and his wife Mary
Click here to read
Forgotten Innocent Man"
at the crimemagazine website
-- a full length article about the Halsey case
click here for a
Ross E. Cheit's article,
"The Legend of Robert Halsey"
here for Cheit's reaction
to my article:
click here for
to Cheit's website about me
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
vs Robert Halsey
Superior Court Berkshire
Arrested and charged:
Crimes alleged to have happened
Sept. 1990 - February 1992
Trial: August 1993
Sentenced: Sept. 1993
Civil Action No. 93-0361
Settled out of court
Commonwealth V. Halsey
41 Mass. App. Court. 200 (1996)
Argued April 9, 1966
Decided Aug. 26, 1996
Robert Halsey drove a school bus for twenty years, delivering an
entire generation of Lanesboro children to school. Halsey had a
high school education and had served in the navy, then worked at
various factory jobs. When the factory jobs dried up and blew
away, he became a bus driver. He and his wife raised one daughter
and he had no criminal record.
He lived an unremarkable life until he was suddenly accused and
convicted, in 1993, of a series of heinous crimes against some of
the little children in his care. The chief complainants against
him were twin six-year-old boys. These boys alleged that on the
way to school, Halsey would detour to a secluded road, take the
boys off the bus, and subject them to a variety of threats and sexual
According to the boys, Mr. Halsey had unusual tastes. He liked to
shoot fish, turtles, frogs and crayfish with a pellet gun or a .38.
Other times, before getting down to the business of molesting the
children, he would pull out his fishing pole and catch some fish.
He allegedly started off by threatening them with knives and guns,
and chased them with a shopping cart. As time when on, he
allegedly sodomized them. Afterwards, he would yank off the duct
tape he had gagged them with, untie them, and drop them off at school.
The twins' teachers testified that the children behaved normally
at school during this period and were happy and well adjusted.
The children didn't breathe a word to anyone during his alleged
reign of terror, which supposedly lasted for one-and-a-half school
years. The parents and the teachers didn't phone the bus company
to complain that the children were late for school. The twins made
their first allegations against Halsey a year after he had stopped
driving them, the day they were taken to the hospital where their
mother had given birth.
Halsey's lawyer tried in vain to suggest to the jury that the twins'
graphic tale was motivated by a desire to get attention to compete
with the new baby. An examination of the trial transcript reveals
numerous inconsistencies in their testimony which throws their entire
story into question. In addition the prosecutor, Timothy Shugrue,
coached them right on the stand. For example, the children kept
testifying that Halsey kept his guns and knives under the front
seat. Whenever they said this, the prosecutor would say, "are
you sure you didn't see them in the back (of the van?)." Or,
when the child didn't give the 'correct' answer Shugrue would repeat
the question until he did. In one example, young Justin (all
childrens' names have been changed) said he did not see other
children being tied up or taped up. Shugrue asked again and
Justin reversed himself; yes, he had seen Monica and Amber being
The children were easily led to make wild claims. In this
exchange, Jason "remembers" that he was forced to eat
raw fish. It took a little more prompting to get him to "remember"
Q. What kinds of things would he have
you do with the fish?
A. He said he made me eat it... and I
might have been eating the fish.
I'm not sure, because I had my eyes taped.
Q. ....Did he do anything else with the
A. He shot them in the water, and he
made us eat them.
Q. Did he do anything else to you with
A. He stuck them up our butts.
No expert witnesses were called on Halsey's behalf but a doctor
and two therapists appeared for the prosecution. The most
damning evidence against him was the testimony of the pediatrician
who stated that the twin boys' bottoms showed evidence of
abuse. But subsequent research into the appearance of normal,
non-abused children's genitalia casts doubt on this testimony. An
expert testifying for a subsequent civil trial stated that the pediatrician
used incorrect examining procedures and even got some of his terminology
Halsey's lawyer pointed out that the childrens' story changed
over time. For example, at the time of their physical exam
they were alleging that Halsey used a sleepy spray on them and that
he made them eat feces, urine and vomit. These allegations
weren't made at the trial. A therapist, Jeffrey Fishman (who
unbeknowst to the jury was the therapist for two of the children)
testified for the prosecution that children often delayed disclosure
of sexual abuse and that it was normal for them to disclose a portion
of the abuse, then add other details later. What the jury didn't
hear was that it was also normal for children to start with an innocent
remark, such as "Mr. Halsey smokes cigars, too" and through
misunderstanding and anxiety, they can be
influenced to tell preposterous stories.
Halsey was found guilty of numerous charges of assault and sexual
assault and is serving two consecutive and two concurrent life sentences.
His wife Mary has stayed loyal to him and they recently repeated
their wedding vows on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.
The Halseys can't afford a lawyer for any further appeals.
Update: Thanks to the National Center for Reason and Justice and
attorney Charles K. Stephenson, Halsey appealed his conviction in
2005. Unfortunately, his appeal was denied. Further details at www.crimemagazine