When Jimi Street's daughter told him their neighbor touched her inappropriately, he was understandably upset. But, when the man was released on bond and returned to his Racine home right next door, Street was outraged.
Reps. Cory Mason (D-Racine) and Tom Weatherson (R-Caledonia) wanted to help the Street family and prevent this from happening to others. Their bipartison legislation - Isabella's Law - would make it a condition of bail for defendents that they not live less than 250 feet or at an adjacent property from the homes of their alleged victims.
They held a press conference Monday on the steps of the Racine County Courthouse to announce their co-sponsorship of the proposed bill.
"Let me be clear. This isn't for a conviction, this will apply to accused perpetrators," Mason said during his time at the podium. "Victims should not have to live next door to their perpetrators even while the case pends through the courts."
The bill is named for Street's eight-year-old daughter who told her father that neighbor Robert Lambkin, 60, touched her while she was outside playing with friends in February. According to the criminal complaint, Lambkin admitted to unzipping the girl's coat and touching her, but he also told police he "didn't think she noticed what was going on."
Lambkin also told police he may have touched the girl elsewhere. "I know my hand had gone down there,” he is quoted as saying in the complaint.
He plead not guilty March 13 to a single count of first degree sexual assault of a child and returned to court-ordered house arrest after being released on a $10,000 signature bond during his initial appearance. Lambkin has not been convicted of this charge. He is next due in court for a pre-trial conference on May 3.
After the legislation announcement, Street said Isabella has ups and downs, and she is in counseling.
"She still has nightmares," Street said. "She has her ups and downs, there's still some anxiety."
Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete told reporters that Lambkin no longer lives next door to the Streets and is in the process of moving completely out of that residence.
Weatherston said the legislation has broad bipartisan support, including that of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, and several state senators as well.
"We are circulating the bill today for additional co-sponsors and expect to get an actual bill number next week," he said. "From there it goes to a vote in both houses and hopefully to the Governor's desk for his signature."
Mason noted that the earliest the new bill could pass is in June, which is considered almost warp speed.
"For a bill to go from concept to written language to passed and signed into law in two or three months is considered break-neck speed," he said.
Street said having lawmakers address this issue is a step toward healing for the whole family, but Isabella is still suffering from panic attacks. He said she needs to have a trusted family member or two with her to play outside in the yard and even then, she can't be outside for long.
"She's only good for about 20 minutes and then she has anxiety attacks and we have to go inside," he said. "I don't want other families to have to go through any of this."