MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — The mother of the seven-month-old missing in the Connecticut River since his father jumped from the Arrigoni Bridge Sunday night tried to take out a restraining order against the father, but it was denied.
In a June 17 letter, Adrianne Oyola warned that her son, Aaden Moreno, was in danger. She had received a temporary restraining order and was asking the court for a permanent restraining order against the child’s father, Tony Moreno.
“I am afraid he is going to do something to my son,” Oyola wrote. “He is angry and probably isn’t thinking straight. He told me he could make my son disappear anytime of the day.”
At a June 29 hearing, Oyola’s story changed. When asked why she wanted a restraining order against Moreno, she said “for multiple reasons”.
“He’s just very abusive, not physically, but mentally,” Oyola said to family court judge Barry Pinkus.
Pinkus denied that request for a longer restraining order.
“I’m just not convinced that there’s a continuous threat of present physical pain or physical injury,” Judge Pinkus said, according to a transcript of the hearing. “I think the two of you don’t have a good relationship.”
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Director of Public Policy Liza Andrews says the classic warning signs of domestic violence were present in this case.
“There were very clear indications of both present physical violence as well as threats of physical violence,” she said.
Oyola claimed Moreno “has shoved me, pushed me, forcefully poked my chest and forehead.”
According to state records, about half of the applications for restraining order are denied. Pinkus denied 55-percent of the applications he decided in the last year. It is unclear from the records if those that were denied had another judge rule on the application.
Andrews says the numbers of approved applications is far too low. There are simple steps that can be taken to raise those numbers.
“What we’re seeing in this instance is not unusual where a restraining order is denied when we feel that there was clear merit to the case,” said Andrews.
She says it all comes down to training court staff and judges, as does Barry Goldstein, an expert scholar on domestic violence and custody courts.
“The courts developed practices that turned out to be wrong,” Goldstein said. “They’re not using experts or research, and in turn they tend to minimize true allegations of abuse.”
“Make the health and safety of children the first priority in all custody/visitation decisions. Seems obvious, but that’s not what the court is doing,” he said. “They need to err on the side of safety instead of taking risks with children.”
WTNH has obtained a copy of the transcript where a restraining order against Tony Moreno was denied