Ohio lawmakers want to strengthen domestic violence laws

Legislators seek to strengthen Ohio’s domestic violence laws

State legislators are advocating for a stronger law against domestic violence after a former lawmaker is accused of stabbing his ex-wife to death in her driveway.

State Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights, is pushing a bill that would better identify high-risk domestic violence situations that could escalate.

The bill would call on police agencies to use a risk assessment questionnaire when responding to domestic violence calls, creating a task force to determine the best steps to connecting victims and abusers to services, and prohibiting defendants from being offered a chance to plead to a misdemeanor instead of felony charge if they had previous convictions for violence, Boyd said.

Related: Ohio expands domestic violence laws to cover dating relationships

Former state legislator and county judge Lance Mason, 51, is awaiting trial on theft, assault and aggravated murder charges in Cuyahoga County. He was arrested Nov. 17 in the death of Aisha M. Fraser, who was a sixth grade teacher in Shaker Heights.

George Fraser described his niece as an incredible teacher, mother and community servant who was “love personified.”

After serving less than a year for assault and domestic violence, Mason was released from prison in 2016 with orders to stay away from his ex-wife, complete counseling in anger management, pay back child support and maintain a full-time job.

Mason, a Democrat, served in the General Assembly 2002 to 2008 and was appointed to the bench by then governor Ted Strickland.

Boyd said she doesn’t how Mason’s time in the Legislature will factor into whether the bill is adopted. “To me, he was just a guy. So his role or titles are irrelevant to me. My responsibility is to my constituent (Aisha Fraser) who is no longer her and to her children and her parents,” she said.

Ohio Domestic Violence Network reports that July 2017 to June 2018, there were 91 fatalities attributed to domestic violence; in 22 percent of the deaths, children were at the scene; and in 46 percent of the fatalities the victim had ended the relationship or was in the process of ending it.

In 2017, there were 76,416 calls to police about domestic violence statewide, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Boyd noted that domestic violence calls can be lethal for police officers.

Related: Westerville grieves two slain officers

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