BOSTON (State House News Service) – Before he leaves office, Gov. Charlie Baker wants the Governor’s Council to revisit one of the nation’s most highly charged and disputed abuse cases of the 1980s with recommended pardons for Gerald “Tooky” Amirault and Cheryl Amirault Lefave, who were convicted of sexually abusing young children at their Malden day care.

The Amiraults were tried and convicted of child molestation in the Fells Acres abuse case of the mid-1980s, but Baker said Friday that the proceedings “took place without the benefit of scientific studies that have in the intervening years led to widespread adoption of investigative protocols designed to protect objectivity and reliability in the investigation of child sex abuse cases.” The Amiraults have maintained their innocence.

“Given the absence of these protections in these cases, and like many others who have reviewed the record of these convictions over the years, including legal experts, social scientists and even several judges charged with reviewing the cases, I am left with grave doubt regarding the evidentiary strength of these convictions,” the governor said. “As measured by the standard we require of our system of justice, Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault Lefave ought to be pardoned.”

Baker’s office included in its announcement of the pardons a statement of approval from former Attorney General Tom Reilly, who fought as Middlesex district attorney in the 1990s to keep the Amiraults and their mother in prison.

“While I stand behind the decisions made at the time by the prosecutors, judge and jury, I believe the Governor’s decision is a fitting end to a very troubled case,” Reilly said.

Among those who questioned whether justice was truly served in the Amiralut case was the late Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation, who wrote in her final newspaper column that Baker had “promised my friend Gerald Amirault and his family that getting Gerald off parole and his ankle bracelet would be a first order of business.” She said that Baker keeping his promise was her “dying wish.”

The governor on Friday also announced pardons for Brian Morin, Camille Joseph Chaisson, Michael Biagini and Robert Busa. He also commuted the first-degree murder sentence of Ramadan Shabazz to second-degree murder, which his office said makes the 72-year-old once sentenced to death immediately eligible for parole. Baker said he hopes the Governor’s Council will “consider each of these cases carefully.”