Started by RADAR, Jan 31, 2010, 08:28 PM
Even before Democratic Senate Candidate Martha Coakley was defeated by the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, political commentators were offering explanations for her loss of popularity, ranging from a bungled campaign to the idea that the Massachusetts election was a national referendum on health care reform or the Obama agenda. One explanation that deserves more attention was recently put forward by Carey Roberts at ifeminist.net. In "Prosecution of Innocent Man Seals Martha Coakley's Defeat" (http://www.ifeminists.net/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.665), Roberts argues that Coakley's role in keeping Gerald Amirault in prison played a major role in the election of Scott Brown.In the early 1980s, as explained in a story by Dorothy Rabinowitz that ran in the Wall Street Journal five days before the election (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575003341640657862.html), Gerald Amirault had been accused of plunging "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." In 2001, when the Massachusetts Board of Pardons voted 5-0 to release him, Coakley, then District Attorney Coakley, successfully pushed for the Governor to deny commutation, which she did in 2002. Amirault spent two more years in prison before finally being paroled.According to RADAR spokesman David Heleniak, an exciting aspect of the public's negative reaction to Coakley's handling of the Amirault case is that it seems to represent a coming together of the right and left on the issue of civil liberties..."On both sides of the political spectrum," says Heleniak, "there's outrage at the treatment Amirault received. And there's an increasing awareness, after Nifong, that prosecutors are not necessarily the impartial champions of justice they claim to be."