Abused may get phony addresses; Bill seeks to hide whereabouts

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Victims of domestic abuse would be able to hide their whereabouts from their abusers under a bill to be introduced in the Ohio Senate next week.

The bill, which is sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Chiles Dix (R., Hebron), would create a false address on all government documents for abuse victims to use instead of their real one. Ms. Dix said that sort of safeguard is needed to prevent abusers from tracking down their victims.

“We should give victims of abuse the peace of mind that abusers cannot find them through government records,” she said.

In Ohio, many records are open to the public, meaning that anyone trying to locate an abuse victim can, through a simple records request, find an address. Under the proposed legislation, victims will have the option of using a post office box owned by the state that will forward any correspondence to their real addresses.

The P.O. box could be used on any state government form, including a driver’s license application or voter re gistration forms. The victim’s true address could be released only at the request of a law enforcement agency or on the order of a court.

Secretary of State Bob Taft called the bill “a narrowly crafted exception” to Ohio’s open records law, which he said he supports.

A similar program in Washington state protects the addresses of 962 victims of abuse, at an annual cost of about $190,000, Mr. Taft said.