The Special Prosecutor in the Aidan Kearney aka “Turtleboy” case agreed to speak with us today on the recent charges against Kearney, why he thinks Turtleboy should remain in jail, and what this means for the Karen Read case.
How did you get selected for this job and what is the difference between a regular prosecutor and a special prosecutor?
I received a call from the District Attorney Michael Morrisey out of Norfolk County. They were looking for someone with extensive trial experience and criminal matters. They called me and we met, discussed the matter and I agreed to take the position. Special prosecutor is a position that is appointed by the District Attorney when there is a potential conflict of issues that have occured. Here, we had Mr. Kearney attacking members of the District Attorney’s office on his various blogs, so the office thought it would be appropriate to get someone who had not been on the receiving end of that, if you will. My function is completely independent of the District Attorney, I don’t need approval from them to do anything.
Kearney had several counts in district court and then additional counts that were moved to superior court this past Friday. How did it get moved to superior court?
I presented a case to the grand jury on various charges and the grand jury reviewed the case. As is the practice, the District Attorney then leaves the room and the grand jury then deliberates on whether or not there is probable cause, and they did find probable cause on those particular counts. There were a number of charges, counts on intimidating a witness, conspiracy to intimidate a witness and parading in front of a witness. We allege that Mr. Kearney engaged in those acts which are criminal under Chapter 268, Section 13A and 13B.
His team said that the Friday court appearance was a win because the judge removed the parameters of the no contact order that had been put in place previously. Did you interpret it that way?
We did not interpret it that way at all. Under an abundance of caution, we asked the judge to impose some restrictions and the judge did not think he had the authority to do that and declined to do that, which was okay with us because essentially any violation of the law would trigger a bail revocation. No different than if conditions had been imposed and those conditions had been violated. Based upon Mr. Kearney’s prior activities, we didn’t think it would be long before he would cross the line again. He seemed to be more brazen after he left court on Friday. In fact, the following day, he began intimidating.
Were you notified of the BOLO (Be on The Lookout)?
As soon as it was issued, yes.
Do you know where Mr. Kearney was during the time the BOLO was in effect?
We did not know where he was during that time, and our office was not actively looking for him. We had communication from him that he was going to be turning himself in on Saturday, but he did not do so. He ended up coming in on Tuesday.
There was word that the Massachusetts State Police were actively searching for him, do you know anything about that?
If he was spotted, he was definitely going to be taken into custody, but I didn’t have troopers out looking for him.
You could have if you wanted to, correct?
Was it because of the holiday that you chose not to apprehend him?
That was part of it, yes.
When did his ex-girlfriend become a witness in this case?
She became a witness in this case recently. We received some communication from her and I had a summons served on her on Friday. After our superior court appearance on Friday, she was served with a summons.
So you’re saying that your office had no connection to her until she reached out to you?
This ex-girlfriend asked for a restraining order against Aidan that was granted for 10 days. Is she going to have to go back to court to get that extended even though he is being held?
The audio recording between Kearney and the female was released by Kearney himself on his Youtube channel. Do you know when that was recorded?
To our knowledge, that was recorded in the early morning hours before Christmas Eve. After he left superior court on Friday, the following day, Saturday, he went to the ex-girlfriend’s apartment late at night and the recording was made during that time.
There was some discussion during the arraignment that Attorney Bradl sent private investigators over to the apartment of the female witness at some point and that one of the private investigator’s (PI’s) was detained by local police. Do you know anything about that?
I have only heard what you have heard about that and I have no idea if that is true.
There are some people who feel this recent domestic situation was a set-up, that this was just an act to have his bail revoked and incarcerate him. You said earlier you were pretty confident that he was going to violate the terms of his bail. What are your thoughts about this particular charge, that this could have been a set-up, especially considering she came to your office with information first and was not approached by your office?
We did not predict that this set of events would happen. We thought that he would be going back to the other witnesses, maybe beginning his visits to their homes. We did not anticipate something happening with this particular witness.
What’s the next step for him? We’re hearing that Kearney could be held for up to 90 days. What’s your take on the timeline?
