February 2, 2013

Maine batterer invokes equal protection laws

Chris Mosher, convicted of domestic violence, must be resentenced because his punishment can't be applied to women.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

(Continued from page 1)

Before Friday's hearing, Deborah Shepherd, executive director of the Augusta-based Family Violence Project, said her group is interested in helping to develop a certified batterers' intervention program for women.

The nonprofit organization runs Menswork, a certified batterers' intervention program in Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Even before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued the December ruling that vacated Mosher's sentence, the Department of Corrections was preparing rules changes, said Jody Breton, associate corrections commissioner.

"We realized that our rules were only for men and we were going about changing that," she said.

The process for any changes will take months, she said.

Mosher's original sentence was 180 days in jail, with all but 60 days suspended, and two years of probation with the program requirement. Mosher has served the jail time and been on probation.

He testified Friday that he is enrolled in a certified batterers' prevention program in Lewiston. Hess said Mosher has completed 40 weeks of the 48-week program.

In its ruling, Maine's high court noted that it had ruled previously that "a male defendant may not be punished more harshly than a female defendant convicted of the same crime."

"Given this precedent, a regulatory scheme that permits men to be sentenced to two years of probation while women apparently may only be sentenced to one year of probation would not withstand constitutional scrutiny," the court ruled.

"If the rules aren't changed," Hess said, "then the result of the ruling would be nobody could be sentenced to these programs." 

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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