Criminality

Governor Charlie Baker said he doubted the “evidential strength” of the convictions.

Gerald Amirault (center) kisses his daughter Gerrilyn Amirault (left) with his wife Patti Amirault (right) by his side during a press conference in 2004. Globe staff photo, David Kamerman

Governor Charlie Baker has pardoned two Amirault siblings who were convicted of child s*xual abuse in the 1980s in the long-contested Fells Acre preschool case.

Gerald Amirault, 68, and his sister, Cheryl Amirault Lefave, 65, were accused of s*xually assaulting more than a dozen children at a kindergarten in Malden in 1984, but have always maintained their innocence.

The case has long been controversial due to questionable techniques used by investigators to extract accusations from children.

Amirault was convicted in 1986 and spent 18 years in prison before being released on parole in 2004, according to GBH. Amirault Lefave was convicted in 1987 and served eight years in prison and another 10 probation.

Violet Amirault, the sibling’s mother who opened the nursery in 1966, was also convicted in the 1987 trial and served eight years in prison, GBH reports. She died a few months after being released.

“The investigations and prosecutions of the Amiraults in the 1980s went without the benefits of scientific research, which in years past led to the widespread adoption of investigative protocols designed to protect the objectivity and credibility of child s*xual abuse investigations,” Baker said. in the press release about pardons.

“Given the lack of such protection in these cases, and like many others who have reviewed these conviction records over the years, including legal experts, sociologists and even a few judges in charge of hearing cases, I have serious doubts about the probative value of these convictions. . Given the standards we demand of our justice system, Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault Lefave should be pardoned.”

The Case of Fells Acre Kindergarten

The Boston Herald reported that the case began when a 5-year-old boy told his uncle on Labor Day weekend 1984 that “Tooky” had molested him. “Tooky” turned out to be Gerald Amirault, who worked as a bus driver, cook and assistant principal at a kindergarten.

Amirault was arrested on September 5, and the kindergarten closed a week later Herald reported. The following year, all three Amiraults will be charged with molesting more than a dozen children.

During Amirault’s 1986 trial, jurors heard testimony from 10 parents, including one mother. “If only the jury could spend one day at my house and see how my son behaves, they would know that [Amirault] is guilty.” Herald reported.

Witnesses also testified that Amirault disguised himself as an “evil clown” who made children play sick s*xual games and abused them in a room he kept locked up on the second floor of a house on Bower Street that housed a nursery, Herald reported. Others testified that he took pictures of the children as they dressed and undressed.

Nine children were also to testify against Amirault Herald reported, but most notably, there was no physical evidence of abuse.

Criticism of the case

Amirault’s attorney, Frank Mondano, argued during the trial that investigators used “coercive techniques” to get other children to write similar allegations to those of the first boy, Herald reported.

GBH reported that critics of the case said investigators used lead questions plant false memories in the minds of children.

The case took place at a time when child s*xual abuse cases were on the rise Herald reported. Some lawyers and psychologists have attributed this increase to the introduction of interrogation techniques that can create false memories.

In 1995, accusations from critics were reinforced when Boston Globe reported that videotapes and transcripts of forensic interviews with children showed the children saying they were not abused, only for the interviewer to beg and nudge them to say they were abused.

As the story goes, sometimes investigators gave gifts to children for giving the “correct” answer.

What has happened since then

The state’s parole board voted to release Amirault from prison in 2002, but then-Governor Jane Swift refused to commute his sentence, GBH reports. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley also opposed his replacement while serving as Middles*x County District Attorney. None of them commented on Friday’s news station.

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly also successfully countered legal charges against Amirault when he was the District Attorney of Middles*x County, Globe reported.

“While I stand by the decisions made by the prosecutors, judge and jury at the time, I believe the governor’s decision is an appropriate conclusion to a very difficult case,” Reilly said. Herald Friday.

Violet and Amirault Lefave received a new trial from a judge in 1995, but Violet’s charges were dropped after her d*ath, and Amirault Lefave reached an agreement with Coakley that restored her convictions but kept her out of prison, GBH reports.

The Globe said it was unable to contact any of the Fells Acre victims or their parents on Friday for comment on the pardon.

What a pardon would mean for the Amiraults

Jamie Sultan, the Amiraults’ lawyer, told GBH that a pardon would have a significant impact on the Amiraults’ lives, even though both are now at large and have already been harmed by their convictions for decades.

“The Amiraults and their entire family live with this – this badge, this stigma of being convicted of child s*xual abuse every day of their lives,” Sultan said.

“Gerald is still on parole. Thirty-eight years after those charges were filed, she still wears her ankle bracelet. He is still subject to extremely strict parole conditions. He is still polygraphed every few months. He can’t travel. He and his wife can’t travel to the places they always wanted to go. And he is on the s*x offender register for life because of this unjust conviction.”

Now the approval of the pardon rests with the Board of Governors. He has yet to turn down one of Baker’s pardons, but it is by far the most high-profile and controversial pardon to come before him.

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#Baker #pardons #siblings #controversial #1980s #Fells #Acre #child #s*xual #abuse #case

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