Original Publication: Courier-Post
Original Publication Date: October 17, 1981
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 briefly discuss these issues and inconsistencies in this post.
By RENEE WINKLER
Of the Courier-Post
CAMDEN – A Willingboro attorney, convicted in July of illegally acting as an intermediary in three adoptions, yesterday was given a suspended jail term and placed on probation for one year.
Before Edward Kent, 55, was given the sentence he made an emotional speech, criticizing the law that makes it illegal for persons to help in the placement of unwanted children.
Kent, who lives in Edgewater Park, praised Deputy Attorney General Nancy Singer, who presented the state’s case against him, and Superior Court Judge Peter J. Corruzzi, who convicted him after a non-jury trial, commenting that both were complying with the law.
The state law requires all private adoptions to be supervised by the state Division of Youth and Family Services.
Kent had contacted clergymen in several Burlington County municipalities after unmarried pregnant women came to him looking for adoptive parents for their children.
Kent, who specializes in matrimonial and family law, is an opponent of abortion.
He objected to a statement by a Camden County probation officer who commented that he had helped in the adoptions because of a profit motive. No allegations were made that Kent charged excessive fees for the adoptions and his defense lawyer, Carl D. Poplar of Haddonfield, argued that he had given hundreds of hours of unpaid work to help in adoptions.
Kent, who began to sob before the sentence was announced, said that his average fee for an adoption was $500. “I charge $1,000 or more for a divorce, an act of destruction, compared to this, an act of construction, of building a family,” he said.
With tears in his eyes, he said that “the years over 50 won’t be golden for me. Now I’m a convict. I’m going to pay for the rest of my life because the system wasn’t fair.”
“If I ever thought that calling up a priest or a rabbi would have gotten me into a prisoner’s dock, I would have been better off going into the garment district,” he said.
Corruzzi, who suspended a six-month term in the Camden County Jail for Kent, said he would not comment at length “because I’m afraid I might agree with some of the things you said. But the statute exists prohibiting assistance in the placement of children for adoption.”
Kent still faces disciplinary action by the Ethics Committee of the state Supreme Court. That action could be suspension of his license to practice law or disbarment.