PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Child advocates gathered for a noon rally Friday in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing, reading, or hearing about innocent children being killed, or nearly killed by the very people who are supposed to be protecting them,” says Joanna Huss, a CYF Advisory Board member and mother of two children.
The sentencing of 32-year-old Kristin Barbour set off these strong sentiments.
Barbour was convicted of abusing two Ethiopian children she adopted.
Featuring protest signs covered with small handprints, more than three dozen people asked for tougher sentences for endangering the welfare of children. They’d like to see federal mandatory minimums.
“Including the Barbour case, or as I call it, the ‘barbaric’ case,” says Huss.
Last Friday, Barbour’s sentence was transferred to Mercer County, closer to her in-laws, and allowing her to spend nights at the Mercer County Jail and days at her Franklin Park home, caring for her two biological children six out of seven days.
Jess Pedersen, the adoptive mother of an Ethiopian son, told those gathered, “Pennsylvania is ranked near the bottom of our 50 states in terms of sentencing for child abuse.”
At the rear of the rally, 10 counter-protesters supported the Barbour family and Common Pleas Court President Judge Jeffrey Manning who imposed Barbour’s sentence.
“We have quietly sat back while there have been numerous allegations made against our clients. Defense attorneys Chuck Porter and Robert Stewart, representing the Barbours, believe that the sentence was fair, but the continued focus on their clients is unfair.
“They didn’t do things that were horrible,” says Porter. “They didn’t do things that were right. They didn’t follow the advice timely. That’s different from intentionally trying to abuse or hurt a child.”
Judge Manning had no response to the rally.
The State House just approved legislation that would increase the penalties for those convicted of endangering the welfare of a child. It has to have Senate approval by November.
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