PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY-FRIDAY, APRIL 19-20, 2012) — Anyone who read the May 2009 ruling of Judge Francis Fecteau in upholding a lower court’s dismissal of the Bernie Baran‘s conviction, published in full on THE PLANET yesterday, can only agree: the Pittsfield criminal justice system, especially the office of the DA, committed an egregious miscarriage of justice in The Baran Case. The system, for reasons that are yet not fully clear,  Shanghaied Baran and sent an innocent man to prison for life.

Why? Who wanted Baran out of the way? What, if anything, had Baran seen or known? What does he still know? These questions, and others, lift The Baran Case out of mothballs. It can’t be dismissed as old news. It is as relevant as the lock on city hall’s front door. It is more meaningful than the municipal budget the mayor will be submitting before long.

DA’s Committed a Mortal Sin in the Name of ‘We The People’

Only the dogged work of a sharp and crusading lawn firm, led by attorney John Swomley from Boston, helped rectify the sin committed in the name of We The People. We must remember: The office of then-District Attorney Anthony Ruberto, with then-assistant prosecutor Daniel Ford doing the work in court, acted in this shameful manner in our name,

We are The People. They smeared us with their crime.

We must also remember that is it not THE PLANET, not Joe Pinhead, not barrister Swomley, and not Bernie Baran that ruled against the Pittsfield criminal justice system, but the appellate courts, after a “painstaking” review of the entire record.

For those who still need convincing that Baran’s initial trial was a North Korean-type “show trial,” and those who did not read the entirety of Judge Fecteau’s 18,000-plus word decision slapping down the DA and the Pittsfield Establishment, we present this excerpt.

Prosecution Coached Children to Say what the Adults Wanted to Hear

Judge Fecteau, from the huge volume of testimony in the court transcripts, chose this gem and singled it out to indicate the kind of manipulation the prosecution used against Baran. It was bad enough that Baran had a layer in over his head. No. The Pittsfield ‘Criminal Justice’ Establishment had to make sure Baran would be put away for life.

This transcript clearly shows how the children — frightened and confused as they were — were duped into saying on videotape what the prosecution wanted them to say. When the prosecution then edited down the raw tape, it literally fabricated the evidence to “prove” Baran’s guilt.

As we know, an appeals court threw out Baran’s conviction in 2006 and ordered a new trial. District Attorney David Capeless appealed. In 2009, Judge Fecteau told the DA: “Nice try, bub, but you railroaded the kid.” New trial, pronto. He had smacked the DA’s office into silly land.

When Fecteau upheld the lower court’s ruling to throw out Baran’s conviction — this after 21 years of hell suffered by Baran in the exemplary Massachusetts Prison System — it had the following effect:

(1) Baran’s conviction disappeared. It was as if it never happened.

(2) The DA was left with unproven allegations against Baran.

(3) Baran once again had the presumption of innocence.

When Capeless decided soon after Judge Fecteau’s heroic ruling not to prosecute the case, Baran’s court record became white as the driven snow. The DA had no conviction and no charges pending. BERNIE BARAN WAS THEREFORE INNOCENT, AND HE STILL IS.

The guilty parties in this case have never been brought to a full accounting of their contemptible actions. Isn’t it about time they were called to answer before We The People?

Read closely this excerpt of the court transcripts, as singled out by Judge Fecteau:

—– 00 —–

JUDGE FECTEAU WRITING: As to the grand jury presentment, the motion judge found that only a composite videotape, containing edited versions of the interviews, was shown to the grand jury. Our review of the composite tape and comparison of it to the unedited counterparts reveals a somewhat distorted portrayal of the children’s allegations, the composite tape omitting significant exculpatory content. As the motion judge stated in his memorandum and order:

“All [of] the edited versions [shown to the grand jury] omit statements of denial and statements indicative of suggestiveness . . . . The unedited versions [of the videotapes] contain statements in which the children deny that Mr. Baran had done anything to them and statements where they accuse other persons of abuse. They also contain[] statements which accuse[] other people of witnessing these alleged acts — evidence which counsel could have used to . . . [challenge] the veracity of the allegations.”

