AUGUSTA (WGME) – A survivor of domestic violence is pushing for tougher laws to crack down on abusers.
Sandra Goulet of Naples is supporting a bill she says could have made a difference in her case.
LD 18 seeks to increase protection for victims of domestic violence, in part by making the third violation of a protection order a felony crime.
During a hearing on the bill Wednesday, Goulet said this would have prevented her from experiencing what she went through.
“This was an abusive relationship with a multitude of verbal threats to kill me,” she said.
Goulet said her ex-boyfriend, Norman Strobel, went to her Casco cabin in November of 2016 looking for her. Instead, he found Goulet’s daughter, Alyssa, and Alyssa’s boyfriend, Jason, who was shot four times. Strobel then died in a shootout with police.
Goulet said Strobel had violated a protection from abuse order as many as 10 times within a matter of months.
“The law right now is too lenient,” she said. “It protects the offenders, really. Doesn’t protect the victims enough.”
Goulet said the provisions in the bill would have put Strobel behind bars long before he carried out his final crime.
Rep. Lois Reckitt, D-South Portland, sponsored the bill.
“At bare minimum, arrest for a Class C felony crime should — and I hope will — give victims a chance to make the transition to survivor and psychological and literal safety,” Reckitt said.
The Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers called the proposal “dangerous,” as did Robert Conlin, a divorced father of six who testified against the bill.
Association member Tina Nadeau said violations of protection from abuse orders already carry a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail.
Conlin said a protection order was taken out against him and claimed that his accuser had reported him to authorities dozens of times for things like signing a letter “too aggressively.” He said he worried a simple accidental call to her phone number could land him in jail.
“I live in constant fear of arrest,” he said.
But fear also is what keeps Goulet fighting for tougher laws.
“I’m gonna keep pushing until the day I die for other bills to be passed,” she said.
During the last legislative session, the same bill was passed at the committee level and by the House of Representatives but died when it went before the Appropriations Committee because of its $24,000 price tag, according to Reckitt.