Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Hospital Backs Nurses in Douglas Kennedy Maternity Unit Clash

Kennedy was charged with misdemeanor harassment after the scuffle.

A Westchester hospital said Monday it was standing behind its nurses who clashed with the son of Robert F. Kennedy as he tried to take his newborn baby from a maternity unit last month -- a story first reported by NBC New York.

Douglas Kennedy was charged last week with misdemeanor harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. He and his wife have called the charges "absurd" and said the nurses were in the wrong.

On Monday, Northern Westchester Hospital said "we completely support the actions of our nursing staff in this case as they were clearly acting out of concern for the safety of a newborn baby."

According to a Mount Kisco, N.Y. police report obtained by NBC New York, Kennedy, 44, took his 2-day-old baby from the maternity unit on Jan. 7, against the instructions of hospital staff who told him the infant needed to stay there.

The nurse in charge of the unit, Anna Margaret Lane, said in a deposition that Kennedy wanted to take the child "to get fresh air" that evening. As he tried to leave, he was accompanied by a doctor from the hospital's emergency room, identified in court papers as "Dr. Haydock," later determined to be Dr. Timothy Haydock, a longtime family friend.

While the nursing staff sought to get Kennedy to return the baby to his bassinet, Haydock reportedly encouraged Kennedy to walk with the baby by telling nurses that he was with him, according to Lane's deposition.

Kennedy ignored the pleas of the nursing staff and carried the newborn -- identified in court papers as "B.K." -- to the elevator, police said.


As the nursing staff tried to calm him and dissuade him from leaving the hospital, Kennedy turned and walked toward a stairwell leading to the outside of the hospital. 

Lane blocked the doorway, "placing both hands on the doorknob" to prevent Kennedy from leaving, police said. Kennedy grabbed the nurse by her left wrist and twisted it to that he could pass into the stairwell, police said.

The baby's head "began to move from side to side, and in an attempt to stabilize the baby's head, nurse Cari Maleman Luciano reached toward the infant's head," police said. 

"Instinctively as a nurse, I raised both my arms toward the neck of the baby to steady the violent shaking of the baby's head and neck," Luciano told investigators in a deposition.

While holding the child in his right arm, Kennedy kicked Luciano in the pelvis with his right foot, knocking her backward onto the floor, police said.


As he did this, Kennedy fell onto the floor with the baby in his arms. Kennedy then got up and ran "down the stairs with the infant until he was stopped by security and escorted back to the infant's room," the police report said.

A lawyer for Kennedy said the baby was not injured and slept through the altercation.

On Monday, lawyer Robert Gottlieb sent a letter to the hospital asking for an investigation into the nurses' behavior. He said Molly Kennedy spoke with the hospital's patient advocate Monday to make the request.

The Kennedys' lawyer has also claimed that Douglas Kennedy was given permission by on-duty nurses, both before and after the dispute, to take the baby out of the unit.

Kennedy is the 10th child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. He and Molly have five children.

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