Douglas Kennedy has been acquitted on all charges against him stemming from his movement of his newborn son, Bo, through the maternity ward of Northern Westchester Hospital.
In a 10-page decision dated Tuesday, Mount Kisco Village Justice John Donohue, who presided over a non-jury, bench trial, sided with Kennedy's arguments, finding him not guilty of one count of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, and not guilty on two counts of harassment, non-criminal violations.
Elated, Kennedy and his wife, Molly, released a statement to the media.
"We want to thank our family, our friends and our neighbors in Pleasantville who supported us from the very beginning.
"We also want to thank Roger and Beth Ailes [the head of Fox News and his wife] who took us into their home during a difficult time and who immediately knew the allegations were totally without merit.
"We are particularly grateful to the Mount Kisco Police Department, Court Clerk Eleanor Humphrey and Judge John Donahue for judging the case on the facts.
"We have always believed that it is okay for a father to hold his son and it is never okay for anyone to try to grab a baby from any parent's arms."
On the night of the alleged incident, Jan. 7, Kennedy wanted to take his 2-day-old son outside for fresh air. The defense argued that, based on initial feedback from the nurses' station, that the impression given was that it was acceptable, but the situation was escalated when the two nurses, Anna Lane and Cari Luciano intervened, resulting in an alleged scuffle between them and Kennedy. The prosecution argued that Kennedy was reckless, intentionally disregarded the intent of Lane to have him not proceeding with the infant, and engaged in activities that were risking to the baby's wellbeing.
On the child endangerment count, which involved the movement of Bo through the building, Donohue sided with the defense's argument that Kennedy, who lives in Chappaqua and works for Fox News, did not knowlingly cause harm likely to be injurious to his son, which is the threshold for proving the count. As an example, Donohue cited testimony from Dr. Timothy Haydock, who was working in the emergency room that night and is a longtime Kennedy family friend. He also wrote that the hold that Kennedy for the baby, called a football hold, did not suffice for proving the charge. Additionally, Donohue explained that there was no testimony that the way in which Kennedy carried Bo, was inherently dangerous, even if hospital protocol required transport with a bassinet. Kennedy, according to security camera footage and testimony, brought out a bassinet into the hallway but did not use it.
The whole timeline, which included Kennedy moving to a stairwell during the alleged altercation with the nurses, was about seven minutes, Donohue wrote.
It was Kennedy's intent to bring his son outside for fresh air, and two Codes (pink and purple) were called against him as he tried to leave the ward. Code Pink signals abduction of infants, while Code Purple is for cases involving someone who is agitated. Donohue wrote that the prosuection did not prove that taking Bo outside was injurous.
"There was not showing by the prosecution that the child's health was such that taking the child outside would, in fact, be hazardous to the child's physical, moral or mental welfare," Donohue wrote.
Donohue also sided with the prosecution in its argument that hospital policy intended to regulate infant transport in the building did not specifically apply to a father taking his infant outside for fresh air.
With regard to the harassment counts, in his decision, Donohue agreed with the defense that Kennedy, a son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, did not intentionally kick Luciano when she reached for Bo when he was in the stairwell door of the ward floor. The defense, during the trial, argued that Kennedy instinctively pushed Luciano away when she tried to take the baby. Donohue also wrote that the assertion of Lane that Kennedy twisted her arm to stop her from holding the ward's stairwell door was not corroborated beyond her own testimony.
The incident was alleged to have happened on Jan. 7, two days after Bo was born. Kennedy was charged on Feb. 23 and his trial took place for five days in late October, including testimony from Lane, Luciano, Haydock and other NWH workers.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Kennedy's attorneys lauded Donohue's verdict and reiterated their arguments from the trial in blasting the credibility of Lane and Luciano.
Attorney Robert Gottlieb praised Donohue for his decisions, and argued that the security camera footage on the floor of the ward, which was played several times during the trial and by media, played an important role in Kennedy's favor.
Gottlieb continued to accuse the nurses of planning a civil lawsuit against Kennedy, arguing that the criminal case was to “bolster their chances in a civil lawsuit.”
Gottlieb argued that the decision was a clear one.
Elliot Taub, an attorney for the nurses, could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for NWH also declined to comment, referring an inquiry to those who are involved with the case.
A spokesman for the Westchester County District Attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.