Why Was ‘Rookie’ CT Judge Called in to Make Significant Jennifer’s Law Distortion? Judge O’Neill Took Three Teens From Mother Against Their Wishes

Who is really behind this man? Judge Thomas O"Neill formerly of Day Pitney now CT Superiopr Court judge

Connecticut Judge Thomas J. O’Neill granted Christopher Ambrose’s petition for Restraining Orders

Karen Riordan  is now barred from seeing her children, Mia, 16, Matthew, 16 and Sawyer, 13, for one year.

After a two-day hearing, Judge O’Neill that  Riordan had abused their three children by forcing them to make false claims against Ambrose

Christopher Ambrose
Christopher Ambrose

Ambrose petitioned the court on the teenager’s behalf, even though all three teenagers recently escaped his Madison, Connecticut home.

Attorney Alexander J. Cuda of Westport, Connecticut, represented Ambrose.

Attorney Alexander Cuda
Attorney Alexander Cuda

Riordan represented herself.

Riordan must stay  100 yards away her children


Fairfield residents Vikki Cooper and Thomas J. O'Neill have been nominated by Gov. Ned Lamont to be Connecticut Superior Court judges, the governor announced this week.

Ambrose has been attempting to force his teenage children to live with him. They accuse him of sexual abuse and assault.

Who is Judge O’Neill?

Thomas J. O’Neill was sworn in as a Connecticut Superior Court judge on May 4 of this year. He was nominated to serve on the bench by Governor Ned Lamont and confirmed by the General Assembly.

O’Neill was recently a partner at the national law firm Day Pitney LLP in the firm’s Stamford, Connecticut office.


CT Superior Court Judge Thomas O’Neill
CT Superior Court Judge Thomas O’Neill

A civil trial attorney, O’Neill represented clients in complex litigation, including claims for fraud, commercial lease disputes, corporate dissolutions, claims for breaches of fiduciary duties, and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), according to a press release previously issued by Day Pitney LLP.

There is no mention of any previous family law or family court experience for Judge O’Neill.

Last Minute Switch of Judges

This case was recently with Judge Gladys Idelis Nieves. Judge Nieves was appointed to the bench by Governor Lamont in 2021.

Judge Neives

Before joining the judiciary, Nieves presided as a Family Support Magistrate in the Connecticut Judicial Branch, a position she held since 2014. Before that, she operated her own private practice, the Law Offices of Gladys I. Nieves. She specialized in family and child welfare litigation, including child abuse and neglect.

Nieves also spent time as a senior staff attorney at the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society in South Bronx, New York, and a litigation associate in the Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn law firm.

In other words, the last judge, who refused to bar Riordan from her children, had family law experience.

Judge O’Neill seems to have none.

On top of that, this case involved Jennifer’s law, a relatively new law enacted in 2021 by the Connecticut legislature.

The law expanded Connecticut’s definition of domestic violence to include coercive control, which is “a pattern of behavior toward a person who is, or has been, an intimate partner or family or household member… which causes fear or harm to such person or restricts such person’s freedom of action.”

The law identifies examples of coercive control, including physical violence, the threat of physical violence, stalking and cyberstalking, isolating a person from family, friends, and other sources of support, denying a person resources needed for independence, and manipulative control over a person’s activities.

All these malignant behaviors have been attributed to Ambrose, not Riordan, by his teenage children.

Why was Judge Nieves, with decades of family law experience, substituted for Judge O’Neill with no family court experience, in a case dealing with such an emerging area of law – Jennifer’s Law?

Karen Riordan alleges her former lawyer, Edward Nusbaum of Westport, Connecticut, is an "Attorney-Predator" in recently-filed court documents.
Karen Riordan cannot compete with the money and influence of her ex husband Chris Ambrose.

Did Riordan Have a Meaningful Opportunity To Be Heard?

Judge O’Neill found Ambrose established Riordan exerted coercive control over the children.

The factual basis for many of these claims against Riordan came from  findings and orders made by Judge Gerard Adelman in early 2022.

Since then, many legally significant changes to the factual record have occurred. Mia and Matthew filed petitions with the Superior Court, Juvenile Division, alleging verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by Ambrose.

