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Gov. Baker Commutes Life Sentence, Issues Two Pardons in Child Abuse Case

By Tom Marino | November 18, 2022
Last Updated: June 23, 2023

BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker announced the commutations of man who has served 50 years in state prison and the pardon of six individuals, including two convicted in the Fells Acres Day Care Center sex abuse case in 1985.

Ramadan Shabazz was issued a commutation of his sentence on Friday. He was convicted in 1972 of murder in the shooting deaths of Harry Jeffreys and Calvin Thorn, which occurred in August 1971 at the Freedom Foods grocery store in Dorchester. A co-defendant in the case, Raymond White, shot the two victims before he and Shabazz stole $19,000.

Shabazz was sentenced to death, but the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1976.

In a statement from Gov. Baker’s office, it noted that Shabazz earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree through Boston University’s prison education program, participated in over 50 rehabilitative programs, worked as a GED tutor and drug counselor and completed 48 furloughs before the program was terminated.

“Grave Doubt Regarding the Evidentiary Strength”

Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault Lefave were issued pardons related to their convisions in the Fells Acres Day Care Center sex abuse case.

Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault Lefave married in 1977 and were operating Fells Acres Day School with Gerald’s mother, Violet Amierault, when sex abuse allegations were raised against Gerald in 1984. In 1986, Gerald was convicted of assaulting and raping nine children. Violet and Cheryl were convicted on similar charges in 1987.

All three Amirault’s cases relied heavily on videotaped interviews conducted by a pediatric nurse using methods studies have since found consistently bias children’s responses.

In 1993, the state Supreme Judicial Court overturned a Superior Court judge’s reduction in the sentences of Cheryl and Violet. An appeal in 1995 was initially successful and saw the two released until the Supreme Judicial Court overturned that decision, as well. Violet died in 1997 awaiting that decision.

In 1999, then Middlesex Attorney General Martha Coakley agreed to release Cheryl on conditions that included she not give interviews and not profit from her incarceration.

Gerald’s case also relied on the same testimony as the cases of his mother and wife.

Wall Street Journal reporter Dorothy Rabinowitz, reported accusations against Gerald including penetrating a young boy with a butcher’s knife, though the boy had no marks or injury from the alleged event.

The Massachusetts Parole Board investigated Gerald’s case for nine months and voted in 2002, with a vote of 5-0, with one abstention, that his sentence should be commuted. Coakley objected and then Governor Jane Swift denied clemency in 2002.

Gerald was released from prison in 2004.

The other pardons issued by Baker today were for:

  • Assault and battery and other convictions in 1974 and prior for Michael Biagini;
  • Breaking and entering and a probation violation for Robert Busa in 1970;
  • Larceny from a person and assault and battery in 1980 for Brian Morin; and
  • Larceny and attempted larceny in 1965 and breaking and entering at night with intent to commit a felony in 1966 for Camile Joseph Chaisson.






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