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Kyle's Law

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3-yr old Kyle Smith's body sodomized with a wooden brush handle, burned with cigarette butts, leg and pelvis broken was found beaten to death in his guardian, Nymeen Cheatham's Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant 4th floor apartment on June 6, 2008.Kyle had been staying with Cheatham and her 25-yr old boyfriend Lemar Martin since August 2007 because his drug addict mother was unable to take care of him. Cheatham did not have legal custody, but was awarded temporary physical custody after receving a "glowing review" from the Association of Child Services. An in-state backround check was performed on Cheatham and Kyle was allowed to remain in her physical custody. New York authorities apparently never knew that Cheatham's four biological children and younger brother were removed from her custody while she lived in Borger, Texas. Officials in Texas received calls in July 2002 that Cheatham and her husband repeatedly locked the children in a bedroom and left them home alone for hours at a time. The children used a broken window to escape the filthy house with no running water and beg for food, Texas court records show. It took more than an hour to coax the children, who ranged in age from 3 to 13, to open the door for social workers, court records show. One girl was hiding under a bed. Cheatham's children were placed with relatives in December 2003. It was unclear where Cheatham's 13-year-old brother was placed. Four years later, in October 2007, Cheatham was trying to get legal custody of Kyle when the city's Administration for Children's Services interviewed her.The social workers reported no signs of abuse or neglect, an official statement from the ACS said.Several signs that could have tipped off authorities that something was wrong seemed to have fallen through the cracks. Law enforcement sources said Cheatham told authorities she had four children in Texas, but no one ever followed up to find out what had happened to them. Police sources told newspapers after Kyle's death that his paternal grandmother told the ACS she feared her grandson was being mistreated. A statement from the ACS, however, said the agency never received any complaints. The custody case was closed in February without prejudice after Cheatham missed a court date, but nobody ever checked in on Kyle, law enforcement sources said. Cheatham never reopened the case. Kyle's broken body was found on Friday. He had severe injuries to his mouth and bruises on his back, buttocks, legs and scrotum. Cheatham and Martin were charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn) said he would be "asking more questions in the coming days to identify where we failed Kyle Smith." Here is a petition for Kyle's Law that will require state officials, ACS and family court to perform both in-state and out of state background checks on potential guardians for all children to prevent such tragedies from happening again.

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