FELLS ACRES CASE

Fells Acres Chronology 

By Associated Press, 07/06/01 

Following is a chronology of key events in the 15-year Fells Acres child abuse case against Gerald "Tooky" Amirault; his sister Cheryl Amirault LeFave; and their mother, Violet Amirault.
 

  • Sept. 2, 1984 -- A mother calls an abuse hot line and reports possible symptoms of sexual abuse in her 5-year-old son, who attended the Fells Acres Day School in Malden.

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  • Sept. 3, 1984 -- A Department of Social Services worker calls Violet Amirault, who started the daycare center in the early 1960s, and informs her of the allegations.

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  • Sept. 5, 1984 -- Gerald "Tooky" Amirault, Violet's son, is arrested and charged with rape of a child.

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  • Sept. 11, 1984 -- State closes the daycare center.

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  • Sept. 12, 1984 -- Parents of Fells pupils are called to Malden Police Department for interviews.

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  • September-November 1984 -- Forty children tell their parents or social workers they experienced some kind of abuse. The children are then interviewed by psychologists and social workers.

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  • Jan. 23, 1985 -- Grand jury indicts Gerald and Violet Amirault, as well as Violet's daughter Cheryl Amirault LeFave, on 18 counts of abusing eight children. Two more children are added to indictments by mid-1985.

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  • July 20, 1986 -- Gerald Amirault is found guilty on all counts. He is later sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.

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  • June 13, 1987 -- Violet Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave are convicted on all counts. They are given 8 to 20-year jail sentences.

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  • March 30, 1995 -- Amiraults request new trial on constitutional grounds.

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  • Aug. 29, 1995 -- Amirault mother and daughter freed on bail pending a retrial after serving eight years.

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  • March 24, 1997 -- Massachusetts' highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, reinstates child molestation convictions against Violet Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, denies son's motion for new trial.

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  • May 9, 1997 -- Superior Court judge grants new trial for Violet Amirault and her daughter, allowing them to remain free on bail. The judge, defying the SJC, said the women's lawyers had failed to represent them effectively at trial and on appeal.

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  • Sept. 12, 1997 -- Violet Amirault dies of stomach cancer at the age of 74.

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  • June 12, 1998 -- Superior Court judge overturns the conviction of Cheryl Amirault LeFave. The judge said new research showed prosecutors' suggestive and leading interview techniques made it impossible to tell if the children, by now teen-agers, were telling the truth.

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  • Aug. 18, 1999 -- The Supreme Judicial Court once again reinstates the conviction, overturning the lower court's decision.

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  • Sept. 28, 1999 -- The SJC rejects Cheryl Amirault LeFave's bid for a new trial.

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  • Oct. 21, 1999 -- Cheryl Amirault LeFave secures her freedom and the emotional case against her draws to a close. LeFave's convictions remain, but a superior court judge allowed the time she had served on the eight- to 20-year sentence to stand after prosecutors did not oppose LeFave's motion to reduce her sentence.

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  • Sept. 20, 2000 -- Gerald Amirault, after serving 14 years in prison, asks the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Pardons that his sentence be commuted. The Middlesex County District Attorney's office, which did not oppose freeing Cheryl Amirault LeFave, adamantly opposes commuting Gerald Amirault's sentence.

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  • July 6, 2001 -- Massachusetts Board of Pardons unanimously recommends commuting the sentence of Gerald Amirault. Acting Gov. Jane Swift and the Governor's Council must decide on the board's recommendation.

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    Gerald Amirault
    Cheryl LeFave


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