In February of 2014, Melody began dating Henry from her Sociology class. Their relationship was ‘casual’ and they would meet to go to dinner or hang out with friends a few times a week. After 4 months, Melody and Henry began having sex. One evening after some heavy drinking, Henry invited Melody to his dorm room. He began making aggressive advances towards her like tugging on her clothing and grabbing her wrists. Henry proceeded to yell obscenities at Melody as she pushed him away which prompted her to leave his dorm room. Over the next few weeks Melody received endless text messages and posts on her social media profile from him. In Sociology class he would corner her to ask why she wasn’t returning any messages and follow her around campus. He showed up to her dorm room and at other events without invitation. Melody was afraid and began skipping her Sociology class to avoid seeing Henry. She distanced herself from friends that they had in common and was constantly worried about a confrontation and further hostility towards her. Left with limited recourse, Melody withdrew from her classes and began taking courses at a community college close to her home.
In 2014, Melody’s options for legal remedies were limited because no criminal act had occurred and her relationship status with Henry did not allow for her to be protected under Kentucky domestic violence laws which required couples to be married, live together or have children together to be eligible for emergency protective orders. As of January 1, 2016 Kentucky’s domestic violence laws expanded to extend civil protections to sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking victims. Interpersonal Protective Orders (IPO), referred to as Kentucky House Bill 8 during the legislative session, now offer safety to victims like Melody. Read the statute including definitions
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass (LABG) has embraced this extension of protection and worked to provide training prior to the law going into effect. On October 15, 2015 LABG hosted The Summit of Interpersonal and Domestic Violence Orders, a free all day event that featured local judges, attorneys, educators and first responders who answered questions about the revised rule. Catherine DeFlorio was a panelist for ‘Change is in the Wind: House Bill 8 and Civil Protection Order’ at the 17th Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference co-hosted by the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs and the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence on December 1, 2015. In addition, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Director Emeritus, Dick Cullison, authored an article for the Cincinnati Enquirer that outlined the process that victims can expect when seeking an IPO. The article explains:
“Upon reviewing the IPO Petition, if the judge is convinced that the petitioner is in immediate and present danger, he or she will immediately enter a temporary IPO requiring that the alleged perpetrator commit no acts of violence, stay at least 500 feet away and have no contact with the Petitioner.
There will be a hearing within fourteen days to determine whether the petition should be dismissed or an IPO granted. At the hearing, the petitioner will need to prove that he or she is in a dating relationship with the perpetrator and that an act of violence occurred. This is more complicated than it seems.
To determine whether or not the petitioner had a dating relationship the court will consider: declarations of romantic interest; relationship characterized by expectations of affection; attendance at social outings together as a couple; frequency and type of interaction/involved together over time/continuous basis; length and recency of the relationship; and other indications of a substantial connection that would lead a reasonable person to understand that a dating relationship existed.
If the petitioner proves his or her case, the judge will issue an IPO to stay in effect for up to three years. Violating an IPO is a misdemeanor punishable by up to year in jail.”
The New Year is underway and LABG has seen a trickle of IPO cases come through its doors. “We are now less than a month into the implementation of this act so the effectiveness and the utility remains to be determined” says Glenda Harrison, Advocacy Director of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. She adds “we as individuals and as an organization are intimately involved with providing relief to victims of violence so contact us for assistance.”
Methods vary by county in determining which court will handle IPO hearings, so if you have a particular county in mind, check with the clerks. See all Kentucky revised statutes made through the 2015 Regular Session