DES MOINES, Iowa —
Eighteen-year-old Malayia Knapp’s allegations of abuse – that her mother had instructed her and her siblings to punish each other however they chose – eventually led to the April arrest of 38-year-Mindy Knapp on charges of assault causing bodily injury.
Malayia’s came forward with her story after hearing about Natalie Finn, the 16-year-old girl who died of emaciation in October as a result, prosecutors said, of parental abuse, neglect and torture.
“They need to speak up,” Malayia said. “They don’t need to be afraid to stand up for what’s right. They don’t deserve to have anything happen to them. They don’t deserve to be abused.”
Natalie’s parents, Nicole and Joseph Finn, of West Des Moines, face multiple charges, including kidnapping and child endangerment resulting in death, and are set to be arraigned Monday. The mother is also charged with first-degree murder.
The recent instances of child abuse have probed questions about the Department of Human Services’ handling of such cases, and Malayia said she’s reached out to state Sen. Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Polk County, in the hopes that tougher child abuse laws would be enacted.
Malayia, who was adopted when she was 10 along with her siblings, by Mindy and Anthony Knapp, said the abuse worsened in their Urbandale home after the parents threatened to hurt the children and encouraged the siblings to punish each other.
McCoy wants to prevent cases like that of the Knapp and Finn families by bringing up stricter monitoring.
“We need to follow these kids to 18 at a minimum,” McCoy said. “I want to have hearings, and I want to know we are doing all we can to make sure our systems are in place and that we are working to protect children.”
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