The Witch-Hunt Narrative: “most of the charges brought against child molesters were grounded in some truth”
September 13, 2014 Comments Off on The Witch-Hunt Narrative: “most of the charges brought against child molesters were grounded in some truth”
Research By the Dozens
By Lawrence Goodman September/October 2014
….More than fifteen years in the making, The Witch-Hunt Narrative examines dozens of child sexual abuse cases from the 1980s. Over time, these cases ensnared dozens of defendants, some of whom were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. Many experts believed these prosecutions came about when interrogators asked young children leading questions, resulting in a witch-hunt in which wrongful accusations were made against thousands of people.
Thanks in part to the work of Brown students, Cheit reviewed all the so-called witch-hunt cases and concluded that most of the charges brought against child molesters were grounded in some truth. At the very least, he says, there was enough credible evidence to begin police investigations.
Cheit, who holds a law degree and is also a professor of public policy, believes we are far too quick to dismiss the accounts of young children. “We have, over the last twenty years,” he writes in The Witch-Hunt Narrative, “discounted the word of children who might testify against sexual abuse. We have become more worried about overreacting to child sexual abuse than we are about underreacting to it.”….
July 13, 2014 Comments Off on How the ‘Witch Hunt’ Myth Undermined American Justice
How the ‘Witch Hunt’ Myth Undermined American Justice
Jason Berry 07.12.14
Innocent people persecuted by a legal system out of control? In The Witch-Hunt Narrative, Ross E. Cheit argues the media and courts have gone too far in dismissing evidence of abuse….
Accusations of ritual abuse and grisly cult behavior with Satanic overtones have been discussed at conferences on child abuse and treated in research literature since the mid-’80s. Kenneth Lanning, an FBI agent who specialized in child-abuse investigations for many years, found no evidence “of a well-organized Satanic cult” and said so in a research guide. And yet, writes Cheit, even though the FBI guide became Exhibit A for those scoffing at charges of Satanic abuse, “it actually recognized many activities described as ritual abuse and it cautions that there might be plausible explanations for children making such statements in other cases about sexual abuse.”
The absence of a well-organized cult does not mean the absence of ritualized abuse. Cheit provides several pages of numbing case studies on people who were prosecuted, sometimes with testimony from their traumatized children who finally grew old enough to unburden themselves. In Florida, a monster named Eddie Lee Sexton Sr. “ran his family like a cult, subjecting them to the kinds of rituals that…others claim is only imaginary,” Cheit reports. Sexton’s children showed authorities the burial place of an infant he had murdered. “Sexton, who told his children he was the devil, inflicted horrendous torture on his family, including sexual abuse.”
The most controversial case that Cheit explores, and the one he calls “the turning point” in the journalistic development of a witch-hunt narrative, is that of Margaret Kelly Michaels. In 1985, Michaels was arrested on the testimony of children at a New Jersey day-care center where she had worked. An attractive woman in her twenties, Michaels was convicted on 96 of 131 counts, with young children testifying. Michaels took the stand and denied the accusations.
Michaels was imprisoned while awaiting trial. An inmate she befriended would later testify that Michaels told her, “I didn’t mean to hurt those children.” The inmate had already been sentenced and made no deal with prosecutors. Cheit continues:
The jury did not hear additional evidence concerning disturbing sexual behavior in the Michaels family. The state offered evidence about her being groped by her father during an early jail visit. The incident was documented at the time and the prosecution found out about it only because a correctional official in a barbershop was heard talking about it… The judge deemed it too prejudicial to present to the jury….
There’s no evidence of hundreds of cases of false convictions of child sexual abuse in this era, “Evidence of abuse in the Keller case has been minimized or denied”, Westminster ‘chumocracy’ has protected itself from paedophile revelations, claims Cameron’s advisor
July 12, 2014 Comments Off on There’s no evidence of hundreds of cases of false convictions of child sexual abuse in this era, “Evidence of abuse in the Keller case has been minimized or denied”, Westminster ‘chumocracy’ has protected itself from paedophile revelations, claims Cameron’s advisor
Mythical Numbers and Satanic Ritual Abuse
Ross Cheit Professor at Brown University 07/11/2014
There’s no evidence of hundreds of cases of false convictions of child sexual abuse in this era. In my new book, The Witch-Hunt Narrative, I examine dozens of specific cases from the 1980s and early 90s that are said to be wrongful prosecutions or wrongful convictions. Aided by dozens of research assistants, I spent fifteen years doing the painstaking work of original trial court research to figure out what kind of evidence actually existed in these cases….
