When tragedy strikes people always want to ask, why did this happen? That is a good question, but the next one should be, how can we prevent this from happening ever again? In this case tragedy did occur, a young boy died, but a new law in his name will now help prevent it happening again.
In 2018, 7-year-old Ethan Hauschultz died. His injuries included a broken rib, blunt force trauma and hypothermia. He had been kicked, prodded and struck with a belt as he had been forced to carry a 44.5-pound piece of wood around the snowy yard. Who was the one who was inflicting this onto him? It was his 14-year-old foster brother, Damian Hauschultz.
How did Ethan come to be living with this family? Ethan, his brother, and his sister were all removed from their parent’s home because of neglect and abuse. They were placed in the custody of Timothy Hauschultz who was a distant relative, and he was serving as their foster parent.
The horrible history of Timothy is that he had been found guilty of child abuse in the same county, Manitowoc, in a case involving two boys. As Timothy had avoided further legal trouble in the two years after the conviction, it was REDUCED to disorderly conduct. Since his record did not show a child abuse conviction, Timothy was allowed to become a foster parent. Had it still shown on his record, he would have not been allowed.
Now why on Earth was a 7-year-old child being disciplined in this manner? I’ve heard two reasons, and both are just as ridiculous as the other to warrant such a punishment; Ethan had talked back to a teacher or Ethan had not known 13 Bible verses.
2017, Ethan and his siblings had been placed in the care of Timothy and Tina Hauschultz, even though Timothy had a criminal record. Ethan’s siblings stated that they were frequently punished by making them walk laps around the yard carrying heavy logs. They were required to “carry wood” for 2 hours a day, every day for not knowing their Bible verses. Damian was in charge of ensuring they carried out their punishment.
The children stated that Timothy usually picked out which logs they would be required to carry, but Damian stated that Timothy let the children pick out their own logs. Damian would also tell the courts that Timothy did not assign additional punishment if a child dropped their log, and the children were allowed to rest when needed. They were also able to go into the house for meals, which consisted at times of porridge and bread. Experts familiar with the case state that Ethan’s punishment was more consistent with torture.
Ethan’s birth mother, Andrea Everett, was in court and had made a statement to Damian Hauschultz; “I’ve listened to people in this courtroom blame your parents for the reason why you have killed my son, I have listened to people talk about the trauma that you have gone through. We’ve all gone through trauma. But it doesn’t mean that we brutally kill a 7-year-old.”
Damian Hauschultz had pleaded guilty to first degree reckless homicide and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He will be under extended supervision for another 19 years after he is released from prison.
Prosecutors believe that Damian was not the only one responsible for Ethan’s death. He may have been the one to actually ended the young boy’s life, but he would not have done that had he not been told to enforce the punishment ordered by Timothy.
Timothy is currently awaiting trial on this issue and is being held in Door County. He is charged with felony murder, intentionally contributing to the delinquency resulting in death, three counts of felony child-abuse as party to a crime, and two counts of misdemeanor battery as party to a crime. His trial is expected to begin in March 2022.
Timothy’s wife, Tina McKeever-Hauschultz, is serving a five-year sentence for failure to prevent mental harm to a child as party to a crime, and child abuse/failure to prevent great harm. Both Tina and Timothy were not physically at the house when the punishment was carried out.
There is now a Wisconsin Law called “Ethan’s Law” which protects children from being placed with known abusers, even if the charges are reduced. It was signed into law in 2021.
Stay Curious my Friends!