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Yarrow pardoned for morals offense

By JUDI HASSON

WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Carter, in one of his last acts as president, granted folk singer Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary a full pardon for a child-molesting conviction a decade ago, it was learned Friday.

Yarrow's full and unconditional pardon was among 11 Carter granted Jan. 19, his last full day in office.

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A song writer as well as singer, Yarrow rose to fame in the turbulent 1960s with Peter, Paul and Mary, which still performs 25 to 30 concerts each year.

Carter, a lover of all kinds of music and a fan in particular of folk singer Bob Dylan, invited many musical groups to perform at the White House, but Peter, Paul and Mary was not among them.

Yarrow was convicted in 1970 of 'taking indecent libeRties with a minor' in an incident involving a 14-year-old girl in Washington Aug. 31, 1969. 'It was the most terrible mistake I have ever made,' he said at the time.

He was sentenced to three months in jail on Sept. 14, 1970, but a judge modified the sentence to time already served on Nov. 25, 1970.

In asking for a pardon last October, Yarrow told the Justice Department he wanted to have his civil and voting rights restored and also that he soon would have to tell his children, now aged 8 and 9 , about his conviction.

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'It is my hope that they will see a balanced picture, one that understands that their daddy did something very wrong but also one that asserts that their daddy has also done much for society to help eliminate want and inequality where he saw it,' Yarrow's petition said.

'A presidential pardon would help my children to understand that society has forgiven their father. A pardon might offset the sense of shame that they will inevitably feel. You would make this potentially painful time easier for the whole family.'

Reached at his New York City apartment, Yarrow said the pardon 'closes a particular chapter' in his life.

'It wasn't relief,' he said. 'I wouldn't use the word relief. I would say I felt honored with a certain recognition.'

A number of prominent Democrats supported Yarrow in letters to the Justice Department, which reviews pardon requests and makes recommendations to the president.

They included former New York City Mayor John Lindsay, ACTION director Sam Brown and Mary King, deputy director of ACTION, and former Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.

McGovern, one of the liberal Democrats for whom Yarrow did fund-raising concerts, described him as a 'moral, conscientious, law-abiding citizen,' who had given his time and effort 'generously for the betterment of society.'

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Others pardoned by Carter on Jan. 19 were Howard Franklin Park Jr. of St. Louis; Patricia Garcia Vargas, Fort Worth, Texas; Ziba Cornelius Carpenter, Yucca Valley, Calif.; Robert Clarence Knappage, Katy, Texas; Michael David Kokin, Los Angeles; Edwin Ernest Miller Jr., Jefferson, S.C.; George Otis Nokes Jr., Waco, Texas; Nicholas Joseph Valenti, St. Louis; Melvin Wilson, Jeff, Ky., and James Griffin Jr., no address listed.

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