Law Proposes Stronger Punishment for Child Abuse

CREATED Oct 14, 2011

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"He loved to dance a lot, loved to sing. He was a wonderful, beautiful boy," said Richard Calhoun about his grandson Dominick.

Dominick was tortured for days before he died last April.

"I rushed over there and found him in the back bedroom, laying there with no motion," he said.

Neighbors admitted to hearing the four-year-old scream in terror at his family's Gennesee County apartment for days. But no one did anything.

"It hurts," said his dad, Eric Calhoun. "People could have reported it and maybe my son would still be alive."

"If I'd seen or heard a child get beaten, what would you do? You're gonna stop that right now," said Richard Calhoun.

He thinks witnessing and not reporting child abuse should be a crime. That's not included in "Dominick's Law," introduced Thursday afternoon by Representative Paul Scott, but other changes to Michigan's laws are.

"It'll give a judge more leeway to impose stiffer sentences on first, second, third degree child abusers," Scott said.

If passed, it would also make it a second crime to abuse a child in the presence of another minor. Scott says child abuse can be traumatic for another child to witness and should be punishable in its own right.

Dozens showed up to rally for these changes at the Capitol. Among them was mother-of-five Patty Hull.

"Anything to deter someone from doing what happened to Dominick," said Hull, who didn't know him personally but has been supporting and following the Calhoun family on Facebook. "It's such a sad story. I couldn't imagine any one of my kids, being without them. They're my life."

Seven-year-old Skyler Kimmel says it makes her sad to hear what happened to Dominick.

"[Parents are] not supposed to be mean and let their kid get hurt," she said, after her mom told her the story.

If he were alive, Dominick would have celebrated his sixth birthday this coming Monday, October 17.

His mother, Corrine Baker, will be sentenced October 24 in the case, and her boyfriend Brandon Hayes will stand trial beginning January 4, 2012, according to Richard Calhoun.