Kennedys did nothing wrong in baby case, attorney says

Douglas Kennedy and his infant son are seen on hospital surveillance footage.
Douglas Kennedy and his infant son are seen on hospital surveillance footage.
CBS News

(CBS News) Douglas Kennedy - the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy - went on trial in upstate New York on Monday. Kennedy is accused of assaulting two maternity ward nurses last January at a Westchester hospital while trying to leave with his newborn son, Bo.

Prosecutor: RFK's son kicked nurse in hospital fight

The incident, which was caught on surveillance tape, occurred when Kennedy wanted to take his 2-day-old son out for a walk. Kennedy can be seen in the tape in an elevator cradling the newborn. That's when the two nurses say they tried to stop him because they didn't think he had permission to leave with Bo.

Kennedy then heads for a stairwell, where things got physical, and one of the nurses can be seen tumbling to the ground.

On Monday, with his wife Molly by his side, Kennedy arrived at a Mount Kisco, N.Y., courthouse.

Robert Gottlieb, Kennedy's attorney, said on Monday, "It's been very difficult for Douglas and his family, so that's why we have trials, and we're prepared to begin."

In documents obtained by CBS News, one of the nurses testified that Kennedy "twisted my arm causing pain," and the other said that "he raised his right foot and with tremendous force, kicked me in the left side of my pelvic area."

But in a "CBS This Morning" interview, Kennedy's lawyer said that was untrue.

"The fact of the matter is both the hospital and the nurses putting the Kennedys through this on this birth of their newborn baby when they did nothing wrong, when there should have not been criminal charges has just been a disgraceful episode," Gottlieb said.

The Kennedys dispute the misdemeanor charges and in a statement released in February said, "Our simple desire to take our son outside for fresh air has been warped into a charge of child endangerment."

A judge is expected to rule on those charges in the coming weeks.

CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said on "CBS This Morning" that it's puzzling that the case has gone to trial. He said, "You rarely see misdemeanor charges going to trial, especially when the defendant is somebody who doesn't have a long rap sheet. Otherwise, a respectable citizen, they almost always get worked out in some way, shape, or form.

"It sounds like here what you're hearing from both sides is that emotion has kicked in. I spent a lot of years trying a lot of cases. When decisions are being made in a courtroom based upon emotion, you don't really make the right decision. You would have thought that something would have been worked out here. Everybody gives a little bit, takes a little bit and you walk away and say, 'Let's put this behind us and move on,' but you're not seeing it. Obviously, they're saying, 'Let's have a judge decide.'"

Asked if it's too late for a plea deal, Ford said, "It's never too late. Literally until the jury knocks and has a verdict, or the judge says, 'Here is my verdict,' you can always work it out. My guess is that this judge is constantly saying to the lawyers involved, 'Look, can we do something here? Can we do something to make this go away? Because if you make me make the decision, as a judge, one side or the other is going to be very upset. If you resolve it yourselves, everybody walks away a little bit upset, but not terribly disturbed.'"

For more on this case, watch Terrell Brown's report in the video above and Ford's full analysis in the video above.