Famous singer Ricky Martin appeared in a Puerto Rican court on Thursday, July 21 in order to respond to a domestic violence restraining order against him. The order was filed by his own nephew on July 2 who had alleged harassment by Martin; Martin denied all allegations before the court hearing.
Prior to the court hearing, Martin had not been charged with any crimes. Martin later tweeted that the protective order “is based on completely false allegations,” and stated that “when the true facts come out in this matter our client Ricky Martin will be fully vindicated.”
Later, Martin’s attorney spoke out to Variety and stated that “the idea that Martin has been involved in any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with his nephew is not only untrue, it is disgusting.”
Eventually though, a Puerto Rican court effectively “archived” the restraining order and closed the case. The case ended in drama with Martin saying after the ruling that he was a “victim of lies” due to the media attention and the restraining order. He said on video that he had “been working on stage in the public eye for almost four decades” but that he had never “had to deal with anything as painful” as what he had “been through in the last two weeks.”
There is no doubt in stating that Ricky Martin’s name has been at the center of the media’s attention, especially in Puerto Rico.
Recent History of Puerto Rico’s Domestic Violence Laws
Puerto Rico’s domestic violence laws have been debated in several instances, including in 2021 when Cornell Law School’s First Amendment Clinic filed an amicus curiae stating that a ruling by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court to seal recordings of domestic violence court cases had undermined the press’ vital role in “informing the public about our nation’s courts and the development of domestic violence law in particular.”
The Solicitor General responded by promising to open all sealed recordings regarding domestic violence. A few days later, the chief justice of Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court declared “a new court watch program” that would assign volunteers to specific domestic violence proceedings.
Domestic violence in Puerto Rico was also discussed before with Jodie G. Route in 2011 when she published a journal article “Gender Justice in Puerto Rico: Domestic Violence, Legal Reform, and the Use of International Human Rights Principles” in the Human Rights Quarterly, highlighting the regressed state of domestic violence laws in Puerto Rico and the urgent need to assign “grassroots movements and government agencies” to work side-by-side on collaborative projects.
Overall, Puerto Rico has a high domestic violence case rate: “107 women were killed by their intimate partners in a five-year period from 2007 to 2011,” “the number of women killed by their intimate partners jumped significantly in 2011, to 30 women killed,” and “that year, the number of women killed by their partners in Puerto Rico was six times higher than Los Angeles, which has about the same population of 3.7 million” according to an article published by the ACLU.
In addition, the Puerto Rico Police Department has not been responding well to the high rates of rape crimes. Only about 1% of rapes are properly reported by the PRPD according to the same ACLU article while in most other US jurisdictions, the number of reported rapes is “four times the number of homicides, but the PRPD reported only 39 rapes and over 1,000 homicides in 2010.” This data is mainly due to the PRPD’s failure in following up with rape crimes although the high rates, in the beginning, make it hard for the police to respond to every single case.
Understanding this, it only makes logical sense that the restraining order against Ricky Martin was granted immediately despite the case having so little evidence that the case would eventually be dismissed. Keeping in mind the high domestic violence rates, the courts have no choice but to issue these restraining orders and pre-court actions even before any evidence from both the accused and accusers are presented as they must keep the safety of the accusers in mind until further conclusions can be reached.
Through the recent series of events regarding Ricky Martin’s case, we can only hope that domestic violence laws in Puerto Rico are reformed in order to bring fair justice to all Puerto Ricans.