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Mitchell: Despite law, GPS, domestic violence victim has cause to fear stalking

Lynette Butler, 39, was driving on the expressway, trying to bring some clothes to her daughter, when her car conked out last Friday.

It had already been a stressful week.

While her daughter is in a safe place, Butler, a victim of domestic violence, is still looking over her shoulder.

“I’m in fear of my life, and no matter what I do, it seems to fail me,” she told me.

Even though she has an order of protection against her estranged husband, Maurice Martin, she says she is still fearful.

“On Saturday morning, a mechanic said he found a syrupy substance in my gas tank which means it was tampered with,” she says.

Attempts to reach Martin were unsuccessful.

I have always felt orders of protection give domestic violence victims a false sense of security.

But Butler has an additional safeguard that is supposed to increase her chances of survival.

Legislation enacted in 2009 allows judges to order abusers who violate orders of protection to be fitted with a GPS device so victims are alerted when an abuser is within a certain distance.

The law was named after Cindy Bischof, an Arlington Heights woman killed in a parking lot in 2008 by an ex-boyfriend who then fatally shot himself.

New legislation that took effect last January amended that law to expand the use of GPS monitoring in cases involving domestic battery, stalking and telephone harassment.

Butler, who separated from Martin in January after 16 years of marriage, has accused him of slicing her tires, stalking her and harassing her on the phone.

A judge granted Butler’s request that Martin be required to wear a GPS bracelet so she could be tipped off if he came within 2,500 feet of her.

“I do not intend to become a statistic,” she says.

But Butler claims the system failed to notify her on two occasions when Martin was within an “exclusion zone.”

“The first was May 16, 2015, at a birthday party, and the other was Aug. 10, 2015, when he was at my door listening to see if someone was inside,” she says.

“He must have followed me home from court. I called the police. By the time the police came, he was gone.”

Matthew Sobieski, Cook County’s assistant chief probation officer, acknowledges the system failed Butler on Aug. 10 but was unable to confirm the May 16 incident.

“She is correct,” Sobieski says. “She did not receive notification. We are doing an internal investigation to identify the problem that was unique to her case.

“It never should have happened. We will do everything it takes to review the procedures and implement everything necessary to ensure this does not happen again.”

Domestic Violence Court judges have ordered 3,500 orders for the GPS devices since the law was passed in 2009. Nine hundred GPS trackers have been ordered so far in 2015.

Martin was picked up last weekend and bonded out on Thursday night. He was again outfitted with a GPS bracelet, according to Sobieski.

“From this point going forward, the error we did discover has been corrected,” he says. “Should the defendant enter one of the exclusion zones, she will be notified.”