News

GOP attack ad targets Democrat in Pa. high court race

Written by The Associated Press | Oct 21, 2015 4:01 PM
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THEME: The Washington-based political action committee Republican State Leadership Committee attacks Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty, a Democratic candidate for state Supreme Court.

TITLE: "Factual"

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: TV stations starting Tuesday in undisclosed markets

TRANSCRIPT: A female narrator says: "When Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty failed to protect a child, tragedy happened. Dougherty shockingly allowed a young girl to be placed in the custody of a convicted murderer. The heartbreaking outcome. Dougherty's excuse? He had no recollection of knowing about the murderer's background. No recollection? Tell Kevin Dougherty, `No more excuses. Keep our children safe.'"

In the background, playing simultaneously, are the sounds of drums, sirens and other speakers fading in and out, saying things like "her hell began at 10" and "years of beating, starvation."

KEY IMAGES: Fleeting images of Dougherty are sandwiched among a fast-moving succession of stark stills: a silhouetted judge striking a gavel, a man gazing out a window, TV news clips showing a policeman beside his patrol car, handcuffs, crime-scene tape and a person carrying chains.

ANALYSIS: The ad criticizes Dougherty's handling of a juvenile truancy case that grew into a notorious child abuse case. Dougherty acknowledges that he awarded custody of a girl to her aunt, but says he was not told about the aunt's criminal record and court papers show no record that he was given such information.

Linda Weston was arrested 2011 for keeping four mentally disabled adults in a basement dungeon at her home and stealing their Social Security checks. Authorities also rescued Weston's niece, Beatrice, whom Dougherty had placed in her aunt's custody nearly 10 years earlier. Beatrice had been locked in a closet and regularly tortured, beaten and sexually assaulted by her aunt and others, according to court papers.

Weston previously served a prison term in the 1980s for starving a man to death by locking him in a closet. She has pleaded guilty to the latest charges under an agreement in which federal prosecutors are expected to recommend life in prison plus 80 years when she is sentenced Nov. 5.

Dougherty granted custody of Beatrice to her aunt in 2002 in what was then a truancy case, at the recommendation of the city Department of Human Services, Beatrice's advocate and her mother. He ordered the department to monitor Beatrice's safety and, once satisfied that she was safe, attending school and getting good grades, the case was closed eight months later with the consent of all parties. After Linda Weston was arrested nearly a decade later, Dougherty said through a spokesman he had "no recollection'' of being told about her criminal record by parties at the hearing.

Dougherty was not named as a defendant or mentioned by the federal judge who rejected a lawsuit that Beatrice West filed against the city, said campaign spokesman Ken Snyder.

"Judge Dougherty was never a party to or accused of wrongdoing in the lawsuit by any litigant in the case,'' Snyder said.

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