Summary of Berkshire Eagle Clips
10/9/84. Berkshire Eagle. “Day-care employee faces abuse charge.” Bernard Baran, 19, to be arraigned on charges of sexually assaulting two 3-year-olds in his care at Pittsfield’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). Baran was arrested on Saturday, 10/6, following a week-long investigation. Initial reports state that the charges do not stem from recent incidents. The arrest comes a few weeks after a police-sponsored seminar for day-care workers on how to spot sexual abuse. Concerned [i.e., panicked] parents are given a number to call.
10/10/84. Berkshire Eagle. “Suspect in day-care abuse case faces additional charge of rape.” Baran pleads innocent to charges of abusing two preschool children — a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl in his care at ECDC. Both complaints were made to the police on Friday night, October 5. [Gerald Amirault had been arrested on 9/5/84, and the Fells Acres case had been dominating television and print news for most of September.] Baran is arrested on 10/6. Baran is given a public defender and is released on $5,000 bond — the prosecution had asked for $25,000, which the family could never have raised. Baran, 19, had never been in trouble with the law. ECDC officials, social workers, and law-enforcement officials met on Monday, 10/8/84, to prepare for a meeting with parents. The 160 children attending ECDC would be screened to identify potential victims.
10/12/84. Berkshire Eagle. “Day-care worker faces a new rape charge.” Baran pleads innocent to a fourth rape charge. The Eagle falsely reports that Gina Smith has gonorrhea. Bail is set at $15,000 (The DA had asked for $25,000). Police and social workers are interviewing more parents. Baran had been arrested a second time on October 10. On October 11, parents received hand-delivered letters from ECDC from Executive Director Jane Trumpy telling that a child had been treated for gonorrhea, and giving them two hotline numbers to call. Assigned to the case are Captain William Dermody, Sergeant Frank Polidoro, Detectives Peter McGuire and Joseph Collias, and Trooper Robert Scott. All 85 children at Baran’s facility [ECDC operated two schools] will be interrogated and tactics will include a puppet show. One parent quoted, “‘wonders how and where this could have taken place’ with so many teachers and parents around.” [A good question, which seems not to have occurred to the "investigators."] Pittsfield mayor Charles L/ Smith is quoted, “I’d certainly be angry if I was one of the parents.” Trumpy announced meetings with parents, beginning on Monday, October 15.
10/13/84. Berkshire Eagle. “Parents of ECDC pupil say it should be closed. “David and Julie Hanes [not their real name, but they used their real names for the interview], parents of the first accuser, are interviewed. They say their son Peter [not his real name, but his real name was used] is suffering from gonorrhea. The Hanes are portrayed as caring parents, devoted to each other and to two their children. [In fact, the Haneses were highly dysfunctional and violent drug addcits. On 10/10/84, Julie had called DSS, said that David had beaten her, and asked for the children to be placed in foster care. On 10/21/84, Julie would throw David out for good, have him arrested for assault-and-battery, and get a restraining order. On 10/24/84, both children would be placed in a foster home. Peter Hanes had major and well-documented problems long before he ever met Bernard Baran.]
The article states that “The Hanes, occasionally leaning on each other for support during an interview in their sunny living room yesterday, expressed both rage that their son could have been molested and regret that they didn’t do something sooner.”
Julie Hanes claims that Peter first complained about being touched, “three months ago.” The Haneses criticized ECDC for failing to recognize the problem. Julie claims that changing Peter’s room assignment was her idea. [It was done at ECDC's insistence as an alternative to having Peter expelled.] She mentions seeing a program on public television, narrated by Mike Farrell where it was stated that loss of appetite, personality change, or trouble sleeping could be signs of sexual abuse. [It is now known that there is no symptom list indicative of sexual abuse.] The Haneses claim that Peter and his friends “screamed and cried” when Baran molested them, but that the cries went unheeded. Julie Hanes — identified as a student majoring in Human Services at Berkshire Community College, says, “I’m dealing with it now. I’ve cried a thousand tears. Now I have more hate in me.” David Hanes says, “I just get so keyed up sometimes I want to blow up. I want to go out into the street and scream and cry.”
The article concludes with these three paragraphs:
Peter’s reaction is even more heart-wrenching, his mother said. “He asks, ’shouldn’t I go to jail too?’ I think he thinks that it’s all his fault. I really do.”
To soothe her son, she said, “I told him how important he is, how he saved all his little buddies. That’s what he calls them, his little buddies.”
Julie Hanes shook her head. “I wish I had acted on my suspicions three months ago. I could have saved three months of misery. He was in great fear up there.”