In many of the cases proclaimed to be witch hunts, looking closely at the record revealed substantial evidence of abuse and compelling reasons that jurors voted to convict. It’s true that I also found cases where people were charged who shouldn’t have been. Yet even in some of those cases, there was strong evidence of abuse. A crime was committed and a child was assaulted by someone who was never apprehended, but only the false accusation story lives on…..
on the day that the 3-year-old complained to her mother about Dan Keller pulling down her pants and spanking her at day-care, she later screamed while she was urinating, “It hurts, it hurts.” That prompted her mother to take the preschooler to the emergency room.
The emergency room doctor found what he believed were two physical indications of sexual abuse: “what appeared to be lacerations of the hymen” and “a tear of the posterior fourchette,” a fold of skin on the vagina. It might surprise readers to learn that a year after the 1991 added emergency room visit, the doctor “didn’t have any independent recollection” of the exam and testified entirely from the medical records.
….omits that fact in reporting that, when contacted by a newspaper in 2009, the doctor described a revelation that supposedly happened “years after” the trial. We don’t know what year. But according to Dr. Mouw, while attending a professional training seminar, he saw a slide about normal variations in hymens and realized that what he thought had been lacerations in the Keller case were probably innocuous. In 2013, Dr. Mouw filed an affidavit to this effect. Notably, the affidavit does not withdraw his finding of a vaginal tear, which had been the more certain of his original findings….
Douglas Perry, a friend of the Kellers, confessed to being at a beer-and-sex party where adults sexually abused a boy and a girl who were under the Kellers’ care. He said that, “Fran had a pen and was sticking it in and out of the little girl’s vagina.” He identified the 3-year-old girl from the trial in a videotape. Perry later recanted his confession, but he also pleaded guilty to “indecency with a child by contact.” ….
The Fuster case originated with a child spontaneously talking about being abused. That clear statement caused two families to withdraw their children from Fuster’s home daycare, which they did without informing anyone else. Months later, a spontaneous statement from a different child, started an investigation by law enforcement. An articulate 5-year-old boy was soon located, who gave several detailed statements that were later corroborated in various ways. The case was tagged by some as “satanic ritual abuse” because children made statements about Fuster wearing masks, killing a bird and playing with feces. Those allegations quietly disappeared from the witch-hunt narrative when adult testimony and photographic evidence corroborated these statements….
When the charges emerged in the home daycare case, Frank Fuster was on parole for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old two years earlier. The jury that convicted Fuster in 1985 was unaware of this prior conviction….But the fact is that Fuster admitted in his parole violation hearing on the 1984 charges that, in the course of driving the girl home, he made her sit on his lap and he touched “her chest area” and “her vagina area.”….
But what did Judy Johnson do to set off the “witch-hunt?” She saw a spot of blood on her son’s anus and called the police, who told her to take him to a doctor, which she did. She was then referred to a pediatric specialist, who reported to the Manhattan Beach Police Department that “the victim’s anus was forcibly entered several days ago.” That’s why the original defendant, Ray Buckey, was arrested….
even the defense lawyer, Danny Davis, allowed that the genital injuries on one girl were “serious and convincing.” (His main argument to the jury was that much of the time that this girl attended McMartin was outside the statute of limitations.) They don’t mention that vaginal injuries on another girl, one of the three involved in both McMartin trials, were described by a pediatrician as proving sexual abuse “to a medical certainty.”….
many jurors believed the original defendant Ray Buckey was guilty and voted to convict him. Within an hour after the first trial ended in a hung jury, seven jurors held a press conference to announce that they thought children had been sexually abused. They spoke about the difficulty in proving such claims “beyond a reasonable doubt.”….
