Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Nightmare Is Ended, But At What Cost?

by Stan Simpson, The Hartford Courant

December 8, 2004

Calvin Murphy is doing something he hasn't done much of in the last month - sleeping.

The Connecticut basketball icon was acquitted in a Houston courtroom Monday on charges that he molested five of his daughters more than a decade ago.

But even though Calvin Murphy ultimately won, he lost. Murphy's reputation is in tatters. Tuesday night, before attending a Houston Rockets basketball game, Murphy talked about his ordeal.

"Obviously, I'm glad the nightmare is over," Murphy said in a telephone conversation.

"I'm just ready to get on with my life right now. This was a horrible situation, just waiting for the verdict to come back, even though it came back within an hour and a half."

Childhood friend John Brittain says the Norwalk legend and pro basketball Hall of Famer was "sweating bullets" when the not-guilty verdicts echoed in the courtroom. Then came Murphy's shouts of "Hallelujah, Jesus! ... Hallelujah!"

Back in the day, Murphy and Brittain played youth basketball in Norwalk. Their pictures are featured on Norwalk High School's Alumni Wall of Fame. The school abuts a driveway once christened 23 Calvin Murphy Drive. Brittain, Class of '62, went on to become a University of Connecticut law school professor and noted civil rights attorney. Murphy, Class of '66, a powerfully built, lightning fast, 5-foot-9 inch scoring machine earned national accolades and a 1993 Hall of Fame induction. Both now live in Houston and see each other occasionally. Brittain attended most of the trial.

This was an unseemly affair, with sordid, perverted and despicable accusations hurled at a man who is arguably Connecticut's greatest athlete. One of Murphy's girls, now in her 20s, had filed a molestation charge against him in Connecticut in 1995, only to recant. Almost a decade later, she joined with some of her sisters in affirming similar allegations.

Murph beat the rap, but now he begins serving a different kind of time - one that he only can hope will make this distasteful episode go away.

"The question on the local radio talk shows after the verdict was: Should Murphy get his television analyst's job back?" said Brittain, now a Texas Southern University law professor.

The Houston Rockets TV gig, from which Murphy is on paid leave, is the least of his problems. The legal fees from his defense will be extensive. Sponsors will likely be skittish about associating their product with a guy who was an accused child molester. And how exactly does a dad go about repairing the rift with his little girls, now adults, who accused him of the unspeakable?

Murphy said that financially he is just fine, and if the sports commentary job doesn't reopen he will find work elsewhere.

"I'm an educated man, so I'll just move on to something else," said Murphy, who has a master's degree in teaching from Niagara University.

As far as those who question whether he did indeed violate his daughters, Murphy says he can't worry about that.

"What people want to believe is up to people," he said.

"I was acquitted of all charges. I was found innocent. So what anybody thinks is up to them. I'm not going to go out of my way to show people that I'm a decent guy. I'm just going to be me. ...

Not everyone likes Calvin Murphy. So, those that don't, don't. And those that know me and appreciate what I've tried to do with my life, will."

Murphy, 56, made his livelihood in basketball as a mighty mite who slew basketball giants with speed, guile, discipline and a long-range jump shot.

"Cal-vin Murphhhhh-eee," was the familiar intonation from the courtside announcer after one of Murphy's buckets. He is one of the few athletes to have his No. 23 uniform retired in high school, college and the pros - Norwalk, Niagara and Houston.

Still, a man so acutely aware of his public persona and inspirational story was profoundly unrestrained in his private life, laid bare in court. He was a philanderer and, in many cases, a poor excuse for a dad. Murphy fathered 14 children with nine different women, instructing his born-out-of-wedlock children to keep their connection to him private. The number of Murphy's children making sexual molestation allegations against him added intrigue and drama to the trial. So, too, did the offspring testifying on his behalf.

"It's a sad situation because the allegations are made by his children," says Donna Carswell, 42, a Norwalk High security guard.

"In the minds of a lot of people, he will be guilty because the accusations were made. His name will definitely be tarnished."

Asked what he would say to his daughters, Murphy paused.

"The most obvious question is `Why?' `Why did it get to this point? Why did you try to take my life?'"

If convicted, Murphy could have faced life in prison.The trial centered on the credibility of Murphy, as celebrated in Houston as he once was in Connecticut, verses that of his five daughters, three of whom were part of a dispute against Murphy over $54,000 in insurance money after the death of their mother.

Brittain, 60, said the women's testimony was shaky and, at times, contradictory. "They came across more as gold-diggers than truth-tellers," Brittain said.

There were no forensics and, oddly, investigators did not talk to Murphy before arresting him. What troubled me about the case was the recanted accusation of sexual abuse against Murphy in Connecticut nine years ago. This was years before anyone could claim that the girls were troubled connivers looking to get even with their celebrity daddy for treating them with indifference and neglect.

"I can make allegations about you in the morning and if someone picks it up and wants to run with it, there's nothing you can do," Murphy said.

During the trial, Murphy's attorney, Rusty Hardin, told the jurors that the allegations themselves against Murphy have irreparably damaged him.

"In a sense," Hardin said referring to the accusers, "they've already won. He's ruined."

Brittain sees it a little differently.

"Calvin Murphy got a great Christmas present in that he doesn't have to go to jail."

In the sunset of a remarkable career that once shone so brightly, one of Connecticut's greats will have to take solace in that.

Stan Simpson's column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. He can be heard this Saturday on WTIC NewsTalk 1080, from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.E-mail: simpson@courant.com

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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