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Legislator plans Kelsey law to reform child protection

By Randy Ellis Published: December 26, 2005
State Rep. Kris Steele says he is taking the October death of 2-year-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs personally and plans to push legislation to reform the state's child protection system.

"Right now it's called the Child Protection Reform Act, but I fully intend and hope to rename it the Kelsey Briggs Law when the appropriate time comes," said Steele, R-Shawnee, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

The Meeker girl died Oct. 11 after nine months of alleged intermittent abuse during which she suffered a broken collar bone, two broken legs and numerous bruises.

Eleven referrals were made to the state Department of Human Services during that time, records show. At various times, she was placed in the care of her paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother and DHS.

A judge had placed her back in the home of her mother and stepfather at the time of her death.

Michael Lee Porter, her stepfather, is charged with murder.

Steele said Kelsey's death is personal to him. He was one of many legislators who received a mass e-mail from Kelsey's paternal grandmother months before the girl's death. The e-mail complained of child abuse and asked for help protecting her granddaughter.

Steele said the paternal grandmother, Kathie Briggs, does not live in his district and "nine times out of 10" he would have just forwarded her concerns to her representative or suggested she contact that person.

Investigation requested
This time was different. Steele said he was deeply concerned so he had his assistant contact the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth and ask that the situation be investigated.

"They responded and said they would be happy to investigate and become involved," Steele said, adding that he received periodic updates.

Then he heard Kelsey was dead.

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