The filed petitions allege that underage drinking, drugs, and sex regularly occurs, with children as young as 14 having sex with men as old as 23.

According to records obtained from the Connecticut DCF, an allegation of sexual penetration was lodged against Ambrose.

Also, respected psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee, M.D., identified Ambrose as likely psychopathic,

At the hearing before Judge O’Neill, Riordan attempted to show that Ambrose committed domestic violence through threats, abuse, harassment, verbal humiliation, and general psychopathy.

Judge O’Neill ignored it.

Riordan attempted to call Dr. Lee to testify. Judge O’Neill would not allow it.

Riordan requested an adjournment to call Mia, Matthew, and Sawyer – the supposed victims – as witnesses. Judge O’Neill denied the request.

Judge O’Neill allowed non-public attorney grievance information supplied by Ambrose’s attorney, Alex Cuda after having been improperly disclosed by attorney Edward Nusbaum.

Judge O’Neill’s inexperience with family law was evident in his failing to address:

  • How the TRO is supposed to take effect, and where the children are supposed to live because they were residing with their mother?
  • Did Judge O’Neill intend to send the children to foster care?
  • Did he expect they would be forced back to the father?
  • Or didn’t he think that far?
  • How can Jennifer’s Law be the basis for the TRO petition? Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Mangano, the women after whom the law was named, were both victims of murder by their ex-spouses (who both thereafter committed suicide). Jennifer’s law was intended to be a “safety valve,” allowing Court intervention before a situation develops fatally violent where there are existing tell-tale signs and concerns.
    Does Judge O’Neill (or anyone else) think 110-pound Karen Riordan will personally and physically harm Christopher Ambrose?

Riordan may have a chance to have the order rescinded on appeal. In the meantime, what happens to the children?

The Appearance of Impropriety

Is Judge O’Neill this “green” in family law? Or was he placed on this case as a “contract?”

Something stinks here. The appearance of impropriety is overwhelming.

First, why was Judge Nieves taken off the case?

The July 21, 2023, hearing before Judge Nieves, saw her tell Ambrose she would not force the teenagers to go to him.

Would Judge Nieves have made a ruling that would have rendered the children homeless or wards of the foster care system?

Judge Nieves told Ambrose’s attorney Christopher Goulden that his motions made no sense.

Attorney Chris Goulden could not secure the arrest of Riordan so he was fired

Goulden told Judge Nieves what Ambrose was after:

“We are willing to withdraw all the motions if the court schedules an emergency motion to arrest Riordan,” Goulden said.

Ambrose sent Goulden in to get Riordan thrown into jail.

After July 21, it was clear that Goulden had no “firepower” and was not willing to get “dirty” enough, not for Ambrose.

Then, Ambrose hired the biggest gun he can — the former Chair of the State Bar Association, Family Law Section, Alexander Cuda,  as the “hatchet man.”

Cuda has the right friends in the State Bar and the judiciary

Within days of Cuda’s arrival, Judge Nieves is “exited” from the case. Judge O’Neill is “assigned.”

What could a favorable Ambrose ruling do for Judge O’Neill’s career? What could a favorable ruling do to protect Judge Jane Kupson Grossman and Judge Gerard I. Adelman’s previous rulings that found no abuse – sexual or otherwise-  by Ambrose? Especially in light of glaring evidence contained in police reports and medical records from 2020 and 2021 that those judges failed to consider.

What could a favorable ruling do to protect Connecticut DCF for failing to investigate credible allegations of sexual abuse? Especially with new evidence of abuse coming to light in the children’s Juvenile Court petitions.

It’s no secret that his former law firm Day Pitney LLP would love to see Judge O”Neill moved to the commercial division. More “big money cases” means more of a chance for Judge O’Neill to rule in favor of lawyers in big money cases.

In Connecticut courts, following the money is the surest way to discover what really happened.

Was tanking Riordan’s case, ruining the children’s happiness, the price for moving Judge O’Neill’s down the hall to hearing “big dollar” commercial cases?

What Connecticut Court Administration official made the decision removing a critical and legally complex “first impression” case on Jennifer’s Law from a seasoned family court jurist with decades of family law experience and handing it to a “greenhorn” both on the bench and in the legal area.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Granted, Judge O’Neill may just be “green” and not recognize the fundamental difference between cases about money and true justice.

