This week, the Massachusetts House passed a bill designed to make it easier to prosecute people who commit domestic violence. Crimes against family members are particularly heinous and hard to nail down, and we applaud the intent of this measure. But House Bill 163 includes a troubling section that would keep reports of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault off public police incident logs. While the idea is evidently to protect the identity of victims, the news media — including the Gazette — have a longstanding practice of not identifying victims of sex crimes (including domestic violence) except in very rare cases where the victim specifically agrees.
Ironically, it is the perpetrators who would get new protection under the bill.
The bill was rushed through the House in the wake of a high profile Boston case involving Jared Remy, who is accused in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend. Haste can lead to poor law, and we urge the House and Senate leadership to correct this serious flaw in a well-intentioned effort.
Domestic violence is a crime that is too often covered up. What is needed is more light, not less.