Bill would lengthen civil protection orders Bill would aid abuse victims, backers say.

February 25, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Over the past few months, a 39-year-old Baltimore woman says she petitioned the court three times to keep her husband away from her. But she still wound up beaten, raped and brutalized.

Her husband returned each time a 30-day civil protection order expired, the woman told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday.

He fractured her jaw and knocked out her teeth the first time, and raped and spit and urinated on her the second time, said the woman, who testified on condition of anonymity.

If the law were changed to extend the order up to a year, said the woman, others like her might be able to avoid such treatment.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has introduced a bill that would extend the length of civil protection orders from 30 days to up to one year, and that would recognize "non-traditional" relationships.

Under current law, a woman may apply for a protection order only if she is married and living with her husband, or single and living with the father of her child.

The proposed legislation would extend to men with whom the women had once cohabitated.

Theoretically, the protection also applies to men, although officials said there are no statistics on domestic violence against men.

When the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony on the bill last month, the proponents offered no personal testimony. But the governor's chief lobbyist, David S. Iannucci, said they decided afterward that they needed personal stories to emphasize the bill's urgency.

The proponents also are offering amendments that address lawmakers' complaints. With the changes, the bill no longer would apply to cases of "imminent threat," a broad legal term that can be applied to almost any threatening language.

The amendments also would drop a requirement that judges be available 24 hours a day to grant protective orders.

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