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Victims of sexual abuse in Iowa can ask court for civil protective order before suspect arrest

CEDAR RAPIDS — In the past, victims of sexual abuse might have waited weeks or months for an arrest before feeling safe at home or in the workplace. A new law, enacted July 1, allows victims to ask a judge for a civil protective order before an arrest or even if no arrest or police report is made.

Anastasia Basquin, victim/witness coordinator with the Linn County Attorney’s Office, said the new law applies to crimes listed in Iowa Code 709, including sexual abuse, incest, sexual exploitation of a minor and lascivious acts with a child. In the past, a victim of sexual abuse couldn’t ask for a protective order until the arrest of a suspect and there also had to be a domestic relationship between the victim and abuser.

“There is no relationship requirement between victim and abuser, as in the former law,” Basquin said. “This would cover date rape incidents or in cases where the victim may be under age 18 because the parents can also ask for an order for their child.”

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