Nearly two years ago we were approached by Whitney Matney, an Arkansas mom who had just discovered her daughter Raylee being abused on a hidden camera. Now, she’s fighting to propose a bill that will prevent others from suffering the same trauma she did.
A 20/20 segment from Friday checked in with Whitney and Raylee, retelling their all-too-common horror story: Whitney hired a high school acquaintance (after a thorough background check and glowing recommendations) to look after her one-year-old daughter. Almost immediately after nanny Melissa Medema began watching Raylee, Whitney noticed a change in her daughter’s behavior; she became despondent, and acted scared whenever she was to be left alone with the nanny.
Whitney looked at the warning signs and installed a hidden camera. After reviewing the shocking footage of Medema shaking and spanking her child, Whitney had the nanny arrested; but the story doesn’t end there.
“Because Raylee wasn’t physically injured, [Medema] was allowed to plead to Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, the lowest level felony charge,” said the 20/20 report. “And after 3 years probation, she could have her record cleared.”
The fact that Raylee didn’t show any physical trauma from the abuse is both a blessing and a curse, says Whitney.
“This monster can walk around and have no ramifications; it’s just beyond insane,” she told 20/20.
Whitney wrote to BrickHouse in October of last year to share her frustration in the wake of Medema’s sentencing. Now, after a year of advocating for establishing a child abuse registry, it appears that a bill will be presented next year.
“In 2015 we’re going to send out a bill,” Whitney says. “Arkansas will be the first state to have one if it passes. Anybody who has been criminally convicted [of child abuse]—they need to be listed out there for everyone to see.”
With any luck, the bill will prove successful in Arkansas, leading to a nationwide registry; and horror stories like Whitney’s will become a thing of the past.