Kelsey Smith, 20, was officially charged with murder and assault for allegedly killing his stepdaughter Jeida Torres and injuring her brother Andrew, 5, last Saturday at the New York City Department of Homeless Services family shelter located at 38 Cooper St., in Bushwick, Brroklyn.
On Sunday, Oct. 26, Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams joined state senator Kevin Parker and Community Board 4 chair Julie Dent outside Brooklyn Borough Hall to announce a legislative effort that would expand mandatory reporting requirements of suspected child abuse cases. This announcement came one week after the tragic death of 3-year-old Torres. Borough president Adams discussed S7951-201, a bill introduced by state Senator Parker at his request, which would expand the persons responsible for reporting cases of suspected child abuse to include employees, volunteers, or agents of any corporate entity having an agreement with a municipality as a homeless shelter provider and the development of procedures related thereto.
“Anyone that deals with the welfare of children or families has a moral and societal obligation to report harm or potential danger, and this legislation will ensure that everyone contracted in New York State for this responsibility will fulfill that duty,” said Borough President Adams. “In the wake of recent tragedies that have befallen our communities, there is an added sense of urgency to assure New Yorkers that government is fulfilling its primary mission of protecting the people. I look forward to working with state Senator Parker and my former colleagues in Albany to see this important bill passed and signed into law.”
“You assume that everybody that comes in contact with children in this context would have that mandate, but they obviously didn’t,” said state Senator Parker. “And so, we really need to close that loophole.”
“The murder of 3-year-old Jeida Torres is saddening and troubling,” said state Senator Martin Malavé Dilan. “The account of Jeida’s abuse was horrifying and leaves many questions to be answered, particularly regarding the reporting of abuse at the Bushwick home. Someone so precious should never know such violence and brutality. Had a stricter system of reporting been in place to help prevent this senseless act of violence, Jeida may be alive today. We owe it to her, and her family, to see that every attempt is made to stop abuse.”
“We have to do better to protect children from this kind of senseless violence,” said council member Rafael Espinal. “I applaud the borough president for taking the lead to ensure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen again.”