Hawaii’s congressional delegation is working on legislation inspired by Talia Williams, the 5-year-old girl who was beaten to death at the hands of her soldier father.
Sen. Mazie Hirono shared Talia’s story on the U.S. Senate floor Monday, saying that Talia could have been saved if the abuse, which occurred in military housing, had been reported to the appropriate state officials.
“Not enough was done to remove her from her home,” Hirono said. “This lack of action was and is unacceptable.”
Talia’s mother, Tarshia Williams, was awarded $2 million in a settlement after she filed a lawsuit against the government over the 2005 death of her daughter. The lawsuit said the military didn’t report the abuse inflicted on Talia by her father and stepmother to the proper authorities while she lived in Army housing in Hawaii.
“I’m just hoping that they consider passing the law in honor of my daughter, so they can help other kids that were going through what she went through, so that the kids could get more proper help,” Williams said in an interview.
On military bases teachers, doctors and police are only required to report suspected abuse to the Department of Defense, Hirono said. But it’s the state’s Child Welfare Services division that can remove a child from a home.
Hirono introduced a proposal, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would require mandatory abuse reporters to notify the state, not just the Department of Defense, of the suspected abuse.
“I am hopeful that by requiring such dual reporting no military connected children will remain in abusive homes because information never made it to the right person,” Hirono said.
Hirono also plans to introduce the proposal as a separate bill.
“I’m just in the stage right now of praying that it gets passed,” Williams said.