TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a package of bills that contains Adrian's Law on Friday.
The bill is named after Adrian Jones, 7, who was killed by his dad and stepmom in 2015.
In 2017, the I-Team revealed Adrian was abused for years. His file with Kansas Department For Children and Families is more than 2,000 pages long. It shows social workers documented Adrian as "high risk" for abuse and that the boy reported his parents were hitting him. His records also noted bruises that were consistent with abuse. Still, Adrian was never removed from his dad and stepmom's care.
Rep. Louis Ruiz first introduced the bill in after speaking with the I-Team about what happened to Adrian in 2017.
"It breaks my heart that these things happen every day," Ruiz said.
The I-Team also exposed a relative of Adrian's lived in the home during the course of his abuse but never reported it.
Adrian's Law changes that.
Under the new legislation adults who witness abuse can be held criminally responsible if they don't report it to the authorities.
The bill also requires social workers to visit with a child when they receive calls to a home on a suspected abuse, as opposed to knocking and leaving.
The most important part of Adrian's Law, according to Ruiz, is the requirement that a social work must visibly examine a child when abuse is expected, instead of leaving when no one answers the door.
"That child has to be produced," Ruiz said. "Even if they have to go to the school and see the child."
Lawmakers introduced the legislation year after year until it was finally passed this session.
Judy Conway, Adrian's grandmother, has been pushing for the legislation each year.
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time," Conway said. "I think it's gonna be Adrian's legacy continuing and I have the high hopes that it's going to help a lot of children and save a lot of lives."
Gov. Kelly's office said it will be holding a ceremonial signing for Adrian's family in Topeka. Ruiz she he plans to be there as well. A date hasn't been set.
Ruiz expressed gratitude to Judy and other state lawmakers who supported Adrian's Law. He said after four long years, he's glad it's finally on the books.
"It feels great," Ruiz said. "If things come to pass, and I meet my maker, I'll be smiling."
Conway said she believes Adrian is smiling, too.
"Adrian knows, ya know--he continues to do a lot of good in this world," Conway said. "All these kids who suffer abuse and die at the hands of abusers, I think they're all up in heaven and just really celebrating right now."