ST. PAUL – A bill Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Silver Lake, has authored to assist victims of sexual assault received approval from the House Public Health Policy Committee on Wednesday.
Gruenhagen’s bill (H.F. 469) is designed to remove a barrier for victims of sexual assault who are seeking the protection of a harassment restraining order.
“The problem I am working to correct pertains to an inconsistent handling of these requests in different counties, particularly in Greater Minnesota,” Gruenhagen said. “Advocates who were working with victims found they were appearing in one county to help their client file an HRO petition, only to be told they would have to go to another county to seek court protection."
Gruenhagen said the trauma and the complex issues raised by a sexual assault sometimes make it hard for victims to step forward, whether it is to report the incident, seek care, support and protection or to prosecute.
“Even the smallest of barriers can become paralyzing,” Gruenhagen said. “This bill seeks to relieve one of those small, administrative hurdles that can cause a victim of sexual violence to stop pursuing a path toward safety and recovery.”
Specifically, Gruenhagen’s bill makes it clear that an HRO petitioner will be able to file for relief in the county of residence of either party or in the county where the harassment occurred and there will be no residency requirements. It also allows the courts, as is the current practices with restraining orders, to waive petitioner filing fees.
Rep. Gruenhagen can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4229. He is also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 575 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.