VICTIMS OF THE CURSE
The first victim was Scott Harshbarger:
He ran for Governor, and was defeated.
Victim Number Two was Tom Reilly:
He also ran for Governor and was defeated.
Third victim - Martha Coakley?
She is running for Senate and is behind in the polls.
A political curse appears to have haunted the political careers of everyone who played a major role regarding the notorious Massachusetts Fells Acres child abuse case. The innocent Amirault family was railroaded into prison and held there by ambition crazed politicians in what is now considered to be one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice in American history. An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal recounts the terrible injustice.
The accusations against the Amiraults might well rank as the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom, but for the fact that roughly the same charges were brought by eager prosecutors chasing a similar headline—making cases all across the country in the 1980s. Those which the Amiraults' prosecutors brought had nevertheless, unforgettable features: so much testimony, so madly preposterous, and so solemnly put forth by the state. The testimony had been extracted from children, cajoled and led by tireless interrogators.
Gerald, it was alleged, had plunged a wide-blade butcher knife into the rectum of a 4-year-old boy, which he then had trouble removing. When a teacher in the school saw him in action with the knife, she asked him what he was doing, and then told him not to do it again, a child said. On this testimony, Gerald was convicted of a rape which had, miraculously, left no mark or other injury. Violet had tied a boy to a tree in front of the school one bright afternoon, in full view of everyone, and had assaulted him anally with a stick, and then with "a magic wand." She would be convicted of these charges. Cheryl had cut the leg off a squirrel. Other than such testimony, the prosecutors had no shred of physical or other proof that could remotely pass as evidence of abuse.
Because the charges were so utterly unbeliveable, it is hard not to conclude that those involved in prosecuting the case, Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly, as well as those who fought to keep the Amirault's behind bars, such as Martha Coakley, could not have been unaware that they were destroying innocent lives. Yet so great was their personal lust for power that apparently they were willing to purposely allow an injustice to occur simply to advance their own careers with all the publicity the case gave them.
But a funny thing has happened to the Fells Acres politicians whenever they tried to cash in on their crime. At the polls the voters have consistently put an end to their careers just as they reached for the pinnacles of power. Scott Harshbarger, chief prosecutor of the case, was defeated when he ran for Governor. His former assistant, Tom Reilly, also found voters slapping down his ambitions when he tried to run for governor in 2006. Now Martha Coakley is attempting to go to the Senate, and if the polls are accurate, victory seems once again to be slipping out of the grasp of a key Fells Acres figure. As the Wall Street Journal explains:
If the current attorney general of Massachusetts (Coakley) actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges that caused the Amiraults to be thrown into prison—the butcher knife rape with no blood, the public tree-tying episode, the mutilated squirrel and the rest—that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley's concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo—her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.
If the sound of ghostly laughter is heard in Massachusetts these days as this campaign rolls on, with Martha Coakley self-portrayed as the guardian of justice and civil liberties, there is good reason.
Those who profited from the Fells Acres scandal have repeatedly found their political ambitions destroyed. It will be interesting to see in the election next Tuesday whether, like Harshbarger and Reilly before her, Coakley too falls victim to the Fells Acres Curse.
POST ELECTION UPDATE 2010 - Coakley soundly defeated as she so richly deserved.
UPDATE 2014 - The Amirault Curse has struck once again as the arrogant opportunist Coakley goes down to yet another well deserved defeat, this time in her race for governor.
Yesterday I was at Look Park in Northampton with one of my many cousins. Here is a view of the covered bridge, looking quite beautiful this time of year.
The view from on the bridge itself.
This is a video I made of the water the bridge crosses over.
Later in the day I went with my cousin to Wales, where his family used to have a cottage that I used to play at when I was a kid. Here's a video I made about it.
Back in Northampton it was time to warm up with some hot coffee at LaFiorintina's.
By the way, the other night I had the chance to stop at The Ugly Duckling Loft at The Whistling Swan, 502 Main Street in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
Trust me, it is well worth the extra drive to check it out.
Zombie Pub Crawl
How did I miss hearing about this? Last fall there was an event where people dressed as zombies staggered - first pretend and then for real - from bar to bar in downtown Northampton. Fortunately Dann Vazquez was onhand to seek out the undead, even if he was strangely unaware of where Sam's is. Yet with the help of his friend Cher he was able to get some video coverage of the Night of the Living Lush:
Today's Music Video
Back to the days....