Now, while the media publicizes sexual abuse stories about celebrities and cover-ups of abuse in the past, and repeats the mythical numbers from the witch-hunt narrative, they overlook a real number that concerns real victims — the number of children being sexually abused today. It’s a major public health problem that gets almost no attention at all.
While this type of crime is, not surprisingly, difficult to quantify, studies over many years have found that 20 percent of women and 5 to 10 percent of men report having been sexually abused as children. Just last month, a study in the American Journal of Public Health showed much higher rates of male victimization than previously thought. There’s every reason to believe that child sexual abuse is still widespread. Yet how often do the media delve into that real problem? How often do they examine the enormous gap between the number of children — judging from studies — being abused today and the number of their abusers who end up in court, much less in prison? ….
Evidence in the Keller Case
July 10, 2014
This post elaborates on some of the evidence in the Keller case, discussed in an article that was just published on Huffington Post. The article, which is about the witch-hunt narrative writ large, argues that the evidence of abuse in the Keller case has been minimized or denied, while the “satanic” aspects of the case, which were never part of the charges, have been exaggerated.
Dr. Mouw’s Testimony
The Keller case began the day that a mother took her daughter to the Emergency Room, after the little girl screamed “It hurts, it hurts” while urinating. The Emergency Room doctor, Dr. Michael Mouw, found two different signs of sexual abuse. Seventeen years later, the doctor told a reporter that his diagnosis was likely incorrect.
Dr. Mouw’s claim has been accepted at face value, without any apparent skepticism or scrutiny by those advancing the witch-hunt narrative. Yet, on close examination, there are two reasons to discount Dr. Mouw’s current claim. First and foremost, it is flatly contradicted by his testimony in 1992, when he said repeatedly that he had “no independent recollection” of the exam….
Second, even accepting what Dr. Mouw now says at face value, his current position, contained in this affidavit filed in 2013, contradicts only one of the two findings in his 1992 report. Dr. Mouw claims that the “lacerations” he reported seeing in two places in the girl’s vagina were probably normal hymenal variations. But his affidavit did not withdraw his finding of a “tear in the posterior fourchette.”….
A civil complaint filed by the parents of one of the children who attended the Keller’s home daycare contains the allegation that a “longtime friend and confident” of Francis Keller was told about “Daniel Keller’s abusive habit toward children” (p. 2). If this allegation is true, it provides additional support, beyond the word of the children, for the allegation against the Kellers. But this evidence was never heard in court because the defendants were ultimately successful in an appeal that argued that such causes of action should not be allowed in Texas.
Westminster ‘chumocracy’ has protected itself from paedophile revelations, claims Cameron’s advisor on child abuse
Claire Perry says politicians have ‘out of touch sense of entitlement’
Tory junior minister launched blistering attack on establishment cover up
Comes after Theresa May this week launched two probes into historic abuse
By Tom Mctague, Mail Online Deputy Political Editor 11 July 2014
David Cameron’s advisor on child abuse has lashed out at the Westminster ‘chumocracy’ that has protected itself from allegations of paedophilia.
Tory junior minister Claire Perry said Parliament was full of ‘too many people with the same interests and the same out-of-touch sense of entitlement coming together to protect their own’.
Her damning remarks come amid allegations that a paedophile network was operating in Westminster and was being protected by senior politicians….
Miss Perry added: ‘The other, and more worrying part of the problem is the way that the voices of victims were ignored for so long – children told to keep quiet, ridiculed, or threatened – with tragically the most vulnerable of all being more likely to be targeted for abuse.
‘That, to me, is the real scandal and we must do all we can to make sure that when victims speak out they are heard and action is taken.”….
Horrific truths of treatment emerge from Catholic mother and baby homes, Norwich child abuse inquiry police charge woman with rapes, The Witch-Hunt Narrative By Ross E. Cheit
June 15, 2014 Comments Off on Horrific truths of treatment emerge from Catholic mother and baby homes, Norwich child abuse inquiry police charge woman with rapes, The Witch-Hunt Narrative By Ross E. Cheit
Horrific truths of treatment emerge from Catholic mother and baby homes
Niall O’Dowd June 14,2014
There are some undeniable facts about the unmarried mother’s homes in Ireland from the time they were established in the 1920s until they were closed sometime in the 1960s.
