5 years up to life or any terms of years
- For a second offense no less than 10 up to life or any term of years
- Second degree no less than 2 years, not more than 10
- Not less than 4 years, not more than 20
- For those who abuse children in the presence of other children:
- Witnessing first degree will lead to an additional charge within the first degree penalties
- 5 to life or any term of years
- Witnessing second degree will lead to an additional charge within the first degree penalties
- 2 to 10 years
- For those who do this more than one time:
Penalties increase to 10 (if first degree) and 4 years (if second degree)