The Baltimore Sun

False charges of abuse rare

It was with some surprise that I read The Baltimore Sun's account of the hearing on expunging records of domestic violence orders before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 12 ("Under a cloud," March 13). The emphasis on false charges in its initial paragraphs was particularly misleading.

In the vast majority of protective order petitions, victims are not found to have made false allegations. In fact, it is more common for victims to be unfairly accused as part of the power and control dynamic exercised by abusers.

A small number of people may make false accusations to obtain a desired legal outcome. But that is not specific to domestic violence cases. People can make false statements in any civil or criminal action, and the courts make a determination about the veracity of such statements.

Protective orders are dismissed or denied for a variety of reasons. Victims may be fearful or unable to attend the hearing, or the evidence may not meet the very high standard of clear and convincing needed for a final protective order. Such a dismissal does not mean that no abuse has occurred.

Expunging the court records could eliminate the documentation of a pattern of abuse and should only take place in limited circumstances.

It is also important to note that civil protective orders are issued to provide safety, not to determine criminal guilt or innocence.

That is a determination that can only be made in a criminal proceeding.

Michaele Cohen, Bowie

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.

City's cultural life seems in free-fall

While Baltimore sports enthusiasts are all aflutter about the collapse of the company that owns Pimlico Race Course and worried about whether the Orioles will be in the hunt this season, the city's cultural life is in free-fall with hardly a whimper.

After almost half a century of glory, the Baltimore Opera Company is being liquidated ("City opera to shut down," March 13) and the Senator Theatre faces foreclosure ("Is this curtains for the Senator?" March 17).

The aspirations of those of us who care about how our city is perceived, not only by those in this area but by others, are being dashed before our eyes, and the return Baltimore's reputation as the cultural and intellectual "Outback of the East" is virtually assured.

What is most horrifying is that so few of us seem to care.

Alan Walden, Baltimore

Madoff's conviction no reason to rejoice

After watching an interview of the victims of Bernard L. Madoff, it is clear to me that he stole far more than cash. All the victims grieved not just for the money they had lost but for their stolen lives ("Madoff guilty," March 13).

The victims were pleased that Mr. Madoff is going to prison, but they doubt it will restore their losses.

I'm appalled that Mr. Madoff and his hedge fund were able to evade scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission for so long. And how many other "Madoffs" are abroad in the land?

Mr. Madoff is off to the slammer. But that won't help the people who lost everything.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Rosalind Ellis, Baltimore

Voicing all views on the Middle East

Congratulations for Ron Smith's excellent column "So much for changing one-sided Mideast policy" (Commentary, March 13).

I applaud The Baltimore Sun for being willing to print such articles, knowing that they will bring on a flood of protests.

Thank you for letting your readers hear all voices.

Edith Cacciatore, Novato, Calif.

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