Seven-year-old Kayden Mancuso's murder sent her family, residents of Bucks County, and the whole state of Pennsylvania reeling last summer. Her untimely death came in the middle of a tortuous legal battle at the hands of her biological father, Jeffrey Mancuso, who fatally beat her and killed himself. Kayden's mother, Kathryn Sherlock, is now left to wonder if law enforcement or the court system could have saved her daughter's life.
Months before the incident, Kathryn claims to have warned judges and police about her ex's violent ways and threats. She even filed for a protection-from-abuse order, noting: “Kayden has told multiple family members that she didn't feel safe with her dad, stating she thought he was dangerous because he assaulted her grandmother in front of her.”
This wasn't Jeffrey's first act of violence either. The PFA recounts his assault conviction for biting part of a man's ear off at a bar in 2012, and an abusive interaction with Kayden's teacher and principal at her Lower Makerfield Township school. The order also mentioned that Jeffrey had been diagnosed with severe depression.
Despite proof of potential abuse, Jeffrey still was allowed unsupervised visitation by a judge. Unfortunately, it was during a court-ordered unsupervised visit last summer that he killed his daughter.
Bucks County officials hope “Kayden's Law,” prevents other children from slipping through the cracks during child custody proceedings. The state senate bill would require an evidentiary hearing in cases to vet allegations of abuse. If a credible allegations arises, the accused parent would only be allowed supervised visits. The law would also push Pennsylvania courts to train judges and court personnel on how to identify child abuse.
State Senator Steve Santarsiero is one of the main pushers of the bill. He claims that reform is long overdue, and that horrific incidents like this are likely to occur when parental rights are prioritized over the safety of children.
“It is our greatest responsibility as legislators to protect the health and well-being of our children,” said Sen. Santarsiero. “Right now, Pennsylvania is not doing enough to ensure that children going through custody proceedings in our family courts are protected. Parental rights should not outweigh the safety of the children involved, especially in cases where evidence abuse or unstable behavior are so prevalent.”
Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
If you're involved in a child custody proceeding, it's important you retain legal counsel from an attorney who knows their stuff. Joseph D. Lento has helped parents from across the state score an agreement that includes their contributions, protects their parental rights, and most importantly, reflects the best interest of the child. For more information about Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today online or by phone at 888-535-3686.