Children died needlessly by the thousands in them. Many, possibly 800 in Galway, were buried without coffins, thrown in the earth, some in a septic tank….
Here is what happened there. A conscientious health official, Dr .James Deeny, visited, and here are his exact words written in 1951:
“Shortly afterwards, when in Cork, I went to Bessborough. It was a beautiful institution, built on to a lovely old house just before the war, and seemed to be well-run and spotlessly clean. I marched up and down and around about and could not make out what was wrong; at last I took a notion and stripped all the babies and, unusually for a Chief Medical Adviser, examined them.
“Every baby had some purulent infection of the skin and all had green diarrhea, carefully covered up. There was obviously a staphylococcus infection about.
“Without any legal authority I closed the place down and sacked the matron, a nun, and also got rid of the medical officer.
“The deaths had been going on for years. They had done nothing.”
One year later under a new regime, less than one percent of babies perished from a high of over 60 percent….
It was all a part of the punishment ritual for the poor unloved unmarried mothers who suffered horrifically. Even if their children survived they were ripped away from them and sent abroad for adoption.
They were made to cut grass with scissors, forced to endure child birth without any painkilling drugs, denied stitches when wounds were opened – all testified to by local nurses and doctors who seemed helpless to stop the horrific suffering….
Norwich child abuse inquiry police charge woman with rapes 14 June 2014
A woman has appeared in court accused of raping and abusing children.
Marie Black, 33, of Atkinson Close in Norwich, was charged with 24 offences on Friday night and appeared before the city’s magistrates.
The charges relate to five victims under the age of 13 and are alleged to have happened between 2004 and 2010.
She faces five counts of child cruelty, four rapes and related offences. She was released on bail and is due before Norwich Crown Court on 27 June.
Ms Black is the ninth person to be charged in connection with the child abuse investigation.
Eight men and women were charged in connection with the case in February 2014. They are all on conditional bail to appear at Norwich Crown Court at a future date….
The Witch-Hunt Narrative By Ross E. Cheit
Based on a comprehensive examination of primary sources, The Witch-Hunt Narrative challenges the conventional wisdom about these cases. Ross Cheit uses trial transcripts and related court documents to demonstrate that many of the cases at the core of the witch-hunt narrative involved compelling evidence of abuse. He focuses on three major cases while also surveying dozens more, including some that involved injustice to the defendants. He finds that in many cases the conventional wisdom is significantly overdrawn.
Cheit’s years of research also revealed a history of minimizing and denying abuse, and a surprisingly lenient response to many child molesters. Those trends continue into the present, where there are pockets of overreaction to sexual abuse in a sea of under-reaction….
This powerful book shows how a narrative based on empirically thin evidence became a theory with real social force, and how that theory stood at odds with the grim reality of sexual abuse. The Witch-Hunt Narrative is a magisterial account of the social dynamics that led to the denial of widespread human tragedy.
‘The Witch-Hunt Narrative’: Are We Dismissing Real Victims?, Suspected devil worshipper accused of killing woman, Survivorship Movie
June 11, 2014 Comments Off on ‘The Witch-Hunt Narrative’: Are We Dismissing Real Victims?, Suspected devil worshipper accused of killing woman, Survivorship Movie
– ‘The Witch-Hunt Narrative’: Are We Dismissing Real Victims?
“the continued treatment of these cases as a modern-day episode of mass hysteria does disservice to children and even puts them in danger”
– Survivorship Movie (the Survivorship edit)
– Suspected devil worshipper accused of killing woman
“owner caught him using animal parts to perform a satanic ritual”
Abuse Cases, and a Legacy of Skepticism
‘The Witch-Hunt Narrative’: Are We Dismissing Real Victims?
JUNE 9, 2014
….McMartin was the first of a series of prosecutions in the 1980s that have come to be seen as a collective witch hunt, in which panicked parents and incompetent investigators led children to make up stories of abuse by adults at day care centers and preschools.
At first, the news media ran with the lurid accounts of abuse, but then some skeptical reporters questioned the prevailing narrative and discredited the snowballing allegations. The pendulum swung from credulity to doubt.