11/10/84.Berkshire Eagle. “Former ECDC worker faces added charges in sex case.” Baran denies charges involving 3 additional children. He is now charged with 5 counts of rape, with no force, and five counts of indecent assault and battery. The alleged victims are three girls and two boys, ages 3 through 5. Baran is at Billerica, in lieu of $15,000 bond. The article states that a physical examination of the three-year-old involved in the initial charges showed that she had been penetrated. [Jonathan Harris points out that the evidence here was a doctor's claim of a 1-2mm tear on the hymen. Such minor tears and abrasions are now known to be common in unabused children. Also, according to an insurance report, the girl had been observed inserting things into her vagina in a period subsequent to observing the birth of a sibling.] It is also alleged that the initial boy accuser suffered from gonorrhea of the throat. [Jonathan Harris also points out that the test used at the time yielded a great many false positives. There is no evidence that Baran had gonorrhea or had been treated for gonorrhea. Harris also points out that there is evidence indicating that the boy may have been abused by one of the mother's boyfriends. The boy was placed in a foster home because of his dysfunctional home life, and, according to Harris's sources, he made to the foster mother a spontaneous, detailed, and credible disclosure of sexual abuse by the boyfriend.] The three additional accusers were identified by exposing them to a puppet show. The interviews were videotaped. Baran was tested for gonorrhea and tested negative.
1/22/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Rape trial under way for ex-child-care worker.” Baran trial begins on Monday, 1/21/85. Judge William W. Simons imposes gag order. First District Attorney Daniel A. Ford will prosecute. Defense attorney is Leonard B. Conway of Westfield.
1/23/85. Berkshire Eagle. “16 Jurors Selected for Baran.” Trial will begin at 10 this morning (Wednesday). Eight men and eight women. The jurors are taken to visit the ECDC facility. ECDC director Jane Trumpy refuses to allow Baran to enter the building. Jurors were told that they might hear testimony that Baran was a homosexual. Conway generally challenges jurors with small children or grandchildren.
1/24/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Opening arguments are heard as Baran trial gets under way.” Prosecutor Ford alleges that Baran raped and molested six children, and told one girl that he would kill her mother if she told. [Such threats are both rare and ineffective.] Defense attorney Conway argues that Baran had no opportunity to molest anyone, and was the victim of prejudice and hysteria. The sixth alleged victim (a 4-year-old boy) was not mentioned in the original indictments. Ford claims that Baran had opportunities to molest when teachers ran brief errands, when he escorted children to the bathroom, when he took disruptive children out of the classroom during nap periods, and on field trips. Conway contends that the first charge was brought because the boy’s stepfather hated Baran because he was a homosexual. [Jonathan Harris is quite certain that this stepfather was also the boy's uncle.] Conway also states that puppet shows and the use of anatomically correct dolls produced false accusations. [The use of puppets and anatomical dolls has since been so thoroughly discredited that rational investigators no longer use them.] Conway also mentions that the accusing children initially denied being molested.
1/26/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Boys, parents, therapist, police testify in Bernard Baran Jr. case.” Two four-year-old boys testify, but the Court is closed to the press. The boys allegedly had told counselors that Baran had orally and anally raped them. Parents testified about alleged personality changes. Psychotherapist Jane Satullo testified that one 3-year-old girl at first refused to discuss the case saying, “I can’t tell you. it’s bad stuff.” Pittsfield Police Detective Bruce Eaton testifies that a three-year-old girl had claimed that Bernie had touched her privies. Detective Joseph Collias testifies that Baran’s Gonorrhea test was negative. [Collias is still on the Pittsfield police force and has made a career out of zealously pursuing alleged sex offenders. On October 13, 1996, he revealed in the Boston Globe that he had "recovered" memories of his own childhood sexual abuse. Click here for a quick view of my opinion about "recovered" memories.] Dr. Jeffrey S. Ross testifies that a test might be negative if the disease had been recently treated. [According to Harris, there's no record of Baran ever receiving such treatment.] Ross also testified that the highest incidence of contracting gonorrhea occurs among prostitutes and homosexuals.
1/29/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Three of 12 charges brought against Baran are dismissed.” Judge Simons throws out three charges. The boy who allegedly contracted gonorrhea refused to testify and instead screamed and shouted obscenities and had to be removed from the Court. The other 4-year-old boy had not recounted any incidence of penetration on the witness stand. (Click for a short excerpt from the trial testimony.) The judge would ponder overnight the testimony of a three-year-old girl who’d inserted her finger into the vagina of an anatomically correct doll. Psychiatrist Susanne L. King claimed that one 3-year-old was emotionally traumatized because she had nightmares of a witch cutting off her head and, according to King, was afraid of a man named Bernie. Dr. Jean Sheeley claimed that the girl’s hymeneal flaw was consistent with full penetration. This same girl had claimed that her molestation had been witnessed by one or both of two other teachers, but psychotherapist Satullo dismissed this claim as wishful thinking. [Sometimes, it seems, children must not be believed.]
