S. v. R., No. 14-FM-1006 (D.C. Mar. 26, 2015)
May 01, 2015
NCVLI participated in this proceeding as amicus curiae, along with co-amici Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project and Network for Victim Recovery of DC, arguing that civil protective orders such as the one issued in this case provide critical relief to sexual assault survivors and that vacate orders are not “extraordinary” in nature and are consistent with the remedial purposes of the civil protective order statutes. Attorneys Leah Braimon, Aima Karass, Alyssa Scruggs, and Lauren Snyder of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, provided pro bono services assisting with the preparation of the amicus brief. Attorneys with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP represented the victim.
S. v. R., No. 14-FM-1006 (D.C. Mar. 26, 2015). Defendant was the building manager of and also lived in the apartment complex in which the victim lived. Defendant drugged and raped the victim in his apartment. The victim filed a petition for a civil protection order (CPO) alleging defendant had sexually assaulted her and requesting that the court order that he vacate his apartment. The petition was granted. Defendant asked the court to remove the requirement that he vacate the apartment. The court denied defendant’s motion and defendant appealed, arguing that the court lacked statutory authority under the Intrafamily Offenses Act (IOA) to issue the order requiring him to vacate the apartment. The court began by describing that under the IOA, there are four listed situations in which a court may order defendant to vacate the building, none of which were applicable; however, the IOA also contains a catch-all provision, which states that a court may “[d]irect the respondent to perform or refrain from other actions as may be appropriate to the effective resolution of the matter.” It was under this provision that the trial court ordered that defendant vacate, noting that the stay-away order would otherwise be frustrated because the victim had to come in close proximity to defendant’s apartment to reach her own apartment. The court affirmed the lower court’s order: “Given the history and broad remedial purpose of the Intrafamily Offenses Act, we hold that [the IOA’s catch-all provision] authorizes a trial court to order a respondent to vacate his or her dwelling if that is necessary to effectuate a stay-away order.” The court continued that although ordering a person to vacate his property is a serious step, “it can be a necessary measure to ensure the effectiveness of a stay-away order … .” The court further found that there was sufficient evidence that defendant committed misdemeanor sexual abuse and that the court did not abuse its discretion in ordering defendant to vacate his apartment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
*To protect the victim’s privacy, NCVLI has chosen to make available a redacted version of the court’s opinion. Please contact NCVLI directly if you would like the reporter or westlaw citation to the unredacted opinion.