Original Publication: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Original Publication Date: April 15, 1978
NOTE: Much of the information taken from Kent’s testimony completely contradicts Hollie’s experiences and even some of the details that were provided to Michelle by her adoptive father in 2017. We will be writing about these inconsistencies at a later date.
By Francis M. Lordan
Inquirer Staff Writer
A Burlington County lawyer has been indicted on charges that in 1977 he illegally assisted in the adoption of three children in Camden County, Thomas J. Shusted, Camden County prosecutor, said yesterday.
Edward Kent, 52, who has a law office in Willingboro, was named in the eight-count indictment issued Thursday by the grand jury. No hearing date has been scheduled.
The parents and the children who were adopted were identified in the indictment only by their initials.
The indictment also charged Kent with obstructing justice by asking several of the parents not to tell of his involvement and asking another person to mislead investigators, indicating that she would “receive money if she was to mislead the investigators.” It also charged that he gave false information to a former county prosecutor.
If convicted on the eight counts, all of which are misdemeanors, Kent could face a maximum penalty of 24 years in jail and an $8,000 fine.
Shusted said that, according to state law, only authorized agencies may handle the placement of children for adoption.
Two of the children were placed in foster homes in Cherry Hill, and the third in Berlin, he said.
Shusted said Kent was the first person indicted by a grand jury on adoption-related charges since he took office six years ago.
During that period, Shusted said, evidence had been presented to the grand jury on about 10 such cases, including two that involved lawyers. But the grand jury did not indict because it did not find “criminal intent,” Shusted said.
Two years ago, Shusted said, he had sent memoranda to the Camden County Bar Association and the Camden County Medical Society asking them to remind members not to assist in such adoptions.