The subject of the notorious Fells Acres child abuse case has arisen a number of times in our discussions of Martha Coakley‘s US Senate candidacy. So I asked her campaign whether Coakley stands by her decision in 2001 to oppose the Massachusetts Parole Board’s 5-0 recommendation that Gerald Amirault’s sentence be commuted to time served, and if she would do anything differently if she had it to do over again. Here is her response, reprinted in full.
“Gerald Amirault, after a three month trial that included extensive victim testimony, physical evidence, and expert witness testimony, was convicted by a jury of his peers on all counts in 1986.
In the years that followed, Mr. Amirault appealed his convictions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) three times, and to the First Circuit Court of Appeals once.
On each occasion, after a careful review of the law and facts, including all of the investigative and interview techniques employed by the Commonwealth, the courts determined that Mr. Amirault’s convictions were sound and that he received a fair trial.
To this day, all of Mr. Amirault’s victims steadfastly maintain his guilt, and in fact came forward to publicly identify themselves in opposing his commutation. It is also important to note that to date, three Massachusetts Governors have each reviewed Mr. Amirault’s case and each denied commuting his sentence.
Based on my own extensive experience with child abuse investigations and cases, and my thorough review of all the evidence, including that which is often taken out of context and deemed “exculpatory,” I also believe the convictions were sound, and that he received a fair trial. It is for all of the above reasons that I, as Middlesex District Attorney, opposed his commutation, and I stand by that decision to this day.”