Annie Kenny has been fighting for a long time. She has been fighting for the safety of her children from a convicted sex offender and for the rights of children to be protected from individuals who have proven themselves dangerous to them.
In 2017, Kenny made one of the worst discoveries a mother can make. First, she learned that her husband and the father of her daughters had sexually abused one of them. This led to him being indicted on felony child sex abuse charges and marked for life as a Tier III Registered Sex Offender, as well as a suspended sentence of ten years. But after all of this, her husband continued to see his daughters, and a short time before creating her petition, Kenny made another chilling discovery.
The supervised visits were meant to protect her kids. Yet, it was revealed that they were left alone with a registered sex offender, allowing the daughters to stay alone and sleep alone with their father, who had already abused their sister. Of course, Kenny took action at the time and was faced with a confounding obstacle.
Even though she took action legally, involving law enforcement and Child Protective Services, it appeared that nothing could be done about this situation because no laws were being broken. It was not illegal nor preventable to have a registered sex offender alone with kids and even have him sleep alone with them. The legal battle continues with mounting fees and a lack of support for Kenny, who has fought hard to prevent her daughters from returning to an unsafe situation. However, she has not been able to achieve this with full legal support. Despite spending an excessive amount on legal fees and pursuing a common-sense goal for the benefit of her children, Kenny has found herself struggling against the system that has not recognized the danger of having a child alone with a registered and proven sex offender.
After this experience began, Kenny decided to make it public and help other parents protect their children. It is not just her husband but also people who might seem safe that can find themselves in the same situation and perhaps take advantage of it. The only current active prohibition in the state of Maryland is for sex offenders to set foot on school grounds, and yet children are not just confined to their schools. Sometimes, as in this case, the offender has a legal right to see them as a father or as a relative, and other times, the offender might be in a position to approach a child in another place and situation.
Kenny’s petition on change.org has reached thousands of people. With over 57 thousand signatures, it keeps growing and has become one of the most signed petitions on the website. However, it has yet to reach its intended audience: Maryland lawmakers who have the power to significantly change the situation and pass laws that would allow people like Kenny to better protect their children without having to fight against the system as well.
An experience of sexual abuse is deeply traumatic, and no good parent would ever think of knowingly exposing their kids to this risk. Unfortunately, however, Kenny has found herself in a situation where the risk is an ongoing problem.
In 2022, Annie Kenny and her daughters caught a break, but for an awful situation. Her husband was arrested for further child molestation and has been placed in prison, which made it easier for her to limit the interactions with her children. This also inspired Kenny to also pursue judge training.
Training for judges would involve a stronger and more comprehensive training in regards to sexual abuse and all the things that it entails. It would involve continuous updates to training focusing on the effects of trauma, the processes involved in reporting and addressing sexual abuse, and the dynamics of abuse as well. This is highly important, as judges do not currently receive this training, but they do preside over custody cases and other cases where sexual abuse might be present. Without training, the judges might lack the tools to make better choices and to have a comprehensive approach to their decisions.
This addition doesn’t mean that Kenny has stopped pursuing her goal of limiting contact between children and sex offenders. Unfortunately, many parents are still ordered to co-parent with individuals who have harmed kids and are likely to do it again, as Kenny’s own experience with her ex-husband shows.
Annie Kenny has become an activist. She works continuously and tirelessly to help others in her situation and make a shift in laws that will prevent others from going through her harrowing experience. She has testified in front of the Senate, promoted the petition, written pieces for major publications, and worked hard to ensure that her kids or any other kids are not forced to interact with their abusers and can find the support they require from judges.
Several years after the petition has been released, there are still changes to be made and work to be done. Annie Kenny has continued working towards her goals and has continued to support children against abusers to promote better laws and attention from judges and lawmakers.
Annie has also founded Bloom Consulting Solutions, LLC to help support individuals navigating family court and/or divorce issues and to continue advocating for legislative change that prioritizes child safety. If you or someone you know is struggling in the midst of a divorce, trying to navigate a custody dispute, or wanting to connect on an advocacy project, you can contact Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find and sign Kenny’s petition here. This will help it reach more people and increase the chances that there will be a different new set of laws to protect kids from sex offenders and limit their contact with known and proven abusers. In addition, you can learn more about her cause in her piece for the Washington Post, that delves deeper into her experiences and updates the situation detailed in her original petition. The cause is one that can impact anyone and should merit attention and consideration from the wider public. Learn more about the cause and the impact it has had on families, children, and communities today.