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Douglas Kennedy Trial Opens in Mount Kisco with Clashes [UPDATE]

Prosecutors portrays Kennedy as reckless, while the defense argues that he was calm and nurses overreacted.

The Douglas Kennedy trial opened Monday with two sharply contrasting portrayals of the man. On one side: a person who disregarded orders in the hospital and rushed through with his baby. On the other: a man who calmly tried to negotiate a way to spend time with his son but became the victim of overraction by nurses.

It is now up to Mount Kisco Village Justice John Donohue to decide which protrayal suffices, as Kennedy faces charges of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, and harassment, a violation, in connection with his moving of newborn son, Bo, from Northern Westchester Hospital Center's maternity ward in Mount Kisco.

Both sides were adamant in their portrayals.

"No one has informed him of any hospital policy that would prohibit him from taking his son outside," said Kennedy attorney Celia Gordon in an opening statement.

Gordon argued that the hospital's transport policy, which requires movement in a bassinet or isolette through the premises, does not apply in the case of a parent trying to take his child out for fresh air as Kennedy conveyed was his right on the night of Jan. 7, 2012. She also argued that Kennedy was reasonable and calm during his dialogue with staff at the nurses' station, but that Lane escalated the situation when she arrived without prior knowledge of Kennedy's request.

Additionally, Gordon blasted the nurses, Anna Lane and Cari Luciano, who were involved in alleged altercations with Kennedy as he moved with Bo through a stairwell door on the third floor. She argued that evidence from video footage shows he was able to get past Lane, who accused him of forcing twisting her limb to remove it from the door knob, without such a need. Gordon then argued that an alleged scuffle between Kennedy and Luciano, who then responded after he was going through the stairwell, was a natural thing and not intentional on Kennedy's part as a knee-jerk defense of his son.

"What happened next was instinctual," she said, adding that Kennedy did not intend to kick or harass Luciano. Kennedy is accused of deliberately acting in the alleged scuffle. Gordon argues that Kennedy calmly traveled through the building.

Gordan made the situation personal, accusing the nurses of being liars and interested in a monetary payoff, citing a proposed settlement that was obtained earlier this month by the press.

Amy Puerto, one of two prosecutors handling the case, argued that it was Kennedy who overreacted. She described Kennedy as defying Lane's order against moving Bo, and how she blocked him as he was attempting to use an elevator by holding down the open button. Puerto then described Kennedy's subsequent attempt to head for the stairwell "with some kind of bizarre desperation."

During this time, Puerto asserted, nurses panicked over the state of the baby. Kennedy was then caught by a security guard, she claimed, and responded "do you know who I am?"

Lane, who testified, was the most signficant witness of the day. She kept composed until she was asked to recall the alleged limb twisting, which led her to sob.

Lane was asked by Robert Gottlieb, Kennedy's other lawyer, about the March settlement proposal and its terms, including a monetary payment to each nurse commensurate with injury. While Lane acknowleged that a settlement was proposed, she was adament that she was not simply looking for money, which is what the defense alleges.

Telling Gottlieb, Lane replied that she was "offended by even talks of settlement."

When the prosuection brought up the accusation, Lane also denied it. Asked what she wanted from Kenney, Lane replied: "an apology."

Both sides sparred over which codes were called for in the situation: purple, which signals a person who needs to be calmed down, and pink, which deals with child abduction. Two witnesses were called so far Monday: Eric Hartmann, the hospital's director of fire safety and security, and Angela Adamo, a charge nurse present on the incident's night. 

It was acknowledged by witnesses that Lane ordered the hospital to go to each code. Marsha Semple, a concierge whose duties included oversight of registrations and checking out, testified that she then made the calls on the phone system for each code.

Gordan went over a dispatch call that Hartmann made to Mount Kisco police after the altercation was over, in which it appeared that he did not view the problem with a major sense of urgency. However, it was also noted during the trial that the information Hartmann had was still not fully detailed, and the prosecution questioned the relevance of asking him about what he recalled.

Adamo said that, when speaking with Kennedy about his request to move Bo, she wanted to de-escalate the situation and to prevent him from leaving.

"I was trying to do anything so they would not leave the unit," she said. Adamo cited safety concerns over the potential for Bo getting hurt or sick.

"The baby was not appropriately dressed," she added. Adamo told Puerto that Kennedy was not given permission to leave.

Adamo said that she called a code pink after hearing a woman shout "he's taking the baby!"

Gottlieb got her to acknowledge that he did not raise his voice during the incident, and she acknowledged that he kept a calm demeanor during his talk at a nurses' station. However, when examined by the prosection, she argued that he was not polite.

"His answers were a little short and snippy," she said.

Lane testified that Kennedy raised his voice during the scuffle.

Gottlieb, after finding out that Adamo's supervisor did not come to the scene after she initially contacted her, argued that it is a sign that the incident was not viewed as an emergency.

The Letter of the Law (and Policy) 

In its defense, Kennedy's team aggressively sough to parse out the technicalities of both the charges he faces and of the hospital's policy for moving infants. 

The strategy is key to the defense. Kennedy's team argues that he did not break the harassment law because he did not act intentionally in the alleged altercation with the nurses. The argument against child welfare endangerment was that Kennedy did not knowingly act in a way that was injurious to the baby. On the contrary, as the defense stated, Bo was fine.

Upon asking questions from Adamo regarding the letter of the transportant policy - they included her acknowledging the bassinet is used for hallway transportation and the isolette is for department to department - he argued that there was nothing specifically denying Kennedy from moving Bo through the building.

Gottlieb also argued that Bo was healthy - he was stayed in the hospital to be breastfed by his mother, Molly, who was recovering from a C-section - even if he had not been discharged.

After a break from the trial, Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto asked Adamo whether it mattered if a baby is healthy as a factor in moving it.

