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Father Formally Charged with Sexually Abusing Daughter

March 23, 1988

EXETER, N.H. (AP) _ A man whose ex-wife went to jail rather than let him see their children surrendered to authorities today after being indicted on a charge of sexually assaulting his daughter.

Mark Russell Murabito, 33, of Derry, was awaiting arraignment in Rockingham County Superior Court after turning himself in to the county sheriff.

A grand jury indicted Murabito on a charge of felonious sexual assault against his daughter, now 5 years old, County Attorney Carleton Eldredge said Tuesday.

Eldredge said the indictment was ″based upon a course of conduct″ since March 1987, when a Superior Court judge found no evidence to back Jesse Murabito’s allegations that her husband molested their daughter.

Eldredge did not elaborate on the indictment. As a condition of bail, Eldredge said he will ask that Murabito be barred from seeing his children.

In his 19-page divorce decree last March, Judge Douglas Gray admonished both parents to stop ″tearing (the children) to pieces,″ and granted Murabito unsupervised visitation with the girl and her brother, now 3 1/2 .

Murabito’s lawyer, Raymond Kellett, said Tuesday his client will plead innocent to any such charges. ″It is evident that (Mrs. Murabito) will do anything and everything to keep the children from Mr. Murabito,″ Kellett said.

Mrs. Murabito said Tuesday the case ″is not Murabito versus Murabito. This is the state of New Hampshire versus Mr. Murabito.″ She declined further comment.

The indictment is a turning point in Mrs. Murabito’s nearly two-year struggle to convince the courts and child welfare officials that her ex- husband was molesting their daughter.

Gray could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening; there was no home telephone listing in New Hampshire under his name.

In February 1987, Gray jailed Mrs. Murabito, now 39, after she hid the children in defiance of a court order to let her husband see the children during supervised visits.

A week later, he released her after she agreed to allow supervised visits pending a hearing.

In the subsequent order of March 20, 1987, in which Murabito was granted unsupervised visits, Gray said Mrs. Murabito and experts she called as witnesses during a seven-day hearing had failed to prove allegations that Murabito sexually abused the daughter after Mrs. Murabito sought a divorce in late 1985.

″Of course the possibility exists that the court is wrong, but that possibility exists in any judicial fact-finding process,″ Gray wrote, but to uphold the abuse allegations ″would be to engage in blatant speculation.″

Gray said Mrs. Murabito’s chief witness, the children’s psychiatrist since spring 1986, based many of her assertions on hearsay. Mrs. Murabito had said she contacted the psychiatrist when she noticed the children were losing sleep and weight and becoming irritable.

Gray cited an evaluation of the children by a court-appointed psychologist as ″by far the more clinically neutral and detached.″

The psychologist found no evidence of sexual abuse and said actions by the father that had been construed by others as abuse could be interpreted otherwise.

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