Private behavior can get in the way of making public policy. Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx provides the latest example, and he should take steps to keep it from getting out of control.

The Brunswick Democrat is the subject of a protection-from-abuse order filed by Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, who says she was threatened and stalked by her colleague after the breakup of a romantic relationship.

Herbig made her allegations in a 17-page document filed in Belfast District Court. A temporary order was granted, and Cornell du Houx is scheduled to appear before a judge May 14 to determine if the order should be extended. That happens to be one day before the Legislature goes back into session to finish off its work for the year.

Keeping the representatives apart while conducting important public business will be a challenge for the judge, but Cornell du Houx could make it easier by saying that he will stay away from the State House until the issue between him and Herbig has been resolved.

The way the people’s business is conducted in Augusta does not leave much room for protection. When it comes time to vote, both lawmakers will have to file through the same door and enter the same room. There is no way that their presence will not be a distraction.

Herbig’s allegations are just that, and Cornell du Houx says he disputes many of them. However, there is enough that is beyond dispute to believe that the matter will be resolved at the May 14 court session. In the interest of the people of Maine, including those in his district, Cornell du Houx should take a leave from his legislative duties.

Domestic violence remains a major public safety problem for the state, and is the cause of half of Maine’s homicides. We are constantly reminded to take all the warning signs seriously and not treat these as strictly personal matters.

It would be the wrong message to say that this conflict should be taken less seriously because of the unusual workplace involved. Rep. Cornell du Houx should let the public’s business go forward without this distraction.