The motion judge offered numerous illustrative examples culled from the transcripts of the unedited videotapes, including the following excerpt from the interview with Boy A,(53) which was omitted from the grand jury version:

Q.: “[C]ould [you] tell me a little bit more about what Bernie did to you.”

A.: “He didn’t do nothing.”

Q.: “Yeah. I know, you showed me. You showed me where he pulled down your pee pee stick.”

A.: “He didn’t now.”

Q.: “He didn’t do it now, though. Did he, did he do it more than one time, do you know?”

A.: “No.”

Father: “No, you’re a good kid. So can you tell her if Bernie said anything, or if you said anything?”

A.: “I don’t know.”

Q.: “You don’t know. Okay. Maybe you’ll remember some other time and you can tell me. Maybe you don’t remember right now. Maybe it will come back to you, what Bernie said to you. When you went to the doctor yesterday, was your pee pee okay?”

A.: “Yup.”

The motion judge also provided this example from Boy D’s interview, which was likewise omitted from the grand jury version:

Q.: “Okay. We were talking about when you went to ECDC, right [boy nods yes], do you remember when you were there a long time ago [boy nods yes], do you remember being touched with bad touch? [Boy nods yes.] Yeah? Who touched you [i]n a bad touch way?”

A.: “[A classmate].”

Q.: “[Your classmate] did? Do you remember any big people, adult people who touched [another classmate] in a bad way that made him feel kind of funny inside, like that person shouldn’t do that to me?”

A.: “Mary.” Q.: “Are you sure it was Mary? [Boy nods yes.] Yeah?”

These examples, as well as others cited by the motion judge, appear typical of the type of material omitted from the composite videotape presented to the grand jury. Compare Commonwealth v. Fleury, 417 Mass. 810, 817 (1994).

—– 00 —–
Notice how the children clearly do not implicate Baran, but the interrogators, in shameless fashion, coerce and twist the answers, brow-beating them to make it appear they said the opposite of what they originally stated. The interrogators were predatory against these frightened and confused kids; that much is clear when you read the transcript. The boiled down, edited version of the videotape shown to the grand jury did not contain any of this type of exculpatory evidence, which clearly indicated Baran did nothing improper. That wasn’t good enough for Anthony Ruberto’s office or for prosecutor Ford.
In granting his order for a new trial, Judge Fecteau wrote this:
—– 00 —–

IV. Conclusion. We do not lightly affirm the order granting a new trial. For that reason, we have painstakingly examined the record, the motion judge’s decision, and the legal issues on which it is based. The charged offenses are grave and we are mindful that the passage of so much time will impose heavy burdens on all concerned in the event of a retrial.(55) At the same time, it cannot be said that the defendant received anything close to a fair trial. Preserving public confidence in the integrity of our system of justice must be our paramount concern notwithstanding the costs our decision today might occasion. “Our desire for finality should not eclipse our concern that in our courts justice not miscarry.” Commonwealth v. Amirault, 424 Mass. at 660 (O’Connor, J., dissenting).

The motion judge did not abuse his discretion in granting the defendant a new trial and vacating the convictions and sentences.

Order allowing motion for new trial affirmed. Judgments reversed. Verdicts set aside. 

—– 00 —–

We repeat: “[I]t cannot be said that the defendant received anything close to a fair trial.”

“Judgments reversed. Verdicts set aside.”

This is not THE PLANET making this up. This is the judge, after what he went out of his way to call his “painstaking” review of the complete record in the case.

Priority #1 for Pittsfield Exorcism: Show the Film Freeing Bernie Baran

Because Baran was railroaded in the name of We The People. The Pittsfield community and all of Berkshire County needs an full accounting of why Baran was subjected to a witch hunt in the first place. That question needs a relentless pursuit in the name of truth and all that we hold honorable and sacred in the affairs of men.

