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Transsexual wife killer who was granted tax-payer funded sex change will also have his legal fees paid, judge rules

  • Robert Kosilek  was convicted of murdering his wife Cheryl in 1990
  • In prison, he  changed his name to Michelle, sued for the state to pay for a sex change and  attempting to castrate herself in custody
  • Massachusetts judge ruled that the $20,000 surgery is  the ‘only adequate treatment’
  • Now judge  ruled eligible for ‘large amount of money’ from legal fees
  • Family of  murdered wife outraged after Kosilek’s book about her life is released  online

By Associated Press Reporter and Rachel Quigley

PUBLISHED:08:39 EST, 17  September 2012| UPDATED:08:57 EST, 17 September 2012

 

The transsexual wife killer who has just been  granted a stated-funded sex change is also entitled to be reimbursed by the  state for years of legal bills.

A judge ruled yesterday that Michelle Lynne  Kosilek, 63, of Mansfield, who was born Robert Kosilek, was eligible for the  ‘large amount’ of money because the case dates back many years.

U. S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf  ruled earlier this month that the state prisons department violated Kosilek’s  rights by refusing to pay for a sex change.

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Victory 

Victory: Robert Kosilek, who has been known as Michelle  for more than a decade, has already received hormone treatments, psychotherapy  and electrolysis while serving a life sentence as a woman in an all-male prison.  Michelle is pictured on January 15, 1993 in Bristol County Superior Court, in  New Bedford, Massachusetts

 

Convicted: 

Convicted: Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the  killing of his wife in 1990. He is pictured on May 24, 1990, being led to the  county jail following his arraignment on drunken driving charges, in New  Rochelle, NY

The amount could be disclosed as soon  as  Thursday — the deadline Wolf has set for Kosilek’s legal team to  submit a  suggested bill to the court.

‘Kosilek has prevailed on his claim  that  (the Department of Correction) has violated his Eighth Amendment  rights  (against cruel and unusual punishment) and is continuing to do  so,’ Wolf wrote.  ‘Therefore, he is eligible to be awarded his reasonable attorneys’ fees and  costs.’

The 63-year-old legally changed his  name to  Michelle Lynne Kosilek nearly 20 years ago and has been living  and dressing as  a woman at the all-male MCI-Norfolk state prison.

He has tried to kill himself twice and also  threatened to castrate himself because he is so distressed over  his gender  identity. Wolf said the sex change was a ‘serious medical  need’.

The niece of Cheryl Kosilek expressed  her  outrage last week that her aunt’s killer was being granted a  taxpayer-funded  sex change.

Now Susan Ohannessian said she is angered  further now the 63-year-old’s book is available online.

Ms Ohannessian says she discovered the online  book, called Grace’s Daughter, which described Kosilek’s years  of abuse and his  suffering from growing up with gender identity  disorder.

Kosilek writes that she doesn’t remember  killing Cheryl but Ms Ohannessian say that is difficult to believe.

She told CBS boston: ‘He has such a  big huge  recollection of his entire life, but that one blurb about that  day, he can’t  remember that one.

‘He defamed Cheryl, she can’t even speak for  herself, this is another slap in the face to her family.’

Cheryl's niece: Susan Ohannessian said she is disgusted that her aunt's killer's book is available online and that he is launching an appeal 

Cheryl’s niece: Susan Ohannessian said she is disgusted  that her aunt’s killer’s book is available online and that he is launching an  appeal

 

Black out: Kosilek writes that he doesn¿t remember killing Cheryl, pictured, but Ms Ohannessian say that is difficult to believe 

Black out: Kosilek writes that he doesn¿t remember  killing Cheryl, pictured, but Ms Ohannessian say that is difficult to  believe

Ohannessian said it is the last page  which  upsets her most as Kosilek reveals a new lawyer has been hired to  appeal her  sentence.

She said: ‘He is going to sue the state and  say it wasn’t me. That was Robert Kosilek that did that. I’m a changed woman  now.’

Kosilek has already received hormone  treatments, psychotherapy and electrolysis while serving a life sentence as a  woman in an all-male prison.

One week ago Wolf ruled that Kosilek, who was  convicted of first-degree murder in the  killing of his wife, Cheryl, in 1990,  has won the right to receive a $20,000,  state-funded sex change operation because it is a ‘serious medical need’.

