CUBA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Southern Tier family has new hope now that Congressman Tom Reed has joined the fight for a federal domestic violence registry. Linda and Thom Randolph started pushing for a registry four years ago after their daughter was badly beaten by a man she trusted.
The family hit a roadblock in Albany. A bill to create a domestic violence registry has passed the New York State Senate several times, but it’s never come up for a vote in the assembly.
Rep. Reed (R – Corning) doesn’t understand why. He calls this common sense legislation. “Having a registry, empowering people to know about potentially domestic violence perpetrators in our midst I think is better. I think is the wise course to take,” Reed told News 4.
Fresh off of a win, and ready to seize on the GOP control of Congress, he’s poised to get to work. Reed’s spokesperson says he’s interested in sponsoring legislation to create a domestic violence offender registry, and he’s working on ways to develop an effective proposal.
The Randolphs will never forget the daughter they raised. “Shannon was a very forgiving person. If she was your friend, she was a loyal friend. She was a very caring person. She loved her children. She was a very good daughter and sister,” Linda and Thom recalled.
Shannon got caught in a love triangle in 2013. A text message from her ex sent a man named Tony Nevone into a jealous rage. He attacked her for two days straight at a home in Portville in Cattaraugus County. Nevone eventually pleaded guilty to first degree assault. He should be in state prison until at least 2030.
The attack left Shannon unrecognizable. “I told my husband, this is not our daughter. I quietly told him on the side, this is not Shannon,” Linda recalled. Shannon spent nearly a month in a coma. Her parents made the two hour trip back and forth to Buffalo more times than they can count.
“I’ve looked at those photographs and I can tell you, I was moved to tears,” Rep. Reed admitted. “To see someone treat another human being they way Shannon was treated is unacceptable.”
Push for a federal registry
Congressman Reed thinks a federal domestic violence registry would have protected Shannon. She had no idea Nevone had a violent past.
The registry would work a lot like a sex offender registry. You’d be able to log on, and find the names of those with felony convictions.
“I think more information – the better. Empower people to know who they’re meeting, and these are individuals who are convicted after being prosecuted,” Reed told News 4.
He doesn’t buy the argument we first told you about four months ago. Domestic violence groups claim a registry would provide a false sense of security because many offenders don’t have prior criminal records.
“Proposing that offenders register may also compromise victims’ privacy and may lesson victims’ likelihoods for reaching out for services, because through the process of doing so, they will also be identified,” explained Mia Thornton from Haven House in Buffalo.
The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) already produced a memo and sent it around the state, arguing “…Domestic violence offender registries, in any format, have dangerous unintended consequences.”
Reed hopes to sponsor bill
“To hear that argument is more not standing with the victims but standing with the perpetrators, and I gotta tell you, there are consequences,” Reed suggested. He’s interested in sponsoring a bill to create a federal registry. “I don’t think people can fight this once they realize what we’re trying to do, and that’s protect innocent lives.”
Shannon Pepper recovered from the 2013 attack but lost her life two years later in an apartment fire. Her family says they’re counting on congress passing this measure in her memory. “When you’re elected to public office, whether it’s in Albany or Washington, your number one priority better be to protect our citizens,” Thom Randolph said.
“Why is this not a law yet?” Linda asked.