Monthly Archives: April 2011

Change in Colorado definitions for sex offender treatment management

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Sex offenders offered hope of redemption in new law
March 28, 2011

Source: Colorado Independent
A bipartisan agreement designed by members of the Senate to give hope to sex offenders entering into state required treatment passed on 2nd reading Thursday. Likened to the entrance into the Hades of Dante’s Inferno by one member of the Senate, the existing law, until its sunset, asked the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board to treat sex crimes as a disease with “no known cure.” That section has now been removed and states sex offenses are often repetitive but in some cases are the result of a manageable condition.

Hawaii House of Representatives resolution asks for changes to help unemployed victims of domestic violence


The House of Representatives of the State of Hawaii has issued a resolution requesting that Congress examine federal laws and regulations to allow states to more readily enact unemployment compensation-related laws that will allow fear of domestic or sexual violence to be a valid reason for not accepting “suitable work.” The state also requests review of the “able and available” work requirements as they apply to victims of domestic or sexual violence who seek benefits during periods of unemployment since it can be challenging for such victims to comply with them (H.R. 72, L. 2011, 4/4/2011).

Missouri Senate backs tougher domestic violence laws


April 23, 2011
Legislation overhauling Missouri’s domestic violence laws for the first time in nearly four decades was approved by the Missouri Senate on Thursday

The bill includes changes as basic as standardizing definitions for words like “domestic violence,” “abuse,” “adult,” and “child.” It also changes laws regarding orders of protection and requires that some repeat offenders face state — instead of municipal — charges that can carry tougher penalties.

Many of the bill’s changes follow the recommendations of a domestic violence task force created by Attorney General Chris Koster. The Senate’s 33-0 vote now sends the bill to the House.

Currently in Missouri, the definitions of such words as “adult” and “abuse” vary among different state laws and there is no state definition of “domestic violence.”

“In order to make Missouri’s domestic violence laws the most effective, we need to provide courts and law enforcement officers with clear, consistent definitions,” said sponsoring Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue.

The bill also makes several changes to the state laws surrounding orders of protection. It would also exempt victims from paying filing fees when they ask a court to enforce a protection order and would allow a judge to customize conditions in an order to fit a specific case.

Montana high court ruling protects domestic violence victims in custody cases

Source Missoulian

A recent Montana Supreme Court decision means that domestic violence victims no longer can be forced into mediation over custody arrangements in divorce cases.

“Parents and children are going to be safer because of this decision,” said Monte Jewell, the Missoula attorney who appealed the case, Hendershott v. Westphal, to the Supreme Court.

Last year, Heidi Hendershott balked at a requirement for mandatory mediation over the custody – in Montana, it’s called a “parenting plan” – of her two children with her former husband, Jesse Westphal, of Kila in Flathead County.

Westphal, who represented himself during the proceedings, did not return a telephone call seeking comment for this story.

Hendershott had testified during divorce proceedings that Westphal “was ‘emotionally controlling’ and that being forced to meet with him made her fearful and nervous,” according to the court’s unanimous decision, written by Justice Beth Baker.

Westphal, however, was insistent on mediation, and state law appeared to give him some support – an issue addressed in Baker’s opinion.

“This Court operates under the presumption that the Legislature does not pass meaningless legislation,” Baker wrote.

The problem, said Jewell, “is that there’s a little bit of inconsistency of language between two statutes.”

That inconsistency, applied to parenting plan mediation, led courts to allow exceptions only for victims of physical violence, he said.

“Our (legal) code hasn’t caught up to the fact that emotional abuse and economic abuse is also part of domestic violence,” said Kelsen Young, executive director of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The result is that victims of such abuse frequently are ordered into custody mediation with a problematic partner, according to Young and others.

“It comes up very often, I would say more often than I care to think about,” said Eduardo Capulong, a professor at the University of Montana’s School of Law and director of its mediation clinic.

The Supreme Court examined the laws in question and found “an absolute bar to mediation” in cases where physical, sexual or emotional abuse is suspected. The word suspected is key.

“Hendershott established a very low standard, which is a good thing for domestic violence” cases, Capulong said.

That’s because relationships that haven’t previously involved actual physical abuse often turn violent when someone leaves, Young said.

“It’s always something we’re worried about when working with victims of domestic violence,” said Cindy Weese, executive director of the YWCA of Missoula. “Emotional and psychological abuse is very detrimental and isn’t covered in the parenting plan statute.”

Weese pronounced herself “absolutely thrilled” with the court’s April 12 decision.

“Now we need to go back in and change the legislation around parenting plans,” she said.

The court suggested as much, writing that “the Legislature may wish to consider the potential conflict between its reference to physical abuse and the more expansive reference to abuse” in state law.

Meanwhile, agencies that deal with domestic violence will work to get the word out about the court’s decision.

“Now I think the issue, concretely, for the courts and mediators is how to establish a protocol to screen for cases in which there’s domestic violence so that we can appropriately refer them,” whether to mediation or not, Capulong said.

Missoula County is already ahead of the game, Jewell said.

“A lot of lawyers and advocates in Missoula are spoiled because our judges are really fast,” he said. “Communications have occurred already. Judges and their assistants already seem to be aware” of the ruling.

Said Capulong: “It’s quite a significant case.”

Colorado Senate considers bill to expand no-contact orders

The Denver Post

Stephanie Drobny’s husband repeatedly beat, raped and threatened to kill her, and he molested the couple’s now 9-year-old daughter.

Since he was sentenced to 16 years in a Colorado prison, a court order has prevented him from having any contact with Drobny.

