Thursday, March 14, 2013

SJC Rules on abuse law and online dating

 On March 13, 2013, in E.C.O.vs. Gregory James Compton, the court vacated the extension of a restraining order the girl's father had obtained against Compton holding 'there was no 'abuse' as required by the statute."

However, the court concluded that "there was evidence of a substantive dating relationship in the circumstances of this case.  General Law ch. 209A, s. 1, directs courts to to adjudge the existence of substantive dating relationships by considering four factors: '(1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.'  Here, there was a three-month relationship that involved regular mutual communication. Although, after the daughter's return home from Europe, that communication occurred electronically, many of the transmissions, such as those through instant messaging and Skype, involved 'real-time' communication and face-to-face communication, thus adding a level of intimacy to the relationship...Our conclusion comports with fulfilling the remedial purpose of the statute....Chapter 209A must be interpreted to protect all who are in a substantive dating relationship from abuse, regardless of whether the relationship was developed or conducted by the use of technology."

For more on the subject see our page titled Law About Domestic Violence.