JJ’s Law founder fights child abuse registry

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Kevin Retzer became an activist after his great nephew, JJ, suffered serious brain damage due to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Retzer was instrumental is getting JJ’s Law passed in 2013, which expands the look back window up to ten years for child abusers. It also allows increased penalties for repeat offenders.

Now, he wants to focus on creating a broad-scale registry for offenders.

“I can take out my cell phone right now and find every sex offender within five miles of me in under four minutes. We should be able to do that for domestic violence offenders,” he said.

Retzer said JJ will suffer long-term mental and physical disabilities after continued abuse at the hands of his biological father.

Jacquie Smith has teamed up with Retzer to continue this fight. Her son Markus, now 4-years-old, has the cognitive abilities of a 2-year-old.

Markus was shaken repeatedly by Smith’s ex-fiance, Mark Bridenbaker; he suffered a series of brain bleeds, broken ribs, and 50 percent atrophy of his brain.

The 4-year-old will forever be prone to seizures and will never fully develop mentally or physically.

Bridenbaker served the majority of his five year sentence, but was released Thursday. Smith feels his sentence was too light, and doesn’t believe he should be out yet.

Teaming up with Retzer, she said, if her way of preventing a tragedy like this from occurring again.

“If I can save one child and one family from the struggles and the debilitating effects of it that we are struggling with, because we struggle day in and day out. If I can save one family from what we’ve gone through then it’s a success,” Smith told News 4.

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