Prison officials have opposed the decision  based on the safety of Kosilek,  saying that her housing and security needs  would be impossible to meet  as she would surely be a target for  assault.

Another of Cheryl Kosilek’s niece said she  was ‘sickened, outraged and disgusted’ to learn that the judge has ordered the  state Department of corrections to pick up the tab for the sex reassignment  surgery.

‘He’s a freak…wanting a sex change and  expecting everybody to pay for it. We’ve paid enough. He doesn’t deserve  anything for what he did,’ Laura Brandel said.

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers  sent a letter to Correction Commissioner Luis S. Spencer, saying that the  department has taken the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantying  protections for inmates a step too far.

‘It cannot be fairly said to require the  state to accommodate every last need and want of convicted murderers,’ the  missive reads.

The bipartisan letter goes on to say that  granting Kosilek a sex change at the expense of taxpayers is an affront to the  woman he murdered and to her surviving relatives.

The authors also rejected Kosilek’s claim he  could be harmed if not given the surgery.

Kosilek’s attorney Joseph L. Sulman told the  Globe that he understood why relatives of the victim are opposed to Wolf’s  ruling.

‘This is a case that requires us to separate  our emotions and focus on legal principles,’ he said. ‘I can’t fault anyone  associated with the victim of my client’s crime to not like this outcome or want  something worse than life in prison. That’s perfectly normal.’

However, the lawyer noted that the judge’s  decision was carefully considered over the ten years the case has been before  him, and it was rooted in the advice of medical professionals rather than  political arguments.

Victorychange

Change: Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department  of Correction 12 years ago

Brandel, the daughter of Cheryl  Kosilek’s  older sister, said that if her aunt’s killer ultimately has  the operation, she  has hopes for what happens when the surgery begins.

‘With luck, he will die on the operating  table,’ said Brandel. ‘I would never, ever wish harm on anybody but  him.’

According to court  documents, Kosilek began  transitioning to a female after his arrest and indictment.

He first launched his campaign against the  Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago.

‘Everybody has the right to have  their  health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the  streets,’  Kosilek said last year from a state  prison in Norfolk,  Massachusetts.

‘People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or  knees have  surgery to repair those things.’

She continued: ‘My medical needs are no less  important or more important than the person in the cell next to me.’

In 2002, Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled  to treatment for  gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering  surgery. She was also granted electrolysis treatment and hormone therapy.

Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the  surgery is a medical necessity.

In his ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that  surgery is the ‘only adequate treatment’ for Kosilek’s ‘serious medical  need.’

‘The court finds that there is no less  intrusive means to correct the  prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth  Amendment right to adequate  medical care,’ Wolf wrote in his 126-page  ruling.

Prison officials have repeatedly cited  security concerns in the case, saying  that allowing her to have the surgery  would make her a target for sexual assaults by other inmates.

Massachusetts Correction Commissioner  Kathleen Dennehy has said that if Kosilek has  the surgery, the consequences  would be unprecedented.

‘The safety and security concerns are  enormous,’ Dennehy testified, according to CBS.

But Wolf found that the DOC’s security  concerns are ‘either pretextual or can be dealt with by the DOC.’

He said it is up to prison officials to  decide how and where to house Kosilek after the surgery.

Cheryl Kosilek was found dead in the back  seat of her car in a shopping mall parking lot on Sunday, May 20,  1990.

Markings showed she had been strangled with a  rope and a wire and a taxicab driver testified in court that he had picked up  Kosilek from that very mall in the afternoon and driven him home.

A few hours later, Kosilek called police to  report his wife missing, suggesting that she might have gotten into a car  accident.

ROBERT KOSILEK’S  CRIME

Cheryl Kosilek was found dead in the back  seat of her car in a shopping mall parking lot on Sunday, May 20,  1990.

Markings showed she had been strangled  with  a rope and a wire and a taxicab driver testified in court that he  had picked up  Kosilek from that very mall in the afternoon and driven  him home.

A few hours later, Kosilek called police to  report his wife missing, suggesting that she might have gotten into a car  accident.

Police picked him up at his Mansfield home  and questioned him, telling him that ‘a body was found in the back seat’ of  Cheryl’s abandoned vehicle.

