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'Ethan's Law' passes state senate

Posted at 3:45 p.m. on March 16, 2021

The Brillion News

MADISON - A bill that honors the memory of a Manitowoc County boy who died after being placed in an abusive home has cleared the state Senate.

Children in protective care would no longer be subject to placement with admitted child abusers under “Ethan Law,” which passed the state Senate on Tuesday, March 16, in a unanimous voice vote.

State Senator André Jacque, R-De Pere, primary author of the bi-partisan measure along with State Representative Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, said the bill closes loopholes in state law that allowed Ethan Hauschultz, a seven-year-old Manitowoc boy, to be killed in April 2018 after suffering a pattern of cruel abuse at the home where he had been lawfully placed by county workers, despite a lengthy record of violence by his designated "caregiver."

“What happened to Ethan is unbelievably tragic,” Jacque said. “If the loopholes didn’t exist, Ethan and his two siblings could not have been placed in this home, and presumably Ethan would still be alive today. The system failed him, and we owe it to his memory to put proper guidelines in place.”

[<< Ethan Hauschultz photo]

Due to neglect in their own home, the three children were placed with a great uncle who had been found guilty of felony child abuse in 2009, among several other violent past offenses. But because of a plea bargain, his record showed the conviction as disorderly conduct, a non-violent misdemeanor.

Under Jacque's bill, human services workers could not place a child with any adult who had been found guilty of abusing a child, entered a plea of “no contest" to a child-abuse charge, or plea-bargained that crime down to a lesser offense.

“Red flags were everywhere - this gap in the law basically took Ethan’s life,” Jacque said. “Wisconsin needs to protect children and establish a clear standard for Child Protective Services to avoid removing children from a dangerous situation only to put them immediately back in harm’s way.”

Ethan’s Law, as Senate Bill 24, now heads to the state Assembly for its consideration. It has bipartisan support.


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