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Day-Care Jury Asks for Special Treatment

November 25, 1986

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ A jury that has spent eight months on a sexual abuse case involving a day- care center has asked for free psychological counseling after the trial and for some amenities and gratitude.

Westchester County Court Judge Francis Nicolai agreed to one request, to suspend the trial for Christmas week, but he did not act on the jurors’ other suggestions in two letters to him that were made public Monday.

The six-man, six-woman panel requested:

-Lodgings in downtown White Plains, where the county’s high-class hotels are concentrated, when they are sequestered;

-Meals at expensive restaurants, including a Japanese steakhouse, that are not usually frequented by jurors eating at public expense;

-The right to be excused from any future jury duty in the county;

-Post-trial psychological counseling at county expense.

-That the court ″acknowledge all of our employers and commend, in writing, their generous financial contribution to the judicial process.″

The judge sounded sympathetic.

″We’ve made made a lot of demands on them, it’s understandable that they make demands on us,″ he said when the second letter was read into the record last Thursday.

When the jury was chosen in March, its members were told the trial would end by July 4. That was before the judge’s illness, a defendant’s illness and innumerable arguments over evidence and testimony kept the trial going longer.

The panel has been hearing testimony since April 2 in the case of three people charged with sexually abusing an estimated dozen children, ages 5 to 9, at an unlicensed Mount Vernon day-care center over a four-year period.

Victor Schurr, the attorney for one of the defendants, Richard Freeman, 46, a center employee who is charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, asked for a mistrial based on the jurors’ request for optional post-trial psychological counseling.

Nicolai denied the motion, but did not comment on the request.

Jeanette Martin, 52, the operator of the day-care center, and center employee James Watt, 31, were charged with multiple rape and sexual abuse counts stemming from the alleged abuse at the day-care center.

Watt was also charged with several sodomy counts.

Three misdemeanor counts against Mrs. Martin’s husband, Harold, 54, were dismissed last week.

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