- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2000

The mother of an 8-year-old boy accused last week of trying to carjack U.S. Rep. James P. Moran has asked the Virginia congressman to apologize for what she says was an attack on her son after the boy told Mr. Moran he liked his car.

Melanie Gaitwood and her attorney Ted Williams said they will consider dropping the matter if Mr. Moran, 8th District Democrat, apologizes to Michael Green for grabbing him by the neck and then falsely accusing him of a carjacking attempt last Friday.

"We believe the congressman impugned the boy's name," Mr. Williams said at a news conference Thursday. "We believe Mr. Moran owes this family an apology for the way he acted. We would strongly consider dropping the matter if he apologizes."

Meanwhile, officials with the Alexandria, Va., magistrates said Thursday they have not yet decided whether they will proceed with a complaint filed Monday by Michael's parents. The complaint accuses Mr. Moran of cursing at the boy and manhandling him outside the Cora Kelly recreation center.

The magistrate investigating the complaint, Carl Cassel, was not in the office Thursday afternoon.

Alexandria police said Thursday night no charges had been filed.

Mr. Moran has repeatedly disputed the family's claims that he attacked the boy after the second-grader told him he liked his car.

The congressman conceded earlier this week he grabbed Michael by the arm only after the 4-foot 7-inch, 85-pound boy said he had a gun and threatened to shoot him if he didn't hand over the keys to his car.

"I asked the juvenile whether he was playing and he said no," Mr. Moran said in a one-page statement Thursday. "After several minutes of this, I apprehended him in a manner that was appropriate, given the fact that he said he had a gun. I then did what any responsible parent would do. I took him into the recreation center authorities and asked that they take appropriate action."

Mr. Moran initially declined to press any charges against the boy, but he said earlier this week he may consider doing so after the parents' accusations that he attacked their son.

"The whole situation was sad and not something I was angry about," Mr. Moran said yesterday in the statement. "I simply wanted his family and the authorities to impress on him the seriousness of his actions and the danger of repeating them. I would press charges in this matter only if I determine, after consulting with the authorities, that is in the best interest of the child."

Thursday, Mr. Williams said the family might sue Mr. Moran for assaulting the boy, falsely imprisoning him and inflicting emotional distress.

Michael, who is an honor-roll student at Cora Kelly Magnet School, does not have a criminal record, Mr. Williams said. Over the last two years, Michael earned above-average grades in all his subjects and has rarely missed school, according to his school's progress report.

"There is absolutely no reason not to believe this child," Mr. Williams said. "It's a congressman's word against a young black kid. All he said was 'I like your car.' "

The attorney also said he will look into allegations that Mr. Moran might have been intoxicated when he saw Michael that day. Mr. Williams said he received telephone calls from two witnesses who said they smelled alcohol on Mr. Moran.

But Mr. Moran called that allegation "false." He said the claim can easily be disproven by checking his schedule before and after the incident, which included a taping of a cable news show and a Little League opener.

Mr. Williams said he sent a letter to Mr. Moran Thursday asking him to take a polygraph test, adding that Michael has agreed to take such a test.

Ms. Gaitwood said her son seems unfazed by the incident. "Michael is doing OK and asking a lot of questions," she said. "He's a smart kid who has no problems telling the truth."

Mr. Moran said in his statement that he would not act any differently than he did last Friday. "A child who tells an adult that they have a gun and demands their car keys is a child crying out for help. Civic responsibility demands that we attempt to respond in a constructive manner whatever the ultimate consequences."

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