One of twelve jurors who last month convicted two Harvard-affiliated doctors of rape said Saturday that the panel's guilty finding was a confused mistake that had resulted in a "grave injustice."
Lawyers for the defendants in the case, however, said yesterday that the juror's statement will probably have little effect either on overturning the verdict on appeal or reopening the case, but may serve to bolster the public image of the doctors.
Anne Young, who voted with other members of the jury to convict Dr. Eugene Sherry, and Dr. Arif Hussain, former clinical fellows in anaesthesia at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Connecticut doctor Alan Lefkowitz, of rape, told a press conference that the jurors had hoped to "punish" the defendants for "having done something wrong, but not for the crime of rape."
L. Scott Harshbarber, attorney for one of the three doctors, said yesterday he thought the statement would probably not reopen the case, or become a major issue in the appeal the trio filed immediately after the verdict.
"The range and amount of inquiry that can come into jury deliberations is very restricted by law." Harshbarger said, adding that the appellate court will "look at the case objectively on the record."
"It's more important in terms of public opinion than in terms of actually reversing the verdict or reopening the case." Harshbarger said, although he added that Young's statement supports the contention he will make during the appeal that the verdicts in the case were inconsistent.
Judge Walter Steele, who presided over the case, is vacationing and could not be reached for comment. Other defense layers, and jurors and the district attorney's office, were also unavailable for comment yesterday.
The doctors admitted to "indiscretions" during the highly publicized trial, but each said he had not forced the victim, a Boston nurse, to have sex.
The trio had been accused of forcing the women into a car after a Boston party, driving her to a North Shore beach house, and then compelling her repeatedly to engage in sex. They were acquitted of kidnapping charges, but found guilty of rape and sentenced to six months in prison, amid a courtroom full of cameras and weeping mothers.
At the time, press attention focused on the severity of the sentences, which some observers said might have been less harsh than usual because the defendants were physicians.
Young's statement--about which she refused to answer questions--said jurors based their ruling on "an interpretation of rape, not the legal definition."
She added that the jury had intended to find each defendant guilty of only a single indictment, not three, and that "many of the juniors did not fully understand the charge of rape for which the doctors were convicted, specifically in reference to the phrase "compelled by force."
"In retrospect, it seems grossly unfair to convict anyone on any charge unless that charge is fully understood." Young added