SJC: Online dating subject to abuse laws


BOSTON ( – Massachusetts' highest court says that substantive dating relationships developed and maintained using instant messaging, Skype, emails and other electronic communications are subject to the state's domestic abuse laws.

The Supreme Judicial Court made the ruling Wednesday in overturning a restraining order against Gregory James Compton, a British man who was 24 when he developed a relationship with a 16-year-old Massachusetts girl after she visited London in 2011.

The girl's father had gotten the restraining order against Compton, but the court found that he was not a threat to the girl.

The court said Massachusetts courts can determine whether a couple is in a substantive dating relationship by considering the nature, frequency and length of their communications and if either one has ended the relationship.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.