But what if the skeptics went too far? What if some of the children were really abused? And what if the legacy of these cases is a disturbing tendency to disbelieve children who say they are being molested?
Those are the questions that frame this new book by Ross E. Cheit, a political scientist at Brown University who spent nearly 15 years on research, poring over old trial transcripts and interview tapes.
His conclusion about the McMartin case is that the outcome was “doubly unjust.” While he acknowledges that some defendants were falsely accused, he argues that Mr. Buckey was probably guilty, meaning that some of the children were not only sexually abused but “have been demeaned by the witch-hunt narrative’s assertion that the entire case was a ‘hoax.’ ”
It’s a provocative notion, that the debunkers deserve a debunking. Professor Cheit, who himself suffered sexual abuse as a child, criticizes the skepticism that helped bring down the prosecutions of McMartin and other day-care providers, calling it a “crusade to promote the witch-hunt narrative.”
He thinks the continued treatment of these cases as a modern-day episode of mass hysteria does disservice to children and even puts them in danger….
Most children who are sexually abused do not tell anyone. “Perpetrators often choose children on the basis of the likelihood that they will comply and keep the secret,” Dr. Lyon writes.
It’s a pattern that played out in the years of hidden sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and at Penn State by the coach Jerry Sandusky.
Professor Cheit is rightly haunted by the cover-up at Penn State. “We often minimize and deny so as to allow us to avoid seeing things we would rather not see,” he writes….
Survivorship Movie (the Survivorship edit) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BONGdkCuSiw
Survivorship – For survivors of ritual abuse, mind control and torture and pro-survivors https://www.survivorship.org
Suspected devil worshipper accused of killing woman and eating part of her corpse
Jun 10, 2014 By Christopher Bucktin
Gregory Hale, has been arrested at his home in Coffee County, Tennessee, and is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse
A suspected devil worshipper has been accused of killing a woman, dismembering her body and eating part of her corpse, authorities said.
Gregory Hale, has been arrested at his home in Coffee County, Tennessee, and is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse….
He is reported to have admitted killing Hyder and then disposing of the body by chopping it up.
Hale buried the victim’s body but ate part of the corpse, court documentation stated.
A friend of Hale’s said he a self-described devil worshipper who was fired from a slaughterhouse after the owner caught him performing a satanic ritual with animal parts….
Tennessee man kills woman, eats corpse: US officials
Wednesday Jun 11, 2014
A man in Tennessee has been arrested after local police discovered a woman’s partially-eaten corpse in his rural home.
37-year-old Gregory Scott Hale is charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in connection with the death of Lisa Marie Hyder….
Local NBC affiliate WSMV reports that neighbors say Dale described himself as a devil worshipper, and he was fired from his job at a slaughterhouse when the owner caught him using animal parts to perform a satanic ritual.
His is being held on $1.5 million bond and will next appear in court June 23.UPI
‘Witchhunt Narrative Retells ’80s Day Care Abuse, 299,933 indecent images with 478 of the worst kind in category five, including ritual and satanic abuse, Second UN panel criticizes Vatican on sex abuse, more than three million reports of child abuse
May 26, 2014 Comments Off on ‘Witchhunt Narrative Retells ’80s Day Care Abuse, 299,933 indecent images with 478 of the worst kind in category five, including ritual and satanic abuse, Second UN panel criticizes Vatican on sex abuse, more than three million reports of child abuse
– ‘Witchhunt Narrative’ Retells ’80s Day Care Abuse
” an awful lot of abused children deserve an apology”
– Former company director from Dewsbury had more than 300,000 indecent images of children
“Analysis revealed he had 299,933 indecent images with 478 of the worst kind in category five, including ritual and satanic abuse.”
– Second UN panel criticizes Vatican on sex abuse
– Child abuse numbers aren’t pretty
“more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States each year and the U.S. has one of the worst records in the world”
‘Witchhunt Narrative’ Retells ’80s Day Care Abuse
By Wendy Murphy
WeNews contributing editor
Friday, May 23, 2014
For readers who learned about these cases from conventional media, this book will be a shocking revelation of how reporters skewed criminal cases to the disadvantage of victims. Now it seems an awful lot of abused children deserve an apology.
