Walsh Is Tried for Tearing Dildoes

Attorneys rested their arguments yesterday in the most recent trial of former City Councillor William H. Walsh. But this proceeding made Walsh's previous convictions look tame by comparison.

Two rubber dildoes served as the primary pieces of evidence in the case against Walsh, who is accused of malicious destruction of personal property in excess of $250.

According to testimony before Middlesex District Judge Mark Coven and a six-member jury, Walsh, on October 5, allegedly tore two dildoes from a controversial art exhibit displayed in the Cambridge City Hall Annex. He also allegedly removed a sculpture which reads, "Show Me Yours."

Walsh has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A verdict in the case can come as early asMonday, when jurors begin their deliberations.

Last March, Walsh was convicted on 41 counts ofbank fraud. He was forced to give up his CityCouncil seat in November after being sentenced to18 months in prison.

In her opening statement, Middlesex AssistantDistrict Attorney Alex S. Moffatt portrayed Walshas a man who "maliciously, intentionallydestroyed" artwork by the Cambridge artist HansEvers.

But James J. Rafferty, Walsh's attorney, saidin his opening statement that Walsh acted not outof malicious intent but out of the interests ofhis constituents, who objected to the exhibit's "pornographic" nature.

"There's no crime here, ladies and gentlemen, "he said. "The intent of Mr. Walsh is what thiscase is all about."

Art and Its Meaning

The prosecution opened its case by callingEvers to the stand. The Curacao-born artisttestified that he intended the work in question,titled "Critical Proportions," as a commentary on"how men are very concerned about the size oftheir penises, in general."

But Rafferty, in his cross-examination ofEvers, said the exhibit was little more than"dildoes in boxes, dildoes in plexiglass and asign on the floor that says 'Show Me Yours,'"

Evers said Walsh's removal of the two dildoescaused costly damage to the work, which is worthapproximately $1500.

"The two boxes included dildoes that wereattached with screws, " Evers said. " Obviouslythe work was no longer able to be shown. [It wasnecessary] to buy a new dildo and reconstruct thatassembly."

But Evers conceded that his exhibit opened onschedule at 5 p.m. on October 6, only a few hoursafter Walsh returned the dildoes.

Malicious Destruction?

The remaining witnesses for theprosecution--Hafthor Yngvason, director of Gallery57, where the exhibit was shown, and Richard C.Rossi, Cambridge's deputy city manager--describedWalsh's removal of the dildoes.

Yngvason said Walsh appeared angry as heremoved the dildoes from the work.

"We walked to the artwork and he ripped theelements out of the box," he said. "He justreached down into the box, grabbed it, and took itout."

And Rossi said Walsh "was extremely adamantabout" his concerns that the dildoes representedpornographic material.

"He reached into the box and yanked them up,"he said.

The Defense

But the defense attempted to show that Walshdid not act maliciously.

The first witness, Mary Alice Monagle, anemployee at the Cambridge traffic office locatedin the City Hall Annex, testified that the shecomplained to Walsh about the pornographic natureof Evers' exhibit.

"What was upstairs was sexually offensive," shesaid. "I was shocked and offended by the exhibit."

And the final witness, Walsh himself, said heacted out of civic responsibility.

"I was very disturbed the city had allowed thisto happen with nobody being informed, " he said. "I didn't like the artwork."

And Walsh denied "yanking" the dildoes fromtheir mount.

"They popped out," he said. "You pull them offlike a jacket."

In an interview before the trial began, Walshsaid "the whole case is ridiculous."

"What do you think the job of a city councilloris?" he asked. "This is a city that you can't putup a Christmas tree because that would beoffensive. And they would allow something likethis in the City hallway annex?"

Walsh said the government was wastingtaxpayers' money in pursuing the case against him,which stems from a complaint Evers filed againsthim last October.

"It's a sincere joke, a political issue for theartist, " he said. "I can't believe that [Moffatt]is trying a case like this with taxpayers' money.For what purpose? This is government at its heightof stupidity."

But Evers, in an interview before the trial,said Walsh must be accountable for his actions.

"So being someone who's been involved with citygovernment for a long time, who was in politicaltrouble at the time, I think he very much knewwhat he was doing--he was setting up thesituation," Evers said. "So I think if there wasanyone who was after publicity, who was going toget some kind of message out, it was Walsh.