WHITE PLAINS -- Douglas Kennedy, a son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was acquitted yesterday of child endangerment and harassment charges stemming from a scuffle in a hospital maternity ward.
Kennedy had tried in January to take his newborn son from Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco. He said he just wanted the 2-day-old boy, Anthony Boru Kennedy, to get some fresh air.
However, several nurses objected, saying his request would violate hospital policy. Kennedy tried to leave anyway, and two nurses claimed he hurt them as they blocked his way.
Mount Kisco Town Judge John Donohue, who heard the case without a jury, ruled that Kennedy, 45, broke no laws. He said testimony showed that the baby was not in danger -- except from the nurses' actions -- and that Kennedy did not demonstrate any intent to hurt them.
The judge said he didn't have to rule on whether it was a good idea to take the baby outside.
"The Court is not determining whether the defendant's behavior was wise or prudent," he wrote.
Kennedy's lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, said Kennedy and his wife, Molly, "are thrilled that this nightmare has finally come to an end."
The judge found that the nurses knew Kennedy planned to return and was not absconding with the baby.
Gottlieb argued that the nurses overreacted to Kennedy's request and when they realized the hospital would investigate, they "join together, get their stories straight and pressure the district attorney's office to bring charges."
He said they'd been told that any potential lawsuit for damages would have a better chance if a criminal conviction came first. "This case from Day One was all about money," he said at a Manhattan news conference.
Nurse Anna Lane testified that Kennedy twisted her arm as she tried to block him from going through a door to a stairwell. Nurse Cari Luciano said Kennedy kicked her as she reached for the baby in Kennedy's arms.
Gottlieb said it was a push rather than a kick and was an instinctive reaction of a father trying to protect his baby. The judge said that explanation was "consistent with the defendant's demeanor" as seen on hospital surveillance video.