The Paul Moody case was a textbook example of coercive control, according to the leading global authority on crime.
Professor Evan Stark, a sociologist and forensic social worker, is credited with helping shape legislation that explicitly recognizes and criminalizes persistent controlling behavior and emotional abuse.
He was directly involved in the implementation of the criminalization of compulsory checks in England, Wales, Scotland and various US states.
Speaking of Irish IndependentProf Stark said the case of former Garda Paul Moody “illustrates everything we know about what coercive control is” and could end up being a landmark case that raises public awareness of what coercive control means.
Moody, a former Lake Garda, was sentenced this week to three years and three months in prison for coercive control. His harassment campaign against a terminally ill woman included hitting, kicking, hitting and choking.
“The case appears to encompass everything we know about coercive measures. The isolation, physical violence and intimidation, the manipulation’
He sent over 30,000 abusive and threatening messages to the woman. He told her he hoped she would die of pain. Moody took photos of the woman while she was naked without her knowledge or consent and threatened to share them online.
The woman with cancer had her medication stolen by Moody. She told the court she couldn’t afford to replace it.
“The case appears to encompass everything we know about coercive measures. The isolation, physical violence and intimidation, the manipulation,” Prof. Stark said.
“The case makes it clear that forced control is also a permanent offense that lasts for a long time. And that also educates the people. And it also shows that coercive control does not fit the traditional notion of domestic violence that takes place behind closed doors. This victim was assaulted in a car, on the street, on the beach and at a hospital. It happened in a social space.
“The other thing that this case illustrates quite nicely is how difficult coercive control is for the police. Because here we have examples of hundreds of assaults, all kinds of crimes going on, and the police hadn’t the faintest idea that anything like this was going on. All these violations took place against this person and it shows that coercive police control requires highly specialized police work.”
Moody was eventually caught after filing a complaint about one of the woman’s family members and turning in his phone as part of the investigation.
Investigators from the State Criminal Police Office then determined the crimes and approached the woman, who was his former partner.
Prof Stark said coercive control was often carried out against a network of people – not just the victim, but often their family and friends as well.
Forced control was criminalized in Ireland in 2018. Prof Stark said the public should view coercive control as an attack on a woman’s freedom and the law should make the public think differently about how society views women.
“Coercive control is a crime against freedom. It takes away people’s freedom, equality and dignity. These are all things that this woman has lost. We must ask ourselves whether we value these rights. And then we have to ask ourselves, do we value these rights for a person with a female body the same as for a person with a male body?
“These crimes violate a woman’s most basic physical dignity. Her peace of mind, her privacy, her freedom. These were things that women were expected to be tolerated if they were married or had a boyfriend perform them on them,” Prof Stark said. “Compulsory control is new law, which means that the status of women in Ireland is also new.”
Prof Stark said that an increasing number of convictions for compulsory control in Ireland was to be welcomed.
However, he said he believed Irish law would be better if attacks such as sexual assault and stalking were considered part of a pattern of coercive control rather than separate offences.
Moody was eventually caught after filing a complaint about one of the woman’s family members and turning in his phone as part of the investigation
“Sexual assault and stalking, in my opinion, both belong to the compulsory control offence.
“Because although they are already crimes in Ireland, when they occur in the context of coercive controls they are very different from sexual assault when a stranger is involved and stalking when a stranger is involved,” Prof Stark said.
“Coercive sexual assaults are repeated. It covers a wide range of offenses including routine rape.
“And coercive control stalking almost always begins while the relationship is still together. And when stalking is present in a coercive control, homicide is much more likely to occur.”
Professor Stark said that coercive control is a totally bespoke crime using other crimes as part of a terror pattern and therefore these crimes need to be viewed in that context.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/crime/coercive-control-is-a-liberty-crime-it-takes-away-peoples-equality-and-dignity-says-expert-41878276.html “Coercive control is a crime against freedom, it robs people of their equality and dignity,” says the expert