Senator Mike Nozzolio, Chairman of the New York State Codes Committee, who also served for over a decade as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections, today was joined by other advocates against domestic violence in voicing sharp criticism of a memo from the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) for their opposition to the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, also known as “Brittany’s Law”.
Dale Driscoll, whose daughter, Helen and granddaughter Brittany were brutally and savagely murdered by an individual with a history of domestic violence, has worked with Senator Nozzolio to create the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. “The memo released earlier this month by the NYSCADV presents a very biased, patently false and hurtful narrative about Brittany’s Law and my efforts to prevent other families from suffering the kind of emotional loss my family has suffered,” said Dale Driscoll.   
“This so-called advocacy group appears to be more concerned with the welfare of those individuals who actually inflict violence against the innocent victims of domestic violence. The memo is callously insensitive to domestic violence victims, is disheartening, hypocritical and emotionally traumatizing to those who have suffered harm and serious injury from the violent perpetrators that this Coalition is unbelievably now trying to protect,” said Senator Nozzolio. “It is extremely unfortunate, but this organization, which receives substantial taxpayer dollars, has lost its way. Shielding violent abusers defies all logic and reason and for the NYSCADV to suggest that remaining unaware of previous domestic violence acts would make a potential victim safer, makes no sense,” continued Dale Driscoll.
“Among the more ridiculously absurd assertions, the NYSCADV claims that potential victims are at greater risk if they obtain information that lets them know they are in a relationship with a person previously convicted of domestic violence,” admonished Dale Driscoll. “Unfortunately, it appears that the NYSCADV is more preoccupied with protecting criminals, as they actively oppose Brittany’s Law which at its core is about protecting victims by empowering them with information,” continued Senator Nozzolio.
Brittany’s Law is named for 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua. Brittany and her mother Helen Buchel were brutally murdered by Helen’s boyfriend, a violent convicted felon, at their home in Geneva in 2009. The perpetrator had been released early from prison after serving only 2 ½ years of his sentence for violently assaulting his infant daughter, from a previous relationship. The nature of his crime was unknown to Helen and her family, the creation of a domestic violence offender registry would have made these previous acts public.
Senator Nozzolio has continued his efforts to enact the measure into law and has worked with law enforcement officials, crime victims’ advocates, Dale Driscoll and Joan Tandle, Brittany Passalacqua's grandmothers. Brittany’s Law has passed the New York State Senate every year beginning in 2011 with an average of twenty bi-partisan cosponsors. Democrat Assemblymembers and bill sponsors, Aileen Gunther, Marcos Crespo and Matthew Titone have been staunch advocates and partners to Senator Nozzolio in their bi-partisan efforts to see Brittany’s Law pass in both houses of the New York State Legislature. 
“Brittany’s Law is a preventative measure, our goal is to prevent cases of domestic violence before they occur,” said Dale Driscoll. “Police officers, the court system, and the NYSCADV all have information about prior domestic violence incidences, why can’t victims and potential victims,” Driscoll continued. “The implementation of a Domestic Violence registry would inform potential victims that they are at risk and greatly reduce the cases of domestic violence in New York State.”
“Domestic violence affects all races, religions, ages and classes; it does not discriminate. In the United States, every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten,” said Senator Nozzolio. “By putting new safeguards in place to track violent offenders and keep our communities informed of their whereabouts, Brittany’s Law will undoubtedly save lives. Rather than focusing on protecting the rights of criminals, NYSCADV should be joining our efforts to protect the rights of victims by passing Brittany’s Law and enacting tougher sentencing laws for violent criminals, and reinforcing laws to protect women and children from domestic violence,” concluded Senator Nozzolio.

One of the most pressing questions for the survivors of Domestic Violence seems to be "why won't you just leave the situation?" Surely they can get away from the abuse they face almost daily.

