In the shadow of the Dulos case, CT officials propose legislation to protect domestic violence victims

The Dulos Case

(WTNH) — Local lawmakers joined with members of the group Connecticut Protective Moms and CHILD USA on Friday to introduce a bill to keep families going through family court proceedings safe.

In a week dominated by news about a missing New Canaan mother of five and the three people now charged in connection to her alleged murder, some want the public to remember that this was an alleged act of domestic violence against a woman going through a contentious divorce and custody battle.

RELATED: Domestic violence cases on the rise in Connecticut

“We stand here today seeking justice for Jennifer, and for all the women and children whose lives have been lost,” said State Sen. Alex Bergstein (D-New Canaan) at a New Haven press conference.

Jennifer Dulos was one of Bergstein’s constituents, and she is proposing legislation that would change the law to protect women and children who are involved in family court disputes. She points out failures in the current system.

“Why can abusers, or anyone for that matter, defy court orders in divorce cases?” Bergstein asked. “Why is domestic violence handled separately by civil and criminal courts?”

Those failures of the legal system can worsen existing domestic violence issues, which are already very common in the system.

“So the cases that are arriving before the judges, about 70% have a family violence component, either adult on adult, or adult on child,” said Danielle Pollack, an ambassador with CHILD USA.

You may have noticed it was female troopers who walked a handcuffed Dulos to jail Tuesday, while detectives at the press conference all wore purple ties, the color of domestic violence awareness. Dulos has now made bond and is back home in Farmington.

“He is relieved as you might expect, and we are looking forward to the process of defending this case,” said his attorney Kevin Smith, on Thursday.

In response to the Friday morning press conference, Fotis Dulos’ attorney Norm Pattis told News 8:

“Jennifer’s disappearance remains a tragic mystery. Using it to advance legislative change is mere crisis mongering. Hysteria is not a sound basis for public policy.”

Attorney Norm Pattis

“Domestic abuse and domestic violence has been a crisis forever,” responded Bergstein. “We are shining a light on it, and I would say that anyone who uses the word ‘hysteria’ in the context of speaking about a woman is attacking the credibility of all women.”

“Hysteria” was an interesting choice. It’s a word with a complicated history. It has been used dismissively to refer to mental illness that only happens in women.

The recent issues go far beyond the Dulos case. Around Thanksgiving, Christine Holloway was brutally murdered in her Ansonia home and her daughter is still missing. Her boyfriend the only suspect named by police.

Remember Perrie Mason of Meriden? Her fiance is under arrest and her body was found near where he works this past summer.

The idea is that a relationship or a family breaking up is always sad and difficult, but those situations should never result in violence and murder.

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