DEXTER, Maine — The brutal slayings in June of a mother and her two children in Dexter has drawn increased attention to the ongoing problem of domestic violence in Maine, where 5,117 cases were recorded last year.
Now Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport, has organized a forum on the problem that will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Ridge View Community School in Dexter.
“I think first and foremost, what we want to do is recognize the degree in which domestic violence is an issue in Maine,” said Fredette. “Half the murders in Maine are related to domestic violence.”
The forum will include Fredette, a practicing attorney; Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy; Maine State Police Trooper Michael Johnston; and representatives from the women’s health care field and protective agencies.
Last month, Fredette said he intended to file legislation to amend Maine’s bail code to require judges to consider instances of domestic violence when setting bail for accused criminals. His action followed the brutal slayings of Amy Lake and her two young children in Dexter on June 13. They were killed by her estranged husband, who then took his own life.
Thursday’s forum is open to the public.
“We’re hoping for a decent crowd and a chance to listen and learn,” said Fredette. “We hope to hear ideas and thoughts that could influence legislation to be prepared for the next legislative session, which starts in January.”
While Fredette said he thinks that most people are aware of domestic violence, he wants to help give people the courage to call for help if it is needed.
“I think one of the things that we can do, for example, is to bring it out of the shadows, so to speak,” he said.
Domestic violence has widespread effects, and Fredette is hoping to make those more clear, too.
“There’s a huge economic cost and a huge family cost,” he said. “I think the question is: Is there more that can be done or should be done to address the issue in regards to domestic violence in a criminal capacity?”