The Fells Acres Day Care case today is recalled as a notorious travesty of justice, writes Francis Wilkinson at The Week:
By today’s standards, the prosecution of the Amirault family, who owned and operated the day-care center in Malden, Mass., looks like a master class in battling witchcraft.
Children claimed to have been raped by knives that left no wounds. They said they had been tied to a tree on the day-care grounds. They said they had been molested by a man—Gerald Amirault—in a clown costume and spoke of a magic room and a secret room. No teacher, parent or other adult witnessed any of it—despite their regular proximity to the Amiraults and the exceedingly baroque, time-consuming nature of the alleged abuse. Physical evidence was remarkably scant.
On the strength of such testimony conjured from children by “expert” therapists the Amiraults were convicted and sent to prison. Wilkinson writes:
[Martha] Coakley did not prosecute the case, which was already under way when she joined the office as an assistant district attorney in 1986. But years later, after the day-care abuse hysteria had subsided and she had won the office’s top job, she worked to keep the convicted “ringleader,” Gerald Amirault, behind bars despite widespread doubts that a crime had been committed.
In a piece at the radical newsletter Dissident Voice, Mark Rosenthal describes how Coakley as Middlesex District Attorney intentionally kept the falsely-convicted Gerald Amirault behind bars for her own political gain.
Massachusetts’ abominable treatment of the Amirault family was chronicled by Dorothy Rabinowitz in her Pulitzer-prize winning series of Wall Street Journal articles “A Darkness In Massachusetts.” Unfortunately, Rabinowitz’ chronicle ends in July 2001, when the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Board, one of the toughest parole boards in the country, voted unanimously to commute Gerald Amirault’s sentence, stating that “real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner’s conviction.”
And that’s where ambition-driven District Attorney Martha Coakley enters the picture. By 2001, no person with two brain cells to rub together believed that the prosecution of the Amiraults was anything other than a travesty of justice. But Coakley, placing more value on defending the infallibility of her office and on appearing tough on crime than on seeing that injustice be rectified, embarked on a public-relations crusade to keep Gerald Amirault behind bars. As a result, Gerald languished in prison for another three years.
Coakley’s actions in the Amirault case were amoral and ought to disqualify her from consideration for a seat in the United States Senate.
Dorothy Rabinowitz at the Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer for her reporting on false child-abuse prosecutions. Her articles on the Amirault case should be read by anyone thinking of voting for the prosecutor who worked to keep Gerry Amirault behind bars. Here is a selection of them:
Rabinowitz recently told the Boston Globe:
“Martha Coakley was a very, very good soldier who showed she would do anything to preserve this horrendous assault on justice.”