Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Foibles Of Martha Affect Real People

Many of you may know that I spent a few years in the Boston area. And no, this isn't about baseball, though I can say - it is hard being a Fan of the Pinstripes in Red Sox Nation. Clearly, though, I survived.

No, this is about some of the legal cases that have Martha Coakley's name on them. Recently, Bronwyn's Harbor made mention of one case, the Fells Acres Case, with which I am very familiar. Why? Because I knew Cheryl LaFave and her mother, Violet Amirault. They, along with their brother, were falsely accused of child abuse at the daycare center they ran. They are now all out of prison. John Stossel did an investigative report for ABC News on the Fells Acres case, and the imprisonment of the Amirault family (h/t to Brownyn's Harbor):

Three lives were destroyed by false allegations - three. People, GOOD people, who never deserved the horrible stigma that became attached to them. And Martha Coakley was hellbent on keeping Gerald Amirault in prison, even after the glaring lack of evidence, and the glaring coercion of testimony from the children.

There was another big case with which Coakley was connected (h/t to Nazareth Priest for this article). That was the "Pedophile Priest" case,t he second in a three-part series of "Martha's Greatest Hits: The Things The Democrats Would Like You To Forget About Martha Coakley." Click HERE for Part Three.

Back to the case at hand. This one is a doozy:
The “Pedophile Priest” Case, 1995-2002: Coakley cut secret deal in 1995 that allowed Father Geoghan to molest again.

Martha Coakley is running for the U.S. Senate in part on her track record of keeping children safe from predators. The actual facts, however, are somewhat at odds with her campaign biography.

One of the most notorious cases of homosexual child abuse in the “pedophile priests” scandal that rocked the American Catholic Church in general and the Archdiocese of Boston in particular over the past twenty years involved Father John Geoghan, who came to symbolize the cancer in the church.

Here’s a brief introduction to the late, defrocked Father Geoghan by Denise Noe in Crime Magazine. Be sure to read the whole story, then come back.

The unofficial poster boy for priest pedophilia was a Boston priest named Father John Geoghan. He became a symbol for everything the church had done wrong in handling this problem when, on Jan. 6, 2002, The Boston Globe broke the story about how Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, had moved the abusive Geoghan from parish to parish over the years. The article also discussed the $10 million dollar settlement the church had already made with families of his victims. After the article ran, an embarrassed Law apologized – and turned over to law enforcement the names of dozens of Boston priests who had been similarly accused.

The Geoghan scandal rocked Boston, and eventually resulted in Cardinal Law’s removal as Archbishop. In part to shield him from possible prosecution, the late Pope John Paul II summoned Law to Rome, where he was ensconced as the Archpriest of the historic Basilica of St. Mary Major, and replaced him in Boston with Archbishop Sean O’Malley.

And what was Ms. Coakley’s role in all this? At first, she was applauded for her role in the successful prosecution of Father Geoghan in 2002. But then it was discovered that she had plea-bargained away molestation charges against him in 1995, letting him off with probation in a deal that was kept secret from the public.


One possible explanation for her actions is that she had lost a high-profile case against a priest in suburban Woburn, Father Paul Manning; Manning’s parishioners reportedly cheered when he was acquitted of molesting an 11-year-old altar boy at his 1994 trial.

Still, as David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, noted at the time: “Charging Geoghan with something and exposing him publicly might well have brought forward victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, and evidence that could have resulted in a conviction and a tougher sentence.’’

Sigh. I don't even know what to say about this. But here is what Martha Coakley has to say in defending this decision:

Wow. I am no attorney, but I have worked with and for attorneys. I cannot imagine them not pursuing every lead they could in a case. I cannot imagine them pushing to get the records from the Roman Catholic Diocese, even if they were freakin' deacons in the church. Holy smokes.

The article continues:
And here’s the Boston Globe story, recounting the whole sordid mess:

When Martha Coakley was the Middlesex district attorney, her office prosecuted the Rev. John J. Geoghan based on an allegation that he squeezed the buttocks of a 10-year-old boy a single time at a public swimming pool. The highly publicized 2002 conviction won Coakley widespread praise for bringing the first successful criminal case against the widely accused pedophile, a priest many had called “Father Jack.’’

But seven years earlier, Coakley, then the head of the Middlesex child abuse unit, had Geoghan in her sights and took a dramatically different approach. Back then, three grade-school brothers told investigators that Geoghan had inappropriately touched them during numerous visits to their Waltham home, and had made lewd telephone calls to them. Rather than prosecute, Coakley agreed to grant Geoghan a year of probation in a closed-door proceeding that received no media attention at all.

Because of the deal, Geoghan faced no formal charges and no criminal record.

In sanctioning the 1995 probation agreement, Coakley, now the front-runner in a special election for the United States Senate, never pressed the Boston Archdiocese for any prior complaints against Geoghan.

That’s one way to make a name for yourself: let a pedophile off the hook privately so that he can molest more children, and then make a big, public conviction to take credit for your amazing work keeping children safe from…...the pedophile priest you secretly let go seven years earlier.

And as for Father Geoghan, he was strangled and killed by a fellow inmate in February, 2004.

That is quite a sordid tale indeed. I encourage you to read the other two parts of this series (I'll give you a hint about Part Three - it has to do with unreported assets). It is eye opening.

Now, I know some people are surprised I am not supporting the woman in this case (though since I live in SC, I don't exactly have a vote - oh wait, maybe if I worked for ACORN I could...Ahem.). And I did like Coakley when I first heard about her. I was excited at the prospect of a woman taking over Teddy's seat, an irony considering his way with women. But, as Scott Brown has reminded us, it isn't Teddy's Seat:

As I have stated all along, it is the RECORD of the candidates that needs to be considered. The decisions Coakley made as Attorney General are indicative of the decisions she will make as a US Senator, and those DO affect all of us. This is exactly for what I was calling during the 2008 Primary Season - look at the records of the candidates, and vote for the one who stands above.

