In 1987, Violet Amirault was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of sexual abuse and rape. The crimes allegedly occurred at the preschool she owned and operated with her two children. The case hinged on the eyewitness accounts delivered by 19 of the preschool’s children.
When testifying at trial, the children had their backs to the accused and they had been coached by the prosecution prior to testifying. There was no physical evidence in the case, but the jury convicted her and her children on all charges. Amirault and her children were issued a new trial in 1995 due to inadequate defense because their lawyers did not object to the children testifying with their backs to the accused.
Upon receiving a new trial judge, Judge Robert A. Barton, who served as the original judge, dismissed himself from the case, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.” Amirault died in September, 1997, only months after being released on bail while awaiting a new trial. Shortly thereafter, the new trial judge posthumously dismissed all charges against the Amiraults.