Skakel's rehab director doubts confession story
By Doug Miller - Greenwich Post

Joseph Ricci, the director of the Elan treatment facility in Maine where Kennedy kin Michael Skakel allegedly confessed to the 1975 murder of Greenwich teen Martha Moxley, said he believed the confession never happened.

"Nobody ever told me of any [confession to] murder at Elan," Ricci said Tuesday. "If he had confessed, [our] world would have come to a complete halt. And the nature of Elan was that if one person knew something, 150 people would have known."

Among the reports, which Ricci called "an absolute lie," was that the confession took place during a "general meeting" of students and staff while Ricci was present. Ricci told Greenwich Post last year he believed Skakel to be innocent, and did not back away from that assessment Tuesday.

Michael was a resident at Elan from 1978 to 1980, where he received treatment of alcohol abuse and emotional problems.

Retired Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman, who wrote a book about the case entitled "Murder in Greenwich," told Greenwich Post last year that Skakel not only confessed to the murder while at Elan, but actually was forced to wear a sign as part of his treatment that read, "Ask me why I killed my friend Martha."

The 15-year-old Moxley was found bludgeoned and stabbed under a tree on her family's Belle Haven property on Halloween 1975. Skakel, also 15 at the time, was charged with her murder last week, 25 years later. The murder weapon was a golf club owned by Skakel's mother, Ann Reynolds Skakel.

Michael Skakel, who is free on $500,000 bond after surrendering to Greenwich police Jan. 19, is the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Because of his age at the time of the murder, he faces a hearing next month in Stamford juvenile court to determine whether he will be tried as an adult. Ricci, who still runs Elan, said Tuesday that while the school has changed since Skakel was a patient, it has never borne any resemblance to the place described in Fuhrman's book.

"Mark Fuhrman's book is so grossly inaccurate, I would love to take you through it page by page," Ricci said. "He called Elan a 'haven for rich kids.' Sixty to sixty-five percent of the residents came from lower-income homes."

The tuition in the 1970's, Ricci admitted, was more that $20,000 annually, but he claimed that Elan was still the least expensive residential facility in the country.

"The majority of kids who came here were from correctional facilities." Fuhrman could not be reached for comment. Four former Elan residents are believed to have testified before the one-man grand jury which indicted Skakel last week. Their identities were not made public, but Ricci, who refused to testify due to confidentiality issues, said their testimony was suspect.

"Why, after 25 years, do these people have such vivid memories," Ricci asked.

"Why didn't they come forward after two years, or two months, or ten years?

Nobody ever came up to me or my partner [the late Dr. Gerald E. Davidson] and said he confessed."

Ricci said he did not recall anything about Skakel that would lead him to suspect him of murder. "Without getting into the details of his therapy, I can say he was not very identifiable. He was a kid who happened to come from a rich family. But he was nothing exceptional."

"I would like to say this, though. I feel very badly for Mrs. Moxley. I understand she wants closure, and I admire her for her tenacity. I have two sons myself. But what they are trying to hang their hat on...I'll just say the hook is not strong enough to hold the hat."