EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 15, 2013

Dad helps expand restraining order law

(Continued)

That sent the girl’s father to Salem District Court, where he was granted an emergency restraining order barring Compton from contact with his daughter. A couple of weeks later, after a hearing where Compton was also present, Judge Michael Lauranzano granted a restraining order good for a full year.

Under the law, parents of minors are allowed to seek restraining orders on their behalf, even if, as in this case, the child is opposed to one.

“Obviously, he was concerned about protecting his daughter and making sure this did not happen,” said lawyer Robert Peck, who represents the family.

At the hearing, in October 2011, Compton and his lawyer insisted that he had no plans to hurt the girl, but Lauranzano rejected that argument, asking, “We’re supposed to wait until (Compton) meets with this 16-year-old girl and they consummate what they both contemplated in these email messages, before (the father) can come in and get a restraining order?”

While the girl, at 16, would have been legally able to consent, Peck suggested that the harm would come from Compton serving her alcohol.

In his brief, Peck told the SJC, “Providing alcohol to a minor is clearly a threat to do physical harm to that minor. And that is particularly true when the ultimate goal of the defendant is to ply a 16-year-old with alcohol in order to lower her inhibitions and/or to lower her ability to make mature decisions about having sexual relations — again bringing into question whether any consent to do so by her would be voluntary.

“Clearly, the district court judge agreed this was an appropriate avenue to protect the daughter from any possible harm,” Peck said.

Compton and his lawyer, Mark Engel, argued that it was not.

While sympathetic to the dad (“I suspect that if I were in his position, I would try to do the same thing,” Engel said), the required factors, either fear or imminent threat of physical harm or of forced or coerced sexual relations, did not exist.

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