In Shadow of U of I Murder, a Call for Teen Dating Violence Prevention

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With the murder/suicide of University of Idaho grad student Katy Benoit and associate professor Ernesto Bustamante casting a tragic shadow over the event, some of Idaho's top lawmakers and law enforcers stood before the Statehouse this morning, addressing the urgency in prevention of teen dating violence.

"There is no more tragic example than the recent events in Moscow," said Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. "All of us send our condolences to the friends and family of Katy Benoit."

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Today's event had been scheduled weeks before the Aug. 22 incident in which Benoit was slain. Her accused killer, Bustamante, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot on Aug. 23. Moscow police confirmed that the pair had a relationship, which, at times, erupted into violent encounters.

"I ask that we all share a moment of silence in memory of Katy," said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

Crapo is sponsoring Senate Bill 1447, better known as the SAFE Teen Act, which would expand use of existing funds for teen dating violence prevention programs.

"Three out of every four middle schoolers say they're in some sort of a relationship today," said Crapo. "And one out of every four said they experienced emotional, sexual or physical violence."

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, another speaker, said that 11 percent of Idaho school children had reportedly been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

"That's 31,000 Idaho children," said Luna. "31,000 too many."

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo outside the Idaho Statehouse
  • U.S. Senator Mike Crapo outside the Idaho Statehouse