Domestic Violence bill heads to governor’s desk for signature but not without controversy

Politics

Conn. (WTNH) — A bill that expands the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature.

But during the floor debate in the statehouse – at least one lawmaker questioned the timing of when a crucial section of the new law goes into effect.

RELATED: CT House passes bill known as Jennifers’ Law, expanding definition of domestic violence in the state

State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw a Democrat from Avon was friends with Jennifer Farber Dulos. The missing Mom from New Canaan. “It’s difficult to stand here as I vibrate with emotion.”
She testified in favor of the legislation.

The bill to expand the definition of domestic violence, Jennifer’s Law, now includes the idea of coercive control. A concept where money, food, and a person’s whereabouts are controlled by a significant other.

State Representative Steven Stafstrom, a Democrat from Bridgeport who is Chair of the Judiciary Committee, stated on the floor of the chamber during the debate, “even though the definition becomes effective upon passage, one could not use the new definition to apply for a temporary restraining order until Oct. 1, 2021.”

Which then brought up a round of questions from the Republican Ranking member of the committee, State Representative Craig Fishbein from Cheshire. “Are we looking to protect victims, or something else going on here? If only the public knew why those who claim to protect victims of domestic violence won’t let those victims utilize this concept for another four months.”

Sources tell News 8, there is controversy over whether State Senator Alex Kasser asked for the coercive control effective date to be changed to better her own personal standing in a heated divorce case with her husband Seth Bergstein, a Morgan Stanley Executive.

The case according to Judicial Documents obtained by News 8 starts in August via a remote hearing in Stamford Court.

Jodi Latina, News 8 Chief Political Correspondent asked “I have to ask you a very difficult question. There are folks in this building that are saying the effective date was changed to help you out in your personal situation. I want to be sensitive to your privacy, but can you comment on whether that’s true?”

State Senator Alex Kasser responded by defending the bill. “Absolutely not. Absolutely not, this legislation is not about me. This legislation is about all survivors of domestic violence and there are literally thousands.”

State Sen. Alex Kasser adds, “Restraining orders using the new definition are effective immediately. Every day it’s delayed, more victims are harmed and killed. This law saves lives.”

Kasser said she is pleased advocates rallied for the new law which once signed and will help victims fight back in civil court against alleged abusers.

State Senator Alex Kasser adds, “90% of domestic violence comes in other forms sometimes hard to see from the outside. Financial abuse emotional abuse.”

Kasser tells News 8, the other changes in the bill require the Judicial branch to change procedures and they needed time.

Senator Kasser has hired famed divorce attorney Robert Cohen. He has represented the ex-wives of former President Donald Trump and most recently he’s helped Melinda Gates in her mega billion-dollar divorce from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The Speaker of the House also mentioned in a news conference earlier in the week, that he was upset by the tone of an email sent by Connecticut Protective Moms. The email sent on Tuesday accused lawmakers of not supporting the bill because they work for law firms that litigate family court cases.

“It seems more and more in politics that there’s a new tactic where you send nasty emails,” said Speaker Ritter. “We are very supportive of this bill.”

The bill SB 1091 passed overwhelmingly in both chambers.

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