OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Analyzing the Impact of Sexual Assault Protection Orders
Laura Jones, DeAnn Yamamoto  -  2012/4/11
I would like to know if these orders are effective and since there is no need to prove physical injury or file a police report how would effectiveness be measured? Has it been found that some Sexual Assault Protection Orders were filed under false pretenses?
1.  Megan Allen
 In 2010, 50 percent of SAPOs were granted. Advocacy or legal representation on behalf of victims in these cases has increased success rates by helping victims identify crucial details that provide evidentiary information needed to sway the judge's decision in their favor and bolstering their credibility. Cases with advocacy experienced an 80 success rate. The additional legal and emotional support can help the victim better-articulate the details of the assault in the petition and at the hearing. Verbalizing the details of a traumatic event can be challenging.
2.  Mike Quillin
 In my experience, proving allegations of coerced sex in FAPA protective order cases is very difficult because of the lack of physical evidence and witnesses. Ultimately, the judge must rely upon credibility determinations to meet the preponderance standard. In cases like that, what success rate do you achieve for obtaining SAPOs?
3.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 I am not aware of any SAPOs filed under false pretenses, as the process required likely deters that. Victims are required to detail the assault(s) in the petition, have it served on the respondent (the person who assaulted them, and then they then must go to court and face the respondent. The burden of proof is on the petitioner to prove by a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) that the assault happened. Most petitioners do not have legal representation and it is rare in sexual assault cases to have physical evidence or witnesses.
4.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 A SAPO provides a tangible option for victims to help rebuild their sense of safety. Before the existence of SAPOs, many victims were unable to qualify for a protection order if they were assaulted one time by someone outside their family or household. In 2010, 88 of victims seeking a SAPO were not in the same family or household as the respondent. SAPOs have been most effective when judges order clear, enforceable conditions. This allows both the petitioner and respondent to have a clear understanding of the protection order, as well as providing Law Enforcement the ability to enforce any violation. We do not see a high number of violations. Of the few violations, criminal charges were filed or provided a necessary reality check to the respondent not to violate the order again.
5.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 In our experience, most clients who have been able to obtain a SAPO have found these orders effective in providing petitioners a sense of security and awareness that if the respondent does not follow the conditions ordered, the petitioner can expect a response to her concerns by law enforcement. For a victim, continued contact or fear of future contact can make it difficult for them to go to work, school, or to engage in everyday activities.
In both KS and MO, to file and receive an order of protection or protection from abuse and/or stalking there are barriers for non intimate partners in filing. For example, if a woman or man has not ever had a romantic relationship with the perpetrator or has not ever lived with the perpetrator the survivor must have experienced at least two incidences of abuse or stalking for the order to be granted. I see this as a problem because the majority of sexual assault is committed by acquaintances. It seems to be a very reactive system rather than a preventive or proactive system. Any suggestions or explanations?
1.  Stephine Bowman
 There is currently no Sexual Assault Protection Order in Kansas. The Protection from Abuse order and the Protection from Stalking order have different requirements. The PFA order requires a previous relationship between the parties and abuse (there is no statutory amount of incidents of abuse required). The PFS does not require a relationship but does require that there have been at least two incidents of harassment which would make the party fearful for their safety (stalking). The PFA and PFS do not effectively address sexual assault because, unfortunatley, that was not their intent.
2.  Lore Rogers
 Michigan also has civil SA protective orders -- amended its protective order statute in 2010 to provide civil protective orders to victims of sexual assault and to those threatened with sexual assault. MCL 600.2950a
3.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 For detailed information on this law here is the link: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite7.90 Also, consider reading our CourtWatch Report found on our website: http://www.kcsarc.org/sites/default/files/CourtWatchຈReportຈApril�.pdf Washington is one of 17 States with this protection. Other states with civil sexual assault protection orders are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin(American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, June 2009).
4.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 You are expressing the same concern and problem that we had here in Washington prior to the Sexual Assault Protection Order. We hadhave Anti-harassment orders which need to show a pattern of harassing behavior; and Domestic Violence Protection orders which require a certain relationship threshold to be met; and No Contact orders which require a filed criminal case. And like you wrote, sexual assault survivors often could not meet any of these requirements. In 2006, the Washington State legislature addressed this gap in protective orders by making the Sexual Assault Protection Order law.
How do you find volunteers for your courtwatch program?
1.  Laura Jones
 We recruit from a variety of sources so that we have a diverse group of. Many of our volunteers are undergraduate and graduate students from local colleges and universities, and some of them receive internship credit for participating with CourtWatch. We send information about CourtWatch to various academic departments on a quarterly basis, and they advertise about the opportunity. We also have a partnership with the local Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and information about how to get involved goes out to KCSARC supporters, and is posted on our agency website as well as VolunteerMatch.com.
has the court system been receptive to your suggestions? Is there a standard format you use to provide your findings?
1.  Laura Jones
 There are many approaches to court monitoring. We made the decision in favor of more transparency to be inclusive of the judges and to get their buy-in to our program. One of our goals is to influence behaviors, and a continued presence appears to be effective to that end.
2.  Jana Loveall
 When we do courtwatch observations, we do not let the judges or magistrates know that we are there to observe their courtrooms. We have found in the past that if we do that the magistrates and judges seem to be on thier best behavior. We get lots of feedback from City Attorneys' office, Porbation Departments, Police and other law enforcement victim advocates and other magistrates or judges on what concerns are with particular courts and hope we can observe them and identify concerning patterns of rulings.
3.  Laura Jones
 We have never been asked to leave the courtroom.
4.  Josie Ashton
 Did the court ever ask you or one of the volunteers to leave the courtroom using rape shield laws, if applicable in your state, and if so how did you handle that situation?
