Bill aims to strengthen protections for domestic abuse victims


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Lawmakers say the death of University of Pittsburgh student Alina Sheykhet is evidence domestic abuse victims need more protection.

Authorities believe Matthew Darby killed Sheykhet in October. Police say she had a temporary protection from abuse order – or PFA – against Darby, her ex boyfriend.

“Our justice system failed this young woman,” said State Senator Jay Costa.

Legislators unanimously voted in support of Senate Bill 196. It would allow a judge to order a defendant to wear an electronic monitoring device if he or she presents a risk of violating a final PFA order.

“The woman will be notified that the person is within proximity,” said State Senator Vincent Hughes.    

The order can make it illegal for the abuser to contact, harass and abuse the victim. More than 38,000 PFA cases were processed in Pennsylvania last year. More than 1,000 cases were processed in Luzerne County.
Local survivors of domestic abuse support more protections for victims. But one survivor, who we are identifying as “Nicky,” does not think the bill will do much.

“If they want you, they will come and find you,” said Nicky.

Local police agencies would receive, record and indefinitely retain location data through the monitoring device. From a civil rights standpoint, victims’ advocate and the president of the Wilkes-Barre NAACP, Guerline Laurore, says she worries whether the device will be used for any other purpose than to protect the victim.

“We don’t want to violate the rights of anyone, even a respondent,” said Laurore, who is also an attorney.

Lawmakers say location data will only be used if the defendant violates the order, and they are confident the bill will save more lives.

Senate Bill 196 heads to the house for approval.

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