DENVER -- With a majority vote in the state House of Representatives, Colorado lawmakers took a huge step toward better protecting children from domestic abuse Thursday.
It comes following dozens of Denver7 investigations into the murder of 10-year-old Ty Tesoriero September 2019 in Lone Tree.
“We passed a really, really big piece of legislation,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Adams County, one of the lawmakers backing House Bill 1099. “In Colorado’s Children’s Code, there is no definition of domestic abuse and that drives the way children are handled when they’re in custody situations.”
HB21-1099 would change that. It requires the Department of Humans Services to create a domestic violence task force. The diverse group of people will then be tasked with creating a new definition of child abuse that includes domestic violence in state law.
The original version of the bill created a definition of domestic violence, but after pushback from some lawmakers, the bill sponsors rewrote the legislation. Under the amended version, the task force is now responsible with creating the definition by the end of 2022.
The same group will also make recommendations on how to better train case workers on how to spot all forms of domestic abuse.
“Now, we have a lot more voices at the table. This is one more step in the puzzle, and it's a big puzzle in Colorado,” Michaelson Jenet said.
“We’re addressing a problem that we have seen in state statute that has then trickled down to residents in the state,” said Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County, the other co-sponsor of the bill.
“I’m glad to see they’re using Ty’s story and actually pushing this bill,” Ty’s mother, Jing Tesoriero, said back in February when the bill was first introduced.
A Denver7 Investigates series of reports showed how the system failed to protect Ty. It uncovered a Department of Human Services ill-equipped to manage domestic violence abusers, especially when that abuse doesn’t come with bumps and bruises, as was the case with Jing and Ty.
“You brought the story to the public,” Michaelson Jenet said.
Ty’s father, Anthony Tesoriero, was a convicted domestic violence abuser and continued to have coercive power and control over Jing and Ty.
The murder-suicide happened hours after a contentious court hearing in which Anthony learned he was going to lose custody of his son. But despite that, a Douglas County judge let Ty have one more night with his dad. It was a decision that cost Ty his life, and Jing Tesoriero her son.
“I am devastated by her loss and I am grateful for her sharing her story so that we can fix the law so this doesn’t happen again,” Michaelson Jenet said.
The bill has broad bipartisan support and will now move to the Senate. Sens. Jim Smallwood, R-Parker, and Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, are also sponsors.