Parents of slain boy drop lawsuit against NAMBLA
Witness incompetent to testify, judge rules
By Jonathan Saltzman
April 24, 2008
The parents of Jeffrey Curley, the 10-year-old Cambridge boy raped and smothered by two men who lured him into a car, have dropped their federal lawsuit against a group that advocates sex between men and boys, which the parents contended had incited their son's 1997 murder.
Lawyers for Robert and Barbara Curley filed papers Tuesday in US District Court in Boston ending their wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against the North American Man/Boy Love Association and 18 reputed members after almost eight years of litigation.
Robert Curley said his lawyer recently told him that the plaintiffs had only one witness prepared to testify that the association somehow spurred Charles Jaynes, one of the boy's convicted killers, to commit rape and murder on Oct. 1, 1997. A judge ruled that the witness was not competent to testify, Curley said.
"That was the only link we were counting on," said Curley, a 51-year-old mechanic at the Cambridge Fire Department. "When they ruled that out, that was the end of the line."
Sarah R. Wunsch - a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which defended the association and most of the defendants in the suit - said the case never had any merit.
Jaynes did belong to the association for a year, Wunsch said. But, she said, there was nothing illegal about the magazines he obtained from the organization - they are available in some bookstores - or the association website that the Curleys alleged he viewed shortly before the murders.
"There was never any evidence that NAMBLA was connected to the death of Jeffrey Curley," Wunsch said. "It's been our view that for the last eight years, it's been the First Amendment that's been the defendant in this case. In America, there's freedom to publish unpopular ideas, and that's what this case was about."
Elizabeth A. Lunt, a private lawyer for an association member sued by Curley's parents, said the plaintiffs "did not have a shred of evidence to support their contention that NAMBLA somehow caused this terrible homicide to happen."
Jeffrey Curley was abducted in East Cambridge after he was lured into a car driven by a neighborhood resident, Salvatore Sicari, and Jaynes, of Brockton. Authorities said the men promised Curley a new bike.
When Jaynes made sexual advances toward the boy, he fought back in a struggle that authorities said lasted about 20 minutes in the back seat. Jaynes subdued and smothered Curley, stuffing a gasoline-soaked rag into his face.
The child's body was sexually assaulted in Jaynes's apartment in Manchester, N.H., before he and Sicari placed their victim in a 50-gallon plastic container, filed it with lime and concrete, and dumped it in a river in southern Maine.
Both men were convicted of murder charges and are serving life sentences.
After the slaying was solved, the outcry in Massachusetts and Robert Curley's public anger propelled the Legislature to within one vote of reinstating the death penalty. But Curley has turned against the death penalty in recent years, saying he is troubled by the possibility of the state executing the innocent by mistake.
In May 2000, the Curleys filed a federal suit alleging that Jaynes obtained materials from the North American Man/Boy Love Association and "became obsessed with having sex with and raping young male children." The Curleys received legal support from the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative advocacy group based in Michigan that has criticized both the ACLU and the organization it defended.
Robert Curley said the suit raised public awareness about the association.
In August 2000, a Middlesex County jury awarded Curley's family $328 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the boy's killers. But it was strictly a symbolic victory, because neither of the men had any significant assets.
Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org