Judgment Call

Martha Coakley, Hypocrite?

In the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Rabinowitz suggests that Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley's stance that Guantanamo detainees deserve rights is incompatible with her past treatment of the Amiraults. Violet Amirault, her son Gerald and daughter Cheryl were accused in 1984 of violently molesting children in at the pre-school they ran in Massachusetts. The three were convicted and sentenced, Rabinowitz says, on testimony alone, with no physical evidence—odd considering that Gerald was accused of plunging a wide butcher blade into a 4-year-old boy's rectum. Later, two judges revisited the case, scandalized by the slim evidence the prosecutors put forth, stating that prosecutors used "every trick in the book" to get the kids to talk. Coakley entered the equation when she became Middlesex County district attorney in 1999, and backed prosecutors, offering to commute Cheryl's sentence only if Gerald gave up his long-time attorney, marshaling the now-adult accusers to speak to the press, and aggressively lobbying the governor to deny commutation to Gerald. Rabinowitz argues that, essentially, if Coakley "actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges" against the Amiraults, that fact speaks to her "mind and capacities" for office.