One key aspect of the community coming to terms with the mortal sin committed in its name is that Daniel Alexander’s documentary film, Freeing Bernie Baran, be shown in Pittsfield and throughout Berkshire County.

We envision a double thrust, with a live showing at The Colonial Theater and a showing, along with special, locally produced ancillary material, on PCTV. We have thought a lot about the timing: How about October, maybe on or near the day Bernie Baran was initially charged?

THE PLANET will be keeping you informed on this effort, which is in the conceptual stage. Meanwhile, we would advise people to keep the pressure on Your government. Press the mayor, the city council, the DA’s office, and anyone with an interest to have this film shown.

We may recommend all sorts of clever ways to address the cancer and poison that reasonable people will agree has infected the body politic in the city of Pittsfield for a generation, but the confrontation with the facts of the Bernie Baran case MUST be the first attempt as a healing.

For more information on the Baran Case, go to

The Bernard Baran justice Committee







  1. Molly
    April 19, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Who was his original attorney?

  2. Still wondering
    April 19, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    The verdict must have been appealed after the original trial. What did the appeal findings say?

  3. steve Wade
    April 19, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    Dan If there was a reason they wanted Baran out of the way, Why hasn’t he said anything yet? Please don’t give me that he is afraid to say something. I don’t think we know the whole story yet, but I don’t think Mr Baran is the “angel” that everyone is saying.

    • danvalenti
      April 19, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      You would have to ask Mr. Baran that question. He’s the only one who can answer. Moreover, who has said or written on this site that anyone is an angel or devil, for that matter? Get your head out of the plug, Steve. This man had nearly 22 years — prime time years — ripped from him. He was innocent. His conviction was overturned, and the DA dropped all charges. Prior to that, he went through hell in prison. Suggest you watch Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man” starring Henry Fonda to get an idea of what this is like. Being contrary for the sake of it? Doesn’t work in this case.

      • Steve Wade
        April 19, 2012 at 11:20 am #

        Dan The reason they dropped charges was because of the time and money it would have cost to reprosecute. They figured he already spent 22yrs in jail so why push it further.

        • danvalenti
          April 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

          Only David Capeless knows for sure the reason they dropped the charges. That is irrelevant to the fact that he DID drop charges. It may be for the reason you say, but if I had to argue the case, I would suggest that the DA knew he had no chance of winning a conviction.

  4. wandering eye
    April 19, 2012 at 10:34 am #


    that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. He still knows why the GOB network went after him in the first place. I’m hope he is enjoying his life outside of prison. I only wish him the best for the rest of his life.

  5. george
    April 19, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Reading “free baran” documents does not constitute educating oneself about this case. But don’t worry, you won’t have to. My advice is not to jump on Dan’s bandwagon here; he’s going to make an even bigger horse’s patoot out of himself than usual.

    • danvalenti
      April 19, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Nice try. Now, would you be more specific? What is it about court transcripts and official court documents that doesn’t educate oneself about the case. What are you afraid of here, Geo? Seems like you have a raw nerve exposed by this. Care to say why? I love the way “critics” such as yourself throw out ignorant, generalized comments which invariably lack specification. My advice: Let go of your fear.

    • Molly
      April 19, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Welllll, what was read was the Appellate Judge’s findings – the official document that he produced, which we happened to find on “”. Big difference!

      Again – you keep saying these things but where’s the proof? Why do you feel this way? You continue to ignore these questions to you… If there is another side, please let us know and let us also know the proof of it, too. I understand that there are two sides to almost everything – so tell us the other side so that we can make good opinions about this case instead of these very vague statements that you make which offer nothing, really.

