Ohio House moves to strengthen domestic violence law

The Ohio House voted 94-0 on Wednesday in favor of making sweeping changes to the state’s domestic violence law to better protect victims from further abuse.

Advocates for House Bill 3 say it’ll establish a better system for identifying when high-risk domestic violence situations could escalate. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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The legislation calls for expanding domestic violence to include strangulation of a family or household member; creating a new protection order for domestic violence victims that law enforcement can request when courts are closed; requiring police departments to connect high risk victims to help programs and use lethality assessment screening tools; requesting the supreme court review evidence rules to consider changes that may help victims; and increasing police officer training in intervention techniques.

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The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Sara Carruthers and Democrat Rep. Janine Boyd.

The bill is named after Aisha Fraser, a sixth-grade teacher from Shaker Heights who was stabbed to death in November 2018 by her ex-husband, Lance Mason.

Mason served in the Ohio General Assembly from 2002 to 2008 and was appointed to the Cuyahoga County judicial bench by then-Gov. Ted Strickland. Mason was first arrested in August 2014 for beating Fraser in front of their children in a car. He was a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge at the time, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. He served in prison from September 2015 to June 2016 for that assault.

Mason is now incarcerated at Toledo Correctional Institution, serving 30 years to life for aggravated murder, felonious assault, theft and violation of a protection order. He is eligible for parole in September 2053.

“His former titles remain irrelevant,” Boyd said. She described Mason as a man who “tortured his children by brutalizing their mother in front of them.”

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network served 90,000 survivors and children in 2019 and sheltered 9,000, nearly 4,000 of which were children. According to data from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, there were 38,475 domestic violence incidents last year in Ohio.

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