Kosilek said his wife was at work all day and  had intended to stop by the mall afterwards and that he was busy at the couple’s  home all day.

Timothy McCaul, Cheryl’s 15-year-old son who  lived with the couple, said that he called home for a ride around 5 p.m. and no  one answered the phone.

Kosilek was questioned again, only this time  he left half way through the interview and said he was getting an  attorney.

Two days later, Kosilek was involved in a car  crash at midnight. Officers found him in  the driver’s seat dressed in women’s clothing and sent him home.

On May 24, 1990, Kosilek was stopped for  speeding in New Rochelle, New York, and arrested him for drunk  driving.

‘You would be drunk too if the police thought  you killed your wife,’ he said.

Later, at the police station, the defendant  stated, ‘Look, I had a fifteen year old son and a wife. I can’t call my wife. I  murdered my wife. Now, I need to call a psychiatrist now.’

He later admitted to a reporter that  he and  his wife got into a heated argument during the day and she had  thrown boiling  water in his face.

He picked up a wire and blacked out, waking  up days later in the hospital.

‘Apparently, I did take her life,’ he told  the reporter. ‘It was probably in self defense.’

Police picked him up at his Mansfield home  and questioned him, telling him that ‘a body was found in the back seat’ of  Cheryl’s abandoned vehicle.

Kosilek said his wife was at work all day and  had intended to stop by the mall afterwards. He maintained that he was busy at  the couple’s home all day.

Timothy McCaul, Cheryl’s 15-year-old son who  lived with the couple, said that he called home for a ride around 5 p.m. and no  one answered the phone.

Kosilek was questioned again, only this time  he left half way through the interview and said he was getting an  attorney.

Two days later, Kosilek was involved in a car  crash at midnight. Officers found him in the driver’s seat dressed in women’s  clothing and sent him home.

On May 24, 1990, Kosilek was stopped for  speeding in New Rochelle, New York, and arrested him for drunk  driving.

‘You would be drunk too if the police thought  you killed your wife,’ he said.

Later, at the police station, the defendant  stated, ‘Look, I had a fifteen year old son and a wife. I can’t call my wife. I  murdered my wife. Now, I need to call a psychiatrist now.’

He later admitted to a reporter that he and  his wife got into a heated argument during the day and she had thrown boiling  water in his face.

He picked up a wire and blacked out, waking  up days later in the hospital.

‘Apparently, I did take her life,’ he told  the reporter. ‘It was probably in self defense.’

After he was indicted for the crime, he began  the transition from male to female and legally changed his name to  Michelle.

Kosilek’s lawsuit has become fodder for radio  talk shows and lawmakers who say the state should not be forced to pay for a  convicted murderer’s sex-change operation – which can cost up to $20,000 – especially since many insurance companies reject the surgery as  elective.

Wolf noted that Kosilek’s gender-identity  disorder has caused Kosilek such anguish that she has tried to castrate herself  and twice tried to commit suicide, including once while on  Prozac.

Kosilek’s lead attorney, Frances Cohen,  called the decision courageous and thoughtful.

‘We feel very grateful that the judge  listened very carefully to the medical experts and has given Michelle Kosilek  what the prison doctors had recommended,’ Cohen said.

Inmates in Colorado, California, Idaho  and  Wisconsin have sued unsuccessfully to try to get the surgery, making similar  arguments that denying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s  protection against  cruel and unusual punishment.

‘This is not a choice. Transsexuals are born  and not made,’ said psychiatry professor George R. Brown at East Tennessee State  University.

‘If you didn’t have this condition, why would  you want to have your genitals removed, if not by a competent surgeon but by  your own hand?’

According to research by Brown, about 27,000  people nationwide have gender identity disorder. Experts estimate 500 to 750  Americans undergo the surgery each year, with hundreds more seeking the  procedure abroad.

Federal courts have said prisons must provide  adequate medical care, and that they must protect inmates from themselves. But  correctional officials and lawmakers balk at using taxpayer money for sex-change  operations that can cost up to $20,000.

Brown estimates that at least 750 of the more  than 2 million prisoners nationwide had gender identity disorder in 2007, his  latest count

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204516/Robert-Kosilek-Transsexual-wife-killer-granted-tax-payer-funded-sex-change-reimbursed-years-legal-fees.html#ixzz26lefibYN

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