According to Melissa Jeltsen, a Senior Editor at the Huffington Post who focuses her efforts on Domestic Violence, it not as simple as the outsider might believe. Whether it's based on finances, fear, lack of a safe shelter, the belief they can't do better or the involvement in the situation of dependent children there are many factors.

Jeltsen sat down with six Domestic Violence victims and who shared their personal stories of why they felt forced to stay in a desperate situation. She shows the human side of this tragedy that victims often find themselves trapped in.

To read all of the stories you can go to:

Every day on average 3 women in the United States are killed in acts of Domestic Violence by their partners. In fact, acts of Domestic Violence take place every nine seconds across this country and will impact one in three women during their lifetime and one in four men.

Melissa Jeltsen, a Senior Editor at the Huffington Post who focuses on Domestic Violence recently asked her readers to submit ideas on how to stop Domestic Violence and she posted 59 suggestions that cover a range of areas. 

The writer looks at the Criminal Justice System, Gun Safety Reform, Financial Assistance, Education and Training, Divorce and Child Custody, Support Services and Shelter and the Workplace and gives ideas in each area where people should focus their attention.

To read the full article Jeltsen you can go to:

Why would an organization with the tag line 'Protect Rights. Promote Justice. Prevent Domestic Violence.' oppose the Domestic Violence Prevention Act?




Protect Rights. Promote Justice. Prevent Domestic Violence.


We need your help! 


Today, we are calling on advocates and allies around the state to deliver an important message to the Governor and Legislature before they come to a final agreement on this year's state budget. A few minutes of your time can make a big impact in the lives of survivors!


Cut and paste the message below into an email with the subject line State Budget Requests, and send to the representatives listed at the bottom of this email. And then call their offices to make the same requests. Be sure to leave a message if they don't pick up, they make a note of every message they receive.


"We are a coalition of domestic violence advocates and allies working to ensure that the New York State budget process prioritizes the needs of survivors of domestic violence and the programs that work to support them. We ask that you:

  • Support the Assembly's proposal to provide $4 million in funding for non-residential domestic violence programs (A.9003-B)
  • Support the Assembly and Governor Cuomo's proposal to provide $50 million in supportive housing programs that include survivors of domestic violence(A.9004-B)
  • Strongly oppose the Senate's proposal for the creation of a domestic violence offender registry. A registry would create harmful unintended consequences for victims and their families, and would divert funding away survivor support services. (S.6405-B) 
  • Strongly oppose the Senate's proposal for a public approval process for new domestic violence shelters in New York City. Such a process would be an outright violation of state and federal law. (S.6406-B [SA1] )
  • Support the Senate's proposal to prioritize domestic violence survivors in NYC for Section 8 housing (S.6406-B)
  • Support the Assembly's proposal to create a NYC family eviction prevention housing supplement program that includes survivors of domestic violence(A.9005-B)
  • Support increased funding for civil legal services for survivors of domestic violence.
  • Support the Paid Family Leave act and the #15andFunding campaign that would create important economic security supports to survivors of domestic violence



 All the best,



                 Recently the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) sent out an e-mail (Memorandum of Opposition to Budget Bill S.6405-B, Part V) asking the Governor and Legislators to oppose the creation of a domestic violence registry. Their argument against such a registry is curious at best. This is a group that proclaims themselves as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, but they are fighting for the rights of the perpetrators of this crime.

                In their opposition letter they state that the bill, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (also known as Brittany's Law) is racist in nature due to "the racial disparity within the criminal justice system. According to the NAACP, African Americans and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population. " They leave out the important fact that this group commits a significantly larger percentage of all crime in the US.

                It is amazing how every time people want to oppose something they want to throw out the race card. Domestic Violence doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or any other demographic you want to throw out. The facts are simple, one in three women and one in four men will be the victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.

                This law simply requires violent REPEAT offenders to register in a manner similar to the sex offender registry know as Megan's Law.

                The next area they target has to do with the safety of the perpetrator and the possibility of retaliation by the victim or their families.

