120716CheshireJuly 16, 2012

“Elizabeth Kelly was denied parole Friday, three months after pleading no contest to charges of sexually abusing children at her Edenton day care.

“Mrs. Kelly, sentenced to seven years, was eligible for parole upon entering prison because she had already served more than two years while awaiting trial.

“Prosecutor Bill Hart said opposition to Mrs. Kelly’s release was heightened by her statements of innocence after entering her plea.

“‘From my work dealing with sex offenders there is no way you can treat a sex offender and restore them to the community until that person admits the wrongness of her actions and takes responsibility….’”

– From the Associated Press, April 16, 1994

From the beginning, the prosecution never missed a chance to tighten the thumbscrews on Betsy Kelly: Plead guilty, implicate your husband or suffer grave consequences. Although she eventually took a plea bargain, she never accommodated Bill Hart’s pious insistence that she admit “the wrongness of her actions.”

In October 1989, about six weeks after her arrest, a hearing had been held in Raleigh on whether Kelly should be forced to move from a mental health unit into Dorm C at women’s prison.

Recalls Faye Sultan, a Charlotte forensic psychologist who testified on her behalf: “She had been found guilty of nothing at that point, but she was being housed in the most isolated, restrictive facility in the prison, where Death Row and disciplinary inmates were housed. Seems a bit unfair, no?”

Sultan testified that Kelly’s “psychological condition is rapidly deteriorating, and in fact she is on the edge of becoming psychotic.”

Why would the state insist on moving a pretrial “safekeeping” defendant to such a hostile environment? “The reason was to pressure Betsy,” says Joe Cheshire, her lawyer. “They didn’t know her very well, did they?”