      • danvalenti
        April 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

        Right, Molly. There are two sides to this case. The side of truth and justice and the side of evil and corruption. I, like you, would like to hear the “proof” of the other side. Judge Fecteau made an exhaustive review of all the available evidence and information. He rendered his judgment that Baran was Shanghaied.

  6. Ray Ovac
    April 19, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Does former Asst. DA (now sitting judge) Daniel Ford or the estate of deceased former DA Anthony J. Ruberto have liability or financial exposure as a result of Ford’s and Ruberto’s failure when prosecuting the Baran case to provide exculpatory evidence to Baran’s attorneys?

    • danvalenti
      April 19, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      I don’t know, Raykovic. That would be a good question to direct to attorney John Swomley of Boston.

    • Molly
      April 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      What about the mothers who filed the lawsuits and, as someone said on here, they benefited monetarily from this (so am assuming they won the lawsuit?) — can there now be a counter suit to recoup that money?

    • Scott
      April 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      No DA’s are immune to prosecution.

  7. Scott
    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    In my friends words who is the same age as me now who still has memories say’s “he was like a boyfriend to me”. (When I told them about his prison experiences they even showed empathy.) I’m not denying the courts did what they had to do to get a conviction but he’s still guilty in my eyes just not proven so in a court of law but we all know how that goes. This whole thing is a huge mess and deeply saddens me just for different reason then the planet or other readers. I’d like to see a movie that has both sides equally portrayed by a non bias source.

    • danvalenti
      April 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      You say Baran is guilty, in your eyes. Guilty of what? Please be more specific.

      • Scott
        April 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

        Molesting my friends and I’m equally pissed at the idiot Ford for f’n it all up and there is a shadow of a doubt that he may have misled them so maybe they don’t even know the truth anymore no one does it all sucks.

    • Molly
      April 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

      Scott – I don’t understand… These kids were LITTLE KIDS – 2, 3, 4 years old. Why would someone that age describe him as “he was like a boyfriend to me”? That just doesn’t seem “right”. So I take it that you are friends with one of the victims. Remember, some of these kids were raped and abused by their mother’s boyfriends, too. And then it was put into their heads that “Bernie did this” and “Bernie did that” — we saw it in the judge’s document. That can really affect a 3 year old’s memory.

      It saddens me a great deal, too, that any human being could do something like that to a child! Animals are better than humans in this regard – they PROTECT their young! And we hear it about so often now that it doesn’t even carry that much weight – it’s become common-place! How sad is that? It also saddens me, and scares me a great deal, too, that the trial was allowed to proceed as it did and he spent over twenty years in prison with a trial like that. That is both sad and terrifying at the same time.

      • Scott
        April 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

        Molly I’m 32 so I understand but yet I clearly remember the phrase “Bernie touched me” from way back then. Like I said before he got what he deserved in prison if he did it it he didn’t that’s a whole other issue and it sucks too.

        • Molly
          April 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

          I agree – there are many aspects of this that really suck. I feel very badly for your friends because regardless of anything else, they are victims, too. And that sucks big time.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Dan: This is a case you know nothing about. Its decades old, isn’t there something more important you have than this. Why drag this up, them kids are adults now, let then get on with there lives. Baran has law suits filed and proablly make a lot of money. Lets get on with stuff that is current.

    • Scott
      April 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      The families benefited from law suits to ECDC as well.

      • Molly
        April 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

        I was wondering if they won the lawsuits – did they get the millions that they sued for?

    • levitan
      April 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      Why drag it up now? Because a man’s life was ruined by a miscarraige of justice.

      Perhaps Baran was guilty, but the means used to convict him were scandalous, and that is not my opinion but that of a hard to please court of appeals.

      G-d forbid you should have to defend yourself from such a prosecution Baran faced.

      • danvalenti
        April 23, 2012 at 7:17 am #

        Yes. No one would escape such prosecution. It’s straight out of a Kafka novel, except more nightmarish, because Baran’s ordeal was reality.

