Law & Ethics, News & Media

Memory fails witness in adoption case (June 1981)

Original Publication: Courier-Post
Original Publication Date: June 5, 1981

N O T E : 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. This article is particularly disturbing because this biological mother was clearly being influenced in some way to lie or to withhold information about Kent’s involvement in her child’s adoption (read this article about Kent offering to pay her to lie to investigators.) We will be writing about these issues and inconsistencies at a later date.

CAMDEN — A woman who was to have been the state’s chief witness against a Willingboro lawyer charged with acting as an illegal intermediary in a series of adoptions was able to recall only sketchy information about the case yesterday.

When first called by Deputy Attorney General Nancy Singer, the woman said she couldn’t remember anything about her pregnancy in 1977, her meeting with attorney Edward Kent or the couple who adopted her baby.

When pressed by Superior Court Judge Peter J. Coruzzi, the witness remembered coming to the Camden Courthouse in February 1978 to testify in connection with an investigation of three adoptions.

But she couldn’t recall whether she lied during that testimony.

She gave birth to a baby May 1, 1977, and turned it over five days later to a woman she could not identify. At the time, she was living in Burlington Township.

Despite strong objections from defense attorney Carl Poplar, Singer read portions of her grand jury testimony into the record.

The case is being heard without a jury.

Six days of pre-trial motions were needed to compile transcripts of tape recorded conversations between Kent and yesterday’s witness. Poplar is expected to ask the court to exclude some of these tapes from evidence.

Kent, 55, is charged with obstruction of justice and three counts of acting as an intermediary in the adoptions.

Poplar said his client, who specializes in matrimonial matters, did tell pregnant women who did not want to keep their children after birth that he would pass on their names to couples seeking to adopt children. Poplar said Kent told both the natural and adoptive parents that he could not make any arrangements for the adoption.

He said Kent’s involvement ended at that point.  [A note from the Riess family: This is completely false. His involvement greatly increased at that point.]

Yesterday’s witness said she met Kent only once prior to the birth of her child and that she called him to set up the meeting. She did not speak to him again until requested to do so by members of the Camden County prosecutor’s staff, who were investigating allegations that the lawyer participated in several adoptions.

The adoptions occurred between December 1976 and May 1977.

During pre-trial motions in the case last week, reporters agreed to withhold the names of the women who gave up their children for adoption and the couples who adopted the babies.

View Original Article: Click here to view a JPG of the original newspaper article

 

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