The mother of Kayden Mancuso testified at a State Senate Policy Committee hearing in Lower Makefield Thursday to testify on the failures of the family court system. Kathryn Sherlock is now fighting for Kayden’s Law.
In the time since Kayden’s death, Sherlock realized the problem is systemic.
“I started hearing story after story, almost all the same. Parents begging me to help them, claiming their kid is being abused or the other parent is crazy. They fear for their child’s life,” Sherlock said. “They don’t want their kid to be the next Kayden. Tough words to hear.”
Kayden Mancuso was only 7 years old when her biological father killed her with a 35 lbs dumbbell in a murder-suicide last year. Since 2008, 713 child deaths linked to custody disputes in the United States. Kayden was number 647.
“One time is an accident, two times is a coincidence, three times is a pattern of behavior,’ Sherlock said. “I wonder how they would feel about 713 times.”
Sherlock told policy makers she went to court 9 times to testify on her ex-husband’s behavior. She laid out previous convictions for violence, a terrible anger problem, and suicidal tendencies. But in the end, it made no difference.
Kayden was a student a Edgewood Elementary School in the Pennsbury School District. She would have turned 9 years old this past Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Now, Sherlock manages Kayden’s Korner while working full time.
Next to Sherlock sat Danielle Pollack, a child advocate with Child USA. Citing study after figure after report, Pollack laid out a broken family court system.
Among the issues, a Pollack illustrated a disturbing trend: the emergence of reunification camps. These are places where children and a “safe parent” must go so the child can “bond” with the alleged abuser.
“There is one Pennsylvania mother from Blair County who was court ordered on Friday to take her son to a reunification camp like this the following Monday for one week and a cost of $15,000 or immediately lose custody to the parent who was allegedly sexually abusing her son.”
“The paramount factor in considering a child custody case in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must be the safety of the child.”
Santarsiero is currently working with the Sherlock family to pass the bill, officially labeled S.B. 868. State Rep. Tina Davis and Perry Warren introduced a H.B. 1587, a sister bill in the state House.