Dear Friend of Justice,
When I first heard the unfortunate news about Senator Kennedy’s terminal illness, my blood ran cold at the thought of his being succeeded by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.
I fear that Coakley is going to be hard to stop. She will be the only woman in a crowded race, and she is likely to have the enthusiastic support of the Boston Globe, which does its best to influence electoral politics in Massachusetts.
The media is making much of her “stellar” record in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. Let’s look at that record.
First, there is the case of Ray and Shirley Souza. These were the Lowell grandparents falsely accused and convicted of molesting their own grandchildren. The case was spurred by a daughter who was victimized by a recovered-memory “therapist.” The testimony was manufactured by the same discredited methods used in the other high-profile cases of the day. Ray Souza is now deceased, but Shirley — a very fine woman — is saddled with living her life out as a registered sex offender.
Coakley was also the prosecutor in the case of Louise Woodward — the nanny accused of murdering a child in her care. There was no reliable medical evidence supporting this. Woodward was convicted, but the judge changed the verdict to manslaughter, sentenced her to time served, and released her to return to her native England.
Then there was the Fells Acres case. The Amirault family was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of abusing children at the daycare school that they ran. This was one of the classic daycare cases, along with the McMartin case, Bernard Baran, the Little Rascals, and many others. While Coakley was not one of the original prosecutors, she fought the appeals tooth and nail. And when Gerald Amirault was pursuing a commutation, she orchestrated a disinformation campaign against the Amiraults.
Coakley and the Middlesex County DA’s office also did their best to derail at least one wrongfully convicted inmate’s efforts to prove his innocence via DNA evidence, at first denying that such evidence existed, then trying to impede access to it. Once the evidence was obtained. and the inmate’s innocence was established, Coakley still tried (and failed) to strike a face-saving deal in which the exoneree would admit to a nonexistent measure of guilt.
And then there is the case of Paul Shanley The media campaign against Shanley was so successful that few consider his innocence a possibility. But innocent he is. I attended that trial. There was no evidence against him, other than the testimony of a sociopath who had collected a huge settlement from the church and who claimed to have massively repressed for decades all memory of terrible abuse that had occurred weekly for years. There is no scientific evidence to support the theory of massive repression. I refer you to Dr. Richard McNally’s excellent book on the subject, Remembering Trauma.
I believe that Coakley is driven more by ambition than ideology. But her willingness to sacrifice the lives of innocent people in order to further her political goals is most troubling. If Massachusetts voters wish to honor Ted Kennedy’s legacy, they should send someone else to replace him.