                They state that "posting a perpetrator's name can lead to escalated danger of retaliatory violence by an offender who blames the victim for exposing the abuse to their social circles and to the community in which they reside. Furthermore , we can envision circumstances where a victim sees their partner's name on the registry, asks the partner about this, and is then at a heightened risk of acute confrontation and violence from that partner."

                That is also not realistic. It seems much more likely that the victim will look at the registry, see that their partner has committed a pattern of violent acts and leave the situation. This is the point where the NYSCADV should be stepping in to help these victims leave. They could seek an order of protection and not wind up in the hospital in a coma or in the morgue.  You have to wonder whose side the NYSCADV is really on.

                 Here are a couple of real life cases where the registry would have made a REAL difference. Brittany Passalagua, a 12-year-old from Geneva, N.Y. was killed along with her mother, Helen Buchel by John Edward Brown using a box cutter to slash their throats.

                Brown had been released from prison after serving a two and a half year term for slamming his three year old child against a wall causing permanent brain damage. He told Helen he had been in jail for getting into a bar fight to protect a woman. That was a LIE.

                My daughter, Shannon Pepper was attacked by Anthony Nevone, who was arrested 20 times, convicted 17 times for various crimes, including 8 arrests for domestic violence. Nevone told Shannon the same tale that Brown used to explain his incarcerations. It was a LIE.

                As I said earlier, the registry would give people a tool they could use to find out the background of the person they are about to get involved with. It gives everyone the right to know if the person has shown a pattern of violence and might save the life of the person you love. It would also save the state perhaps millions on unnecessary medical bills.

                The NYSCADV also argues that "registries not only expose perpetrators of domestic violence, they expose victims of domestic violence. Exposing the identity of the victim is more likely with a domestic violence registry."

                That is total non-sense. The sex offender registry does not identify the victim and this registry would not identify the domestic violence victim either. Why do groups like the NYSCADV fabricate facts to create fear to make their case? This bill and its provision for a registry won't stop domestic violence, but it gives the unwitting partner in a relationship a chance to know who they have become involved with, so they might be able to avoid serious danger.

                The NYSCADV cites the cost of a registry as another reason for their opposition. The cost of this registry pales in comparison to the cost to taxpayers for medical bills from the acts of violence by the perpetrators of domestic violence.

                The NYSCADV claims "the expenses incurred by the state would divert critical funding from services that provide emergency and long term assistance for victims and their families." This registry could be combined with the sex offender registry and the cost is really minimal at best.

                The last argument by the NYSCADV  is really the only one that they have, which is that they believe, as stated in the previous paragraph, it is financial.  It seems like they are afraid they might lose some of their funding, if domestic violence cases were ever to be reduced.  Really? The other parts of their arguments were all about money for their programs. Most of the funding request I am in agreement with.

                Nobody is advocating that they lose even a single dime of funding. The millions they receive from New York State could be better spent on education, counseling and prevention programs.

                As a parent of a domestic violence victim, I don't care about the privacy rights of the person who savagely attacked my daughter over a two day period. I don't care about John Edward Brown's rights after what he did to Brittany and Helen. They gave up their rights to privacy when they chose to commit vicious acts of violence against innocent people.

                  I have one question for the victims of domestic violence and all residents of New York State. How do you feel knowing that the people who should be advocating for the victims are instead supporting and fighting for the rights of the perpetrators of the crimes against them? 

