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Slaying Focuses Attention on Domestic Violence Laws

September 21, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A high-profile murder case in Kentucky has created a push for stronger protections against domestic violence. The death of 29-year-old Amanda Ross and murder charges against her ex-fiance Steve Nunn, a former state legislator and son of a former Republican governor, are raising questions about the efficacy of "EPOs", emergency protection orders, and other protective measures.

Darlene Thomas of the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program says current law is effective for many victims, but the laws are not infallible.

"What's not covered are those partners, often, who are in long-term relationships, but who have never lived together, don't have children in common, but who again need to be afforded the same types of protection because they are still suffering from domestic violence."

Lawmakers in Kentucky have promised to revisit domestic violence issues when the General Assembly convenes in January. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he wants a bill that would require individuals accused of domestic violence to wear ankle bracelets so their whereabouts can be monitored.

Darlene Thomas is eager to work with legislators on proposals to protect victims and to study the disparity between existing laws that cover abuse of humans and abuse of animals.

"If you are assaulted by an intimate partner and there are criminal charges that ensue, it's typically a Class A misdemeanor. Although we have protection for our animals, if there is abuse to animals, that typically is a Class D felony. So, there seems to be a gap between the accountability that we give in cases of abuse to animals, and that we give for many cases of domestic violence; it's not the same."

Thomas said Kentuckians should become aware of how domestic violence impacts them as a community, and honor the voices of victims.

Bill Goodman, Public News Service - KY