New York judge sets trial date in Kennedy newborn case

A town judge settled evidence issues Thursday and set a trial date in the case of a maternity ward scuffle involving a son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Douglas Kennedy, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of physical harassment and child endangerment, will go on trial Oct. 22, said Mount Kisco Town Judge John Donohue.

The charges stem from Kennedy's Jan. 7 attempt to take his 2-day-old son from the maternity ward at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco. Nurses tried to stop him, citing hospital policy, and two claim he injured them.

Kennedy says he wanted the baby to get some fresh air.

"Nobody should ever try to grab a baby from any parent's arms," Kennedy said as he left the courthouse Thursday.

The judge denied most of Kennedy's requests for access to the nurses' personnel and medical records. But he ordered the hospital to turn over its written policies about when and how a baby can be taken from the hospital by a parent.

Kennedy's lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, said the hospital will have to disclose any policy it contends Kennedy violated.

"We simply, as of today, have not been told what the policy is," Gottlieb said.

Asked if there was time before the trial date for a settlement, Gottlieb said, "The only way to resolve this case is for the charges to be dropped ... there is no crime here."

Assistant District Attorney Amy Puerto left the courtroom without comment.

Hospital video recorded the scuffle. Kennedy was arrested in February. A state investigation, including a visit to the Kennedy home in Chappaqua, found no evidence of child abuse.

In depositions, one nurse said Kennedy twisted her arm, and another said he kicked her.

Gottlieb said, "There was no such contact, no such injury." He has alleged that the nurses involved in the case are trying to "line their pockets."

Kennedy, 45, says he felt he was protecting his son from strangers trying to grab him.

Kennedy, a reporter for Fox News, is the 10th of 11 children of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. His father was assassinated in 1968. President John F. Kennedy, his uncle, was assassinated in 1963.

Kennedy's arrest was the beginning of a difficult year for the Kennedys in the New York suburbs. His sister-in-law Mary Kennedy hanged herself in May in Bedford. His sister, Kerry Kennedy, has pleaded not guilty to drug-impaired driving after an accident last month on Interstate 684.