AG Eric Schmitt Praises the Missouri Western District Court of Appeal’s Ruling that Protects Survivors of Domestic Violence

Jan 17, 2019, 09:05 AM
Jan 17, 2019, 09:04 AM

Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt praised this week’s ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, that protects the confidentiality of survivors of domestic violence in the Safe at Home program.  This is the first time that a Missouri appellate court has issued a ruling on the Safe at Home statutes since the Missouri General Assembly expanded the program in August with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to protect more victims.     

 “Our judicial system affirmed this week that the standard for disclosing a survivor’s address remains high,” said Schmitt. “My office remains committed to ensuring survivors of domestic violence and assault maintain their privacy, and my office will continue to work every day to keep all Missouri families safe.”

The opinion reversed the trial court’s ruling that allowed for the disclosure of the address of a participant of the Safe at Home program to an alleged abuser.  Under Secretary Ashcroft’s leadership, the Safe at Home program was expanded to help protect survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, human trafficking or stalking in their efforts to stay safe. The Secretary of State’s office provides a designated substitute address for survivors to use when creating new public records, and securely forwards mail to their confidential addresses. These services help keep survivors’ confidential addresses out of the hands of their assailants.

The decision by the appellate court underscored the importance of not revealing the address of a Safe at Home participant, as well as the address of a child living with a parent.  Before the reversal, the lower court’s ruling would have required parents in the Safe at Home program to choose between personal safety and custody of a child.  The appellate court noted the absurdity of disclosing either address to alleged assailants, as the disclosure of an address of a minor child would have also been a disclosure of the parent’s address.