MAN GETS 7 YEARS IN ADOPTION CASE

Tom Howlett
The Dallas Morning News
October 10, 1986

A Dallas jury sentenced lawyer Robert I. Kingsley to seven years in prison and fined him $5,000 Thursday for purchasing a child in a private adoption case.

The jury rejected a plea by the defense for probation. Kingsley, 61, could have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison for the third-degree felony.

The trial was the first in Texas of a person charged under a 1977 statute that prohibits giving something of value to acquire a child for the purpose of an adoption.

Kingsley was convicted last Friday. In the sentencing portion of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence of four similar cases arranged by Kingsley.

Defense attorney Mike Gibson immediately appealed the case after the verdict, which came after three hours of deliberations. Kingsley, who did not testify or comment during the trial, was released on $10,000 bond.

Gibson said state District Judge Gerry Meier erred in permitting testimony from people involved in the other adoption cases handled by Kingsley. The constitutionality of the statute also will be challenged, he said.

Jury Foreman Roy O. Young Jr. said the testimony about the other adoption cases was decisive in determining punishment.

"I don't think we would have assessed the same punishment on him when we found him guilty as we did after hearing more evidence,' said Young, 43, of Carrollton.

Steve Peterson, general counsel for the State Bar of Texas, said the organization would "move immediately to suspend him (Kingsley) during his appeal.' If the Dallas jury's verdict stands, Kingsley will be disbarred, preventing him from practicing law, Peterson said. Kingsley can oppose both proposed actions in court.

In closing arguments by prosecutors Marcus Busch and Janie Jackson, Busch pointed out that the sentence would send a message to "the community of peddlers of human flesh out to make a buck.'

State officials predicted that the Kingsley case would encourage investigations of illegal adoptions in which lawyers not licensed to place children earn money by brokering children.

"This clarifies the line between legal and illegal adoptions,' said Ronnie Craver, an inspector general supervisor at Texas Department of Human Resources.

Kingsley, who operated a family law practice out of an East Dallas shopping center office with the assistance of his wife, Mary Zoe "Kit' Kingsley, was arrested in July 1985 after a two-month investigation by the Department of Human Resources. He is accused of paying more than $2,000 for a child in a private adoption case.

Both Kingsley and Mrs. Kingsley, who has not been tried, face prosecution in two other child-purchasing cases.

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