Friday, February 17, 2006

Expanding Restraining Order Protection

The Domestic Restraining Order Statute, Chapter 209A, only offers protection to "persons who: (a) are or were married to one another; (b) are or were residing together in the same household; (c) are or were related by blood or marriage; (d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or (e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship."

Last week, public hearings were held on S1037, An Act Relative to Sexual Assualt and Stalking Protective Orders. The legislation is designed to "address the protection gap not addressed by chapter 209A of the General Laws. A victim of crimes such as stalking, indecent assault and battery and rape, cannot legally seek a restraining order, the violation of which carries criminal penalties, unless the victim can show a substantial relationship with the respondent. In the case of stranger rape, or even acquaintance rape, clergy or teacher sexual abuse, a victim cannot seek adequate protection. The General Court hereby addresses this shortcoming."