Proposed bill would allow for protective orders in dating relationships
The act would make a violation punishable by a class B misdemeanor, said Donna Kelly, of the Utah Attorney General's Office. Kelly said that allows for a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and court supervision, as well as court-ordered treatments and community service, if a judge so chooses.
Both of Sorensen and Bambrough said the cases involving their daughters were prosecuted criminally.
Brandon Sloper, who was charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault, both second-degree felonies, for pushing Ashlee Bambrough from his car, pleaded no contest and will be sentenced Dec. 5.
Sorensen's daughter was one of the women allegedly abused by Gregory Peterson, who took his own life at his Heber cabin Oct. 23.
There were some concerns as to whether the protective orders were used as revenge, as was alleged by Utah County-based attorney Jackie de Gaston. She called the orders a "very severe, blunt tool that ruins people's lives."
"I hate to see protective orders expanded where they don't need to be," she said. "They need to be contracted. … We need more time on this."
But Stewart Ralphs, of the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake, said he has been an attorney for 20 years and has seen "very few people" file protective orders to get back at someone.
Ralphs said the YWCA of Salt Lake did a study that found only 3 percent of protective orders filed in 3rd District Court were found to be frivolous.
Kelly noted that there are also laws in place against filing a false police report.
"There is a potential for abuse … but the benefits can far outweigh it if people need protection," Kelly said.
Ralphs said the bill adds protections without infringing on anyone's rights because no one has the right to harm or harass another person. As for suggestions that violent, angry people will disregard protective orders, Ashlee Bambrough disagreed.
"I think the protective orders are great," she said after the hearing.
"Adding jail time to anything is a deterrent," Jon Bambrough said. "It makes the victim feel safe. It makes a family feel better."
The family spoke out in favor of similar legislation last year. Jon Bambrough said they are optimistic Seelig's bill will pass into law this session.
"It sounds like they've got it drafted well," he said. "We think we got it this time."
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