In an important and appropriate
move, the state Advisory Board of Pardons has agreed to hold a
public hearing Sept. 20 on Gerald Amirault's request that his 20-
to 30-year sentence be commuted to time served.
In what appears to be a
miscarriage of justice, the former Malden man has served 14 years
in prison in the controversial Fells Acres Day School molestation
case. The children's testimony that convicted him likely was
tainted in the course of prejudicial questioning by parents and/or
investigators. There was no corroborating testimony or physical
evidence that abuse even took place.
In the name of proportionality
alone, consideration of commutation to time served is warranted.
Appeals by Mr. Amirault were turned down three times, while those
of his mother, Violet Amirault, who died in 1997, and his sister,
Cheryl Amirault LeFave -- convicted in a separate trial on the
basis of the same evidence -- were upheld. The women were released
on appeal in 1995 and, last year, Mrs. LeFavre's sentence was
commuted to time served.
Mr. Amirault's sentence far
exceeded the 8- to 20-year terms the women received.
The parole panel chose precisely
the correct words in saying that the hearing had been scheduled
"in the interest of fairness and in light of the treatment of
the petitioner's co-defendants within the judicial system."
Since the case became public in
1984 -- in the midst of nationwide hysteria over alleged child
abuse in day care settings -- much has been learned about
"recovered memory." Acres children, ages 2 to 4, told
incredible tales of evil clowns, animal sacrifices and other
A model prisoner with no prior
record, Mr. Amirault remains in prison largely because he
continues to profess his innocence. Absent the belated appearance
of new, compelling evidence against him, the parole panel should
advise Gov. Paul Cellucci to commute the sentence to time served.
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