Douglas Kennedy, son of former Senator and United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was acquitted Tuesday of harassment and child endangerment charges in New York. Kennedy, also the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, was accused in January of kicking a nurse in the pelvis and twisting another nurse’s arm as he was attempting to take his newborn son from the maternity ward to get some “fresh air.”
The entire incident was recorded by a security at Northern Westchester Hospital. Cari Luciano, one of the alleged victim nurses, testified that as Kennedy attempted to get to the stairwell of the hospital, his baby’s head was jostled and unsupported. Luciano testified that she instinctively reached out to steady the baby when Kennedy kicked her in the pelvis. Marian Williams, an eyewitness nurse, testified that Kennedy’s kick met with “such force” that it knocked Luciano off her feet.
Kennedy’s case really alleges nothing more than a battery charge, coupled with New York’s specific version of a child abuse or child neglect charge. Using Florida law for our analysis, battery would be the only charge applicable under the facts as reported in the Kennedy news story.
First to address and then discount an allegation of abuse or neglect to the infant, the only statute under Florida law that would be applicable to this factual scenario would be Florida Statute 827.03. First, there is no reasonable allegation of child abuse as there is absolutely no willful or intentional act to cause harm to this child. Kennedy is said to have taken his child into his arms in an effort to take the child outside for some fresh air. Nothing is reported that could support a charge that he, by some purposeful act, abused the child or put the child in a situation that could reasonably be said to cause harm. Simple “alleged” head jostling won’t cut it. More is needed to support a child abuse charge.
With respect to child abuse by neglect, there is nothing factually that would lead a reasonable juror to believe that Kennedy, as caregiver, failed to provide this baby with care, supervision, or services to maintain the baby’s physical health. The child was receiving medical services in the hospital, there is no allegation that it was without adequate clothing, and shelter is a non-issue. Child abuse would not even be on the radar in Florida, though New York may have an altogether different definition of what is and is not child abuse.
Battery. This is the charge that would seem to stick. Even the greenest of Tampa criminal attorney would have sense enough to question this. Why it wasn’t charged in New York is a mystery known only by the prosecutor’s office. Battery, set out in Florida Statute 784.03, is proven in Florida (and most other States), when it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant either:
1) intentionally touched or struck the victim against his or her will.
2) intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.
Obviously neither nurse had a burning desire to have their arm twisted or get drop kicked in the hospital hallway. Considering the incident is on video, assuming the video is clear and tells the whole tale, it seems unbelievable that even the most pathetic prosecutor would have difficulty proving the battery under scenario #1. Depending on the injury to either nurse, the battery case could be made under either scenario.
If the facts of the Kennedy case are as lopsided in favor of the prosecution as it seems, this case clearly shows why hiring a Tampa battery attorney is important if you are facing battery charges in the Tampa Bay area. Despite the strength of the State’s case, anything can happen when one hires a diligent and zealous attorney.
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, contact the Tampa criminal lawyers at The Mayberry Law Firm as soon as possible at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.