Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Hugo S. Cunningham
After intensive behind-the-scenes negotiations, Middlesex County DA Martha Coakley agreed in the week of 17-23 Oct 99 not to seek Cheryl Amirault LeFave's return to prison for the remaining 12 years of her 1987 sentence.
Postscript, March 2001. A more sinister aspect of the prosecution's agreement would become clearer later on: their concession to Cheryl was to be used against her brother Gerald (the only male prosecuted), now to be recast as the evil genius of the Fells Acres ritual-abuse ring. Supposedly Cheryl and their mother Violet were weak-willed dupes, hence less culpable. Arguing against releasing Gerald, the prosecution and their supporters would trot this theory out before a MA Board of Pardons hearing on 20 Sept 2000. Since this argument had never been offered in the 15 years the prosecution tried to keep Cheryl and (until her death) Violet in prison, its bad faith is manifest.
In contrast to normal probation agreements, LeFave retained the right to insist on her innocence. On the other hand, she had to drop further legal challenges to the conviction.
Both LeFave and the prosecution were barred from TV interviews, but both could use radio and the print media.
LeFave was barred from profiting from the case, eg accepting payment for interviews or books.
LeFave was barred from unsupervised contact with children.
LeFave was barred from attempting to contact the accusers (now in their late teens) or their families.
Note: in "repressed memory" cases, where quack psychotherapists convince adult children they were molested at age 2 by their parents, key steps in ending the nightmare are face-to-face meetings of parents with adult child, followed by "retraction" of the charge and, often, a lawsuit against the quack. Such "retractions" are far rarer in day-care "ritual abuse" cases, however. There is a natural desire for adult children to try to rebuild family relationships, but far less to reconcile with unrelated day-care workers, especially if that would strain relations with parents who still believe the charges. Given this unhappy reality, Cheryl Amirault probably has not lost much by giving up a very faint dream of reconciliation.