Report: York County judges frequently deny temporary PFAs

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Feb 23, 2016 4:35 AM

Photo by Chris Dunn, York Daily Record

Barbara Milligan, seen in her York County home in January, is among the many people denied a temporary protection from abuse order in York County in 2014. She did not allege physical abuse in her petition. But she said she has anxiety and depression that stem from alleged abuse, and said she keeps her blinds closed and doors locked.

(York) -- Protection from abuse orders are thought to be one way to try to stop domestic violence. But judges in one midstate county rejected requests for temporary PFAs far more often than the statewide average.

In 2014 in York County, judges denied about half of the requests for temporary protection from abuse orders.

But statewide, judges approved temporary PFAs more than 75 percent of the time.

The results come from an extensive investigation by the York Daily Record.

Reporter Ed Mahon tells WITF's Smart Talk about one case he discovered.

"She said he pushed her against the wall, spat on her face, and threatened to hurt her. She said she had bruises and that there were prior physical altercations. She was denied a temporary PFA, and without a hearing, based on the information from the court."

Mahon says York County's President Judge Joseph Adams says they have to use discretion when deciding whether to issue a temporary protection from abuse order, and judges are especially focused on if there's an immediate threat.

Speaking on WITF's Smart Talk recently YDR reporter Brandie Kessler says it's hard to draw one conclusion.

"So we've got some judges who approve them about 30 percent of the time, and then we've got other judges on the other end who approve them more than 80 percent of the time."

Temporary PFAs stay in place until a full hearing on a permanent one can be held.

But advocates told the York Daily Record with such low approval ratings for temporary protection, victims often feel discouraged and don't file the necessary paperwork.

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