first posted 990527
Copyright © 1999, 2001 by Hugo S. Cunningham
last updated Y10206
latest minor change 20050506
Copyright © 1999, 2001 by Hugo S. Cunningham
Update: Gerald Amirault, the last of the Fells Acres defendants, was released on parole 18 years later (30 April 2004). Massachusetts case law, investigative practices, and politics remain under the taint of this case, however.
Author ("Victims of Memory," 1996) Mark Pendergrast's summary of Fells Acres
Judge Isaac Borenstein's Jun 1998 opinion throwing out the conviction of Cheryl Amirault Lefave.
Attorney Dan Finneran's Fells Acres site:
Dan Finneran worked "pro bono" (at no charge) to free daycare worker Kelly Michaels in New Jersey (one of the first successful reversals of a ritual-abuse conviction), and also on some of the appeals for the Amiraults in the 1990s.
Tom Mashberg of the "Boston Herald" describes the $20 million insurance settlement, a powerful incentive for Fells Acres parents to believe the prosecution. (And the children, unquestionably, were horribly abused. But by whom?)
Visiting Gerald Amirault at BSCC, April 1999
On 6 May 1999, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) heard arguments on whether to reinstate the Fells Acres conviction of Cheryl Amirault LeFave.
Report on the hearing by HSC
An infamous ruling by the MA Supreme Judicial Court, and comments
On 18 Aug 99, the MA Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) overruled Judge Borenstein and reinstated Cheryl Amirault LeFave's conviction.
Docket No.: SJC-07529
Parties: COMMONWEALTH vs. CHERYL AMIRAULT LeFAVE.
Dates: May 6, 1999. - August 18, 1999.
SJC's seal of approval to dangerous quack psychotherapists, win-at-any cost divorce attorneys, and politicians on the make.
Justice in Massachusetts
by Dorothy Rabinowitz - Wall Street Journal - Aug. 24, 1999
Latest Decision Proves Hysteria Still Runs Rampant in
by Barbara Anderson ("Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government" -- CLTG) - Aug. 1999
An editorial from Bay Windows, 16 Sept 1999, a Boston-area gay weekly.
On 20 September 2000, the Board of Pardons held a hearing on Gerald Amirault's case. At least one Board member seemed to see through the fakery of the prosecution, but hopes that the Board might make a favorable recommendation as early as Nov 2000 were premature.
10 April, 2001-- Jane Swift became acting Governor of Massachusetts on April 10, 2001 when Governor Paul Cellucci resigned to become the US Ambassador to Canada.
Fri 6 July 2001-- The Board of Pardons unanimously (5-0) recommended that Gerald Amirault be pardoned. The official grounds were that his 30-40 year sentence was grossly disproportionate to the eight years the prosecution had accepted for Cheryl Amirault LeFave.
The Board's recommendation went to acting Governor Jane Swift, who could accept or reject it (most likely in several weeks). If she concurred, it would then require a majority vote of the 8-person Governor's Council.
Text of the Parole Board recommendation.
Not surprisingly, junk-science advocate Wendy Murphy opposes release of Gerald Amirault.
On 2 August 2001, the unspeakable DA Martha Coakley recruited some accusers to campaign with her on local talk-shows against Gerald Amirault.
A slicker customer is Martinello's mother Barbara Standke, who has her lies down pat, eg that she noticed and reported bizarre, traumatized behavior in her son before the general panic of September 1984. Unfortunately for the prosecution, however, the records of the case are quite clear. As Attorney Dan Finneran demonstrated, neither Standke nor anyone else made such reports before 2 Sep 1984.
On 27 Feb 2003, Gerald Amirault's attorneys announced an appeal to the new Governor Mitt Romney.
A spokesman for Governor Romney announced he would wait on new Pardon Board hearings before making a decision.
On 15 March 2003, the Advisory Board of Pardons turned down Gerald Amirault's request, noting that he could apply for regular parole 6 months later. The Governor's approval would not be needed for a parole recommendation.
On 16 October 2003, the Board voted to parole Gerald Amirault, though actual release would wait 6 months.
On Tues 20 April 2004, the Middlesex DA's office announced they would not try to block his release, currently scheduled for Fri 30 April 2004.
On Fri 30 April 2004, Gerald Amirault was released on parole. Unlike Cheryl LeFave, he is free to discuss his case on television and pursue legal vindication.
On 25 Mar 2005, the MA "Sex Offender Registry Board" classified Gerald Amirault as a "level three sex offender" the most dangerous rating, shared with about 1,300 of the 8,000 registered offenders in the state. Like some other elements in the MA prison bureaucracy (but in contrast to the honorable people on the MA parole board), SORB have chosen to take the fantastic charges against Amirault at face value. They have made it more difficult for Amirault to find a job.
On 8 April 2005, Barbara Anderson, the conscience of Massachusetts conservatism, hired Gerald Amirault to research the effect of "Proposition 2 1/2" property-tax rollbacks on 25 Massaschusetts families, for her organization "Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government"
Amirault qualified for this kind of work with a liberal arts degree, earned from Boston University while in prison.
Former MIT professor Jonathan Harris was the first to publicize extensive research on Fells Acres. He maintained information at several sites, but apparently did not update his Fells Acres material since 1995. He allowed his "Witch Hunt" website to lapse in June 1999, but authorized others to restore it in Dec 1999.
In an even worse (bigger) case in Wenatchee WA, 43 people were charged with 27,726 counts of child sex abuse.
"Religious Tolerance"s website on "ritual abuse" accusations:
The "National Center for Reason and Justice" (NCRJ) helps raise money for defendants in cases tainted by the sort of junk science, hysteria, and/or prosecutorial misconduct seen in Fells Acres.
The "Innocence Project"
specializes in cases where new DNA evidence can reverse wrongful convictions. While DNA testing has no relevance to imaginary daycare crimes with no physical evidence, the Innocence Project has also unearthed cultural defects in DA offices that impel them to convict the innocent.
Return to HSC's 1997 report on Fells Acres
Return to HSC home page
Visits to this address since 1 May 2002: