Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Article: Sen. Leahy: Bill Would Help Cut Domestic Violence Killings

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Vermont lawyer and Burlington College professor Sandy Baird has only memories and photos of her daughter, Caroline Crichfield. "Of course, I think about her daily," Baird said. "She was very generous, open minded, and fun."
Crichfield, 30, was killed in 1998. Her boyfriend, Mark King, beat her so badly she died of head wounds. King is currently imprisoned. "And she felt she wanted the love of this man and that he would change," Baird remembered.
Crichfield's was one of 103 Vermont homicides between 1994 and 2010 that were domestic violence-related. That's just over half of all the killings in that time period, according to a new report from Vermont's Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission. "We, sadly, are on par with other New England states," said Assistant Vt. Attorney General Amy FitzGerald. "The bottom line is domestic violence oftentimes results in fatalities, tragically."
Now, Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., hopes help will come through a reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act. It funds sexual and domestic violence response and education programs, as well as training for police and prosecutors.
Leahy says he is struggling in the Senate to find backers for renewal of the 1994 legislation. The new bill, introduced with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, includes provisions that grant protections to victims regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Leahy calls the lack of support from many Republicans baffling. "When I was state's attorney and went at 3 o'clock in the morning into blood-spattered rooms where somebody has suffered and probably died from domestic violence, no police officer said, 'Well, was this a Democrat or Republican?'" Leahy said at a news conference Monday.

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