New Jersey Assembly unanimously approves 6 bills aimed at reducing domestic violence


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TRENTON, New Jersey — The New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed six bills on Monday to address domestic violence, including one that would allow victims of domestic violence to testify in court via video rather than in person.

The action came amid growing concern over domestic violence, which Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera called a "growing epidemic." The Democrat from Laurel Springs said her mother was a victim.

It comes a week after the revelation of a video that shows former NFL star Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious with a punch on Feb. 15 in Atlantic City's Revel Casino Hotel.

Rice avoided trial by agreeing to a pretrial intervention program and was initially suspended from the NFL for two games.

But after the video was made public, he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended by the sports league. He also touched off a renewed national conversation about domestic violence.

On Monday, all 10 female Republicans in the Assembly sent a statement calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell to resign, over "his failure to take immediate steps to present these kinds of assaults."

Of the six domestic-violence bills, two were advanced by committees earlier in the year and four were considered by a committee last week, though they were scheduled before the Rice video was made public.

The other bills would:

— Create a task force to review state law, practices and procedures concerning domestic violence;

— Require some people convicted of domestic violence to undergo counseling;

— Create a self-defense justification for victims of domestic violence accused of committing crimes;

— Require police to look for domestic violence retraining orders on people who are arrested;

— Permit victims to secure restraining orders against alleged attackers who are strangers or casual acquaintances.

The Assembly did not take up a bill intended to help victims of domestic violence get out of jail or prison for certain crimes they commit.

The state Senate has not yet considered the measures.

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