Some saw Coakley as lax on ’05 rape case

AG defends steps in long process

by Michael Rezendes
The Boston Globe
January 6, 2010

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.

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.

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.

Coakley, now the Democratic candidate for US Senate, has made much of her record prosecuting crimes against children, and says her office handled this investigation appropriately. But the case stands out as one in which she drew criticism for not being aggressive enough. Indeed, the case gave rise to Coakley’s last competitive election.

Larry Frisoli, a Cambridge attorney who had represented the family of Jeffrey Curley, a 10-year-old Cambridge boy murdered by sexual predators in an infamous 1997 case, was so angered by Coakley’s handling of the Winfield investigation that he ran against her as a Republican for attorney general in 2006, ultimately unsuccessfully.

“That was the principal reason Larry decided to run,’’ said Frank Frisoli, Larry’s brother and former law partner. “He clearly felt that procedure was not being followed.’’

Larry Frisoli died of kidney and liver failure last year.

The article continues at The Boston Globe.

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