In The News

Nov 19, 2010

NATIONAL – Dozens of celebrities, led by Honorary Committee Chair Salma Hayek Pinault, are joining the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s year-long “Love Is” Campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence. “I would like to see more people take a stand against domestic violence. This is a terrible epidemic, and we must all work together to demand that no one has to be a victim of abuse,” Hayek Pinault said. “We, as a society, believe strongly in safety and security, but too many women and children do not feel safe in their own homes. The goal of this awareness campaign is to create a great movement helping victims of domestic violence and to make everyone understand, through education and positive messages, what Love Is.” The Honorary Committee also includes Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Nicole Kidman, Marlee Matlin, Mariska Hargitay, the Honorable Judge Jeanine Pirro, Gretchen Carlson, Robin Givens, Leslie Morgan Steiner and others.

NATIONAL – The Obama Administration is launching an anti-bullying campaign and warning schools that they could lose federal support if they do not take steps to establish safe cultures for students and prevent bullying, harassment and intimidation. This news comes on the heels of several high-profile suicides by gay teens who were bullied, tormented or suffered gross invasions of privacy. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights describes this as “the federal government’s most comprehensive guidance to date on how civil rights law applies to the sort of campus situations that in some cases have led persecuted students to commit suicide,” the Washington Post reports. Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn H. Ali wrote in an advisory, “Our goal here is to provide school districts, colleges and universities with details about when harassment can rise to the level of a civil rights violation and what they should be doing about it.”

MI – On November 18, Wayne County Circuit Judge Linda Parker sentenced Peter Dabish to the state’s most severe sentence – life without a chance for parole – for the brutal murder of his girlfriend. Dabish reportedly beat and tortured Diana DeMayo for hours. DeMayo’s father testified that Dabish called him during the night of his daughter’s death to taunt him about the pain he was causing Diana, the Detroit News reports. At the trial, Dabish’s former girlfriends testified about his use of threats and violence. Dabish was sentenced to 22 to 80 years for the torture.

NY – Last month a judge extended the protection order against David Johnson, an aide to Governor David Paterson, who was charged with assaulting his girlfriend, Sherr-Una Booker. Johnson was charged with assault and menacing behavior after allegedly choking Booker and throwing her against a dresser. Charges that Governor Paterson had intervened, even calling Booker to discourage her from prosecuting, caused him serious political damage and were a factor in the Governor’s decision not to run for re-election, according to media reports.

NY – New York City opened the area’s first safehouse dedicated to helping victims of international sex trafficking on November 1. Restore NYC offers counseling, medical advocacy, and legal assistance to sex-trafficking victims in the city and will host women at the safehouse for up to two years. Human rights advocates say that New York is a major U.S. entry point for human traffickers. “There are very little options in general for these women,” Restore NYC Founder and Executive Director Faith Huckel told the Wall Street Journal. “When someone is escaping a brothel or coming out of that type of enslavement, they really do need a safe place to go. And then from there you can sort of start to piece together all the things they need.”

OH – The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling this month that defines an emergency more broadly than it was defined in the past. This will give prosecutors another tool to use when domestic violence victims do not testify against their partners. The appeals court ruled that the victims’ testimony can be an exception to the hear-say rule when a suspect is at large. “Domestic abuse is an offense against the community. And we need to use every tool at our disposal to go forward, whether a victim appears in court or not,” Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi told the Cleveland Plain Dealer

UNITED KINGDOM – A British politician was arrested for joking on Twitter that a columnist he disagreed with should be stoned, the New York Times reports. Gareth Compton was sparring with political opponents via Twitter, criticizing human rights abuses in China and the Iraq war, when he posted a mock plea calling for newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned. After Twitter followers criticized Compton’s remarks, he removed his attack and apologized. Compton was suspended by the Conservative Party after his arrest.