Palm Beach man charged

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) — It was the closest the Fagan family has come to a reunion in 18 years.
Stephen Fagan, a Palm Beach, Fla., socialite, was in court Tuesday to face parental kidnapping charges. His two adult daughters, who learned last week that their mother wasn’t dead, looked on from a courtroom gallery.
And the woman forced to rebuild her life after her young children disappeared was nearby in Boston, where she expressed fears she may never have a reunion with her daughters because of the sensationalism surrounding the case.
“I’ve been living with the loss of my daughters for nearly 20 years,” Barbara Kurth, 48, said at a news conference at her attorney’s office. “And not a day has gone by in which I have not thought of whether or not they’re safe or happy.”
Hours earlier, Fagan, 56, was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail. With a weary smile on his face and handcuffs around his wrists, he repeatedly waved to his daughters, Rachael, 23, and Lisa, 21, and his wife, Harriet Golding Martin. The women clutched hands and whispered frequently.
Family members scrambled to gather the bail money and expected to have Fagan freed by Wednesday.
Prosecutors wanted Fagan, who was arrested in his $1.4 million Florida mansion last week, held in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.
“He’s disappeared in the past” said prosecutor Lynn Rooney, adding that Fagan lived a lavish lifestyle despite reporting no income on his illegally obtained Social Security number in the last two decades.
Fagan’s attorney told District Judge Robert Greco that Fagan was a devoted father who took his daughters, then ages 2 and 5, to protect them from an unfit mother.
Kurth’s neighbors in North Adams, where she later lived, told Fagan his ex-wife often was drunk or unconscious and let the girls run around naked outside, said defense lawyer Richard Egbert.
A neighbor reportedly saw the young girls eating raw meat out of a toaster, Egbert said.
“When faced with the dilemma of leaving his children to face sure tragedy, he did what he did,” Egbert said. “He sacrificed his identity, his career as a lawyer, his position at Harvard, his friends, his family, his very existence.”
Fagan, who once worked part-time at Harvard Law School’s legal aid bureau and lived in Framingham, has emerged as a shadowy figure who lived in a mansion despite having no discernible source of income.
While serving on the Palm Beach Opera’s board of governors and volunteering with charitable organizations, Fagan apparently told acquaintances he was a Harvard professor, CIA agent, chemist, lawyer and foreign affairs adviser under the Nixon and Carter administrations. There is no record Fagan held any of those positions.
After her children disappeared in 1979, Kurth told her attorney that her ex-husband was a scam artist who forged checks and stole identification to obtain valuable artworks and Oriental rugs.
Rooney said the prosecution’s case isn’t threatened by the daughters’ apparent support for their father.
“It’s perfectly understandable that these women would support their father,” Rooney said. “He is their world. He has always been their world.”
Last week the women learned that Fagan, who created a new identity for himself as William Martin, had been arrested and their mother was alive. Their father had told them she had died in a car wreck.
Kurth, now remarried and a cellular biologist living in Charlottesville, Va., said she wants to have a relationship with the daughters she still calls Rachael and Wendy. Fagan changed Wendy’s name to Lisa.
“If and when the time is right, a private reunion might take place,” Kurth said. “Unfortunately, the crime committed by Stephen Fagan, coupled with the incredible charade he’s been living, has created a media spectacle that I fear has endangered the chances of being reunited with my daughters.”