On the other hand, “green” might have been the motivating factor in Judge O’Neill’s outrageous decision in the Ambrose v. Riordan case.

About the author

Richard Luthmann


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  • “… It’s a role Gonzalez has been playing for at least five years, one that puzzles judges and fellow legislators. Gonzalez, 66, who migrated from Puerto Rico to Hartford 35 years ago and quickly jumped into politics, represents one of Connecticut’s poorest legislative districts, a place where she says no one has the money for 12-year custody battles.

    “People say, ‘You’re Latina, why do you care?’ I care because I don’t think it’s fair,” Gonzalez said. …”


      • It would help for people to go to good law enforcement offices with actionable evidence. The challenge is to find the good offices. Rep. Gonzalez is one of a few state legislators who tried her best to make family courts transparent and accountable. The push-back against those good legislators from the powers-that-be-in Connecticut was intense and sinister.

        There’s been something very wrong happening in Connecticut for decades. It’s long past time for no more secrets. As many good feds as possible need to understand that as soon as possible if they don’t already. We need to help good people in law enforcement do their jobs as much as possible. That’s why we pay them. Family court corruption has to do with corruption and crimes. Plenty of good laws are already on the books and legislators can help, but they can’t prosecute the criminals who have been working in and around Connecticut family courts since 1984.

  • When we testified against the disaster that is Jennifer’s Law, we cautioned legislators that this would happen.

    We knew that divorce attorneys (and judges) would misuse it to weaponize the “family” court system against parents and further the state sponsored trafficking and abuse of children, parents and their families.

    Just as they misuse custodial interference laws to terrorize parents.

    This is nothing short of state and court sanctioned criminalization of parenting.

    This judge (and many others) needs to be removed from the bench.

    Because none of this has anything to do with justice or law or rights.

    It has to do with the MONEY to be made destroying children, parents and their families.

    Kids for Cash.

    • I agree with you, Peter. I’m a “protective mother”. Protective mothers used to be called “mothers”. All good mothers protect children. We don’t go out of the way to say “good nurturing mothers” or “strong encouraging fathers”. We say mothers and fathers, knowing good people do what’s right. The use of language to coerce populations is so wrong and it’s so wrong on purpose.

      “Coercive Control” is another phrase just like “Parental Alienation Syndrome” was. The mere mortals in family courts use official sounding terms to justify micromanaging families. Redundant terms such as “coercive control” can put on the biggest show for the profane and make the most money. Sidney Horowitz actually referenced his use of “psychobabble” during his testimony in a hearing as though he was admitting how ridiculous his charade actually was. During that same trial, Judge Munro started telling the parties in the courtroom about how proud she was to create the court filing system in which Roman Numerals are used. Such braggarts, swindlers and hot air balloons. They should fly away and leave families alone. What horrible people they are.

    • There is a lot of people focused on passing laws surrounding family court. We don’t need anymore laws to be used to manipulated by attorneys. The is a wealth of misinformation and lack of information to unsuspecting protective parents. There is a lot of division in the efforts to clean up family court. We need less groups trying to advertising services to profit from the family court mess. Unsuspecting protective parents conversation turned into a fish bowl for people who are profiting from the family court mess. We need honesty, transparency, integrity and accountability. We need our judges to not feel pressured by the attorneys to keep themselves on the bench. We need legislators who are dedicated to the constituents not professional relationship with in the legal community. The focus on the children. This case is a prime example of how dysfunctional the Connecticut courts have become.

    • Spot on…the outcomes are always dictated by money…an abuser thrives in family court as long as he can pay the bill. Who pays the GAL? The evaluator?

      • Grant money is another problem. It’s paying for only one gender. There are plenty of father’s who are not destitute getting it. Lopsiding the ability to with stand the court battle. Money rules the system.

  • I have a feeling that someone with a lot of money is about to help Karen!! Chris Ambrose.. you’re about to see how it feels to be on the other side! Trust and believe these words I’m saying!! . Everything is about to explode in your face!! You slimy , nasty , sick child molester !