  9. Dee
    April 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    After reading everything over the past few days and contemplating a response, I hit delete rather than send several times. I know I’ll be flamed but…………..

    I feel that this is a dead horse that need not be beaten any further. I feel that Mr. Baran was probably railroaded but not due to some GOB driven motive but rather the time that this all occured. Mid-1980s GRID (gay-related immune defiiency) aka AIDS was becoming more and more known as a homosexual-related death sentence. Homophobia was at an all time high. Our court system, which has always been impaired, acted as quickly as it felt it could to take a potential abuser out of the mainstream. The victims were very young children – three to five year-olds. Try talking to a three year-old, you ask leading questions just to get any kind of response. Who among you would not be the first to the tree with the rope if you thought a pedophile was in a preschool teaching. Of course the courts acted quickly. They thought they were doing the right thing. It was protective hysteria.

    Whether this was right or wrong, it happened. Only God and Mr. Baran know for sure whether or not he is innocent. To say that because the DA is not re-filing charges MUST make Mr. Baran innocent is incorrect. The judge found fault with the prosecution. He did not say that Mr. Baran is innocent or that he had been wrongly charged. The fact that the DA is not pursuing this further could simply be a matter of time served and the fact that any of the witnesses, now in their mid-30s would probably not remember what happened, only what they were told happened. This is actually outlined in the DA’s decision:

    • Scott
      April 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Agreed but the commonwealth in the eyes of the court failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    • Molly
      April 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      Dee – I’m certainly not going to “flame” you for stating your opinion. To some extent, you’re right and it was part of “the times” and similar things also happened to others as well – I recall one case in CA I believe that had a very similar experience and outcome. It makes one realize how the Salem Witch Trials happened. But that doesn’t make it right, either. I think we need to understand what, exactly, the failings were and try to fix them so that something like this can’t happen ever again. And, therefore, I would like to see the movie. It does also seem very likely that there is much more to this story and I think that it’s important for all us to know the rest of this story, although I’m not sure we ever will. But in my opinion, we should still try to.

    • Ray Ovac
      April 21, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Aren’t you troubled by the fact that then ADA Daniel Ford had exculpatory evidence which he failed to provide to defense counsel? This means Ford knew Baran may in fact have been totally innocent. It means Ford didn’t let Baran’s attorneys know that evidence existed that could allow a jury to come to the same conclusion.
      Further, Ford’s boss, DA Ruberto (now deceased), presumably was made aware by Ford of the existence of this exculpatory evidence.
      Is this not an indictment of the Berkshire County DA’s office and the Berkshire County judiciary? Makes one wonder if anything has really changed, especially in light of recent events: the failure of the DA’s office to protect a key witness who was subsequently murdered; the actions of the local judiciary to pull whatever strings necessary to get the daughter of the local Probation Chief off the hook without having to face criminal charges for a life-shattering hit-and-run accident in which the daughter likely drunk out of her mind.

      • danvalenti
        April 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

        You raise an important question. Who was directing then-asst. DA Ford’s actions? Was he calling the shots or was his boss? Also, there is an obvious link here involving the consistent pattern of [PICK ONE] ( )failure ( ) corruption ( ) ineptness of the local judiciary in the Baran Case, the Triple Murder Case re: murdered witness, the Nilan Case, and the Stracuzzi Case.

  10. Joe Pinhead
    April 20, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    While there will always be a question of guilt or innocence the larger questions are:
    1. Did he get a fair trial afford to each of us a citizen as guaranteed in the constitution?
    2. Was he treated unfairly to the point of his civil rights being violated?
    3. Who was responsible for doing so?
    4. What was the motivation for doing so?
    These questions flow into so many more that must be determined locally, if justice is to be carried out in the name of “We the People” then we need to understand and agree with the way it is being carried out in our names.

  11. Gene
    April 20, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    To me this is now about question 4 from Joe P above. Why was Baran railroaded? That is the key to the whole case. Also, yes, show the film.