Decision comes after lengthy Governor’s Council hearing Tuesday following victims and lead prosecutor in Fells Acres case gave statements
Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday rescinded a request to issue pardons to a Malden brother and sister who were convicted and served jail time in the 1980s Fells Acres Day Care child sex abuse case.
A spokesperson from Gov. Baker’s office made the announcement to members of the press Wednesday, just minutes before a vote was expected to be taken by the Governor’s Council on the controversial request.
The Governor’s decision to pull back the pardon requests for Gerald Amirault, 68 and his sister, Cheryl Amiraulkt LeFave, 62, following a six-hour hearing on Tuesday where attorneys on both sides of the issue testified before the members.
Included on the side opposed to the pardons were the former lead prosecutor in the case, Laurence Hardoon, as well as several victims and victims’ parents, who gave emotional statements, recounting specific details made in court nearly 40 years and continuing to attest to their validity.
“Following yesterday’s hearing, it is apparent that there are not sufficient votes from the Governor’s Council to support a pardon for the Amiraults. Therefore, the Governor is withdrawing his pardon petition,” spokesman Terry MacCormack wrote.
The administration’s announcement to the press came less than 10 minutes before the council’s formal session on Wednesday. A potential roll call vote on the pardons was expected at this meeting.
The council spent six hours Tuesday hearing arguments about whether to grant pardons to Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, both of whom have maintained their innocence after serving prison sentences.
Baker said last month that he believed the pair should be pardoned because he had “grave doubt regarding the evidentiary strength of these convictions.”
During the hearing, some councilors criticized the proposed pardons, which were opposed by the Parole Board, voted and challenged Gov. Baker over a perceived lack of explanation for his decision.
Governor’s Councilor Terence Kennedy of Lynnfield, who represents Malden, the present home of at least one of the Amiraults, said he would have voted in favor of the pardons, in an online report.
Kennedy said Baker’s move Wednesday to take the pardons off the table was “the appropriate thing to do, given that they didn’t have the votes.”