Freeing Bernie Baran

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Daniel Alexander
Described as "achingly beautiful" and "a must-see" at its 2010 world premiere at the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, "Freeing Bernie Baran" is a no-budget, independent documentary chronicling the two-decade struggle to free an innocent man. Between 1984 and 1995, hundreds of day care workers in the United States were falsely accused of horrific crimes against children in their care during a witch hunt now known as the American Day Care Panic. Although some cases received national attention in the media and spawned award winning books and films, the Baran case fell completely under the radar. In 1984, a decade before the phrase "openly gay teenager" appeared in the media, there was an openly gay teenager named Bernard Baran who worked in a day care center in a small town in Western Massachusetts. He was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of multiple felony counts. His working class family fought the system with all they had, only to see him quickly railroaded in court. The case went to trial five times faster than the average felony charge. Baran was convicted in a partially closed courtroom where he could not face his accusers. The prosecutor in the case became a judge in Massachusetts even though his behavior was ruled "troubling" by higher courts. Given Baran's sexuality and the 1980s surge in homophobia from the AIDS crisis, the transcript of his short trial reads at times like a gay bash by jury. If the Baran case was fiction, it would be unbelievable. In fact, Baran was convicted of abusing one child who did not even attend the day care center where he worked. In a suspicious detail, Baran was moved in to general population in the worst prison in Massachusetts within hours of his conviction where an attempt was made on his life. These are only some of the many incredible details of the Baran case. Ten years after his conviction, an investigative reporter found the case record. She brougmoreless

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Profile, Crime, Gay & Lesbian