Gov. Evers signs Ethan’s Law to protect kids from abusive guardians
MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday signed into law a bill named after a 7-year-old Manitowoc County boy who died at the hands of his extended family.
The law seeks to protect children from being placed with known abusers.
State Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), who led the passage of Senate Bill 24, says the system failed Ethan Hauschultz. While the boy’s case makes its way through the criminal justice system, lawmakers say no child should go through what he experienced.
“Ethan’s death at least is helping to expose the flaws in the system to keep other children from having to suffer Ethan’s fate, and it’s just tragic that it’s taken to spur people to action,” Sen. Jacque said.
Ethan was sent by Child Protective Services to live with his aunt and uncle in 2017, despite the fact his uncle Timothy Hauschultz had a criminal history. Ethan died months later under the guardianship of his great uncle and aunt. Authorities ruled his death a homicide.
“We’ve heard from county human services workers who felt pressured to make placements that they didn’t feel were necessarily safe based on how the law was written,” Jacque said.
According to criminal complaints obtained by Action 2 News, Ethan’s siblings told investigators Timothy Hauschultz frequently punished them by making them walk laps around the yard carrying heavy logs, which he picks out. The siblings said that week they were required to carry wood every day for two hours a day for not knowing their Bible verses, taking a 5 second rest after each lap.
Deputies say the log weighed two-thirds of Ethan’s body weight; the boy weighed 60 pounds.
Authorities say the day Ethan died, his cousin Damian Hauschultz, who was 14 at the time, hit, kicked, and poked Ethan, repeatedly shoved the boy to the ground, and rolled a heavy log across the boy’s chest before burying him under what he estimated was 80 pounds of packed snow and ice. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Ethan died from hypothermia and blunt force injuries to his head, chest and abdomen.
Damian pleaded guilty last month to reckless homicide. Damian’s mother, Tina, was sentenced to prison earlier this year, and his father, Timothy, is awaiting trial in December.
Andrea Everett said it’s hard to move forward every day knowing her son Ethan isn’t coming back.
“There is no easy day. I learn to live with the pain that I’ll never see my son ever again, and that’s the reality,” Everett said. “Like I was struggling, my kids went to foster home, and I didn’t get one of my kids back.”
She stood side by side with lawmakers Thursday as Governor Tony Evers signed “Ethan’s Law,” legislation that she says helps with closure.
“It’s heartbreaking to me that it cost my son his life for a bill like this to be made,” she said. “The system failed my children because my son lost his life and I’ve watched my other children mentally lose their lives, too.”
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