Jacqueline Franchetti has turned her nightmare into a cause for change, specifically for the family courts system in New York. The Manhasset resident recently went up to Albany to testify on the matter, previously working on a federal resolution passed in the House
of Representatives last year, but has yet to be taken up by the Senate.
Franchetti’s 2 year-old daughter Kyra was with her father in Virginia on a court-sanctioned visit when he shot her twice in the back. He then proceeded to set his home on fire and killed himself as well.
“I had ended the relationship when I was pregnant with Kyra at the time,” Franchetti said. “It was an abusive relationship and similar to many others who have been in abusive relationships, you leave many times before it’s final. I left to keep Kyra safe. Many abusers will use the family courts as another way to not only abuse the other person, but also, it’s all about power and control. He wanted to use the family court system as a way to torture me. Ultimately, he used it as a way to murder Kyra.”
After Kyra was born in April 2014, Franchetti found herself in family court a month later fighting for custody. She also warned the judge that the father was abusive, cursed at her in front of Kyra, stalked her and was not following medical directives for Kyra. The judge, Danielle Peterson, told her to “grow up,” and at the last court hearing, said, “this is not a life or death situation,” according to Franchetti.
Franchetti was rebuffed by Peterson after trying to set up a meeting in the wake of Kyra’s death. She believes that the court is not set up to protect children, but protect those that may endanger them.
“Family court is not a place that you’d want to be,” Franchetti said. “I was shocked to find out that our court system is set up to protect the abuser and not the child, and that needs to change.”
She is now focusing her activism at the state level to make changes that could have saved Kyra’s life and others in the future.
“I’m focusing in my efforts now in New York State and making changes in New York State,” she said. “Congressional resolutions are a message to the state, things are wrong, so see what you can do to make amends or fix them. Federal courts and federal legislation does not have jurisdiction over state courts. That’s why I’ve been approaching and talking to New York state legislators about making changes happen here.”
While there is no current legislation in New York State, Franchetti believes her message was well received and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz might be the one to sponsor such a bill. Dinowitz could not be reached for comment.
“I testified in front of the New York State Assembly, the chairman of the judiciary, chairman of families and children and the chairwoman of social services held a joint committee hearing on family court and the rights of children,” Franchetti said. “I was one of the people who spoke and asked for legislative changes. I’m very hopeful that we’ll see some wonderful things stem from this. I want to commend, especially Assemblyman Dinowitz who heads up the judiciary committee. He’s certainly taking a leadership role and I’m very thankful for that.”
Franchetti now runs the Kyra Franchetti Foundation full-time after previously being the chief marketing officer of Franchetti Communications in Port Washington.