(WOMENSENEWS)–In his explosive new book, “The Witchhunt Narrative,” Brown University Professor Ross Cheit challenges everything you think you know about the “day care center” hysteria of the 1980s.
The infamous California McMartin case, for example, was widely perceived as a terrible injustice where innocent adults were persecuted based on statements from hysterical parents, bad cops, fascist prosecutors and incompetent children. But as it turns out in this book, it wasn’t such an injustice after all.
Several of the teachers charged were innocent, but the underlying claims about many children being sexually abused by Ray Buckey (aided by his mother) were quite credible….
Cheit, a lawyer with a doctorate in public policy, meticulously documents the evidence from many of the high-profile cases and proves time and time again that nearly all the day care center cases were based on credible and compelling evidence. The children in many of the stories he discusses made statements independent from one another, free from the influence of parents, police or anyone else. Contrary to the theme of much media coverage, there was no reason to suspect the children were being made to lie by vindictive parents….
Former company director from Dewsbury had more than 300,000 indecent images of children May 24, 2014
A former company director from Dewsbury has been exposed as a child porn pervert collecting more than 300,000 of the worst images of girls on his computer.
Stephen Kay, 58, downloaded and distributed child porn from the internet to fuel his unnatural lust. He did it behind the backs of his wife and daughter while working for the IPS Group as a project engineer.
Kay was made redundant from his job and asked to leave the family home after a police raid seized his computers, USB sticks and a hard drive from his home in Carlton Road.
Analysis revealed he had 299,933 indecent images with 478 of the worst kind in category five, including ritual and satanic abuse. In addition he had 7,795 images of category seven of extreme pornography.
Kay appeared at Hull Crown Court for sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to six charges of possession of indecent images of children and one charge of distributing images….
Kay was given a two-year suspended prison sentence, given a Sexual Offences Prevention order and must undergo a sex offenders treatment programme. He was also banned from working with children and must sign on the National Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
Second UN panel criticizes Vatican on sex abuse
By John L. Allen Jr. Globe Staff May 23, 2014
ROME — For the second time, a United Nations panel has criticized the Vatican for its response to the child sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, charging it with failing to mandate that abuse charges be reported to police, moving clergy to evade discipline, and failing to see that victims obtain adequate compensation.
“Clergy . . . were transferred to other dioceses and institutions where they remained in contact with minors and others who are vulnerable,” the United Nations Committee against Torture charged in a new report, “and in some cases committed abuse in their subsequent placements.”
The report follows a similar indictment from the Committee on the Rights of the Child that appeared in February, which asserted that the Vatican had fostered “impunity” for abusers….
Unlike the earlier UN assessment, the new report mixes criticism with praise for steps taken by the Catholic Church over the last decade to combat child abuse, including tougher legal sanctions for clergy and the creation of a new papal commission in December 2013 to press for reform. That commission includes Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston…..
At the same time, the committee suggested that pledges of zero tolerance by church officials aren’t always effectively translated into action….
In its report, the panel said it was “concerned by reports’’ that Catholic officials “resist the principle of mandatory reporting’’ of abuse allegations….
Child abuse numbers aren’t pretty
By Patsy Kelly Friday, May 23, 2014
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Local children are suffering every day. It’s a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect.
Nationally, more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States each year and the U.S. has one of the worst records in the world.
More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse. And it can have long-term effects throughout the next generations….
The Witch-Hunt Narrative, LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records, The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin
May 3, 2014 Comments Off on The Witch-Hunt Narrative, LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records, The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin
– Book review: A scholarly, engaging look at ‘witch-hunt’ narratives
– LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records
– Court dismisses case against former Miramonte teacher
– Dissociative Identity Disorder and Fantasy Proneness: A Positron Emission Tomography Study of Authentic and Enacted Dissociative Identity States (findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin)
Book review: A scholarly, engaging look at ‘witch-hunt’ narratives April 27, 2014 By Anne Grant Special to the Journal
“THE WITCH-HUNT NARRATIVE: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children,” by Ross E. Cheit. Oxford University Press. 508 pages. $49.95.
