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Bill allowing for protective orders in dating relationships gets committee approval

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6 2013 8:15 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Jon Bambrough remembers making two promises to his newborn daughter on their shared birthday in 1988.

"Obviously, the first thing that I promised her was that I would always love her," he said. "The second thing I promised her was that I would always protect her.

"And on the night of July 2, 2011, her then-boyfriend of three years made me break one of those promises."

Speaking to the House Judiciary Committee, Bambrough told lawmakers about the violence his daughter's boyfriend inflicted upon her, throwing her from a moving vehicle and leaving her for dead along the side of the road.

Bambrough was among those at the Capitol on Wednesday to show support for a bill that that would allow adults in dating relationships to obtain protective orders.

"It's a serious, serious issue," said House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, sponsor of HB50.

Committee members agreed and unanimously supported the bill, also known as the Dating Violence Protection Act.

Seelig says the bill would fill a gap in state code by protecting victims of abuse and violence in dating relationships who are not safeguarded by juvenile laws or Utah's Cohabitant Abuse Act.

"A year prior to the attack, (Ashlee) had lived with her abuser," Bambrough said. "If she had gone on her first date or her 10th date, she would not have been able to get a protective order under the current law. It's your responsibility as lawmakers to pass good laws, and this is an opportunity to do just that."

Sandy Police Chief Stephen Chapman also spoke in favor of the bill.

"Protective orders are something we, as a police department, relish," Chapman said. "Though it is a time-consuming process for us, we are willing to go forward with enforcing that. It's important that we take positive steps in reference to protecting our youth."

Under the bill, a violation of a dating violence protection order would be class B misdemeanor. The order would remain in place for 180 days and then expire.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, asked if the proposed legislation takes into account a situation in which the alleged perpetrator has been falsely accused.

"Lying to the court about a set of circumstances related to this (would be) a class B misdemeanor," Seelig said. "There is a greater penalty for lying to the court about it than violating a protective order."

E-mail: rlowry@desnews.com

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