We obviously have pre-trial conferences scheduled in both district and superior court. I would imagine he would be held after those dates as well. In terms of how we proceed, we have discovery to provide to the defendant and his counsel. It’s just going to proceed the course of a regular criminal matter.
Do you want him incarcerated? Do you think that is the best thing, for him to be in jail, in respect to the Karen Read case?
We have an obligation to protect witnesses and based upon his conduct, we believe that the only way to continue to protect witnesses is to have him held. We believe that he poses a threat to these witnesses, yes.
Much of what Aidan does could be covered under the umbrella of the First Amendment and in his role as a journalist. Would him approaching or contacting individuals in this case be covered under those two protections?
We view him as a blogger more than a journalist. The type of conduct that he has engaged in doesn’t even comply with the standards that journalists have established for themselves. So we look at him as something other than that. But even if he were to be deemed as a journalist, his activities are simply illegal. Being a journalist doesn’t serve as a shield allowing him to violate the law. These are things that we can’t permit to happen.
How difficult has it been for you to navigate these cases around the high profile Karen Read case?
I have isolated myself from the Karen Read case pretty much in its entirety. Other than the witnesses in this case that are in the Karen Read case, I have not had any connection to that case. I’ve had no interactions with the District Attorneys in the Karen Read case or members of their prosecution, nor do I want to. My attention has been given to Mr. Kearney and to his activities in respect to the witnesses. We feel he is violating the law on numerous occasions with respect to the witnesses themselves.
But these two cases are adjacent. Do you have any communication with the District Attorney’s office regarding the other case at all?
We have some contact, obviously, but it is minimal. I don’t seek any advance approval from the District Attorney’s office for anything I do and that’s the way DA Morrisey established my involvement. I was strictly acting on my own, I was acting as an independent prosecutor and that is the way I see my role. I have no horse in the race in terms of Karen Read. That’s not relevant to me.
Can you predict how this case with Aidan is going to play out? How is this going to end?
Well we are confident that a jury of his peers will find him guilty on the facts of this case. We feel the evidence is overwhelming. This is a domestic case but it is also intimidation of a witness. It’s clear that Mr. Kearney demanded her phone, took notes from her phone in respect to contacts. I know that my name and my phone number was in hand-written notes that Mr Kearney had made. The witness had taken that paper and took it under her shirt because she didn’t want him to take those notes. The violence that is alleged is when he struggled with her to take the notes and he shoved her against the couch.
So she was willingly giving him this information that night and then had a change of heart?
As I mentioned in court, Mr Kearney is a master manipulator, this female is substantially younger than him. He manipulated her to his benefit. Mr. Kearney wanted to leave with those notes and the witness felt she was being abandoned by Kearney after she took some steps that he encouraged her to take. When she realized that Mr Kearney didn’t really have any concern for her, there was somewhat of a change of heart when she realized that he was just using her.
Could this just be a personal vendetta from her? That she wasn’t getting the commitment or affection from him that she wanted and then flipped the script on him and then called you in retaliation?
Absolutely not. That is not the case.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask today that you would like to add?
Just that the Commonwealth’s goal is to protect its witnesses in this case. It’s not that we are trying to stifle any journalism. These people are entitled to leave their home without being harassed and intimidated. There have been warnings issued in the past, by the District Attorney’s office, saying that these people should be left alone. Asking questions is fine, chasing someone with a bullhorn and yelling they are a murderer is not journalism in nature. That’s being an advocate and that’s being intimidating. That is what these people have had to deal with. No one wants to be a witness in a murder trial. These people did not wake up one morning and say ‘let’s do something so we can be a protected class.’
A journalist has certain standards. Some experts in the field have already made comments that Mr. Kearney’s conduct has violated those standards. We realize there are different forms of journalism, but the line is drawn when it becomes harassment in nature. I gave my high school commencement address in 1974, at the height of Watergate, and one of the things I addressed was how important it was to have the First Amendment and freedom of the press. I don’t feel any less about that now than I did then. I think freedom of the press is one of the most important foundations on which this country is based. Simply because someone blogs and says I’m a journalist does not give them the right to harass someone and make them afraid to leave their homes and Mr Kearney has done that and it is not going to be tolerated.
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