SAVE Demands Apology from Rep. Zoe Lofgren for Remarks Made During
House Judiciary Committee Mark-Up
May 8, 2012
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to the problem of domestic violence. Stop Violent and Abusive Environments supports the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
SAVE advocates for all victims of domestic violence, regardless of their race, sex, or gender identity. Unfortunately, false claims of domestic violence and sexual assault have become widespread, a problem that robs true victims of desperately needed services, protections, and credibility. (http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/False-DV-Allegations-Cost-20-Billion)
During the May 8, 2012 mark-up of the House Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) made certain statements regarding Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, alleging SAVE represents a group of “apologists for abusers.” In support of this accusation, Lofgren referred to a member of the SAVE Board of Directors, Natasha Spivack.
In 2000, Nataliya Derkach Fox, who was seeking permanent US residency, accused her new husband, James M. Fox, of attempted homicide in order to bolster her petition under VAWA’s battered immigrant provisions. The allegation was found to be non-meritorious. On June 7, 2002, a Loudon County judge went so far as to issue an order that all police and court documents regarding the case be expunged from the record (Page 1: http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/expungement-001.pdf, Page 2: http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/expungement-002.pdf).
In addition, Nataliya Fox committed fraud, telling an immigration officer that the name on her immigration petition had been incorrectly listed as Elena Rybak (http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/DocumentFraud01-001.pdf). But as a result of VAWA’s confidentiality provisions, Ms. Spivack was barred from informing immigration authorities about the fraudulent claim.
Instead of being recognized for her efforts to stop immigration fraud, Spivack found her company, Encounters International, accused of violating an obscure provision of VAWA that requires an international dating organization to provide an “information pamphlet” to prospective foreign clients (Section 833). A prominent Washington DC legal firm accepted the case on a pro bono basis, eventually leading to a jury award for damages against the firm owned by Natasha Spivack.
Full details about the case are available in a statement provided by Spivack at the False Allegations Summit held in Washington DC on June 2, 2011: http://www.saveservices.org/statement-by-encounters-international.
SAVE is not alone in raising concerns about false allegations. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has expressed similar worries about immigration fraud and provisions in VAWA that encourage it:
Since its passage in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has helped many victims. But the law has also eroded long-cherished due process protections that many Americans take for granted. This erosion has contributed to a growing problem of frivolous accusations, wrongful arrests, undue prosecutions, and false convictions. These problems are documented in the following SAVE Special Reports (http://www.saveservices.org/reports):
- The Use and Abuse of Domestic Restraining Orders
- Arrest Policies for Domestic Violence
- Unequal Justice in the Criminal Justice System
- Domestic Violence-Related Immigration Fraud
Good people can disagree over issues, but a smear campaign against a victim rights organization based on one highly disputed case is not an action a member of Congress should endorse. Representative Lofgren’s charges made during a House Judiciary Committee meeting were unfounded, scurrilous, and false. Stop Abusive and Violent Environments demands that Rep. Lofgren retract her remarks about SAVE, issue an apology to Natasha Spivack, and begin to work for ways to stop false allegations so true victims can get the help they need and deserve.