Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5593

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT.

Vote Date:

4/2/2014

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/31/2014

File No.:

636

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To strengthen the rights and protections of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. This bill allows for orders to be given out to protect the victim from threats, harassment, injury or intimidation, threatening, harassing, assaulting, molesting or sexually assaulting the victim, or entering the home of the victim. The bill also allows for educational programs to be created for the purpose of teaching teens about abusive relationships, and how to remove themselves from a potentially dangerous situation if the need arises.

SUBSTITUE LANGUAGE

The substitute language adds sections C and D.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Public Defender Services, Senior Assistant Public Defender, Michael Alevy: has concerns about this bill. Mr. Alevy believes that the lack of clarity on whether financial violations of the order would be dealt with in the criminal or civil courts. Mr. Alevy also disagrees with the addition of mandatory minimum sentences, as he believes judges should be able to hand down sentences based on the severity or extenuating circumstances of the case.

CT Judicial Branch, Elliot N. Solomon: has concerns about this bill. Judge Solomon is opposed to multiple aspects of this bill, most notably the appointment of “youth victims” to the Advisory Counsel for Victims of Crime, as people on the counsel are aware of and trained in matters dealing with youth assault and the appointment of “…family violence victim advocates to provide services to victims of domestic violence in the Family Division of the Superior Court in each judicial district of the state.” (This section was removed in the JFS language) His concerns with the appointment of the advocates lies both in the funding of said advocates, and in the jurisdiction and interaction of these advocates with other groups, such as “family relations officers, court service center staff and other court staff”.

CT Insurance Department: wishes for an amendment that would remove the section expanding the collection period for bonds from fifteen to twenty-four months; as this would make it easier for people owing money to “game the system by coming up, for ex., with plausible excuses why they are unable to collect.” (This section was removed in the JFS language).

The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women: supports this bill. They believe that this bill will help increase the amount of victims who come forward when assaulted or abused, as many cases go unreported, for fear of retaliation from their attacker. If a protective order is put in place, a victim will be more likely to come forward than not, as there is now an added layer of protection between them and their attacker/abuser.

CT Office of the Victim Advocate, Victim Advocate Garvin G. Ambrose: supports the bill. Mr. Ambrose believes the expansion of protective orders, especially in dealing with financial protections will help keep victims safe and better prepared to move forward with their lives as easily as possible. Mr. Ambrose agrees with the inclusion of educational programs directed at teens, to make them aware of dating violence, how to avoid it, and how to get out of an abusive relationship if necessary. Mr. Ambrose also agrees with the proposed inclusion of a teen/young adult to the State Advisory Council of the Office of Victim Services, as it would provide a unique and often unheard perspective on teens in domestic/sexual violence situations.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

UConn MSW Candidate Amy Ramirez: Supports this bill. Ms. Ramirez believes that by expanding the criteria of which a person is able to get a protective order against a perpetrator, will help both victims start to move forward, but will also help other victims to gain the strength to come forward to get protection as well.

Anonymous - Custody Evaluations When There are Allegations of Domestic Violence: Anonymous presented “Custody Evaluations When There Are Allegations of Domestic Violence: Practices, Beliefs, and Recommendations of Professional Evaluators”, a report from May 2011 that looks at how custody is determined in cases of domestic violence, and how much the beliefs and personal opinions of the people determining custody plays into their final custodial decisions.

Anonymous - Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force for Gender Fairness in the Courts: Anonymous presented the “Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force for Gender Fairness in the Courts, a report on a 1987 task force created to look at possible gender bias of people who work in the court system professionally.

Anonymous Domestic Violence Victim: Supports this bill. This woman believes that expansion of protective rights will help victims such as herself. She also believes that by having Domestic Violence Victim Advocates in the court system, women will be far more aware of the intricate process they are going through, and far more knowledgeable about their personal rights throughout the court process.

Advocate for the Center For Family Justice, Kayte Cwikla-Masas: Supports this bill. As a supervisor of court advocacy, Ms. Cwikla-Masas believes the expansion of protective rights will help to keep victims safe from harassment, intimidation, and further assaults from their attacker.

Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), Laura Cordes: supports this bill. Ms. Cordes believes that the expansion of protective rights will not only protect the victim from further assault or intimidation, but will help them to feel safe and secure in that they will not be attacked again, without further repercussions for the attacker.

Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC), Attorney Advocate Aviania Iliadis: strongly supports this bill. Ms. Iliadis believes that by expanding protective orders to victims of domestic violence, victims will have more security than before, and will be able to ensure their abuser will not retaliate physically or financially, the latter of which can be damaging in the long term, making it harder for a victim to move on and rebuild after an attack or series of attacks.

Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut, Inc., Raphael L. Podolsky: supports this bill, but is concerned that the language in section 34 could be used to arrest a victim if she discloses the location of the shelter she is staying.

