Douglas Kennedy, the son of late New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was acquitted on Tuesday of charges of child endangerment and harassment.
The charges against Kennedy arose in January when he attempted to remove his newborn son, Anthony Boru Kennedy, from the maternity ward of Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco against the orders of nurses. Kennedy, 45, had told nurses at the time that he just wanted to take the two-day-old boy outside to get some fresh air, a claim that he has since maintained.
But when Kennedy attempted to leave the building with the boy, nurses barred his exit, explaining that such a request was against hospital policy. That’s when, according to two nurses, Kennedy attempted to leave anyway and hurt them in the process, reported the Washington Post.
One hospital nurse, Anna Lane, said that she had tried to block Kennedy from exiting through a stairwell and that he had twisted her arm to get past her. A second nurse, Cari Luciano, testified that Kennedy kicked her when she attempted to take the child out of his arms, according to a New York Times report.
Robert Gottlieb, an attorney for Kennedy, argued that Kennedy had not kicked Luciano, but had pushed her, and that it had been out of an instinctive response to protect his child. Kennedy fell during the altercation but did not lose hold of the child.
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After a hearing the case without a jury, Mount Kisco village justice John Donohue ruled in favor of Kennedy, saying that he had not broken any laws or demonstrated any intent to put the baby’s life in danger and that a surveillance video of the incident was “consistent with the defendant’s demeanor.” On the contrary, Judge Donohue said, based on the testimony any possible danger to the child’s life came from the nurses’ actions.
The judge said that he was not ruling on whether or not Kennedy’s attempt to remove the child was a good idea, writing, “The Court is not determining whether the defendant’s behavior was wise or prudent.”
Judge Donohue also found the hospital’s response in January to have been unwarranted: they sounded the alarm “code pink,” to signal that a baby was being abducted, despite knowing that Kennedy planned to return with the child.
Regarding the judge’s decision, Gottlieb said, “Given the barrage of public attention, it took a great deal of courage from this judge, and we really do appreciate it.”
“This case from Day One was all about money,” he added.