5.  Laura Jones
 Additionally, we put a lot of emphasis on transparency about what our objectives would be when we were starting the program, which has given us more credibility with the courts. We let judges know in advance that we would be observing these cases, and that we would be identifiable by our yellow clipboards.
6.  Laura Jones
 Our initial findings were sent out to stakeholders via a report discussing what our process was, our findings, and recommendations for improvement. So far, some of our recommendations have been adopted. Additionally, 38 of King County Superior Court judges have signed up to receive confidential feedback from us re: their courtroom decorum and treatment of parties.
Have you found any significant differences in the impact of serving sexual assault protection orders between size of county or city? Are they more effective in one over the other?
1.  Laura Jones
 In our experience, the effectiveness has more to do with the offender's perception than whether the SAPO is in a rural or urban setting.
Do you have any suggestions of things that have not been effective in serving SAPOs? Anything law enforcement or the court system can change to become more helpful for victims.
1.  Laura Jones
 In WA, we are limited to personal service as the only way to get a SAPO served on a respondent, which is problematic when they are trying to evade service. Also, law enforcement typically only makes 1-2 attempts, and the court will typically only continue a SAPO a few times due to inability to serve. Notably, other types of WA protection orders allow alternative service such as service by mail and publication.
How reliable are the protection orders?
1.  Carolyn
 In my past experience all protections orders are reliable and have an impact.
2.  Laura Jones
 In our report, we found that there were no apparent violations of the protection orders issued in 2010 that resulted in criminal charges getting filed. Anecdotally, we can only think of a few instances since SAPOs were implemented in 2006 where there were violations.
3.  Andrea
 I mean how successful are the SAPO's? Do you have statistics on offender violation rates?
4.  Laura Jones
 Can you clarify what you mean re: reliability?
Can the victims file the protection order online in your state? If so, how successful is the program and which court in particular is providing that service to victims of sexual abuse andor domestic violence?
1.  Laura Jones
 The county with the kiosks is Pierce County.
2.  Josie Ashton
 Do you know the name of that county? Is it in your state?
3.  Laura Jones
 Not in our county. We know of one county where a victim, along with an advocate, can file a petition at a kiosk locates within law enforcement offices, designated DVSA programs, and the courthouse.
Is there any plan to provide your information to the public so other counties can learn from your program? What are some steps I can do to create a similar program in my area?
1.  Laura Jones
 We have several resources available on our website, including our report on the sexual assault protection process in King County: http://www.kcsarc.org/content/courtwatch-resources
Are there any national organizations which have initiatives directed at states who do not have sexual assault protection orders to enocourage the adoption of such orders? Are there any drafts of suggested uniform sexual assault protection orders?
1.  Lyn Schollett
 The Victim Rights Law Center has information on all states that have adopted Sexual Assault Protective Orders and had done training on best practices in terms of drafting specific provisions for a SAPO for your state.
2.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 The language for our SAPO statute came from Illinois, and the legal services department of our state coalition was instrumental in getting it passed. In other states, it is probably SA coalitions or task forces that would lobby for a SAPO. There are currently 17 states with a SAPO, and in trying to get one in your state, we would recommend talking with people in those states... While Washington's has filled a gap for victims who could not get an order previously, there are still access to justice issues and inconsistencies in how the courts apply the statute.
How effective are restraining orders initiated by parents of teenagers when the parents feel that custodial interference is taking place and the child is being taking advantage of and under another adult's influence?
1.  Jana Loveall
 What we have seen in the courtrooms we observe is that the effectiveness of the parental restraining order is only as good as the child will cooperate. If the child wants to continue to have the contact,ie boyfriendgirlfriend, the parents can continue to call the police. There was a recent case where the man was 29 years old and the girl was 14. The mother got a temporary protection order against the man but the daughter refused to stop seeing the guy. THe mother called the police after the last incident and unfortunately the perpetrators family took in the young girl and has had no contact with the mother since.
2.  DeAnn Yamamoto
 In WA, if the respondent is a member of the victims household or family, a domestic violence protection order is the appropriate remedy. If you're referring to a scenario in which the teen is under the age of consent (16 yo), if the parent can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that sexual contact or penetration occurred, the protection order should be granted.
How does your system work with petitioners who may have limited information about the identity andor location of the perpetrator?
1.  Megan Allen
 There has to be a named perpetrator to file a SAPO petition. Advocates often try to help victims come up with other possible locations for service (e.g. work, school, etc.) to get service. In these situations, it is often more helpful to have a friend or family member who is willing to serve the respondent wherever they can. The courts also will grant continuances to allow the petitioner to try to obtain service.
Do you know of a state that has good language that applies the SAPO to juveniles? Right now out SAPos or SOROs do not apply to juveniles. I would like to review that legislation language.
1.  Laura Jones
 WA allows for SAPOs against juveniles as well as a school transfer remedy which requires the minor respondent to transfer schools at the respondent's expense. In our experience, it has been difficult to get SAPOs against minor respondents under 12 years of age.
2.  Libby Shawgo
 Illinois has language regarding issuing Civil No Contacts when the petition andor respondent is a minor:If the court finds that the petitioner has been a victim of non-consensual sexual conduct or non-consensual sexual penetration, a civil no contact order shall issue; provided that the petitioner must also satisfy the requirements of Section 214 on emergency orders or Section 215 on plenary orders. The petitioner shall not be denied a civil no contact order because the petitioner or the respondent is a minor. 740 ILCS 22213(a).The entire Civil No Contact Order Act is available here: http://www.icasa.org/index.aspx?PageID=572.
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