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John Fitzgerald


Convicted of rape in Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 1904, John J. Fitzgerald was pardoned by Governor John Lewis Bates five months later when the victim admitted she had given false testimony.

On April 5, 1904, Fitzgerald, a peddler, sold a peck of apples to the Boston household of Joseph J. Wilde, Mary A. Keane’s employer. Several days later, on April 8, Keane, a 17-year-old servant, was left alone in the house and claimed that Fitzgerald returned to peddle apples again. Keane claimed that she had been attacked and raped by him.

Later that night, Fitzgerald and his uncle, Richard E. Fitzgerald, were brought into the police station. In the police lineup, Keane identified the younger Fitzgerald as her attacker.

According to Fitzgerald, Keane agreed to the sexual encounter in return for payment. They subsequently disagreed on the amount of that payment, which led to a physical altercation between the two and Keane’s charge that Fitzgerald had raped her.

On May 18, 1904, a Suffolk County Superior Court jury convicted Fitzgerald of rape and sentenced him to three to five years in prison. Several months later, Keane was brought into the police station on an unrelated charge and admitted that she had given false testimony against Fitzgerald and that no rape had been committed.

On November 2, 1904, Governor Bates pardoned 22-year-old Fitzgerald after he had served five months of his sentence. Ten days later, the Suffolk County Superior Court indicted Keane for perjury and two days later sentenced her to probation and fined her $300.

- Spencer Burke and Dolores Kennedy

State:MA
County:Suffolk
Most Serious Crime:Rape
Reported Crime Date:1904
Convicted:1904
Exonerated:1904
Sentence:3 to 5 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation