BOSTON – A judge suing the Boston Herald (search) for libel testified Monday that he never told lawyers to tell a 14-year-old rape victim to "get over it."
The Herald reported that Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy (search) made the statement in 2002 during a closed meeting with lawyers.
Murphy called that notion "absolutely preposterous." Instead, he said, he expressed concern for the girl, asked if counseling was available for her, and was told it was not. "Then I said, `That's a terrible shame,"' he testified.
The paper quoted Murphy as saying "Tell her to get over it" in a series of stories portraying the judge as lenient toward defendants.
Murphy also angrily denied that he derided a 79-year-old robbery victim in an unrelated case, saying the comments he made — also in a private conference with lawyers — were "ripped from context" when they later appeared in the Herald.
After the stories came out, Murphy received hate mail and death threats.
Earlier Monday, Murphy's 29-year-old daughter, Adrienne Spelker, testified her father was crushed by the fallout from the Herald stories.
"He was scared," Spelker said. "He's not the same man. ... He used to be a really happy person, and he's not anymore. He's just sad."
Last week, one of four Herald reporters also named in the libel suit, David Wedge (search), testified, "I'm certain that quote was correct."
Wedge acknowledged he never spoke with the judge before the story ran, but said he was not allowed to see Murphy when he tried to verify the remark.