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Fells Acres Sexual Abuse Trials: 1986-87

What Went On At Day Care?, Gerald's Trial, Mother And Daughter On Trial

Defendants: Gerald Amirault, Violet Amirault, Cheryl Amirault LeFave
Crimes Charged: Sexual abuse (including rape and indecent assault)
Chief Defense Lawyers: First Trial: Juliane Balliro, Frank Mondano; Second Trial: Joseph Balliro, Juliane Balliro
Chief Prosecutors: Both Trials: Patricia Bernstein, Laurence Hardoon
Judges: First Trial: Elizabeth Dolan; Second Trial: John Paul Sullivan
Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dates of Trials: First Trial: April 15-July 19, 1986; Second Trial: May 28-June 13, 1987
Verdicts: Gerald Amirault: guilty of eight counts of rape and seven indecent assaults; Violet Amirault: guilty two counts of rape and three counts of indecent assault; Cheryl Amirault LeFave: guilty of three counts of rape and four indecent assaults.
Sentences: Gerald: 30-40 years in prison; Violet and Cheryl: 8-20 years in prison

SIGNIFICANCE: One of a number of similar cases alleging patterns of sexual abuse of very young children in institutional settings, the Fells Acres Day School case was perhaps not the most extreme, but it raised the issues common to so many of these cases: Why did they suddenly emerge on the American scene only at this time? How much of the children's testimony may have been "planted" by the adult questioners? What were average people to make of the contradictory claims of the experts?

In the 1980s, Americans suddenly found themselves reading of charge after charge that individuals attached to various institutions had sexually abused children in both persistent and provocative ways. In particular there were cases involving day-care centers in Miami, Florida; the Bronx, New York; and Manhattan Beach, California: some involved "recovered memory," some involved "satanic rituals," but all shared the charge that adults attached to day-care centers had subjected the children to horrific varieties of sexual abuse. One of these day-care center cases was the Fells Acres Case.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988