By Brian Kolb

NYS Assembly Minority Leader


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to consider how the scourge of domestic violence impacts our families and to focus on ways to prevent the unacceptable number of cases. Domestic violence comes in many forms, including— isolation, verbal abuse, threats, emotional and physical abuse, and sexual abuse. In all cases of domestic violence, the abusive party tries to gain power over their victims and each has devastating effects. It is my sincere hope that through awareness and legislation we can root it out of New York. I have long advocated for Brittany’s Law, which would create a registry of violent offenders much like the state’s sex offender registry. By giving New Yorkers the tools they need to keep safe, we could prevent tragedy before it hits home.
According to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, there were 65 intimate partner homicides and an astounding 12,073 charges of strangulation statewide in 2014. Of the more than 100,000 assaults reported to police agencies outside of New York City, nearly 29,000 were from intimate partners. The New York State Domestic Violence Dashboard shows that the number of probation cases added to local department caseloads has jumped 20 percent since 2013.
There are tens of thousands of families each year dealing with the horrific consequences of domestic violence and the physical and emotional damage from incidences often has a lasting impact. For information and resources regarding domestic violence, visit
Brittany’s Law was born out of a tragedy within my district. In 2009, 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua was murdered along with her mother, Helen Buchel, in Geneva. The two were killed by John Edward Brown, a parolee serving time for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Ms. Buchel was unaware of Brown’s violent history.
Year after year I have fought for Brittany’s Law’s passage in the Assembly. And, year after year it has passed the Senate, but not the Assembly. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther is the Assembly Majority sponsor of the bill (A.1833), of which I am a co-sponsor, but despite this bipartisan support, the bill has languished. How many more incidences will it take before we pass this life-saving public safety measure? While this month is set aside to shed light on these terrible crimes, we must remember they happen every single day. I sincerely urge my colleagues to pass this common-sense legislation in 2016 to help give potential victims a much-needed lifeline.

     On February 21, 2015 my daughter, Shannon Pepper lost her life in a tragic fire in Cuba, N.Y. Shannon spent the last several years of her life as a victim of domestic violence and was an advocate for the passage of Brittany's Law.

     Brittany's Law is named for 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua, who was brutally and savagely murdered along with her mother, Helen Buchel, at their home in Geneva, New York in November 2009. The perpetrator was John Edward Brown, a violent convicted felon who had been released from prison early after serving only 2 ½ years for assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. It was first introduced for consideration  in 2011.

     In my daughter's case her domestic violence started while she was married. Like many women who are victims of domestic violence,  her husband introduced her to alcohol use and then used alcohol to control her and to destroy her. He would deny her food until she was willing to have a drink. After the first sip of vodka, the fist would fly and she would threaten to call the police. When they arrived they would side with her husband, and tell her she was at fault. They never would look at his part in the abuse and ultimately she was forced to leave her home and children.

     Shannon's husband would tell her that she could never find anyone better, that she was worthless and that he would leave her penniless and that he would take her children from her. In the end he kept his promise.

     In 2012, her husband kidnapped her from Olean, N.Y. and over a two to three hour period tortured her and threatened to kill her. A Seneca Nation of Indians Marshall on his way home for dinner stumbled upon the scene and prevented Shannon's death that night. Her husband, Dean accepted a plea deal for three years probation for his acts. The light sentence was due to the fact that Shannon kept winding up at his house drunk and confused after he would use alcohol to coerce her to go there. In a sense she was blamed for his actions. He would use her weakness against a horrible disease to control her yet again.

     My daughter had very low self esteem and that combined with her battles with alcoholism stemming from the domestic violence, led her to date a number of guys and they all seemed to share the traits of her husband. They continued the pattern of domestic violence she had become accustomed to, despite my wife and I, as well as her friends trying to steer her clear of these people.

     In 2013, she met Anthony Nevone, a man she thought was a gentle giant. Little did she know that he had committed a string of violent acts and that he had served many years in prison for his past acts. On July 13, 2013, he spent two days torturing our daughter. He shattered her jaw, broke her nose, eye sockets, collar bone and eight ribs. He tried to shove a CD player down her throat, stomped on her back with his boots and left her with her brain floating in blood. She wound up in a coma for three weeks and was not expected to survive.

     Had Brittany's Law been passed by the New York State Assembly, Shannon might have been spared from this torture. She could have gone on line and found out what kind of a monster, Mr. Nevone was. He told my daughter that he had been to prison, but lied about what he had been charged with.

