A story was told on the Ohio House floor last week of a man in Canton seven years ago who stalked his ex-wife, Marcia Eakin, and killed their two children and her mother. He then attempted to attack Ms. Eakin, but was unsuccessful. A tragic and chilling story by itself, but another aspect that made it so unnerving is that he was able to find his ex-wife’s address simply by using records that are available to the public.
The story was shared by State Rep. Mike Duffey, of Worthington. Duffey, along with Rep. Anne Gonzales of Westerville, cosponsored legislation that would provide better protections for domestic violence victims like Marcia Eakin.

House Bill 359 gives victims of crimes like domestic violence, rape and sexual battery the ability to conceal their home addresses, which is a public record and, as illustrated above, can be used by abusers to inflict pain and suffering on those victims in the future. Through what is called the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), victims can register for and be assigned a P.O. box, which would be located at the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Basically, the P.O. box would operate as sort of a buffer zone for those victims. After being assigned an Address Confidentiality Program number, mail would first be sent to the Secretary of State’s office. Government agencies, for instance, would not have to worry about the person’s home address because the ACP number would, for all intents and purposes, become the person’s mailing address. From there, the Secretary of State’s office would ensure that the individual receives the mail.

Therefore, the true identity of the victim is protected when performing things that, in essence, create public records, such as registering a vehicle, registering to vote or filling out other government documents.

House Bill 359 was a common-sense piece of legislation to get behind, as evidenced by the unanimous support it received on the House floor. I applaud the sponsors for their tireless work on the bill, as well Ms. Eakin, who testified during House committee and provided an important voice to this effort.

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