NBC New York
Anna Margaret Lane and Cari Maleman Luciano, the nurses who confronted Douglas Kennedy as he tried to leave a New York hospital with his newborn baby last month, said they were only doing their jobs when they say they were assaulted by him. Kennedy's lawyer says the women's allegations are baseless and accuses them of trying to cash in. Jonathan Dienst reports. This story was published March 1, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
The nurses who confronted Douglas Kennedy as he tried to leave a New York hospital with his newborn baby last month said they were only doing their jobs when they say they were assaulted by him.
Nurse Anna Margaret Lane told NBC New York in an exclusive interview Wednesday that Kennedy, 44, twisted her arm when she tried to prevent him from leaving the maternity unit on Jan. 7 with his 2-day-old son.
She said Kennedy's efforts to take his baby boy off the maternity ward floor, claiming he wanted the baby to get some "fresh air," was in violation of hospital policy, and that she and other nurses repeatedly asked Kennedy to stop carrying the baby around the hallways.
"That man assaulted me for doing my job," said Lane, still upset over her run-in with the son of Robert F. Kennedy.
Lane said after the nurses stopped Kennedy at the elevator, he headed for the stairwell. That's when the confrontation turned physical, some of which was caught on surveillance camera.
Nurse Cari Maleman Luciano said she was knocked back onto the floor after Kennedy allegedly kicked her in the pelvis with his right foot.
"This is the most ridiculous nightmare that could be happening," Luciano recalled thinking, as she spoke to NBC New York on Wednesday. "For a man to be trying to take a baby off the unit in any which way possible he could, for something just as wild as a breath of fresh air in the middle of winter -- it just sounded ridiculous to me. And again, my concern was for the child. And that was it."
She continued, "I wanted to make sure the baby was safe and secure, and he brought his leg up and I went flying through the air maybe 5 or 6 feet."
She and Lane said Kennedy fell in the stairwell, with his newborn in his arms, as he allegedly kicked Luciano.
"I'm petrified the baby is going to go flying down the stairs head-first," said Lane.
Kennedy was arrested last week on misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment. He and his wife blamed the two nurses, saying, "It's sickening to think our simple desire to take our son outside for fresh air has been warped into a charge of child endangerment."
After the nurses spoke publicly for the first time, Kennedy's attorney accused them of waging a smear campaign against his client in hopes of cashing in.
"As these two people and their personal injury attorney continue their campaign to smear the good name of Mr. Kennedy, one question remains: how much money are they looking for? Though they won't publicly ask, we'll answer: They won't get a penny." lawyer Robert Gottlieb said.
"Trying to aggressively snatch a 2-day-old baby from a loving father's arms doesn't get you a payday," he added.
Gottlieb has previously accused the nurses of provoking the incident and said the release of the surveillance tape violates the Kennedys' privacy.
"The nurses continue to violate the HIPAA privacy rules," said Gottlieb. "This is very serious. And the Kennedys will not tolerate the violation of their privacy rights. And we are notifying their attorney that he, too, stands in danger of violating the HIPAA federal law."
HIPAA protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information.
The hospital stands by its nurses’ actions.
Both nurses said they remain committed to their jobs but that the incident has taken its toll.
"The violent acts of one man have changed my perspective," Lane said, crying. "I find myself sometimes crying for no reason. And I remember, he gave me that reason."