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Judge Frees Women Convicted in Day Care Abuse Case

September 1, 1995

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (AP) _ A 72-year-old woman imprisoned for eight years after a jury found her guilty of sexually abusing children at a day-care center was freed Thursday when a judge overturned her conviction.

``One more hour or even one more minute in custody on this case would be improper,″ Superior Court Judge Robert Barton said in ordering Violet Amirault released.

He also overturned the conviction of her 37-year-old daughter, Cheryl Amirault LeFave, who will be freed after completing a 90-day sentence for fighting with another inmate.

Amirault, LeFave and Amirault’s son, Gerald, were convicted of sexually molesting about 40 children at the Fells Acre Day Care Center in Malden, which they ran until authorities shut it down in 1984. The women were convicted in 1987.

``I never, never, never did it,″ a crying Amirault, so overwhelmed she could barely walk, told reporters. ``I never did it.″

Barton ruled Tuesday that the women deserved a new trial because the children who testified against them did not face them. Prosecutors have appealed.

Gerald Amirault, tried separately, has a similar appeal pending before another judge.

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