The attorney for Douglas Kennedy requested on Thursday that Mount Kisco Village Justice John Donohue dismiss misdemeanor criminal charges against his client for allegedly harassing two Northern Westchester Hospital nurses in January.
Attorney Robert Gottlieb said Kennedy, a Pleasantville resident and the youngest son of the late Robert Kennedy, committed no crime when he tried to take his newborn son outside the hospital for a walk on Jan. 7. Gottlieb, who addressed the issue outside the Mount Kisco Justice Court on Thursday evening following a brief court appearance, called the continued prosecution of Kennedy “a disgrace.”
Kennedy was embroiled in an altercation with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his days old son outside for some fresh air.
“If any crimes were committed they were committed by other people, certainly not Douglas Kennedy,” Gottlieb said. “That we’re going through this and continuing to go through this all the time is truly absurd.”
He said Kennedy, 44, was entitled to hold his son and walk out of the hospital with him.
Kennedy, who spoke briefly outside the courthouse with his wife, Molly, after the court appearance, said he was “shocked” to be stopped by nurses who attempted to block him and his son from temporarily leaving the building.
“The only thing I will say about that night is I was protecting my son from a couple of strangers who tried to grab him from my arms,” he said. “I was shocked. I did not expect it and I was only trying to protect him and I hope the people of Westchester will convince whoever they have to convince (that) that is okay to do.”
However, a group of Northern Westchester Hospital nurses, who also appeared outside the courtroom as a show of support for their two colleagues, argued that Kennedy clearly violated hospital policy by taking a newborn infant without letting staff know. Nurse Julianne Hatzel said Kennedy never informed the nurses or the doctor of his intentions and hospital staff had an obligation to protect the child.
“I would believe that if he really wanted to take his newborn son he could have communicated that to the nurses who were caring for the patient,” Hatzel said.
Nurses could be reprimanded or lose their jobs for violating a policy designed to protect patients, she said.
During the roughly five-minute court session, Gottlieb asked that he and his client have access to evidence to prove their case, most notably video surveillance tape that he claims will prove Kennedy’s innocence. However, the Westchester County District attorney’s office has moved to quash the evidence. Gottlieb told Donohue the district attorney has no standing to do that and that request can only come from the hospital.
He also appealed to the judge to schedule the case for trial this summer if it is not dismissed. Donohue said he would expect a speedy trial but stopped short of promising it be scheduled for summer.
The next scheduled appearance is April 26 to allow the prosecution to respond to the application for dismissal. There will be another court appearance in May for the defendant to respond and a hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 14. At that time a trial date could be set.
While addressing the media afterwards, Gottlieb said there may have been financial motivation for the two nurses at the center of the controversy. Before Kennedy was charged, he received a letter from the nurses lawyer directing him to send the correspondence to his insurance carrier.
“It’s clear what this case is all about,” Gottlieb said. “It’s clear what this case has been about from Day One. It has nothing to do with Mr. Kennedy receiving any favored treatment. It has everything to do with certain individuals who have taken advantage of the situation to try and line their pockets.”
In defending his actions, Kennedy brought up the loss of his father who was assassinated when he was a baby.
“I know that in my heart my father was taken away from me when I was a boy and I think that’s what makes me appreciate me being with my son,” he said. “The only thing I wanted to do that night was to be with my son and hold him in my arms.”
Filed Under: The Examiner