Associated Press, 07/06/01
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.
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.
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
5, 1984 -- Gerald "Tooky" Amirault, Violet's son, is arrested and charged
with rape of a child.
11, 1984 -- State closes the daycare center.
12, 1984 -- Parents of Fells pupils are called to Malden Police Department
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.
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.
1986 -- Gerald Amirault is found guilty on all counts. He is later sentenced
to 30 to 40 years in prison.
1987 -- Violet Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave are convicted on all
counts. They are given 8 to 20-year jail sentences.
30, 1995 -- Amiraults request new trial on constitutional grounds.
1995 -- Amirault mother and daughter freed on bail pending a retrial after
serving eight years.
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.
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.
12, 1997 -- Violet Amirault dies of stomach cancer at the age of 74.
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.
1999 -- The Supreme Judicial Court once again reinstates the conviction,
overturning the lower court's decision.
28, 1999 -- The SJC rejects Cheryl Amirault LeFave's bid for a new trial.
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
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.
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.