"No, because no babies leave the unit," Adamo replied.

She also explained that, when it comes to taking babies off of the floor, that applies to family members acting as well.

Gottlieb argued that violating hospital policy and breaking the law are not one in the same. 

"This is the philosophy of the hospital," he said.

Trial May Last for Days

The trial could go on for several days, Gottlieb confirmed Monday morning. It appears that more witnesses will be called, including Luciano and a supervisor of the nurses. Day 2 in the trial starts at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Betsy Shaw Weiner October 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I really do not understand the media obsession with everything in the wide world that happens to anyone whose last name is Kennedy. For one thing, it blows nearly everything way out of proportion, as I'm sure it has in this case. For another, it's just really tacky.
Fred Smith October 22, 2012 at 06:50 PM
No patient is ever allowed to leave the hospital with a discharge, including new borns. Mr. Kenneday had attended prior births of his children and was familar with this policy yet choose to ignore it. He could have had his child discharged at any time, BUT only following proper predure for the safety of the baby.
Jeanne Gilholm October 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I just wonder why any loving father would want to take a newborn baby outside, at night, in January without proper clothing and blankets around him. Hmmmm????
Johnny October 22, 2012 at 07:11 PM
And poorly written: "The argued against child welfare endangerment was that Kennedy did not knowing act in a way that was injurous to the baby." Huh?
Lanning Taliaferro (Editor) October 22, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Thanks, Johnny, for catching those typos.
Conrad Heyer October 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Typos, I think not. No proofreading and lack of editing is more likely. I like the Patch but you really need to raise the bar on both reporting and editing. More of both!
McKey Rivers October 22, 2012 at 08:00 PM
This criminal trial is expected to continue multiple days?! Let's face it, this matter is about the nurses' belief they have a civil claim against Mr. Kennedy and his belief that he owes them nothing. What a waste of public resources; these people should resolve their differences in a civil lawsuit.
eatingdogfood October 22, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Nurses deserve way more respect than they get. Mr. Kennedy assaulted one! I'm with the nurses on this.
Atom October 22, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It will be interesting to see how the self righteous Kennedy's defend themselves as VICTIMS......they play by their own rules and feel they are above everyone else....this is just another example of the Camelot heirs feeling they can get away with any behavior without any repercussions......I hope the nurses get their due justice...the Kennedy's are not above the law or hospital policies....
Jeff Kent October 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
In NYC there are mandatory fines for striking a bus driver or subway operator. These laws should be in place Nationally for Doctors and Nurses as well. I had two children delivered at NWHC. ALL exits on the maternity ward are not only clearly marked that you may not remove a newborn, but warn you of even getting CLOSE to a stairwell or elevator door or the baby's bracelet will set off the alarm.
Harry One October 22, 2012 at 09:34 PM
THEY ARE KENNEDYS above the law . Druging not charged . Can you get fingerprints off a rope
Nuda October 22, 2012 at 09:53 PM
He is a Kennedy and thinks laws and rules do not apply to him. This is just stupid that he wants to turn it in to a witch hunt against the nurses who put themselves in danger to protect his son. Maybe he should look up how many children are stolen by a parent, how are they to know if he is nuts? If he wants to not follow the rules have a midwife and give birth at home. He choose the hospital and everyone with half a brain know the rules!!! Maybe he can't read
ingeborg oppenheimer October 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM
<<<Gordon argued that the hospital's transport policy, which requires movement in a bassinet or isolette through the premises, does not apply in the case of a parent trying to take his child out for fresh air as Kennedy conveyed was his right on the night of Jan. 7, 2012.>>> attorney celia gordon, herself a woman, either has no children of her own or is devoid of even an intuitive sense of the inappropriateness of taking a new-born outside at night in january. whatever was going on in douglas kennedy's life that might explain this act of wanting to take that infant outside, the act itself points to gross deficits in judgement, poor understanding of a newborn's needs, and possibly other character defects pointing to questionable parenting ability. that is what the trial should focus on.
uj October 23, 2012 at 11:03 AM
The SCARY part of this is if this trial WAS in WHITE PLAINS , and if a jury was chosen and the case goes in front of judge gerald e LOEHR. THERE IS A CONFLICT BIG TIME HERE!!! JUDGE LOEHR'S WIFE IS THE COMMISH OF JURORS!!!... WE all must vote JUDGE E LOEHR out of office in 2 weeks for this major one sided problem in white plains court house! note well together they make over 250 thousand dollars in the same building annually. WOW A DOUBLE WOW
Peggy October 23, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Once again certain people believe that the law or rules and regulations do not apply to them. I hope he does NOT get off easily on this one. Such an idiot. Imagine what would have happened if someone else tried taking his kid for fresh air and the nurses did nothing. Such a double standard.
Andromachos October 23, 2012 at 07:38 PM
There are mandatory punishment for striking anyone. It is called Penal Law 120.10.
Andromachos October 23, 2012 at 07:43 PM
It ain't illegal to make a bad decision. If it were, we would all be up the river. Also, it was about 55-60 degrees out that night. Not exactly a typical January night.
Lisa Perez October 23, 2012 at 08:55 PM
How did the nurses know that Kennedy did not fight with his wife in the room prior to the incident? Does anyone realize he could have been kidnapping the child also? He is an arrogant jerk who disrespected the rules & nurses!
aph47 October 24, 2012 at 09:36 PM
It's legally impossible for a married father to kidnap a child before a court intervenes.
aph47 October 24, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Hospital rules are not laws.
Terry October 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
What an arrogant jerk!!! What is with the Kennedys abusive behavior toward women? His doctor friend is a bottom feeder.Kennedy's behavior was crazy, dangerous and illegal. Where are the assault charges? If Kennedy isn't convicted that judge should be removed from office.

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