The
Fatherhood
Coalition
For Immediate Release

Fathers' Rights Advocates to Testify for 209A Reform Bills

Abuse Protection Legislative Hearing at Statehouse


BOSTON, May 16 – The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hear testimony on the 209A Reform legislative initiative bills this Thursday, May 17 at 1 p.m. in Gardner Auditorium in the Statehouse. The bills, S952 and S953, address some of the many flaws in domestic abuse prevention law, ch.209A of the Mass. General Laws. According to bill author Mark Charalambous, S952 contains the three most important provisions of the comprehensive bill, S953.

Both bills were submitted through the office of Sen. Michael Morrissey.

Several representatives from CPF/The Fatherhood Coalition, a statewide non-profit organization advocating for fathers' rights, will be on hand to give testimony. Many other supporters of 209A Reform are expected. The Committee will hear first-hand how the due process shortcomings in 209A lead directly to fatherless children, false criminalization, and the enabling of female domestic violence.


209A Reform at a Glance

Provisions include:

  • Thoughts and feelings of the alleged victim no longer sufficient grounds to obtain a protection order
  • Violations of no-contact provisions of a protection order must be intentional
  • Disincentives for fraudulent protection orders
  • Due process: Hearings to obtain protection orders must be Evidentiary Hearings, and Complaints (request forms) must be signed under pains and penalties of perjury
  • Permit police officers to choose NOT to arrest when making a call for a domestic disturbance
  • Remove incentives to obtain a 209A protection order to gain custody of minor children and deny all contact between the child and the other parent

According to Charalambous, "Too many fathers have unjustly lost their children and suffered criminal consequences because of a fraudulent 209A protection order. Because 209A is seriously flawed it is no longer just a shield to protect women from harm, but has become a sword wielded to cause harm."

Among the most important provisions of the bills is a change to the 'state-of-mind' part of the definition of "abuse." The condition, "placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm" is replaced with, "threatening another with imminent serious physical harm". This change means that simply claiming to be afraid would no longer be sufficient reason to obtain a protection order. Under the proposed language, an actual threat by the defendant must be alleged. Studies have shown that a significant portion of all 209A orders are granted for requests that allege nothing other than that the defendant is "in fear" of abuse. The other parts of the definition of abuse, for physical and sexual assault, remain unchanged.

Another provision seeks to prevent prosecution and jailing for violation of the no-contact provisions of a 209A order where the contact is unintentional or contrived by the "victim." The word "violation" is replaced with the phrase "intentional violation of the no-contact provisions or any violation of any other provisions".

Steve Basile, co-director of the North Central chapter of the Fatherhood Coalition, will be on hand to reveal some of the startling results of his study of 209A restraining orders issued in Gardner District Court. Two papers from the study are currently under review for publication, the first of which will be presented in July at the 7th International Family Violence Research Conference, sponsored by the Family Research Laboratory & Crimes Against Children Research Center of the University of New Hampshire.

Also on hand to testify will be Harry Stewart, who received much notoriety after he was jailed for six months for refusing to sign an admission document from a so-called "batterer's treatment" program. Stewart will describe how the Orwellian domestic violence regime operating within the states' courts coerces fathers into making false admissions of guilt in order to avoid a jail sentence. Recently, Stewart was finally exonerated of the abuse charges when after six years and a jail sentence he was finally given a trial.

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Related Links:

209A Reform Legislation (S952 & S953) At a Glance

209A Reform (S952/S953) Testimony of Mark Charalambous
To Joint Committee on the Judiciary, May 17, 2001

S209A Reform (S952/S953) Testimony of Steve Basile
To Joint Committee on the Judiciary, May 17, 2001

For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous

CPF Spokesman

brontis@thecia.net

(978) 840-0268

Steve Basile

CPF North Central Co-Director

sbasile@thecia.net

(978) 874-0556

Earl Sholley

CPF Southwest Metro Director

sholley@bigplanet.com

(508) 243-6009

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CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition
617-723-DADS

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994


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