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Monday, January 14, 2008

Rebecca Griego Act

posted by on January 14 at 13:32 PM

Scanning the action in the legislature this week (with an antenna up for “What Are They Doing for You Lately,”) I came across a cool bill being sponsored by—of course—Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Seattle).

Informally known as the Rebecca Griego act, Senator Kohl-Welles is trying to streamline the process for women to get protection from dangerous men. You’ll remember last year, Griego, who was murdered at the UW by her stalker ex-boyfriend, had trouble getting action from the authorities.

And as Jonah reported shortly after the murder, the problem seemed pervasive.

Senator Kohl-Welles’s bill doesn’t have a number yet, but here’s a description of what it would do:

Simplify service of process. A victim should not be penalized if the abuser cannot be served. In the UW murder-suicide incident, although Rebecca Griego made it clear that she wanted her abuser to be prosecuted when he was found, she was unable to serve process on her abuser. The protection order was not served because her stalker had evaded the Seattle Police Department, which is fairly common. Senate Bill XXXX will make it easier for victims to serve process by mail or by publication when an abuser has successfully evaded the authorities.

Griego’s sister Rachel may testify when the bill is introduced in the Judiciary Committee this Wednesday.

RSS icon Comments


It's about time!

Posted by maxine | January 14, 2008 1:39 PM

But would the process of serving the stalker have really made a difference in Griego's case? The guy wanted to kill her and was willing to lose his own life in the process. Don't see how serving or not serving a protection order would have stopped him.

The sad and scary truth is that you're on your own to defend yourself--the police can't provide 24 hour protection, even if a protection order has been served.

Posted by Westside forever | January 14, 2008 1:44 PM

Cool, but Westside forever is correct.

On the other hand, living in fear is the wrong choice.

One question should be: why didn't the UW at least swap her office and not post the swap, and notify the faculty/staff in her building of this guy until AFTER she got killed?

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 14, 2008 2:02 PM

Incidentally, the UW appears to have taken such matters seriously now. I'm told they do put up posters of individuals whom employees have restraining orders against, warning folks of the potential danger.

But I have to agree with Westside forever. Given that we can't afford to provide 24-hour police detail to stalking victims, and stalkers aren't rational and thus won't be swayed by tougher sentences, it doesn't seem like anything will stop them from doing harm beyond arming the victims so they can act first. I know that has all kinds of flaws, but what else would have stopped Griego's stalker in his tracks?

Posted by tsm | January 14, 2008 2:37 PM

It will be interesting to see how they'll define "evading process." If you want things to stick (arrests based on NCO violations), you'll need to prove that the person was really evading. The obvious response will be that the police were just lazy in trying to achieve service.

That said, it's a terrific idea. Will & Westside are correct, that if someone wants to hurt or kill you, they'll find a way. Any judge who signs a NCO will remind you that it's just a slip of paper. But in the Griego case, it may have given UWPD a little more justification to take preventative action. It may not have prevented that tragedy, but you could imagine it being a useful tool.

Posted by Gidge | January 14, 2008 2:38 PM

See, the big thing here that people don't grok is that stalkers are NOT rational. People that get that bad - and, yes, there are female stalkers, but they're pretty rare and not usually as violent, thanks SWF - well, they're unhinged.

If you ever get stalked, the sad thing is that the best advice is to move and change jobs - and even that may not work.

Is it fair? NO! Of course not.

But the U has improved a bit, very true.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 14, 2008 3:14 PM

i appreciate the intent and effort of what Kohl-Welles is trying to do. i don't know that the new law will be very effective, but it's worth trying.

oh yeah, by the way, speaking of laws, **why don't we (city of Seattle) try to enforce the laws currently on the books?**

i do think though that UW played a big part in this tragedy--namely that _____ (i don't know who/what group) didn't inform/keep griego's supervisors up on procedures to take when faced with something like griego was up against, and do something more quickly and forcefully/deliberately, like an unpublished office move--#3 is right. and also do more--#4 (1st p), than just photocopy his photo and informally distributed it to those who frequented the office she worked in, which is what ____ (she, coworkers, friends? not sure) did. not saying that that's not good, it just wasn't (widespread) enough (try the whole building or the coll of archit).

yeah, i also think UW has improved a little bit, agreeing with #4 and 6, that's what it seems and that is my hope.

Posted by from east of miss | January 14, 2008 4:09 PM

These are all really good points. I agree that a Protection Order is only a piece of paper when it comes to physical protection, but it is also a vital legal document for victims of violence. And if their implementation did not hinge on whether or not an abuser could be physically found and served by police, it would be a huge asset for thousands of stalking victims.

In my opinion, what really needs to be done is to recognize that domestic violence is a COMMUNITY problem. The legal system, shelter system, police, and so on cannot fix it on their own. It needs to be a unified effort from all these groups, plus friends, family, teachers, pastors, coworkers, doctors and nurses, neighbors, etc.

The cool part about this bill is that is in non-victim blaming. I work at a domestic violence shelter, and I can tell you that survivors of violence have to jump through enough hoops as it is. This bill may not solve everything, but every bit helps.

Posted by Minasaurus | January 15, 2008 2:00 PM

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