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Miranda Wilkerson Was Given to a Sex Offender in July

10:16 PM, Aug 23, 2011   |    comments
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FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. --  A group of local officials met at State Rep. Janet Adkins' office Tuesday morning to try and change the law that sent a child to live with a registered sex offender.

Joining Adkins was a social services expert, lawyer and DCF representative all with one thing on their minds, Miranda Wilkerson.

In July, a Baker County judge gave a registered sex offender custody of the 4-year-old.

PICTURES: Miranda at home with father Donald Coleman and Miranda

Donald Coleman, the sex offender, is not Miranda's biological dad. But by law, he is her legal father because he was married to Miranda's mom at the time of her birth and her mom's death.

The group is focused on how the law should handle sex offenders in an adoption, grandparents' rights - basically non-existent in Florida - and how cases like Miranda's should be handled in general.

"You need to have some baseline processes in place. I'm not sure we address that in legislation or as a recommendation," said said Jim Adams, the former CEO of Family Support Services. "At a minimum, you would want a psychological(evaluation) on the parents not just to see if they are fit parents, but to lay out the groundwork."

FSS handles foster care cases for the Department of Children and Families.

All the group wants is to make sure that the best interest of the child is considered, but they also want to be careful to protect parents', too.

"I want to clearly define extenuating circumstances and just make it broader for the judge, so they have greater discretion, but be very careful we are not infringing on the rights of good parents, as an unintended consequence," said Adkins.

This is just step one on a long road to changing the law. While it won't bring Miranda back to her grandmother's home, the group is hoping to help another child down the road.

"At the end of the day, I'm not sure what's gonna come out of all these issues, but the main thing is make sure we give judge's greater discretion," said Adkins.

He said it could take a couple of weeks to get all the changes in writing. Adkins said she is working with State Sen. Stephen Wise to introduce the bill to the Legislature.


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