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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 19681
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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Hello. Recently I had a falling out with an old boyfriend.

Customer Question

Hello. Recently I had a falling out with an old boyfriend. He has threatened to send me a TRO if he finds that I have been talking with others about him. The issue is that a close friend said that she was date raped by him over 20 years ago (in Hawaii) and chose to not go public with it. He recently found out through me and another friend that there is a woman who says she was date raped by him. He found out by over hearing a speaker phone conversation when he was outside the house at a window. It was not intended for his ears. Later he accused me for saying that he date raped me, which is not the case. When I went to explain and defend myself he would not accept it and kept accusing me. I feel anxious. He saw my friend in a store and threatened her. That's how I found out. I have never been in trouble like and would really appreciate learning just what a TRO and how it works. Does he really have a case? Would the woman who says she was date raped have to tell a judge? I am happy to discontinue ever speaking to others about it, as I have not told anyone about this anyway. I am willing to sign a confidentiality agreement. My friend thinks he is probably just being threatening to scare us. I looked up TRO on line and it wrote that one has to be irreparably harmed. He's off to Peru this week and went on another trip a couple of weeks ago. I feel compassion for his concerns, but do not feel I have done anything legally wrong. Please advise. Thank you.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

For him to get a restraining order in this situation, he would have to file a lawsuit against you and prove a number of things, including that he never date raped anyone. If it did, in fact, happen, there isn't any law that would prevent you from discussing it with those that it happened to. He would also have to show that getting the order is in the interests of justice, and that he would be more harmed if the order were not entered than you would be if it were. Finally, he must show that the order is in the public interests. It IS in the public interests to stop a person from spreading lies that could damage a person's reputation - that's why we have defamation statutes. However, it's not in the interests of justice to gag a rape victim and try to stop her from telling her story. If it happened, he would not be able to get the order.

Truth would be a defense. You can testify that you never said the things that he is claiming. But you could also bring in the woman and have her testify that he did, in fact date rape her. If he actually did file a lawsuit, that would be one way of defending it. It sounds like he's just trying to scare you, but you do have the option of sending him a letter stating that you agree not to speak to others about this issue in exchange for - whatever you want. Him not suing you, or even him never contacting you again, directly or indirectly. That can be done without admitting that any statements were made, and a letter sent in offer of settlement cannot be used as evidence. It's also possible that he's just trying to scare you and that the whole thing will blow over while he's out of town - but you're in a better position to evaluate whether he's likely to let it go, since you know him.

The type of order that he's talking about is a civil order. He wouldn't be able to get a criminal restraining order unless you were threatening physical harm to him or member of his family. But based on what you've said, you have not done anything wrong. He has - if he threatened physical harm to your friend, that's illegal. Threatening to harm someone is harassment, which is a violation of Hawaii Rev. Stat., Section §711-1106. It's a petty misdemeanor.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Hi Lucy,


Thank you very much for this information. It is a big help to demystify the legal sides of this situation. It is probably true that it will blow over. I have been very good friends with his girlfriend for 10 years and it is the only reason I have been anywhere near this man. My history with him is fraught with more upheaval.


My friend who was date raped over 20 years ago does not want her husband dragged into anything. She tried telling the date raper "R" over the many years and he wouldn't listen. She sought therapy and was able to find relief and her own transformation without him knowing.


He has a long history of revolving door romances and many accounts of cruel verbal and mental abuse.


I want to do my best to allay his fears, and mine, by sending him a letter letting him know that I will not discuss this with others in exchange for him to do the same, and to do our best to keep our distance and wish him well. Do you think this is a wise way to go? or do nothing trusting it will blow over. If it doesn't blow over and one day I get a TRO from him, that would be very unsettling. Please review these points for me and we can proceed from there. My hunch is to write the letter. Should I send it from an attorney to give it more power? Or a simple one from myself? Should it be notarized? What's the wisest way to send a letter? Also, please know there is no police record of a date rape. My friend chose to deal with it on her own. She did go to the rape clinic and declined the rape kit. Thanks so much.


 

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
If you're looking for peace of mind and putting the whole thing behind you, a letter is likely the way to go. In these situations, you really want to weigh what you know of him to see how he's likely to react. Will he get a letter and immediately sue? Will he forget about it you don't mention it? If not, then a letter is likely a good option. It doesn't have to be notarized, but if you prefer to write it yourself before involving a lawyer, it is a good idea to send it via certified mail - for one thing, you then know that he got it. If he's likely to just throw a letter from you away and ignore it, then you may want to have a lawyer write it instead.

Usually in these letters, you would ask the person to reply within a stated time - say a week or ten days. You can also ask that he respond in writing, so you have a paper trail.

If you actually made it to court, the standard for proving things in a civil case is far lower than in a criminal case. Her testimony would be evidence that it happens. If she actually has therapy records from 20 years ago, those could also be used. The fact that there's no rape kit or police report doesn't automatically mean that she's lying. The judge can weigh all the evidence to assess on his own what most likely happened.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Okay. Looking at a worst case scenario, what if she is lying, though very sincerely XXXXX XXXXX girlfriends believe her? I think he did, but what if he didn't? From a defamation point of view, what is the worst that could happen to me in a court of law on this matter if the judge decided it wasn't a valid rape? What is the worst that could happen to me if I were sued? Of course, I would immediately comply to keep it all confidential. I have zero assets, but I do have a career in education that is my livelihood.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Well, if he's accusing you of saying that he date raped you, and he cannot produce a witness who will say that you said that, that is another basis for seeking a judgment in your favor. But if he's going to say that he overheard you on the telephone, you may have to bring in the person you were talking to so she can testify that you didn't.

Defamation is a tort. If he actually were to get a judgment against you, it would show on your record until paid. Court documents are public record, so it's possible that it would show up if someone were looking for information on you. He could garnish your wages. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX doesn't happen.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

What are the risks to him for presenting any of these topics to a judge? How much does the law allow one to be charged?


Would I have to pay for a public defender for any court hearings?


I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX do trust it won't come to this, but I want to know the lay of the land.


I think a letter will suffice. Thank you.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
I'm hoping a letter will be enough.

Public defenders are only available in criminal proceedings. If he did sue you, that would be in civil court so you would have to pay if you wanted a lawyer to represent you. You'd also have the option of representing yourself.

There isn't a set cap on damages in intentional tort cases. The judge looks at what happens, determines how wrong it was (talking to one person vs. talking to 100 people or posting it on the internet, whether you knew the statement was false, etc.) and assesses an amount of money thought to be sufficient to punish you and restore the damage to his reputation.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Should I save all of my emails with him and two other people who responded about my saying or not saying I had been date raped by him? They would definitely help to clarify the situation, I believe.


Can you review the emails and counsel from there?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Any written statements from him can help you, especially if he ever admits that he knows you didn't say it. Emails from the others also might help.

Unfortunately, reviewing the emails to provide specific advice would be beyond the scope of this service. We're only able to provide general information about what options might be available.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 19681
Experience: Attorney with experience in family law.
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