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House approves anti-stalking measures inspired by Jennifer Paulson’s shooting

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on March 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm | No Comments »
March 12, 2013 11:44 am
Jennifer Paulson, courtesy Birney Elementary School
Jennifer Paulson, courtesy Birney Elementary School

State House members voted unanimously Monday to create a new kind of court order to protect stalking victims, citing the shooting death of Tacoma teacher Jennifer Paulson as a primary motivator.

Paulson was shot and killed outside Tacoma’s Birney Elementary School in February 2010 by a man who was under an anti-harassment order not to come near her.

House Bill 1383 would allow stalking victims to apply for a special order of protection against stalkers that differs from an anti-harassment order. Under the proposed stalking protection order, judges could order accused stalkers to surrender their firearms, and anyone who violates the order repeatedly or tries to assault the petitioner could be charged with a felony. The accused stalker would also be responsible for paying the victim’s court fees.

The stalking protection order would be similar to a domestic violence protection order, but could apply to people who aren’t married or don’t otherwise have a relationship, said Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who sponsored the legislation.

Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, said that after meeting with Paulson’s family following her fatal shooting, he fully supports creating new protections for stalking victims.

“If you could see the expression on their face and their frustration about what happened with their daughter and the emotion of that, you’d understand why this was so important,” Fey said on the House floor.

Additionally, House Bill 1383 would increase the penalties for those convicted of felony stalking, raising the maximum prison sentence from five years to 10.

The House approved the bill 98-0, with Republican Rep. Jay Rodne of North Bend calling it “a necessary bill that fills a gap in our current law.”

The bill now heads to the Senate.

UPDATE 3/12: The Senate today passed a similar bill unanimously, 49-0.

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