Democratic state Rep. Kevin Haggerty is looking for legislators to co-sponsor his new proposal, which would add a step for some people filing protection from abuse orders.
“The memo outlines new legislation that would require victims of domestic violence to submit to drug and/or alcohol testing in instances where there isn’t substantive evidence of abuse,” said Julie Bancroft with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Haggerty says a fake request for a PFA could have a major impact.
In his memo, Haggerty says, “not only does it damage the reputation of the individual within the community and the workplace, it could lead to unjust incarceration. It is vital that our courts have the full context.”
Haggerty says this rule would make sure PFA’s aren’t filed while people are under the influence.
“In cases where this applies to final PFA’s, there’s already due processes in place and both plaintiffs and defendants have an opportunity to be heard by a judge,” said Bancroft.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence sent a letter to the House asking lawmakers not to support what it calls an alarming and offensive proposal.
‘”This suggests that someone who has turned to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism … it somehow negates the realities of their abuse, and that’s incredibly troubling,” said Bancroft.
Haggerty did not respond to a request for an interview.
Haggerty’s ex-wife was granted a PFA against him last year, saying he threw two water bottles at her. The order was lifted soon after during a divorce settlement.
“False reporting of PFAs is no higher than any other crime,” said Bancroft.
The coalition says the national average for false PFA reporting is eight percent.
Haggerty argues a study in Delaware showed 16 percent of petitions were filed fraudulently.
Haggerty was harshly criticized by lawmakers, including those in his own party for unexcused absences. He did not come to the Capitol for at least five months last year.