Lawyer: NY finds no child abuse by Douglas Kennedy

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2012 4:44 PM
Lawyer: NY finds no child abuse by Douglas Kennedy

A state investigation has found no evidence of child abuse by a Kennedy heir who tried to take his newborn son from a maternity ward, a family lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Robert Gottlieb said Douglas Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, received a letter from New York's child protection agency declaring that a report of child abuse had been determined to be unfounded.

The Office of Children and Family Services investigated after Kennedy was charged with child endangerment in February. On Jan. 7, he tried to take the newborn boy from the maternity ward at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, more than 30 miles from Manhattan. Nurses objected, and the hospital reported the incident to the state.

Susan Steele, an agency spokeswoman, said Wednesday by email that confidentiality laws prohibit her from commenting.

Gottlieb said the agency's investigation is separate from the criminal prosecution and doesn't negate the endangerment charge against Kennedy, but he hopes prosecutors will take it into consideration.

"It is our fervent hope that the Westchester district attorney will continue to evaluate this case, and we remain hopeful that the DA will ultimately dismiss that charge," he said.

Gottlieb said Wednesday the probe covered the hospital encounter and a home visit.

"They investigated everything," he said.

He said the agency's finding was "the first glimmer of reason that has surfaced in this case since it erupted in the press."

The finding has nothing to do with charges of physical harassment against Kennedy stemming from the same encounter. One nurse says Kennedy twisted her arm as she tried to keep him from leaving with the baby, and another says he kicked her.

Kennedy, 44, has said he was protecting the child as the nurses tried to grab him. He and his wife, Molly, issued a statement in February that said, "Our simple desire to take our son outside for fresh air has been warped into a charge of child endangerment."

Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the district attorney, wouldn't comment. Douglas Kennedy, a reporter for Fox News, is due in Mount Kisco Court on April 12.