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Family of murdered Tacoma teacher testifies for anti-stalking bill

Post by Alexis Krell / The News Tribune on Jan. 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
January 26, 2012 3:41 pm

A measure aimed at better protecting stalking victims who have no relationship with their stalker got a public hearing today.

It’s designed to prevent cases like that of Jennifer Paulson, a 30-year-old teacher who was shot and killed by her stalker outside Tacoma’s Birney Elementary School in 2010.

Her family told lawmakers that the proposal would have prevented her death.

Attorney General Rob McKenna requested the measure, which would create a new stalking protection order for victims who don’t meet requirements for other types of protection – such as that the perpetrator must be a member of the victim’s family or household.

That was the case for Jennifer Paulson, who had no relationship with her stalker.

“Maybe something additional would have taken place if there was a stalking protection order at that time,” her father, Ken Paulson testified. “Hopefully the system would have raised the seriousness and done more connecting of the dots.”

He said his daughter had an anti-harassment order against her stalker, but that he later learned it is “one of a multitude” of orders — filed for wide-ranging offenses that can be as minor as neighborly disputes.

He says stalking protection orders would be taken more seriously.

Paulson added that GPS monitoring would have prevented the shooting, as his daughter would have been notified that the stalker was en route to her school.

Under the new proposal, electronic monitoring could be ordered for defendants arrested for stalking or related crimes of harassment.

Some at the hearing suggested that lawmakers should look at working within the framework of anti-harassment protection orders before creating the new provision, to simplify the legal system for those without lawyers.

“I don’t know if the cure for that (enforcing orders) is to create an entirely new order, or work with what we have,” said Erin Curtis, an attorney who testified for two criminal defense associations, after the hearing.

The Paulson family also read lawmakers a statement from Democrat Jay Inslee, who is running against McKenna for governor:

“… Our laws must ensure victims of stalking have ways of protecting themselves from becoming victims of something far worse. I thank this committee for their efforts to address this problem.”

The bill is schedule for executive session in the House Judiciary committee on Monday, Jan. 30.

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