Ross E. Cheit’s book begins with the 1983 charges against staff at the McMartin Preschool. The case stretched over seven years, but produced no convictions — only a widespread consensus that it had been a “witch-hunt” and had unfairly targeted the accused. That narrative prevailed until now.
In 1992, Cheit recovered his own memory of sexual abuse in adolescence, more than two decades earlier, at a summer camp. By then, he held a law degree and a professor’s chair at Brown University. He eventually won civil suits against the individual and the institution that had betrayed him.
Cheit found that a single storyline clung tenaciously even when medical evidence showed children had been harmed. In academia, courts and the media, those who should have looked further failed to challenge the popular myth that considers children suggestible, unreliable witnesses to their own abuse.
Recognizing that his personal experience could bias him, Cheit closely examined the original evidence and court records in three large childcare sex-abuse cases and dozens of smaller ones — identifying some instances of people falsely accused and many where guilt went unpunished. He recounts evidence with scholarly precision that is emotionally engaging and eminently readable….
LAUSD Admits To Destroying Over Two Decades Of Child Abuse Records
The L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) has admitted that it destroyed decades of alleged child abuse records.
This is linked to the investigation into former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt’s sexual abuse of children. John Manly, one of the victims’ eight lawyers, accused the District of destroying documents earlier this month in court.
L.A. Unified spokesman Sean Rossall told KPCC that the District did indeed destroy the records of sexual abuse cases at L.A. public schools in 2008, with files going back to 1988. There may be no way of knowing whether other reports of allegations against Berndt exist.
The question that Manly, and frankly, everyone, is asking is why LAUSD would destroy these records. Rossall said it was because the District felt like they should not have the reports. In 2008, the school district lawyers determined, based on a section of the penal code, that they shouldn’t have the documents, resulting in the destruction of all reports. However, the section they referenced is saying that they merely shouldn’t disclose the reports, not that they shouldn’t keep the reports.
….Berndt pleaded no contest to his charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in November 2013….
Court dismisses case against former Miramonte teacher
Rina Palta with KPCC staff February 5th, 2014
he criminal case against a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles who was charged with inappropriately touching a female student has been dismissed by the court after the prosecution’s key witness said she would not testify.
The case against Martin Springer involved only one alleged victim, who was 9 or 10 at the time the abuse occurred. Prosecutors considered testimony from the girl, now 12, to be essential to the case, and without it they decided they could not proceed, said Alison Meyers, an L.A. County deputy district attorney in the sex crimes division.
“She felt very traumatized by the process and as the days approached to the trial she had expressed to us that she felt coming to court would cause her further trauma,” Meyers said….
Case Dropped Against Second Miramonte Teacher Accused Of Sexual Abuse
….The trial for former third-grad teacher Martin Springer, 51, began this week, but was dismissed today when prosecutors were told by the victim’s family that the 12-year-old girl was too traumatized to testify in court, according to the Los Angeles Times and KTTV.
….The L.A. Unified District fired Springer (who had taught at the school for 26 years) from his job and took away his state teaching credential, the Times reported. They had paid a $470,000 settlement to six other children who claimed they were molested by Springer.
Dissociative Identity Disorder and Fantasy Proneness: A Positron Emission Tomography Study of Authentic and Enacted Dissociative Identity States
A. A. T. Simone Reinders PhD, Antoon T. M. Willemsen PhD
PET and SPECT in Psychiatry 2014, pp 411-431
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a disputed psychiatric disorder. Research findings and clinical observations suggest that DID involves an authentic mental disorder related to factors such as traumatisation and disrupted attachment. A competing view indicates that DID is due to fantasy proneness, suggestibility, suggestion and role-playing. Here, we investigate whether dissociative identity state-dependent psychobiological features in DID can be induced in high- or low-fantasy-prone individuals by instructed and motivated role-playing and suggestion. Differences in neural activation patterns were found between the DID patients and both high- and low-fantasy-prone controls. That is, the identity states in DID were not convincingly enacted by DID simulating controls. The findings indicate that DID does not have a sociocultural (e.g. iatrogenic) origin.