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Parents of Louise Woodward Face Fraud Charges

Aired July 17, 2000 - 1:34 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Three years after her murder trial, former au pair Louise Woodward is getting another up-close look at the judicial system. This time, it's in Great Britain, not Massachusetts, and it's her parents who stand accused.

CNN's Margaret Lowrey has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET LOWREY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former au pair Louise Woodward was back in court Monday, this time in a role reversal, in Britain, to support her parents as they go on trial. Sue and Gary Woodward are charged with defrauding and deceiving a trust fund set up three years ago to help defend their daughter after she was accused of murdering a baby in her care.

The baby, 8-month-old Matthew Eappen, died of brain damage caused, prosecutors said, by Louise Woodward shaking him. A Boston jury convicted her of second-degree murder, later reduced to manslaughter by the judge. The televised trial created a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. Graphic evidence was given about the extent of Matthew Eappen's injuries, including a fractured skull.

But her case became a cause celebre in Britain. Many saw her as a victim of the American legal system; an ill-trained, poorly-paid au pair who should not have been left alone with a young baby. Throughout her trial, donations poured in to help offset legal fees and other costs associated with her trial.

In her parents' case this week, the prosecutor said those donations totaled about a quarter of a million pounds, close to $400,000. The Woodward's credit card bills in the U.S. were said to have been paid by the fund until trustees took it over.

But, the prosecution alleges, the Woodwards later submitted a false claim for about $15,000, backed up by a forged invoice. The Woodwards deny the charges. Their trial is expected to last two weeks.

Margaret Lowrey, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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