Bernard Baran: Freeing an Innocent Pittsfield Man After 22 Years
1 Wendell Ave
Pittsfield, MA 01201
On October 6, 1984, Bernard Baran, a 19-year-old openly gay daycare worker, was arrested in Pittsfield MA on two counts of sexual assault and battery of a child. A month later, after a grand jury viewed heavily edited video footage of child interviews, he was indicted on five counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault. After a week-long jury trial beginning in January 1985, he was found guilty on all counts, sentenced to three concurrent life terms, and remanded to the maximum security Cedar Junction facility at Walpole MA.
Shunted from one correctional facility to the next, repeatedly raped, beaten, and otherwise abused, Bernard Baran steadfastly maintained his innocence. After spending 22 years in prison, Baran was freed under probationary conditions in 2006, and finally cleared by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2009. After five years of freedom, he died suddenly in 2014.
At 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at the Berkshire Athenaeum, the Pittsfield Human Rights Commission invites the public to revisit this tragic case, with a presentation from three of Baran’s principal advocates:
- Robert B. Chatelle, founder and executive director of the National Center for Reason and Justice, co-founder of the Bernard Baran Justice Committee
- James D’Entremont, journalist and playwright, former staff writer for The Guide, first reporter to cover the Baran case in the LGBT press.
- John Swomley, Boston-based criminal defense attorney, head of Bernard Baran’s legal team from 1999 onward. His advocacy on behalf of indigent defendants won him the Paul Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award in 2000.