WRENTHAM — Robert Leclair said his bill concerning divorce and sexual relations highlights a serious issue involving domestic violence, but the news media is ridiculing it.
Leclair, 83, a former Wrentham selectman, had his bill filed by state Sen. Richard Ross, the third time the bill has been filed over the past several years, and it has created a swirl of media criticism.
The bill would require someone with children who is going through a divorce to get a judge’s permission to have sexual relations in their own home until the divorce is finalized.
Ross said he filed the bill because Massachusetts residents have the right of free petition, but he disagrees with it and does not support it.
Leclair said he is not angry with Ross for not backing his bill, but would like the media to take it more seriously. He said he has been inundated with interview requests.
Divorce is an emotional process, he said.
If a man finds out his soon-to-be ex-wife is sleeping with another man in his former house with his children at home before the divorce is finalized, it could lead to violence, Leclair said.
“I only drafted the bill to protect the woman from domestic violence in a critical time during divorce,” he said.
“When you get two males together, something bad could happen and has happened.”
Leclair, the former head of a fathers’ rights group, said he is writing a book on domestic violence and how the government is making it worse.
Dr. Carole Lieberman, a forensic psychiatrist who specializes in domestic violence cases, said the bill is ridiculous.
“Judges need to stay out of the bedroom,” she said. “Such a law would not prevent domestic violence. Jealous spouses can become violent, especially if their partner has sex in the marital home.
“But, if a man or woman fears that their soon-to-be ex will be violent if they have sex in the marital home, then they need to get a restraining order,” Lieberman said.
“Besides, it is not practical. When a couple is bent on having sex, they are not going to stop dead in their tracks and go to court to get a judge's permission,” she said.
Kim Thomas, executive director of New Hope, an agency that deals with domestic violence, said there is no evidence that denying a divorcing person the right to sex would reduce domestic violence.
She said women who have a concern about potential domestic violence should call New Hope’s hotline at 1-800-323-4673.
Leclair’s bill is actually old one, and as Ross has said, “it is going nowhere.”
The Sun Chronicle wrote about it in May of 2011, but at the time there was no outcry like the one that hit Leclair and Ross this week.
Leclair said he suspects Ross’s political opponents are trying to make Ross look bad.
But, Ross said this week, as he said in 2011, that he does not support the bill.
He put the notation, “by request” on the bill, which he said means he is filing for a constituent, but is not sponsoring it.
The fact that Ross does not support the bill was not mentioned in most of the original reports on the bill by other media.