Proposed date rape law clears Ky. House committee - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Proposed date rape law clears Ky. House committee

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill designed to protect victims of date rape is taking its first step toward passage in the Kentucky legislature. It has already cleared a House committee -- and one woman's courageous story had a big impact.

Supporters say Kentucky is the only state that does not extend domestic violence protection to people who are dating. This year, they believe they can change that.

For Meaghan Wright, the issue is personal. She told lawmakers in a packed hearing room how she was raped by a man she was dating.

"I said, 'No!' over, and over, and over again," she said. "But I was scared when he didn't listen to my pleas. I was scared when he ignored my tears, and I was scared when I realized that he did not care whether I wanted it or not."

Wright says her attacker was never charged -- and to make matters worse, he was still on campus.

"I didn't feel secure in my workplace, my classrooms, my home -- even my own skin," she said.

House Bill 8 will extend domestic violence protections to people who are dating. It would allow victims like Megan to obtain protective orders from the courts to help.

Under current law, the protections extend only to couples who are married, are living together, or have a child in common.

"Perpetrators of violence do not discriminate based on that criteria, nor should we," said Darlene Thomas, a victims' advocate.

Opponents are concerned the law could be a abused. But one lawmaker who has been pushing the bill for years says now is the time.

"Do we really want all the other many victims to be penalized because some people can't play by the rules?" asked Rep. Joni Jenkins, of Louisville. "I don't think so."

"You have the power to make the roads to healing much smoother, and you have the power to make a difference today," said Wright.

The bill passed a committee unanimously. The bill now goes to the full House then onto the Senate, and supporters believe this year, momentum is on their side.

Copyright 2014 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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