State panel looks to change protective order laws

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by David Scott - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When 22-year-old Yeardley Love was found beaten to death in her bed, police attention immediately turned to her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely.

He's charged with first degree murder, and police are investigating allegations of prior abuse, and possible threats over text messages and email.

Her murder rocked the UVA community and left many state leaders wondering if more could have been done to save her.

Kristi VanAudenhove is the Co-Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. At the first meeting of the State Crime Commission's Protective Order Work Group she said, "I think we're struggling with this issue around dating violence."

The panel is trying to decide if protective order laws should be expanded to include dating relationships. As it stands now, only married couples and people who live together can get an order. Some members of the commission, like Glen Croshaw, say the laws shouldn't stop at dating relationships.

"I'm not sure it matters, what difference does it make if they're best friends, intimate, or dating if they're a threat to the other person and it rises out of a relationship. I think that's what we're trying to do," said Croshaw.

The commission is made up of police and prosecutors and is studying the merits of 7 bills to modify protective order laws. Some of the other ideas include allowing minors to get a protective order without the consent of a parent.

Another idea would require people who are the subject of protective orders to wear a GPS tracking device.

"If they're going to kill that individual a protective order will not stop them. We need a system in place prior to the court proceedings. Where the victim would be alerted and I think the GPS issues a great idea," Captain Kim Wilson with the Portsmouth Police Department said.

The state panel will study the issue and release its finding this November.

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