Proposals moving in the state legislature would finally allow victims of sexual assault or rape in Missouri to get orders of protection from their attackers.
A House committee has approved several additions to a bill sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) that would allow the state to intervene when a juvenile sexually abuses another juvenile … something for which there is no system now.
One of those additions deals with an omission in the state law that created orders of protection.
“Missouri’s orders of protection since 1980 have not allowed a rape victim or a sexual assault victim to get an order of protection,” explained Colleen Coble, Chief Executive Officer with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “It’s always been limited to domestic violence and to stalking victims.”
She said the change would address a “major hole in our laws.”
Coble told a House committee between 870 and 1,000 rape victims receive help in Missouri programs in a year, and that number is likely to grow.
“Rape is the most underreported of all crimes, and hopefully this will help aid people come forward to seek help because the remedy is available,” Coble told Missourinet.
Coble says it’s a good question to wonder why victims of such crimes were omitted in the original law.
“I think there were concerns by different groups based on a lack of understanding that this isn’t something that is alleged lightly, and I think it’s a good sign that those days have passed in terms of what goes on in the state capitol,” said Coble, “and how that reflects a different understanding by Missourians of all kinds that rape is rape, it is serious, and it’s certainly where we can all come together and agree that whatever it is we can do to prevent it and to aid those who have been victims in their journey to being survivors, we should do it.”
Coble says many lawmakers, upon being presented with the issue, have expressed surprise at learning victims of sexual assault and domestic violence can’t get an order of protection.
The language on Tuesday was passed out of the state Senate in a bill sponsored by Senator Dan Hegeman (R-Cosby) and out of the House Committee on Children and Families, having been added to Riddle’s bill. No member of either of those bodies voted against it.