The need to exercise extreme caution when a putative victim of abuse asks a court to deprive a presumptively innocent person of rights was brought into sharp focus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania yesterday.
Last week, the male owner of a Pittsburgh after-hours club was granted a protection from abuse order against a female Pittsburgh police commander. The man claimed he was a "current or former sexual or intimate partner" of the commander, but that after their supposed romantic relationship ended, the commander threatened to destroy his business. "At this point, I felt physically in danger for my life,” said the man on May 9. “This woman carries a gun.”
The story was prominently reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the petition was filed.
Yesterday, after a nearly two hour hearing, a judge lifted the PFA, finding that there was "not one scintilla of evidence" that there was ever any type of personal relationship between the accuser and the accused.
In fact, it turns out the man's after-hours club had been labeled a trouble spot by police. The petition for the PFA was filed shortly before a zoning hearing where the commander was due to testify about the legality of Mr. Lee's club.
Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper released a statement saying he would consult with the district attorney to determine whether criminal charges against the man were possible. The chief called the man's PFA petition "an abuse of the Judicial System."