Memo from Barbara Anderson
Sunday, August 27, 2000

Although not a taxation issue, the Amirault case is about justice and has haunted the CLT staff for many years, so this is a personal note from us. As we have mentioned our unease to CLT supporters over the years, we have found that many others share our conviction that the Amiraults were the innocent victims of a latter-day witch-hunt.

According to the attached news story, Gerald Amirault will at last have his commutation hearing before the Parole Board on September 20th. If the Board votes to send it on to the Governor, we are sure he will grant Gerry's release.

Someone asked Atty. Harvey Silverglate if it is proper to write to the Parole Board in support, and this is his and Amirault lawyer Jamie Sultan's reply.

"There is no reason why people cannot send polite, supportive letters to the Parole Board. The letters should stress that a lot of people out here feel that justice has not been done to Gerald Amirault, and that it's time for closure for all sides."

Letters should be addressed to:

Michael J. Pomarole, Chairman
Advisory Board of Pardons
Suite 300
27-43 Wormwood St.
Boston, MA 02210

For more extensive information, see the CLT "Free Gerald Amirault" page.

Boston Globe
Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Amirault will get a release hearing
By Sacha Pfeiffer
Globe Staff

Fourteen years after he was convicted of molesting children at his family's Malden day-care center, Gerald "Tooky" Amirault will appear next month before the state's Advisory Board of Pardons, which has taken the unusual step of scheduling a public hearing on Amirault's request that his sentence be commuted.

The hearing raises the possibility that Amirault, the last member of his family to remain imprisoned for convictions stemming from the infamous Fells Acres child sex-abuse case, could be freed after spending nearly 15 years in prison.

A commutation, which would need to be approved by the governor and the Governor's Council, is the only way Amirault could be freed any time soon.

Since being sentenced in 1986, Amirault, 46, has lost three appeals of his conviction, once in Middlesex Superior Court and twice before the state Supreme Judicial Court. He is not eligible for parole until 2006.

His mother, Violet Amirault, and sister, Cheryl LeFave, were convicted in 1987 and sentenced to eight to 20 years, but were freed on appeal in 1995.

The Advisory Board of Pardons, which comprises the same members as the state Parole Board, released a statement yesterday saying that the Sept. 20 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."

Parole Board spokeswoman Alberta Cook declined to comment further, saying that "the statement speaks for itself."

Violet Amirault died of cancer three years ago. And last year, after the SJC reinstated LeFave's conviction, both her attorneys and the Middlesex district attorney's office, which had prosecuted the case, agreed that she would not be returned to prison.

At a press conference yesterday, Gerald Amirault's attorney, James L. Sultan, called the board's decision to schedule a hearing "an incredibly important step on this long journey to rectify this grievous injustice."

But the Middlesex district attorney's office, which called Amirault's conviction and sentence "appropriate," said it would oppose commutation.

"When there are endless appeals and other proceedings, the wounds are constantly reopened," Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said in a statement yesterday. "There have been many such occasions during the pendency of this case. As a result, the trauma suffered by the victims ... may never go away."

The Amirault family was thrust into the public eye in 1984, when Violet Amirault; her son, Gerald; and daughter, Cheryl, were charged with raping and assaulting children at Fells Acres Day School, the child-care center they ran in Malden.

The resulting trials, during which child witnesses described talking robots and the public torture of animals, contributed to a national debate about the reliability of child testimony, and the prosecution of sexual abuse of children.

Sultan said he will make three main arguments for the commutation of Gerald Amirault's sentence: that his conviction amounted to a "grave injustice" because testimony by child witnesses was tainted by overly suggestive questioning by investigators; that his 30- to 40-year sentence is "way off the map" when compared with convictions for similar offenses, which Sultan said average four to 10 years; and that Amirault is a "terrific parent, a terrific husband, and a model prisoner."

Once the Advisory Board of Pardons hears Amirault's petition, it will make a written recommendation to Governor Paul Cellucci, who has the power to grant or deny commutation. Cellucci's recommendation must then be ratified by the Governor's Council.

A spokeswoman for Cellucci said yesterday that the governor "will give the request proper consideration once it reaches his desk."

Accompanying Sultan at yesterday's press conference were Gerald Amirault's wife, Patty; his daughters Katie, 20, and Gerrilyn, 21; his sister, Cheryl; and several other family members. Amirault also has a 15-year-old son, P.J., who was not present.

Patty Amirault acknowledged that a commutation would not clear her husband's name, but said, "At this point, we'll take him home any way we can.

"We know he's innocent and we want him home with us so we can pick up and move on with our lives," she added.

But while family members expressed optimism yesterday, clemency remains a long shot.

Of the 250 commutation petitions received by the Advisory Board of Pardons in the past 10 years, only 29 hearings were granted and only 13 favorable recommendations were made to the governor. Ultimately, only seven commutations were granted.

Sultan said that Amirault underwent a "sexual dangerousness evaluation" this spring that found that he is "perfectly normal and his release would not be a danger to anyone."

Sultan also said that while the Supreme Judicial Court had "slammed the door in our face every time," Amirault's pursuit of freedom is "winning in the court of public opinion."

The general public, Sultan said, acknowledges that there is "something just rotten to the core about this case and these convictions."

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