Lawmakers, activists push for passage of orders of protection bill named after murdered Dutchess County woman
Lawmakers and advocates of Melanie’s Law were in Albany Wednesday calling on passage of the bill, allowing courts to issue orders of protection for the household family members of a victim, regardless of age.
The proposed law is named after 29-year-old Melanie Chianese, who was murdered in 2022 by her mother’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Paul Senecal in Wappingers.
Her mother, Cheryl Chianese, had a restraining order at the time of her daughter’s death. She says the court denied her request before the fatal stabbing to issue one to Melanie, who, along with her young son, lived with Cheryl.
Current state law only allows courts to grant orders of protections for a victim’s underage household members.
Senecal was on probation and had GPS monitoring at the time of the vicious attack. He was sentenced in April to life without parole.
The bill is sponsored Assemblyman Anil Beephan Jr. (R,C-East Fishkill), Sen. Rob Rolison and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Maher (R,C-Walden).
“Domestic violence doesn’t just impact one person; it affects an entire family. It then only makes sense to extend orders of protection from violent people to an entire household. Having provided an order of protection to Melanie Chianese could have helped save her life by keeping away her killer, the same man who was harassing her mother,” said Maher. “I hope bipartisan support for this bill can grow so we can get this passed by the end of the legislative session.”
Melanie Chianese graduated posthumously from Dutchess County Community College last week. Her mother joined lawmakers at the state capitol in support of the bill.