Utah House bill would extend protective orders to dating relationships
In 2011, Ashley Bambrough was beaten nearly to death.
Wednesday evening at the state Capitol, her father, Jon, told lawmakers that Ashley's boyfriend of three years attacked her, then threw her from a speeding truck. When Jon arrived at the hospital, he saw that his daughter was covered in blood, had a shattered head and "the flesh had been torn" from her face. She survived but still suffers from the assault.
Jon Bambrough was at the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to pass HB50, which is sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City. The proposed "Dating Violence Protection Act" would give adults and emancipated minors the right to ask judges for protective orders against people they are dating.
Utah code makes protective orders available for spouses and people who have lived together, but not for people who are dating and never cohabited.
Bambrough said that the bill was needed to protect people like his daughter.
After Bambrough's remarks and a presentation by Seelig, the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill.
Under the proposal, if a protective order is granted by a judge it would be in effect for 180 days. Violating the order would result in a class B misdemeanor.
Seelig spent much of Wednesday's meeting explaining the bill's justification. She said that 15.7 percent of rapes and 17.8 percent of attempted rapes are committed by a "boyfriend or ex-boyfriend." She also provided a long list of organizations that support the bill.
Members of the committee seemed mostly supportive, though several also expressed concern with the proposal. Among other things, Rep. LaVar Christensen asked if current laws such as stalking injunctions or standard protective orders already provided sufficient protection.
Seelig replied that other types of protections require repeated violent incidents and are more difficult to obtain. A fiscal note on the bill states that if passed, it would cost the courts $124,200 and the Department of Corrections $27,400 in fiscal year 2014.