Such is the case in a matter going to court in Westchester County later this month.
Douglas Kennedy, a father of five and the son of the late U.S. Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, will go on trial in October for charges of child endangerment and harassment over an incident that occurred at Northern Westchester Hospital two days after the birth of his son, Bo.
You may have heard the story:
Mr. Kennedy and his wife, Molly, wanted newborn Bo to get some fresh air rather than be cooped up in a hospital environment, where Mrs. Kennedy would be staying some extra time. Their obstetrician, who had admitting privileges at the hospital, said that was fine, and Mr. Kennedy, Bo in tow, walked to the elevator.
There, father and son were confronted by an officious and I’m sure well-meaning nurse — this is all on video tape — who tried to prevent the pair from leaving, citing hospital regulations no doubt created to protect against lawsuits. Mr. Kennedy, according to news reports, informed the nurse that his wife’s doctor had okayed the excursion and headed to the staircase when the nurse physically prevented the elevator from leaving.
There, according to news reports — the video fails to catch all of this — a nurse tried to physically remove two-day-old Bo from his father’s arms, and Mr. Kennedy reacted to protect him — the nurses said he lashed out — resulting in Mr. Kennedy and a nurse each falling backwards. The infant boy thankfully was not hurt.
What happened in that moment off camera is what this trial will ostensibly be about.
But will it really?
A document from the law firm representing the nurses filing the criminal charges against Mr. Kennedy clearly suggests that this case may be more about money than about criminal justice.
In a proposed settlement agreement, The Taub Law Firm offered to have the attending nurses drop their criminal complaints against Mr. Kennedy if he would agree to a plea resulting in community service — and “a monetary settlement…commensurate with each nurse’s physical and psychological injuries, pain and suffering, and particularly post traumatic stress disorders.” The nurses would agree to keep the settlement amount strictly confidential.
That last point seems especially magnanimous of Taub, seeing that it would receive up to a third of that confidential settlement amount.
There are other demands in the Taub document — downright laughable ones — involving Mr. Kennedy issuing an apology to the nurses live on The Today Show and “collecting garbage daily in Mount Kisco or Chappaqua for at least two weeks.” They presumably forgot to include three trips through the spanking machine for good measure.
Bo’s dad apparently refused this largesse, because he is defending himself in a criminal trial in Mount Kisco Town Court on October 22 at 9:30 a.m. It should be quite a show. After that, he will be sued by his accusers in civil court, according to news reports.
What I can’t figure out is why anyone claiming physical and psychological injuries and pain and suffering so severe as to cause post traumatic stress disorder (!), an injury most commonly associated with combat trauma, would have been satisfied with the accuser picking up town trash — if he would just fork over an undisclosed sum of cash, too.
That smells funny.
But what stinks even worse to this observer is that charges of endangering the welfare of a child — against that child’s own father — would be used to leverage a hush-hush financial payout. The fact that it would be done to someone from a prominent American family, who presumably would want to protect his family name, makes that part of this story all the more egregious.
Weird things happen in life, and this whole incident probably could have been avoided — and settled with some simple apologies all the way around.
But then the trial lawyers got involved.
Welcome to our world, Bo.