KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of an Olathe girl who was allegedly stalked by her fourth-grade teacher got one step closer Thursday to changing a Kansas statute.
Former Olathe Public Schools elementary school teacher James Loganbill is accused of reckless stalking. He resigned from Meadow Lane Elementary School after admitting to taking more than 200 pictures and 30 videos of a former student, mostly focused on her buttocks.
Johnson County court records show he also told detectives he was sexually attracted to the girl.
Loganbill has pleaded not guilty, but even if he is convicted may not receive more than a slap on the wrist. Reckless stalking is a misdemeanor in Kansas, meaning it's only punishable by up to a year in prison.
While the girl's family waits for the court case to play out, they've also worked on legislation in hopes of making it a felony to stalk a child under the age of 16. The bill was introduced Thursday in the Kansas House of Representatives.
"We are so excited, and we are just so grateful for all of the support at the (state) Capital this week!" the girl's mother, Kristyn Antonucci, said.
The law aims to expand an existing law, which was named after an Arkansas City, Kansas, woman who was stalked and murdered.
"Thank you to the courageous family of Jodi Sanderholm who originated the bill after their beautiful 19 year old daughter and dancer was stalked and her life was taken. We are so grateful for your hard work on passing the original bill, Jodi's Law. Without your efforts, prevention and punishments for those who stalk would be non-existent in Kansas," Antonucci posted this week on Facebook.
Antonucci added explained what the family hopes to achieve.
"We are taking that law and expanding upon it to make sure that younger kids have justice if they are the victims of stalking," she said. "Really, what we are doing is we are creating higher penalties within the existing law to bring the existing law to felony status if individuals choose to prey on children 16 and younger."
Next week, both Antonucci and her daughter will testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. The family said the bill has bipartisan support, so they hope it passes and moves on to the Kansas Senate and, ultimately, Gov. Laura Kelly's desk.
The Antonuccis also working with law enforcement and lawmakers to craft a second bill that would increase the penalties for those convicted of sexually assaulting a minor.
As for Loganbill, he's out on bail, due back in court next month.
Editor's note: We have published the mother's name with her permission, since the family is going public with their efforts to strengthen Kansas laws protecting minors.