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Lawmaker aims to fix stalking law

Restraining orders impossible to get, some victims find

SHARE Lawmaker aims to fix stalking law

An Ogden representative is once again trying to close a loophole in Utah law that makes it impossible for stalking victims to get a restraining order unless the victim has lived with their stalker.

"If my granddaughter were stalked and she called the police for protection, she would be told there was nothing they could do until a crime occurred," said Lou Shurtliff, D-Ogden.

Shurtliff has sponsored the bill each of the past three years. Last year, it passed the House on a 63-2 vote but was held in a Senate committee.

Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill, urging its passage.

"We've passed this bill two years in a row. It's a fantastic bill," said Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, the committee's chairman.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, added, "This is a bill that affects people's lives; it's an important bill."

Shurtliff said she again expects supporting testimony from Michelle Reilly, who was stalked by an ex-boyfriend, Michael VanGerven.

On Jan. 22, 1999, VanGerven broke into Reilly's parents' Cottonwood Heights home. Reilly fled out the back door, but VanGerven shot her mother and father. John Reilly was killed instantly. The other bullet ricocheted off Renee Reilly's skull, shattering her jaw but sparing her life.

VanGerven shot and killed himself the next day.

Reilly had sought police protection but was told she could only pursue a claim of telephone harassment. She could not get a protective order because she had not lived with VanGerven.