In 1984, Rev. Nathaniel Grady, the chaplain for the Yonkers police department, was indicted on charges of abusing six children, ages three and four, over a period of several months in 1983 at the Westchester-Tremont Day Care Center in the Bronx, New York.
The day care center rented space in the Westchester United Methodist Church, where the 43-year-old Grady preached. The indictment listed 42 counts of rape, sodomy and sex abuse.
His trial began in October 1985 and the children testified that they were raped, sodomized and sexually abused.
Grady denied it all.
On January 20, 1986, after six days of deliberation, a jury convicted him of 19 counts of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of five children. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
He lost his state appeals and filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Meanwhile, in 1994, an investigation of sex abuse cases in New York City by CBS News raised questions about whether any of the abuse had happened and whether the allegations were the result of coercive and suggestive questioning by law enforcement and state child care investigators. The CBS investigation showed that each of the children had been questioned more than 80 times before trial. At one point, one of the children identified the trial judge as his molester.
In June 1996, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl ruled on Grady’s habeas petition, finding that he had been denied effective assistance of counsel when his appellate lawyer had failed to challenge his conviction on the ground that the indictment was too vague to mount an effective defense at trial.
Three other defendants convicted of similar charges arising from sex abuse allegations at another day center in the Bronx had obtained reversals of their convictions on similar bases in 1989 and 1990.
Grady was released on bond on July 11, 1996 while his lawyers prepared a new appeal in state court.
On September 27, 1997, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court overturned the conviction and the charges were dismissed.
– Maurice Possley