A proposed bill in Wisconsin would allow survivors of sexual assault the opportunity to petition for a lifetime restraining order against their convicted assaulter.
State Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, announced the new legislation Wednesday.
Referred to as “Kayleigh’s Law,” the bill would allow survivors of first-degree, second-degree or third-degree sexual assault to seek continued protection from contact with their assailant even after that person’s probation has ended.
Under current state law, a civil restraining order may be issued for an adult for up to four years and can be extended for up to 10 years if there is a substantial risk to the victim. In criminal court, bond provisions or probation provisions often prohibit the perpetrator from contacting the victim.
Dittrich said she thinks many people don’t realize protection for survivors doesn’t last.
“We do have restraining orders, but they aren’t endless,” Dittrich said. “You can have them for a certain period of time, you can even get extensions on them, but they don’t last a lifetime. So there is a chance that a victim would have to face that person again. And that’s pretty upsetting for someone who has gone through this.”
The legislation was first passed in Arizona with bipartisan support and signed into law there in April. The law is named after Kayleigh Kozak, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who petitioned Arizona lawmakers to make the change after her own restraining order against her abuser ended.
“There were no protections in place for her once that probation finished,” Dittrich said. “So she’s really kind of made it her mission, first in her home state and now Wisconsin would be the first subsequent state, to address that issue.”
Dittrich said the change would be “empowering” for survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking, something she thinks lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will rally behind.
“After we get past the budget season, which can be obviously contentious in divided government, I think it’s great having something out here that we can unite around and get to the governor’s desk,” Dittrich said.
At a press conference announcing the new bill Wednesday, Dittrich was joined by Kozak and several survivor advocates from Wisconsin.
Krista Hull, director of Redeem and Restore Center in Brookfield, said she believes the legislation is an important way to support survivors.
“My heart breaks for those who have been sexually abused because it is not just a physical act, this affects you emotionally and mentally, and they all work together,” said Hull, who is also a survivor of sexual abuse.
Ryan Poe-Gavlinski is clinical director of the Victims of Crimes Act Restraining Order Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She said creating a lifetime protective order would put survivors of assault “in the driver’s seat.”
“If someone has committed sexual assault and that’s been determined, either at the (civil) restraining order level or through a criminal court, there’s no reason that that perpetrator needs to have contact with that victim going forward,” Poe-Gavlinksi said.
Poe-Gavlinski said a lifetime order could be difficult for survivors to secure. She said 10-year orders are already hard to get because the orders carry restrictions outside of the no-contact order.
Orders typically require the respondent to leave any location where the victim is, like a restaurant or grocery store, she said, and they show up in online court system searches.
“Anyone, any future employer, landlord, really anybody that does a search can see that,” Poe-Gavlinski said. “I have heard that restraining orders do prohibit folks from having jobs, does prevent them from renting places that they want to live in. So it definitely could have a huge impact on a respondent or perpetrator.”
Poe-Gavlinski said another impact that could affect whether the new legislation moves forward is the fact that some restraining orders prevent the respondent from owning a firearm.
She said restraining orders are only lifted if the victim agrees, so creating a lifetime ban could raise tough legal questions about the rights of those convicted of assault.
What you don’t know about upcoming bills in your state CAN hurt you. Look them up regularly
Show me the number of cases where someone made contact with a victim again even after parole, probation, or supervised release was over. Then show me the number of incidents where a new crime was committed. Across the United States I am guessing both numbers are low.
More punishment. So if a registered person is doing his grocery shopping and minding his own business when his “victim” walks in, he has to leave? Who’s to say people won’t take advantage of this out of spite? We already have our work addresses published, so if someone wants to stir up trouble, all they have to do is get a job where the registered person works and he has no choice but to quit and try to find another job.
Enough with stupid laws. Leave the restraining orders for their intended purpose, to keep someone away who IS causing a problem, not those who just want to live their lives.
Not all cases and victims are the same. If a victim wants a restraining order it should be up to them and for how long. Some people aren’t professional victims looking for any opportunity to tell their story forcing useless laws. Allow victims and people who commit crime to rehabilitate on their own without the government hands on every move. This Senator would be a good mascot for Wisconsin because she’s one hell of a Cheesehead and badgers people who have done their time!!
Any reasonable restraining order MUST cut both ways.
What a F***ing waste of time and tax payer money. Courts already do this. Defense attorneys request this. Victims ask for this. How many of these assault victims ever see their assailant ever again. Another blanket law that effects many, but the few it is meant to target won’t abide by it anyway.
Contrary to popular belief, I think the overwhelming majority of sex crime victims DO get past their ordeals. Those that don’t are the ones who are coddled and subsequently left with the impression that their feelings and opinions matter more than anyone else’s and the assaults on them excuses every mistake or bad decision they ever make. I don’t know or want to know the details of the Kayleigh Kozak incident, but it strikes me as a shining example of the latter.
As with any law named after a crime victim, this legislation is very unlikely to do anything toward its supposed purpose. As someone else pointed out, the number of sex assailants who seek out their former victims is very few and far between and can be dealt with on a case by case basis.
If a victim of a crime wants to get a restraining order they are free to do so. More law only make more law breakers.
The whole naming laws after kids thing’s gotta stop though. It’s just tired at this point.
Aside from the person for whom this proposed law is named (Kayleigh Kozac), I would be most curious to find out how many other victims have complained that their abuser has intentionally made or is trying to make contact with them.
I suspect that this “law” is just one more solution in search of a problem.
How come all theses laws are only named after white children there’s 41.99 million black people in America what their black children lives don’t matter as much as the upper and middle class children lives.