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Restraining order abuse is alive and well in Tucson

 

No one ever says they want to grow up and become a stalker. But Tucsonan Todd Greene got slammed with the title – and the fallout it brings – for doing nothing other than befriending a woman who was hanging around his family’s horse boarding facilities.

Although the perky blond horse owner started out as a boarding client and friend, she ended up slapping Greene with a harassment injunction, one of those pieces of paper in the same family as restraining orders and orders of protection that are meant to keep victims safe.

These orders get attention for being ineffective, a piece of paper that cannot stop a bullet or knife, but they don’t get as much airplay for the way they are abused.

People filing the orders can in some instances all too easily concoct stories and receive an order of protection without any substantial evidence to back up the need for one. In some cases they can feasibly label someone a stalker or abuser – and merrily file an order that becomes a black mark on public record – on a veritable whim.

Such a whim can disrupt, unravel or downright ruin a life. “Publishing children’s humor had been my dream,” Greene writes in his newly-released blog restrainingorderabuse.com that speaks out against restraining order abuse. “Now…I’m not confident I could qualify for a job as an elementary school librarian without administrators feeling uneasy.”

And the orders stick around on your record well, forever. “It basically stays with you until you’re dead,” Greene said of the harassment injunction filed against him in 2006. “The only way to get rid of it is for the other party to agree to drop it.”

He’s been there. Tried that. Although he knows the woman has since fled the state, she has not responded to the letters Greene has sent to her new address.

When the order was initially filed, Greene said he received a scant 30 minutes in court to contest the order in the hopes of getting it dropped. That didn’t work, either.

He now has a lawyer, a headache and a newfound anger and morbid sense of doom. The latter tends to put a damper on his lively children’s book writing.  “You can’t write humor when someone says ‘This guy is some kind of creep,’” he explains. Greene now prunes trees for a living.

Statistics on restraining order abuse are tricky since, like Greene’s tale, it frequently boils down to a he-said, she-said debate where judges more frequently than not are wont to believe the woman. It’s tough to say which orders are backed up by real threats and which are backed by lies. Radical groups on one end of the spectrum will have you believe that none are backed by lies and no woman would ever abuse the very orders meant to protect them.

Greene knows otherwise.

His ordeal started innocently enough, with the woman boarding her horse and developing a friendship. It was hard not to start up a friendship, Greene says, since she picked a stable he had to walk past daily. And the fact that she began to hang around at all hours of the day and night – at least once staying over until 2 a.m.

As their relationship developed, Greene says so did her flirty ways. She’d waggle her face near his as if to tease a kiss. She talked about how she’d look in lingerie or as the subject of a gargantuan nude portrait. She’d bend over and gaze in his direction, her fanny held high in the air.

Although her tactics may have been tacky or even corny, Greene says she seemed sincere enough – although any time he’d make a move to reciprocate her advances, she’d shut down and find reason to flee.

He let it go and stopped advancing, focusing instead on the friendship. Until one day she removed her horse while Greene was at work and simply disappeared. An official court document was soon delivered, stating he had a harassment injunction filed against him because he might cause “great or irreparable harm” to the woman’s husband.

He did not even know she was married and he had certainly never met the man, much less intend to irreparably harm him – or anyone. But his word remains weak in the great face of court documents, documents that have the power to create more victims than they help if the orders continue to be abused.

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