and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

The Boston Herald
Thursday, April 22, 2004

State won't try to keep Tooky in can
By Brian Ballou

Convicted child rapist Gerald Amirault will be a free man next Friday after 17 years behind bars and won't have to face the possibility of being committed as a sexually dangerous person, the Middlesex district attorney said yesterday.

"At this time, the Commonwealth lacks sufficient evidence to pursue a civil commitment," said District Attorney Martha Coakley.

Amirault's conviction in July 1986 followed a string of similar cases across the country in which children testified of abuse at the hands of day-care workers. Amirault's sister and mother ran the Fells Acres Day School in Malden, but he also worked there. All three were convicted but his sister and mother were freed on appeal in 1995.

Amirault's wife said she had a joyful conversation yesterday morning with her soon-to-be-released husband after learning about the D.A.'s decision.

"I'm pleased they decided not to pursue this," Patti Amirault said yesterday outside the family's home in Malden. "We're all just looking forward to next week when he'll be released. We're planning to go on a vacation."

Amirault's attorney, James L. Sultan, said in a statement that he was not surprised by Coakley's decision, adding, "Of course, Gerald is not a sexually dangerous person. Neither he, his mother, nor his sister committed any of the crimes charged.

"The grossly improper investigation which led to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of three innocent people two decades ago remains a tragic example of how our criminal justice system can go wrong. There was no reliable evidence against the Amiraults then, and there is no reliable evidence now," Sultan said in the statement.

A woman who said she was sexually molested by Gerald Amirault when she was 3 disagreed with Sultan.

"I don't think he should get out because he is still a very dangerous person," Jennifer Bennett said yesterday.

Bennett, 25, of Malden said she has lately been waking up at night haunted by the image of Amirault. "It's so bad that I have to go back to counseling tomorrow. I've been staying at my parents' house for the past week because I can't stand to be alone and I need my family right now. I wish this never happened to me but it did and now I'm living the nightmare again."

Bennett said she married five years ago and now has two children. "I'm trying to start my life."

Gerald Amirault was convicted on eight counts of child rape and received a 30- to 40-year state prison sentence. He was granted parole last October and is scheduled for release April 30.

The District Attorney's Office is notified when high-level sex offenders are scheduled for release from prison, and the office has the option of filing a petition to have the felon civilly committed. If, after reviewing testimony from state-certified psychologists or psychiatrists, the Superior Court decides the person is still sexually dangerous, the felon is ordered for an indefinite time to the Massachusetts Treatment Center at Bridgewater State Hospital.

Coakley said that based upon recent evaluations of Amirault by doctors, the strict regulations he'll undergo with probation, and other factors, it was unlikely her office could have met the burden of proof that he'd re-offend.

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