KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A pre-teen whose fourth-grade teacher faces a reckless stalking charge said she hopes no other children go through a situation like she did.
Now 11 years old, that's one sentiment the Olathe student shared in testimony Wednesday before the Kansas House Judiciary Committee, referring to former Olathe elementary school teacher James Loganbill.
"It’s just hard to think about, so I don’t like to think about it," the young girl said. "Sometimes, I go to bed and I’m just like, 'Oh, what it would’ve been like if I didn’t go to that school' or all that stuff."
Loganbill faces the reckless stalking charge for allegedly taking more than 200 pictures and 31 videos of the girl, mostly focused on her backside. Loganbill resigned from Meadow Lane Elementary School, and his case currently is pending in Johnson County.
"In my mind, he would have been arrested right there on the spot,” Kristyn, the girl’s mother, said with tears in her eyes. “We were in utter shock to know that a grown man in his 50s with children of his own would walk free that day after admitting that he viewed a child as sexually attractive.”
Because of how the stalking statute is written, Loganbill’s attorney tried in November to have the case dismissed, claiming it couldn't be stalking because the girl was unaware of the behavior at the time.
That's one aspect of the law the family hopes to change.
"The change would be we would tighten up the wording to make it very, very clear that you do not have to be aware of [being] stalked during the time you’re being stalked," Kristyn said.
Ultimately, a judge denied the defense's motion to dismiss, allowing the case to move forward.
Even if Loganbill is convicted, stalking a minor in Kansas is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of one year behind bars.
Legislation the family is pushing for would make it a felony to stalk children under the age of 16, with a sentence of seven to 10 years.
"We really think that that’s something that’s needed to send a clear message in our state that that type of behavior isn’t allowed,” Kristyn said. “It’s not acceptable, and if you do engage in that type of behavior, you will be punished appropriately.”
As the family pushes for a change to the legislation, that process means recalling what they said was a painful period in their lives. Still, they feel they need to speak up, just as their daughter's classmates spoke up when they reported Loganbill's alleged behavior.
"I said that my class was there for me, so I just wanna be there for other kids and help them through it," the girl told lawmakers Wednesday.
Loganbill is due back in court next month.
Regardless of what happens in their case, the girl's family said they are committed to fighting to change this law. They said they've received bipartisan support and are optimistic the House will pass the bill and send it to the Senate, after which it would go to Gov. Laura Kelly to sign, if approved.
The family also has started working with the district attorney and law enforcement on additional legislation dealing with the sexual assault of minors.
Editor's Note: We have intentionally not used the girl's name or shown her face to protect her privacy. The family's last name has been used in previous versions of this story with their permission, given the parents' public fight to change this law.