The Souza Family, as of early 1999

Copyright © 1999 by Hugo S. Cunningham

first posted 990527
last updated 999527

This is derived from a posting to Usenet newsgroup ne.politics (Michael Zarlenga) wrote:

>What ever became of the Sousa grandparents from Fall River?

The spelling is "Souza" (probably they phoneticized it from the Portuguese "Sousa"), and they have lived in Lowell MA -- regrettably for them part of Middlesex County, home ground of L. Scott Harshbarger and Thomas F. Reilly.

They were convicted by Judge Elizabeth Dolan in 1993 and sentenced to 9-15 years (which may turn out to be less than that, but I am not sure). (In what appears to be an astonishing lapse of judgement, their attorney had advised them to reject a jury trial, even though Judge Dolan had shown full credibility to the prosecution in Gerald Amirault's 1986 Fells Acres trial.) Judge Dolan allowed the Souzas to remain under house arrest as they pursued their appeals.

A round of appeals to the MA Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) failed, and the Middlesex DAs asked Judge Dolan to send the Souzas to prison. Some were surprised when she did not; instead, she has allowed them to serve their sentence under house arrest, and credited their previous time under house arrest toward time served. It is possible that, though she has never publicly admitted any doubts about either the Amirault case or the Souza case, she had nevertheless picked up on the unease among her fellow Middlesex Superior Court judges, and found house arrest to be the best compromise of a bad business.

I believe she retired as a judge in late 1998.

House arrest gets to be aggravating after a while, eg wearing an ankle bracelet and having to fax a photograph to the Department of Corrections (DoC) 10 times daily. The Souzas are also on the list as sex offenders. Nevertheless, they are substantially better off than in prison: (1) they own their own home, (2) they are elderly blue-collar retirees, not required to go out and earn a living, and (3) they have some friends who keep in touch and run errands for them.

For those unfamiliar with the Souza case:
It is a hybrid of the issues, more often separated, of "repressed memory" psycho-quackery for adults and suggestive questioning for children. Adult children of the Souzas went to psychotherapists and "recovered" memories of early-childhood abuse. They then went shopping for therapists who would get their children (Ray and Shirley's grandchildren) to "disclose" abuse by their grandparents. Author Mark Pendergrast (Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives (2nd edition), Upper Access Books, Hinesburg VT, 1996.) wrote a short chapter on the Souza case (pp. 378-384), available also at this site.

Mark Pendergrast's book can be ordered by phone: 1-800-356-9315.

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