But because state law limits no-contact orders to victims of domestic violence, the man can still write his daughter from behind bars.

A House-passed proposal scheduled for debate on the Senate floor today would allow judges to issue no-contact orders in cases involving nearly three dozen crimes listed in the Colorado Victim Rights Act, which covers everything from murder to careless driving.

Drobny said letters, calls or gifts allow offenders to revictimize the people they’ve hurt.

“It’s basically saying, ‘I know where you live. I know how to get you,’ ” said Drobny, 31. “All we’re trying to do is close that gap so it’s not just the mommy that has the restraining order, but it’s also the kids or the rape victim.”

Her daughter’s name and that of Drobny’s former husband are being withheld to protect the child’s identity and whereabouts.

Criminal defense attorneys remain wary of the proposed House Bill 1267, saying that some prosecutors abuse the limited power they have now in domestic-violence cases.

They ask for no-contact orders even in first offenses, when the victims don’t want them, when it could force an offender out of the home or in nonviolent cases like a yelling match gone out of hand, said Maureen Cain, lobbyist for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

“Prosecutors say they need this power because victims do not know what is good for them or they are afraid to ask for the no-contact order. My experience is that this is sometimes true, but more often than not, victims know what they want and are capable of asking for it,” Cain said. “(We have) absolutely no problem with any protection order when requested by the victim or even any witness.”

Any alleged offender is immediately warned in court that they must not intimidate, harass or retaliate against any alleged victims or witnesses.

That order stays in place until they’re acquitted or until they’ve served their sentence.

If HB 1267 passes, judges will also immediately be able to warn the accused to have no contact with victims and will be able to prohibit drinking, firearm possession and anything else that might help protect the victim.

Those are the same expanded protections available in domestic-violence cases.

“There’s a hole in the law right now,” said Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. “When you draft a law in the abstract, it’s hard to figure out how it will be applied. Now we know.”

Read more: Colorado Senate considers bill to expand no-contact orders – The Denver Post
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Seminar: Intimate Partner Rape. Registration Deadline May 16

Monday, May 23, 2011

Intimate Partner RapePresented by: A. Mervyn Davies, MA, LPC, CACIII, F.A., P.A.

SPONSORED BY S.H.A.R.E., Inc. and the 13th Judicial District Probation Department

Training on:
Prevalence and types of IPR
Treatment ideas for offenders
Victim issues
Challenging beliefs on IPR
Colorado study of IPR among convicts
Domestic violence Offenders
Questions to ask possible victims

Who Should Attend:
Probation Officers
Domestic Violence Treatment Providers
Sex Offender Treatment Providers
Case Workers
Law Enforcement
Victim Advocates

Where: Bloedorn Lecture Hall, Morgan Community College, 920 Barlow Road, Fort Morgan, CO 80701
When: Monday May 23rd, 2011: 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Lunch will be served from 12:00 until 1:00 P.M.
Lunch Provided by: S.A.R.A., Inc., Sexual Assault Response Advocates

Free Registration: Please register by mail to: S.H.A.R.E., P.O. Box 414, Ft. Morgan, CO. 80701, fax: 970-867-0460, or email:

Limited Seating-Please register on or before May 16, 2011.

Name:________________________ Agency:_______________________________________
Phone:________________________ Fax:___________________________________________
E-mail:________________________ Lunch: ____yes _____no

Presidential Proclamation – National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month




Our Nation must continue to confront rape and other forms of sexual violence as a deplorable crime. Too many victims suffer unaided, and too many offenders elude justice. As we mark National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to building a society where no woman, man, or child endures the fear of assault or the pain of an attack on their physical well being and basic human dignity.

Despite reforms to our legal system, sexual violence remains pervasive and largely misunderstood. Nearly one in six American women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life, and for some groups, rates of sexual violence are even higher. Almost one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women will be sexually assaulted. Young women ages 16 to 24 are at greatest risk, and an alarming number of young women are sexually assaulted while in college. Too many men and boys are also affected. With each new victim and each person still suffering from an attack, we are called with renewed purpose to respond to and rid our Nation of all forms of sexual violence.

Sexual assault is considered to be the most underreported violent crime in America, and criminal justice responses vary widely across our country. Some communities have developed highly trained, coordinated teams who understand the nature of sexual assault and can respond with compassionate understanding. In other places, victims hesitate to report these crimes because they fear the criminal justice system will respond with skepticism or fail to bring the perpetrator to justice. We must ensure our police, prosecutors, and courts treat victims with the seriousness and respect they need and deserve. We must do more to provide services that help victims recover from the trauma of sexual assault. And ultimately, we must prevent sexual assault before it happens.

Under Vice President Joe Biden’s leadership, my Administration is committed to engaging a broad spectrum of Federal agencies and community partners to prevent sexual assault, support victims, and hold offenders accountable. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women is leading the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative to improve the way sexual assault survivors are served. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding innovative prevention campaigns that engage bystanders in reducing sexual assault, and the Department of Education is working to combat sexual violence at schools and universities. We will continue to support new approaches that show promise in changing cultural attitudes toward sexual violence and preventing these crimes.

Each victim of sexual assault represents a sister or a daughter, a nephew or a friend. We must break the silence so no victim anguishes without resources or aid in their time of greatest need. We must continue to reinforce that America will not tolerate sexual violence within our borders. Likewise, we will partner with countries across the globe as we work toward a common vision of a world free from the threat of sexual violence, including as a tool of conflict. Working together, we can reduce the incidence of sexual assault and heal lives that have already been devastated by this terrible crime.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2011 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to support victims and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.