MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mother’s somber fight for child safety continues in Albany and beyond.
Her Long Island community calls her efforts “the best gift” for children who are caught up in custody battles involving abusive parents.
“When I go to her grave, I still bring Elmo and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dolls,” Jacqueline Franchetti told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Five years ago this week, the Manhasset mom kissed her 2-year-old daughter, Kyra, for the last time. The toddler was allowed a court-sanctioned visit with her dad. The parents were in a bitter custody dispute.
“I found out that her father had taken her,” Franchetti said.
He had taken Kyra across state lines and then did the unthinkable; the father killed his young daughter, set the house on fire and took his own life.
“Every red flag was going off, every warning signal … Her father had purchased not one but two guns,” Franchetti said.
Months earlier, Nassau Family Court learned Franchetti was being stalked and threatened by her ex. CPS reported his anger and rage issues, but a judge ruled “low risk.”
“He stated that we should share joint custody because a father should always play a role in a child’s life,” Franchetti said.
Family court judges often rely solely on forensic custodial evaluations, rather than listening to parents or looking at violent or abusive behavior.
“I was constantly told, ‘Well, just because he abused you doesn’t mean he’ll abuse the child,'” Franchetti said.
Franchetti is now on a crusade. Her community is behind her and so is celebrity Christie Brinkley.
Three bills, including Kyra’s Law to protect the health and safety of vulnerable children, are pending in Albany.
“Children who have been court-ordered into the home of a dangerous parent deserve more,” Franchetti said.
“A case like the Valva tragedy or this case with Kyra, no more. It’s time that that change,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.
The bills include mandated training for judges and custody evaluators and spot-check supervised visits.
“This is the epidemic that will outlast the current pandemic unless changes are made,” Franchetti said.
There is growing support among the Assembly and Senate for Kyra’s Law.