Susan Skipp - US Dist. Court Case No 314 – The final ruling of a court case (November 2010 – March 2014)

Sexual Assault Crisis Service, YWCA New Britain, Adult Advocate Krystal Rich: supports this bill. By expanding the ability to obtain a protective order to victims of domestic violence, but also so that victims of both sexual assault and domestic violence can now get protection against strangers, (rather than simply family members, as it stands now) more people will come forward when attacked.

“Victims of sexual assault and stalking deserve, at the very least, to have some form of protection from their perpetrator. Currently, sexual assault and stalking victims can only obtain a civil restraining order if their aggressor was, or is, a family or household member. Victims whose aggressor is a friend, acquaintance, or stranger are not permitted to obtain a restraining order and are forced to live their lives in fear. The only other form of protection offered is a criminal protective order which is only available if their aggressor is arrested and the case is brought to court.”

Sexual Assault Crisis Services, YWCA New Britain, Assistant Director Nina Vázquez: supports this bill. Ms. Vázquez believes that by allowing victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to apply for protection against attackers they may not be related to, they are not only given a sense of security, but are able to continue with further prosecution without the fear of continual harassment or further attacks/abuse at the hands of their attacker.

Sexual Assault Crisis Services, YWCA New Britain, Advocate Liz Halla-Mattingly: supports this bill. Ms. Mattingly believes that by easing the restrictions as to who can apply for protective orders, more victims will be able to gain protection from their attackers, and will be given a sense of safety and security at home, work, church, and school, that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Anonymous - Child Custody Evaluators' Beliefs About Domestic Abuse Allegations: Anonymous presented “Child Custody Evaluators' Beliefs About Domestic Abuse Allegations”, a study on the beliefs of the people in charge of determining custody of children during divorce proceedings, and how these beliefs affect the outcome of custodial decisions.

Anonymous - Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers' Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts: Anonymous presented “Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers' Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts”, a study about abusive parties using custodial actions to continue to harass and abuse their victims through the court system.

Anonymous - Rates at Which Accursed and Adjudicated Batterers Receive Sole or Joint Custody: Anonymous presented “Rates at Which Accused and Adjudicated Batterers Receive Sole or Joint Custody”, a study that looks at custodial decisions of different court systems, and examines why abusers often end up with full custody of their children/minor parties.

Center for Children's Advocacy, Stacey Violante Cote: supports this bill. Ms. Violante Cote believes that by having school boards create and add educational programs about dating violence, teens will not only be more aware of their surroundings, and what an abusive relationship looks like, but will prepare them for the future, and give them the tools and capabilities to deal with and escape a possibly abusive relationship.

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Executive Director Karen Jarmoc: supports this bill. Ms. Jarmoc believes that allowing for financial protections in a restraining order will strengthen the protective order immensely, giving the victim full protection in every way possible. She also supports the increase in penalties for violation of protective and restraining orders, and believes that adding education about abusive relationships in schools will help people in protecting and extricating themselves from potentially dangerous situations in the future.

Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund, Catharine Bailey and Nicole Seymour support: this bill. The Connecticut Women's Education and Legal fund support the bill, most notably the aspects creating domestic violence awareness and educational programs for teens, and the expansion of protective orders in instances of domestic violence and sexual assault. The CWELF believe that these two things help to create a culture where sexual assault and domestic violence will not be tolerated under any circumstance, and will be dealt with to every extent possible.

Interval House, Representative Penni Micca: supports this bill. Ms. Micca believes that the expansion of protection orders is important, but that the included financial protections cover the victim fully, and allow for a greater sense of safety and security. Many victims will not file for protection as they (and their children) depend on their abuser for financial security; this bill allows for financial protection of the victim, and provides for consequences if this aspect of the order is violated

New Horizons Domestic Violence Services, Adult Advocate, Courtney Battles: supports this bill. Ms. Battles believes that by allowing for victims of domestic violence to have advocates with them throughout the court process, (as well as court-provided advocates located in the courthouse), they will not only be more capable of preparing and presenting their case, but they will be more aware of the difficult and hard-to-understand aspects of the court process.

Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury, Adult Advocate Heather Francisco: supports this bill. Ms. Francisco believes that by allowing victims to obtain protective orders against their assailant, regardless of the relationship they have (partner, family member, friend), gives the victim the right to continue on with their lives without having to live in fear of seeing, interacting with, or being harassed by their attacker. Ms. Francisco also believes that having Victim Advocates located in Civil Court would be beneficial, as they would be able to help more victims navigate the legal system that they would otherwise be caught up in, possibly not understanding proceedings or certain aspects of decisions.

Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services at BHcare, Director Susan DeLeon: supports this bill. Ms. DeLeon believes that section 34 of the bill, making the purposeful and knowing disclosure of the address of a safe house or emergency shelter run by a domestic violence agency a misdemeanor offense, will help to keep the locations of shelters, (and also the people who take refuge in them safe), as there will be a penalty associated with the disclosure of location.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Julia Dandio

Date: 4/16/14