That means, when the Massachusetts Democrats send out a four page mailer with the claim that Scott Brown wants to turn away ALL rape victims from hospitals, they sure as hell better be able to back that up with his RECORD. This is to what they are referring:
Brown is a state senator, and in 2005 he filed an amendment that would have allowed workers at religious hospitals or with firmly held religious beliefs to avoid giving emergency contraception to rape victims. The amendment failed, and Brown voted in favor of a bill allowing the contraception. He also voted to override a veto issued by his fellow Republican, then-Gov. Mitt Romney.

This is casting aspersions plain and simple. Stick to the facts, stick to the records, let the people decide based on that. Don't take (yet another)page out of the Obama playbook a la the "Harry and Louise" ads. If the party believes she is the best candidate, they shouldn't have to resort to flat-out lies about her opponent's record.

So we need more women in Congress? Hells yeah. But that doesn't mean we should want any woman, regardless of her record or the (stupid) things she says. In this particular case, Scott Brown appears to be the better candidate. He is pro-choice, a lieutenant colonel (30 years) in the National Guard JAG Corps, and supports civil unions for LGB people, like (too) many Democrats. As far as I can tell, Brown knows Curt Schilling is NOT a Yankees fan, so there's that...

The people will decide who will fill the people's seat. Until then, it is sure to be an interesting ride.


Mary Ellen said...

Hi Rev. Amy!
Did you get my last comment? Dummy me...forgot to see if it went through and logged off. If it did, just ignore this comment. I guess this is what happens when you're away from the blogging scene, you forget how to leave comments. :-D

word verification: oximonul

a teeny-tiny oxi-moron

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL abt the word verification!

And, welcome back, my friend! I missed you, but hope you had a good sabbatical!

Unfortunately, NO, your comment didn't come through (don't you just hate that when that happens? Like writing an email and having it disappear?). If you don't mind repeating it, I'd sure love to see what you said!

Anonymous said...

Kids have the most vivid imaginations of anyone, and the stories they can come up with, especially if pushed and prodded by adults, while certainly entertaining should never be the final word on anything.

Every investigator who interrogated and manipulated those kids should have been fired. Hell, they should have been jailed for obstructing justice!

Martha Coakley is little by little being unveiled as a real piece of work! To all those who think that, as a woman, I should support her for the simple reason that she is a woman, I have to ask: Isn't that how we in California got stuck with Nancy Pelosi? Barbara Boxer? Dianne Feinstein?

As an Independent, I will never again gender-or-party vote. I will ONLY vote on the basis of someone's record. And if that means I support a qualified man over an unqualified woman, or a Republican over a Democrat, so be it.

I read where Violet Amirault died of cancer while awaiting a new trial. At least she was out on bail, but how sad that she died with that all still hanging over her.

I don't know what the Dems have in store to ensure Coakley's win. I've no doubt that voter fraud will be rampant. Hmmmm, I wonder if it's too late for me to submit an absentee ballot? I'll just tell them ACORN said I could...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...


You are so right abt the children, and in the Fells Acres case, the "investigators" and prosecutors who put words in these kids' mouths. THEY should have spent time in prison.

I can tell you that MCI-Framingham is not a fun place to be (I volunteered there, and then worked for a prisoner's rights group). It was not some country club kind of facility. The minimum security prison was better, but still - it's prison. For these women to have spent so many years there, and their brother even longer, for crimes they did not commit, was a mighty hard way to go...

And yes, Violet died of cancer. So sad...

I could not agree with you more, SF. I mean it. I am NOT going to vote for a woman just because she is a woman (isn't identity politics how we ended up with this current president??). She has to be qualified, she has to have a good record, and she has to care abt the people whom she will be representing. Knowing the least little bit abt the sports teams in her city might be a good thing, too. Sheesh. Yeah, maybe this is why they didn't have her out there stumping more - they knew she would open her mouth and say something stupid.

I think you should join us in Aruba in Feb. so we can talk abt all of this stuff more! THAT would be a blast! Mary Ellen will have to come, too. :-D

Logistics Monster said...

Totally OT because I am sick to death of Dead Kennedy's replacement. One for you Amy - I know you will hammer it.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks so much, Logistics Monster! I appreciate you thinking of me!

Hey, your new site looks great!!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen - I don't know what happened, but after I hit "publish" for your comment, it disappeared! I have NO idea what happened to it. Hopefully, it will show up soon!


nazareth priest said...

Rev. Amy: Thank you for publishing this most egregious incident of allowing a pedophile priest (serial, no less) out by this unconscionable action.
God knows the Church officials, at times, have failed horribly. Pope Benedict has admitted this and has been most sorrowful and angry (i.e. the recent publishing of the 'Irish incidents'); but when public officials do not do their jobs, it only makes the situation worse.
I hope and pray the Church officials will not continue to 'cover up' (which is horribly wrong); we now have a set of policies that will help to curb this violation of the innocence of children and trust of people.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Nazareth Priest, I was glad to do it. That kind of information, not lies, or smears, but facts, are what should count when people make their political choices. Her excuses were so weak as to why she let this man go, thus allowing him to ruing even more lives - shocking.

And yes, you are right abt the Church. Hopefully, they will throw wide the doors and not allow these priests to hide behind them any longer.

Thank you again for bringing it to my attention. That was a great service, Nazareth Priest...