Gabby Petito’s Parents in Utah to Support Changes to Domestic Violence Laws

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Gabby Petito’s Parents in Utah to Support Changes to Domestic Violence Laws

By Steven Jensen
January 30, 2023

The parents of Gabby Petito, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, will be at the Utah Capitol today to voice support for S.B. 117, a bill that mandates all Utah law enforcement agencies conduct a lethality assessment for every instance of intimate partner violence.   The Petito family will join Utah Lt. Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson and Senator Todd Weiler to urge passage of the bill in the Utah legislature.

Statement of Joseph Petito

“The lethality assessment program is an effective tool for identifying and preventing the risks of intimate partner violence and homicide.  However, the effectiveness of the tool requires the whole-hearted implementation of the program, together with the needed training, coordination, and resources.  We believe the effective implementation of the LAP, with collective buy-in from all parties involved, will save lives. We urge leaders throughout Utah and the nation to take this important step and to continue this vital work. We are grateful to honor Gabby’s legacy by working to support this and all efforts to protect victims, save lives and end domestic violence.”  

Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt respond to Utah Senate’s passing of domestic violence bill.

Statement of Nichole Schmidt

Our daughter, Gabby, died as a result of intimate partner violence that could have and should have been identified by law enforcement using the lethality assessment. We believe that if the lethality assessment had been properly used in her situation, together with the recommended support and resources, Gabby would still be alive today. We believe that the lives of many victims will be saved and improved as a result this change and Utah’s deepened commitment to preventing intimate partner violence and homicide.”

Nichole Schmidt, Gabby Petito’s mother, visits Utah’s Capitol Building to support domestic violence bill.

Lethality Assessment Program

The Lethality Assessment Program—Maryland Model (LAP) is an evidenced based, multipronged strategy to prevent domestic violence homicides.  Law enforcement officers and other community professionals trained in the LAP use the evidence-based lethality assessment instrument to easily and effectively identify victims of intimate partner violence who are in highest risk of being killed or seriously injured by their intimate partners. The LAP created a new mode of intervention: meet victims where they are—in front of law enforcement—but do not leave them there. By connecting victims to sustainable safety planning resources and assistance, the LAP closes the gap between victims and the services they need. Now, nearly 20 years later, the LAP has a body of research behind it which speaks to the effectiveness and value of this model.

Gabby’s parents recently consulted with Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of Johns Hopkins University, who is a pioneer and creator of the danger assessment and discussed Utah’s bill and the importance of requiring law enforcement to be trained and to effectively employ the life-saving tool.  Gabby’s parents also participated in a training and discussion with Dr. Campbell and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence entitled “An In – Depth Discussion Addressing MNADV’s Lethality Assessment Strangulation Question”.  Those resources can be found below.

Those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, are urged to call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the Utah Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 1-888-421-1100.

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