TOPEKA, Kan. — A visit to the Kansas Capitol was a triumphant moment for an Olathe family whose daughter was allegedly stalked by her teacher.
After learning the punishment for stalking a minor in the state of Kansas was only a misdemeanor, Addalyn Antonucci and her parents set out to change the law. And on Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly signed into a law a bill that makes stalking a minor a felony.
“I'm just so proud of her and so proud of everybody,” Kristyn Antonucci, Addalyn's mother, said.
This is the first time 41 Action News has identified Addalyn – both by name, and showing her face, with her family's permission.
That's because they see this bill signing as an empowering and healing moment.
"Yeah, it has definitely helped," Addalyn, now 11, said. "I'm just so happy we can pass this law and help other kids."
This comes on the heels of a year-long ordeal.
“We really wanted to take something that was broken and make it into something beautiful moving forward and something where we hope to impact thousands of other kids and thousands of other families that are in the situation,” Kristyn Antonucci said.
That situation started when some of Addalyn’s classmates came forward to report her teacher's behavior.
"I told my mom that I saw my teacher taking pictures of my friend Addalyn,” her classmate Rosalee Johnson told 41 Action News.
That prompted an Olathe School District investigation that was then turned over to police
“I saw him taking pictures of my friend,” friend Amaya Jimenez said, noting she also told her mother.
Police records show detectives found hundreds of photos and videos of Addalyn, mostly focused on her buttocks, on James Loganbill’s personal devices.
Police said he admitted to capturing the images, saying he was sexually attracted to the girl, although he denied stalking her.
And, because of the way the Kansas stalking statute was written, his attorney has argued Loganbill can't be guilty of stalking because Addalyn didn't know she was being photographed at the time.
Although interpreting that will ultimately be up to a judge, the family set out to change the law for others in the future.
“And now the crime of stalking a minor has been increased to severity level seven, a felony, and level four for those who would reoffend,” Rep. Megan Lynn (R-Olathe) said.
Kelly said the statute change is "long overdue."
“The fact that this law was not a felony? It's just incredible," Kelly said. "And so now it is, and it's where it should be."
The bill that Kelly signed into law also closed what supporters deemed a loophole in how stalking is defined.
And there to witness it all, the family who fought for change, their daughter who testified before lawmakers and the friends who came forward to say something, when they saw something that didn't seem right.
Meanwhile, looking forward to the future, Addalyn and her classmates will have to face Loganbill when they testify against him at his upcoming trial, scheduled for June 2.