Just as the candidates were exiting the stage after last night’s debate, Coakley’s campaign released a negative ad linking Scott Brown to Eeevil Axis Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh and falsely accusing him of voting to deny health care to rape victims.
By way of background, Coakley’s ad refers to an amendment to a bill which prevented Catholic hospitals from being forced to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, protecting the hospitals’ First Amendment rights.
The ad – and last night’s debate – got me wondering. It seems as though Coakley only gets passionate about rape when her pet cause of abortion rights may be in jeopardy.
When Martha Coakley was the Middlesex district attorney, her office prosecuted the Rev. John J. Geoghan based on an allegation that he squeezed the buttocks of a 10-year-old boy a single time at a public swimming pool. The highly publicized 2002 conviction won Coakley widespread praise for bringing the first successful criminal case against the widely accused pedophile, a priest many had called “Father Jack.’’
But seven years earlier, Coakley, then the head of the Middlesex child abuse unit, had Geoghan in her sights and took a dramatically different approach. Back then, three grade-school brothers told investigators that Geoghan had inappropriately touched them during numerous visits to their Waltham home, and had made lewd telephone calls to them. Rather than prosecute, Coakley agreed to grant Geoghan a year of probation in a closed-door proceeding that received no media attention at all.
Because of the deal, Geoghan faced no formal charges and no criminal record.
In October 2005, a Somerville police officer living in Melrose raped his 23-month-old niece with a hot object, most likely a curling iron.
Even then, nearly 10 months after the crime, Coakley’s office recommended that Winfield be released on personal recognizance, with no cash bail. He remained free until December 2007, when Coakley’s successor as district attorney won a conviction and two life terms.
Keith Winfield, then 31, told police he was alone with the toddler that day and made additional statements that would ultimately be used to convict him.
But in the aftermath of the crime, a Middlesex County grand jury overseen by Martha Coakley, then the district attorney, investigated without taking action.
It was only after the toddler’s mother filed applications for criminal complaints that Coakley won grand jury indictments charging rape and assault and battery.
If she’s so concerned about rape victims, where was the outrage in these two cases?
And then there’s this:
Abortion rights advocates said Coakley, the attorney general, has used whatever position she is in to advance their cause – and that her work predates her time in politics. Before she joined the Middlesex district attorney’s office in 1986, for example, Coakley was a private lawyer who volunteered her time to help minors get court orders for abortions when they could not get their parents’ consent.
“In one fell swoop, five justices set back the cause of a woman’s individual liberty and self-determination, as well as decades of established legal precedent,’’ she wrote in the co-authored opinion piece.
That same year, Coakley spoke out strongly against a ban on so-called “partial birth abortion,’’ a procedure used late in pregnancies now barred unless the mother’s life is at risk. Unlike Roe v. Wade and other Supreme Court rulings, the ban did not allow an exception to protect the mother’s health, Coakley noted in an op-ed published in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger.
Here is the Coakley ad: