Doherty calls out Cicilline over some of his past legal clients

Oct 4, 2012

Brendan Doherty, a former superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, charges that Congressman David Cicilline, a former criminal-defense lawyer, is being hypocritical by questioning Doherty’s commitment to protecting women.

Doherty embraced the metaphor during a mid-day news conference at Grundy’s Gym in Central Falls, a small, gritty training ground for boxers (Doherty says he first trained there in 1977). Flashing more emotion than during past appearances, a visibly angry Doherty said the gloves are off in his fight with Cicilline.

He pointed to several cases from the days when Cicilline worked as a criminal-defense lawyer, before winning the Providence mayor’s office in 2002:

– Doherty says Cicilline represented Anthony Gardiner, “who ultimately was convicted on five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and witness intimidation. Gardner’s conviction resulted from his participation in a brutal sexual assault of a young Warwick woman. The details of the assault are so graphic and disturbing they can’t be recounted here.”

– Doherty says Cicilline represented “Frank A. Bertram, who was convicted of first-degree murder of a 16-year-old girl who was strangled and her body left in a wooden box in a hotel room.”

– Doherty says Cicilline “defended James Krakue, a drunken husband convicted of domestic felony assault after punching his wife in the face, nearly blinding her and then beating her with a wooden chair. She was so terrified of him, she left the state and out of fear, refused to testify against him. Krakue was found guilty.”

Doherty says he doesn’t take issue per se with Cicilline’s work as a criminal-defense lawyer. But Doherty says it’s outlandish for a defense-lawyer who has represented violent criminals to question the commitment to protecting women of a former state police superintendent:

“Sexual harassment training, domestic violence training – that’s where I spent my career, and for David Cicilline to represent some of the very worst of Rhode Island, and then to call me out? It’s hypocrisy, folks.”

Eric Hyers, campaign manager for Cicilline offered this response via email (emphasis in original):

“The fact is, Brendan Doherty has chosen to side with the extreme wing of his party against bipartisan legislation that would extend and strengthen the protections of the Violence Against Women Act to Native Americans, immigrants and members of the LGBT community.  Earlier this year the Senate reauthorized VAWA  by a bipartisan vote of 68-31 including the support of every woman Republican Senator. David is a cosponsor of the the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA but House Republicans opposed extending these protections. Brendan Doherty sided with Republican leadership sayingif members of Congress want to add protections for people in other walks of life, that’s fine, but submit another bill.” This is a clear example of Brendan Doherty siding with the House Republican leadership instead of Rhode Island women.”

Hyers didn’t question any of the details of the criminal cases described by Doherty.

Doherty’s tougher tone comes after a Channel 12 poll showed earlier this week that Cicilline has edged ahead of the Republican, after trailing considerably behind him a few months back.

It also comes after the Cicilline campaign has generally more often taken the fight to Doherty, as with what Doherty calls a stunt earlier this week, than vice versa.