    • Amen Anonymous!! Mr. Parlato has done so much work to expose people like Chris Ambrose and Geoff Herzog. These males, I refuse to call them “men” have opened up Pandora’s Box and the system they paid to protect them is being exposed.

  • Those transcripts should torpedo the entire corrupted Connecticut family court ship. No pun intended. says:

    Same family court topic, different strategic trajectory. No pun intended.

    “… “When it comes down to it, I do have other ways to get the transcripts if I need them,” Schoenhorn said in a statement.

    “I still believe that the illegal withholding of court transcripts without a public hearing, right to object and a finding of good cause that outweighed the public’s right to attend court proceedings was unconstitutional. I brought this civil action on my own behalf as a matter of principle. I guess the court is not as concerned as I remain about secret proceedings held behind closed doors without a good cause finding.”

    Troconis was living with Fotis Dulos in his Farmington home in May 2019 as he and his estranged wife were embroiled in a two-year divorce and custody battle.

    The divorce hearing centered on testimony from a psychological evaluation conducted by Dr. Stephen Herman on the Dulos family during their custody battle, which had resulted in Fotis Dulos only allowed to see his five children during supervised visits.

    The hearing was held on May 14 and May 17, 2019, just days before Jennifer Dulos disappeared on May 24, 2019. The report has been sealed since the hearing, which was not completed because Herman refused to continue his testimony …”


    • One of her last motions to the court via her attorney (dated May 10, 2019?) asked the court to address Jennifer’s now obviously valid concerns about Mr. Herman and the guardian ad litem in that “family court” child custody case.

      • Arrest every criminal and accomplice working in and for family courts and call it: “Jennifer’s Justice”

  • This was not a distortion of Jennifer’s law. It was a clear and accurate ruling. Unlike Frank and Richard, the judge is impartial re; Chris and Karen. If you want to talk about the appearance of impropriety, how come, Frank never disclosed his relationship with Riordan?

    Dr. Lee is a whack job like her sister.

      • If I were a journalist reporting a story about a divorce and custody case, I damn well would disclose that I was in a relationship with my subject. It would shed a lot of light on my spin on the story and my bias toward my subject, that’s for sure. It would also shed a lot of light on why I hate her ex-husband so much and love viciously trashing him in my stories. Get it?

          • Sure, here is my full damn disclosure: I have no personal interest in this case, not any more than any other reader who does not personally know this family or any of the parties involved.

            I’m just capable of understanding that there is more than one side to the story. And I also understand that not showing up to custody hearings will usually result in you not getting custody.

            I think it’s wrong to vilify and blame the father in this case for the mother not having custody, when SHE is the one who didn’t show up to court. and then the first chance she gets to see her kids, she tries to kidnap them and make more false accusations against the dad. It’s wrong. And abusive to the children.

            So yes, I guess my bias is that I do not like seeing the children abused this way by their mother. Obviously, the info that “submarined” her case was proof that she coached the children to lie against the dad. That’s truly evil and that’s one of many reasons why the court could not grant her custody.

            Even Betty Broderick’s youngest son wanted to live with his mother, but she would not stop her attacks on the father, which eventually ended up in her killing the father, proving she was too dangerous to have custody in the first place. If she just stopped her evil campaign to destroy the dad, she could have the kids in her life, but I guess she’s just too mentally disturbed. Sad.

          • I think the real question is whether Chris will ever have a relationship with the children again. If he would stop trying to force them away from the mother he might. Sad.

          • In my dream this morning, I saw the pope lying in repose in a coffin. A second, darker figure seated on a throne away and to the right was waiting in the wings.

            What’s my bias?

    • What ruling? And what is clear and accurate?

      All we have to go on is a restraining order. I’d love to see Judge O’Neill’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, if he bothered to issue them.

      If you’ve seen them, let me know if he’s done anything more than white-out Judge Adelman’s name and change the date.

  • This is horrible. Would a GoFundMe for Riordan’s and her kids’ legal case be of any help? Many of us would like to contribute. To the children Mia, Matthew and Sawyer, and to Karen Riordan, I am so, so sorry you have been let down yet again by the CT family court. What a disgrace.

      • You may as well light the money on fire. For moms, that is the most you can get out of money in family court. Think something doing regarding federal funding for fathers now? The AFCC trainings/rulings it buys?

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com


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