No Jail Term for Ex-Father of the Year in Child-Abuse Case Under Plea Deal

Date: 1992-06-09

No Jail Term for Ex-Father of the Year in Child-Abuse Case Under Plea Deal

June 9, 1992

Kodzo Dobosu, who once was cited as a "father of the year" for adopting and caring for 35 handicapped and troubled children, pleaded guilty yesterday to endangering the welfare of three children and to petty larceny, ending the prospect that the children would be required to testify against him.

As part of the agreement, Mr. Dobosu will not be sentenced to prison. Had he been convicted of the child-abuse charges he originally faced, he could have been sentenced to up to 7 years in prison on 11 separate counts.

An assistant district attorney, Nancy Paterson, described the decision to have Mr. Dobosu plead guilty to misdemeanor charges as "lenient treatment." But she said it was made to protect Mr. Dobosu's victims from being compelled to testify against him in court.

"The one thing none of us can return to these children is their innocence," she said in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. "Sending their father to jail will not give them back their childhood they have so far been denied." Questions About System

The case against Mr. Dobosu, who was accused of abusing a 14-year-old girl and two young boys, age 15 and 16, had raised serious questions about New York City's social-service and child-welfare agencies, which refused to accept any responsibility, citing the state's confidentiality laws.

Outside of court, Mr. Dobosu said bitterly that he pleaded guilty because he could not get a fair trial. "The system does not work for black people," he said, adding that "the press has already convicted me."

Justice Frederic S. Berman said he was "not overly happy" with the prosecution agreement with Mr. Dobosu, 52 years old. "But I understand it and I agree that the children should not be put through more suffering."

As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Dobosu is to be sentenced on July 15 to a conditional release and be required to serve 500 hours of community service with the condition, the judge said, that "he has nothing to do with children." The agreement also requires him to relinquish any claim to his adopted children. When he was charged in May 1991, the children were removed from his care.

Ms. Paterson, the prosecutor, told Justice Berman that Mr. Dobosu "would never be able to adopt again in New York." The judge asked her to warn other states about his guilt so he could not adopt elsewhere.

Ms. Paterson asked Mr. Dobosu if he was guilty of allowing one of his older children to beat younger ones on at least three occasions.

"Yes," replied Mr. Dobosu, who was attired in flowing black garments, black boots and dozens of silver earrings, bracelets and rings.

"Do you also admit to cashing 25 checks to which you were not entitled?"

"Yes, I do," he said in a low voice.

Mr. Dobosu's adopted son, Kwaku, was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. Physical and Sexual Abuse

Ms. Paterson said the investigation was a success because several of Mr. Dobosu's adopted children came forward and told prosecutors of physical and sexual abuse they said permeated the group homes he maintained in Harlem for at least 35 adopted children with handicaps and emotional and developmental problems.

"It would have been very easy," she said, "as other investigative agencies have done before us, to dismiss this case as a matter of a disgruntled, mildly retarded child making baseless accusations against a supposedly caring and well-intentioned adoptive father."

She said she was particularly impressed with the tenacity of one of Mr. Dobosu's adopted daughters, who told investigators that Mr. Dobosu had sexually molested her.

Armed with the evidence provided by a second daughter, Ms. Paterson said the investigation resulted in Mr. Dobosu's indictment last October on multiple counts of sexual abuse and child endagerment. He was also charged later with stealing $15,000 in city child-subsidy checks.

Although Ms. Paterson said several of the children were angry and wanted to testify against Mr. Dobusu, most said they would not "be able to handle it" and most did not "relish the thought" of Mr. Dobosu's "spending time in jail."

"The consensus of opinion among those who know this case best is that proceeding to trial and forcing the children to testify, possibly more than once, would be emotionally damaging and not in their best interest," she said. "Sending Mr. Dobosu to jail won't give them back their childhood. What we can do for them, however, is free them from their father and, by making them available for adoption, give them hope of a future."


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