1/30/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran takes witness stand, denies charges.” Baran denies the charges and states he had no opportunity to abuse children. Under cross-examination, when pressed by Ford, Baran admits that he was alone with children sometimes, and for certain occasions. Judge Simons decides not to drop the charge involving the three-year-old girl. Baran admits on the stand that he had been treated for a venereal disease 4 to 5 years prior, but he didn’t know which one.
1/31/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran found guilty by jury of all charges.” DA Anthony Ruberto, Jr. hails Baran’s conviction as “a major breakthrough.” It is the first day-care conviction in the nation. The jury deliberated 3 1/2 hours — a very short time to consider 9 charges. In his closing arguments, defense attorney Conway repeated that the stepfather of the original accuser had vehemently declared to ECDC administrators that “no 19-year-old homosexual” would help take care of his son. [I suspect the stepfather had actually said something other than homosexual.] DA Ford, in his closing argument, said “Bernard Baran could have raped and sodomized those children whenever he felt a primitive urge to satiate his sexual appetite.” Ford claimed that the children’s testimony was the most important evidence.
2/1/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran receives life term; parole possible in 15 years.” Baran is sentenced to three concurrent life terms in Walpole. Also sentenced to five concurrent 8- to -10-year terms for the five charges of indecent assault and battery. Two of the nine charges had been reduced to one by the judge, who asked the jury to decide between a rape charge and an indecent assault charge in one case. The jury decided upon indecent assault. DA Ford had asked for two consecutive life sentences, so that Baran wouldn’t be eligible for parole for 30 years. Two stricken parents gave emotional testimony before Baran was sentenced. Defense attorney Conway presented an ECDC mother, Melinda Ward, who described Baran as “a miracle worker” who “started my son on the path of a normal childhood.” Ward said that her son had asked her to take a picture of him dressed in his best suit and on his bicycle to Bernie. Conway, after the verdict, announced that he would appeal and said that all parents would find evidence of molestation in their children “if they ask the questions enough times.” [Subsequent research has proved Conway's assertion to be true.] ECDC executive director Jane Trumpy joins DA Anthony J. Ruberto in hailing Baran’s conviction and sentence. She claimed that the entire staff and board of ECDC believed that justice had been done.
2/6/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran put in hospital as safety measure.” Baran is placed in Walpole prison hospital for his own protection. Defense counsel Conway will definitely appeal. Sheriff Massimiano said prison officials might move to classify Baran as a sexually dangerous person. If so, he could be committed to Bridgewater from one day to life.
5/8/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran case leads to $750,000 suit.” The mother of a six-year-old girl sues ECDC. The suit charges that Baran was in no way qualified to work at ECDC and shouldn’t have been allowed to be alone with children. [Because he was a homosexual, I presume.]
7/24/85. Berkshire Eagle. “Second lawsuit is filed in ECDC molesting case.” The mother of a four-year-old boy files suit against ECDC for 3.2 million dollars.
3/28/86. Berkshire Eagle. “Baran’s conviction upheld by state Appeals Court.” DA Ford and appeals defense counsel David O. Burbank argued before a three-judge panel on March 6. The appeal was based on discretionary decisions made by trial judge William W. Simons. The appeals court ruled that Simon was correct in not separating the indictments, in accepting the testimony of very young children, and in not insisting that definite times and places be specified for the alleged offenses.
6/4/86. Berkshire Eagle. Baran is defeated in last appeal bid.” The state Supreme Judicial Court refuses to hear Baran’s appeal, letting the Appeals Court decision stand.
4/6/95. Berkshire Eagle. “Civil suit revisits ‘85 day care case. 14-year-old boy tells jury he was raped between the ages of three and four more and than a decade ago by Bernie Baran. Says he was molested “about twice” and tied to a chair. [This is most probably a false memory.] Lawyers for the day-care center suggested that the boy’s behavioral problems resulted from a chaotic home life, including a drug-addicted mother and an abusive father figure. The article states that the boy had gonorrhea of the throat, but neglects to mention that the test used at the time had a very high rate of false positives. The boy may have been abused by one of the mother’s boyfriends. In 1985, at Baran’s trial, the child had become hysterical and had to be removed from the courtroom without testifying. On the stand for the first time, the boy claimed no memory of having accused his mother’s boyfriend of molesting him. He also admitted that he had never before accused Baran of tying him to a chair, although he’d been in therapy for many years. Baran had been convicted of sexually abusing five children over a 10-month period, ending in 10/84. Baran had then been an aide for 2 1/2 years. The boy’s mother claims that her son disclosed Baran’s abuse during a bath in 10/84, and that the boy had many behavioral problems: aggression, bed-wetting, etc. She admitted, however, to having been a drug addict and related stories of domestic abuse involving her boyfriends.