AUGUSTA (AP) – The children affected by domestic violence deaths are the focus of a state report examining 12 slayings in five years that investigations determined were the result of domestic abuse.

“We know for a fact that children who witness chronic domestic violence are affected in much the same way as children who are physically or sexually abused,” said Attorney General Steven Rowe.

The 2004 report is the fifth in seven years conducted by the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, which includes 21 people with backgrounds in law enforcement, social work, and community outreach.

The report notes that Maine lacks a clear process for dealing with children left without a parent after domestic abuse murder.

“The children may end up getting placed with the family of the perpetrator,” said Lois Reckitt, director of Family Crisis Services in Portland.

The report, citing a Hancock County model, also encourages the state to develop crisis response programs for children exposed to domestic homicides.

Despite efforts recently to address domestic abuse in Maine, about half of the state’s homicides are related to family violence, said Attorney General Steve Rowe.

“We don’t fully appreciate the devastation that domestic violence (inflicts) on individuals and families,” Rowe said.

According to the attorney general, men who witness violence involving parents are three times more likely to become perpetrators of violence themselves, while 80 percent of violent prisoners experienced domestic violence as children.

The panel was chaired by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese.

AP-ES-03-27-04 1346EST

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