The words Kennedy and controversy are used in the same sentence so frequently that after hearing the two words together, it arguably becomes a matter of asking what the latest controversy is, rather than questioning whether or not there is one. The latest involves Douglas Kennedy, one of the sons of Robert F. Kennedy, accused of physically abusing two on-duty nurses at the hospital where his newborn son was in the maternity ward.
While Kennedy, a program host on the Fox News Channel, is no stranger to being on camera, what he did that was captured on surveillance video is what had him in court on Monday.
Surveillance cameras in the third floor maternity ward of Northern Westchester Hospital recorded Kennedy exiting an elevator with his newborn son on January 7th of this year without being officially released. Two nurses said he twisted the arm of one of them and kicked the other in the abdomen in order to get out of the hospital for what he called a chance to get a breath of fresh air with his baby boy.
Kennedy was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and harassment, which could lead to up to a year behind bars, or probation or community service, if he's found guilty.
"I think we have to let this play out before making any comment," the 45 year-old told PIX11 News outside of court. Inside, he was joined by his wife and a handful of other supporters, who feel that the prosecution against their friend and family member is an overzealous overreach of the law.
"He's embarrassed and he's suffering himself," said Nuala O'Connor, a family friend, "and I'm here to support him because he's proud of his son and he's proud of his family."
Also at court were at least a dozen supporters of the nurses involved in the early winter incident, including nurses who were on duty in the maternity ward during the attack of which Kennedy is accused. One of them, Angela Adamo, testified on Monday. There was no shortage of support for her or for the nurses who said they'd been hurt Anna Lane and Carrie Luciano.
"What man kicks a nurse in the abdomen, because he doesn't get his way?" asked Eileen Letzeiser, a nurse who also heads a local nurse labor organization, who had come to show her support. "How sad is this?" she asked, while carrying a sign that pointed out that it's now a felony in New York to attack a nurse on the job.
Douglas Kennedy and the nurses involved in the incident are all expected to take the stand. The trial is expected to take all week, and could extend into next week. It's a bench trial, meaning that there is no jury. The judge will issue a verdict at his discretion sometime after the trial concludes.
If Kennedy is found guilty, prosecutors will have to make a sentencing recommendation to the judge, on which he'll rule at a later date. A guilty verdict may also prompt the nurses to file a separate civil lawsuit.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times