Douglas Kennedy set for October trial in baby case

Douglas Kennedy, accused of harassing two nurses at

Douglas Kennedy, accused of harassing two nurses at Northern Westchester Hospital. leaves the Mount Kisco Justice Center after a hearing. (Aug. 9, 2012) (Credit: Faye Murman)

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A Mount Kisco judge on Thursday set an October trial date for Douglas Kennedy, accused of harassing two nurses at Northern Westchester Hospital in January.

After a three-minute hearing, his attorney said Kennedy, who has pleaded not guilty, would not agree to any deal before the trial.

"The only way to resolve this case is for the charges to be dismissed," attorney Robert Gottlieb said. "There is no crime here."

Kennedy, 45, the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, faces misdemeanor child endangerment and harassment charges stemming from a Jan. 7 scuffle with two maternity ward nurses at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Before setting the Oct. 22 trial date, Judge John Donohue denied almost all of what Kennedy's defense team had requested: videotape from the hospital and the nurses' personnel records. But the judge said Northern Westchester Hospital had to surrender whatever written policies were in place on removing newborns from the hospital.

Gottlieb had wanted the records to attack the credibility of the two nurses when they testify at trial. Prosecutors already have given Kennedy several minutes of videotape of the incident, but Gottlieb wanted an additional four hours to plumb the tape for potential witnesses.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto said prosecutors have turned over all their evidence to the defense. Lawyers for the hospital had objected to the request, saying the hospital shouldn't be required to turn over anything because it was not involved in the criminal case.

Kennedy exited the court surrounded by about a dozen nurses shouting, "Kennedy Kennedy, can't you see? Assaulting a nurse is a felony." He avoided the nurses on his way into court by entering through a back door.

Stopping briefly to give a statement to reporters before leaving with his wife Molly, Kennedy said, "It's OK for a father to want to be with his son and nobody should ever try to grab a baby from any parent's arms." He refused to answer questions.

An hour before the hearing began, the nurses lined up, wearing matching red T-shirts with a New York State Nurses Association emblem, and protested outside the courthouse, a reprise of a June hearing in which Kennedy was shouted at by 50 nurses as he arrived.

"Mr. Kennedy did something illegal," said Eileen Letzeiser, a nurse from Cortlandt Manor. "Nurses shouldn't have to worry if they're going to be safe when they go to work."

Carrying a sign that read "it's sick to kick," Letzeiser said nurses would be at the courthouse to greet Kennedy with signs and shouts at every court appearance.

Douglas Kennedy is not the only Kennedy family member beset by legal troubles this summer: older sister Kerry Kennedy is facing a charge in North Castle of driving while under the influence of drugs after she sideswiped a tractor-trailer July 13 on Interstate 684. State police blood tests revealed that Kennedy had the sleep aid Ambien in her system at the time.

Douglas Kennedy got into a fracas with nurses Anna Margaret Lane and Cari Maleman Luciano, after they objected when he tried to take his 3-day-old son Daniel Boru outside. Security video showed the nurses blocking Kennedy from getting on an elevator and using a stairwell.

The nurses said hospital guidelines indicate that a newborn can't leave the ward without written permission, which Kennedy didn't have.

Kennedy said one of the nurses tried to snatch the baby from his arms. Luciano told police she was trying to stop Kennedy from "violently shaking" the child.

One nurse charged that Kennedy kicked her in the pelvis and the other said he twisted her arm. The video shows a woman falling to the floor before security officers prevented Kennedy from leaving the hospital.

The Office of Children and Family Services determined that Kennedy had not abused the baby.

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