     Shannon spent the last year and a half in excruciating pain from the injuries inflicted by Anthony Nevone. Due to her shattered jaw, her teeth would literally fall out when she ate. She spent much of her time meeting with medical doctors who tried to make her comfortable by managing her pain. She also had frequent visits with doctors who were helping her cope with the mental pain she was dealing with.

     According to New York State Senator Mike Nozzolio, on his website, Brittany’s Law represents a major step forward for New York in the fight against violent crime and domestic abuse crimes. By putting new measures in place to track violent offenders and keeping our communities informed of their whereabouts, Brittany’s Law will save lives. As Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee and former Chairman of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, I am committed to enacting tougher sentencing laws for violent criminals, reinforcing laws to protect women and children from domestic violence, and strengthening the rights of crime victims to prevent future tragedy from occurring,” said Senator Nozzolio. 

     "The time to pass Brittany's Law is now," Assistant Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said. "A registry of violent offenders saves lives, prevents crimes and makes our neighborhoods safer. This is common sense legislation that has moved through the Senate and has bipartisan support in the Assembly. This should be passed by the end of the legislative session. Victims of violent crimes have waited far too long for the Assembly to act." 

     "The tragic death of Brittany Passalacqua - and the horrific mutilation of Andrew Lesperance of Massena - underscores the need for a registry of violent offenders. We have a responsibility to keep our communities safe. Brittany's Law will bring good out of tragedy, by giving families the information they need to know who is living in their neighborhood. The state's sex offender registry has helped many; we're expecting the same for the violent offender database. I thank Senator Nozzolio for his leadership on this bill, and urge my Assembly colleagues to join us in passing this important piece of legislation, " Kolb added

     The New York State Senate adopted Brittany’s Law in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, but the New York City-controlled leadership of the State Assembly has repeatedly refused to bring this important legislation to the floor for a vote. Senator Nozzolio has continued his efforts to see the measure enacted into law and has worked with law enforcement officials, crime victims’ advocates and Dale Driscoll, grandmother to Brittany Passalacqua, for whom the law is named.

     Senator Cathy Young another supporter of the legislation added. "There are members of the assembly from New York City who constantly block criminal justice measures designed to protect the public," she said. "We need to put pressure on them to finally do the right thing, so Shannon can continue to have a voice." 

     "All we need now for the violent offender registry to become a reality is for the State Assembly to adopt Brittany’s Law. New York State currently requires all convicted sex offenders to register with the State and keeps track of those individuals. It makes no sense that we do not do the same for those who commit violent felony crimes against our citizens. We cannot continue to put innocent New Yorkers at risk," concluded Senator Nozzolio.

     On May 18, 2015 the Senate passed the Domestic Violence Prevention Act for a fifth time by a 46-14 margin and despite Democratic opposition by Senators Velamanette Montgomery and Daniel Squadron among others. Both Senators opposed the bill because they claimed it was too broad in its scope and failed to give the perpetrators of domestic violence a second chance. This despite the fact that the recidivisms rates of violent offenders has been proven to be very high.

     John Brown used his second chance to murder Passalacqua and her mother, while Nevone had 19 second chances.

     Passalacqua didn't get a second chance to attend her prom, marry and have children or to become a person who would leave a mark on the world for her extraordinary works. Shannon didn't have a second chance to see her children grow up and to become a proud grandmother. She never got to see her daughter star in Shrek the Musical or to see her children attend college and see where their path in life would take them.

     Their families, including their mothers and grandmothers have a life sentence of heartbreak because people like Montgomery and Squadron and 12 other Democrats  are more concerned with the rights of the perpetrators than the rights of the victims and their families. One can only hope that this is not partisan politics because this is a common sense law.

     Brittany Passalacqua, Helen Buchel, Andrew Lesperance and Shannon Pepper don't need to have died in vain. People can sign a petition on to push the New York State Senate and Assembly to pass Brittany's Law. The laws need to change now, so others may be spared the tragedies of the people mentioned above and many, many others. This is a law that needs to be adopted by every state in the United States of America.