Day Care and Child Abuse Cases
copied with permission
This page has information on the McMartin Preschool Case, Michelle Remembers, the Fells Acres – Amirault Case, the Wenatchee, Washington Case, the Dale Akiki Case, the Glendale Montessori – Toward case, the Little Rascals Day Care Center case, Fran’s Day Care case, the Baran case, the Halsey case, the West Memphis 3 case, the Friedman’s case, the Christchurch Civic Creche sex abuse – Peter Ellis case, the Ramona case and the West Point Day Care Case.
It describes alleged crimes against children and the convictions in most of these cases.
Sexual Abuse in Day Care: A National Study – Executive Summary – March 1988 – Finklehor, Williams, Burns, Kalinowski “The study identified 270 “cases” of sexual abuse in day care meaning 270 facilities where substantiated abuse had occurred involving a total of 1639 victimized children….This yielded an estimate of 500 to 550 reported and substantiated cases and 2500 victims for the three-year period. Although this is a large number, it must be put in the context of 229,000 day care facilities nationwide service seven million children….allegations of ritual abuse (“the invocation of religious, magical or supernatural symbols of activities”) occurred in 13% of the cases.” The authors divided these cases into “true cult-based ritual,” pseudo-ritualism” with a primary goal of sexual gratification and ritual being used to intimidate the children from disclosing and “psychopathological ritualism” the activities being “primarily the expression of an individuals obsessional or delusional system.” http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/1c/82/61.pdf
The McMartin Preschool Case – What Really Happened and the Cover-up
describes crimes of abuse
Satanism Linked To Scores of U.S. Child Abuse Cases Edward W. Lempinen. San Francisco Chronicle 11/5/87 p. A1 Satanism and cult rituals have been linked to scores of child-molestation cases nationwide in the past five years, including dozens in California. Children as young as 2 and 3 years old have come forward with harrowing tales of drinking blood, animal sacrifices and sexual abuse as part of rituals, according to law enforcement investigators, child abuse experts and parents. Others have even talked of cannibalism and ritual sacrifice of children. After hearing similar tales over and over from people across the country, many investigators and child abuse experts now have come to believe in the unbelievable….In San Francisco, police confirmed last week that they are investigating reports by a 3-year-old girl who claimed that she was taken from a day-care center at the Presidio Army base and driven to a home where she was molested by two men in costumes. Police suspect that the home was the headquarters of the Temple of Set, a Nazi-Satanic group, and they have listed the temple’s high priest as a possible suspect. No arrests have been made. Investigators and parents have declined to give details of the cases of at least 58 children who attended the Presidio Child Development Center, fearing that they might jeopardize the prosecution of a former day-care worker. But in other cases across the nation, experts say there is striking evidence of ritualized sexual abuse that recurs in case after case: — At West Point, N.Y., Army families have pressed an investigation into widespread child abuse at a military day-care center in 1983 and 1984….But an increasingly influential group of legal, psychological and medical experts say they are beginning to amass considerable testimony and circumstantial evidence of cult and Satanic abuse nationwide – and dating back four generations or more. Sandi Gallant, an intelligence officer with the San Francisco police and one of the nation’s most influential experts on cults, cautions that many cases are proving unfounded. But she says that there have been 60 to 70 “solid” cases of ritual sexual abuse in the past few years nationwide. She and others have heard hundreds of children and adult – people who have never met and who live a continent apart – tell stories that are fundamentally the same. “Independently, the victims are describing incredibly similar circumstances,” said Catherine Gould, a clinical psychologist in the Los Angeles district of Encino who has counseled dozens of children who claim they were molested in rituals. http://ezproxy.sfpl.org/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=65772423&Fmt=3&clientId=3266&RQT=309&VName=PQD
verification of the accuracy of the book “Michelle Remembers“by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder, MD from the book “A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER” pages xi – xiii”
“Dr. Pazder’s credentials are impressive. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Alberta in 1961; his diploma in tropical medicine from the University Liverpool in 1962; and in 1968, his specialist certificate in psychiatry and his diploma in psychological medicine from McGill University. In 1971, he was made a fellow of Canada’s Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is a member of three Canadian professional associations and of the American Psychiatric Association as well. He practiced medicine in West Africa and has participated in medical task forces and health organizations. He has been chairman of the Mental Health Committee of the Health Planning Council for British Columbia. A member of the staff of two hospitals in Victoria, British Columbia -the Royal Jubilee and the Victoria General-he is in private practice with a group of five psychiatrists. His professional papers include a study of the long-term effects of stress upon concentration-camp victims.
Two experienced interviewers journeyed to Victoria and talked to Dr. Pazder’s colleagues, to the priests and the bishop who became involved in the case, to doctors who treated Michelle Smith when she was a child, to relatives and friends. From local newspaper, clergy, and police sources they learned that reports of Satanism in Victoria are not infrequent and that Satanism has apparently existed there for many years. Satanism in Western Canada flourished in many areas with activities far more ominous than some of the innocuous groups now found in parts of the United States who claim some connection with Satanism.
The source material was scrutinized. The many thousands of pages of transcript of the tape recordings that Dr. Pazder and Michelle Smith made of their psychiatric sessions were read and digested; they became the basis of this book. The tapes themselves were listened to in good measure, and the videotapes made of some of his sessions were viewed. Both the audio and video are powerfully convincing. It is nearly unthinkable that the protracted agony they record could have been fabricated.”
Thomas B. Congdon, Jr New York April 22, 1980
Fells Acres – Amirault Case
Letters to the Editor: The Real Darkness Is Child Abuse WALL STREET JOURNAL (J) 02/24/95
As the chief prosecutor of both of the Amirault cases I am writing to prevent the public from being misled into believing that an injustice occurred as Dorothy Rabinowitz alleges in her Jan. 30 editorial-page piece “A Darkness in Massachusetts.”
Her suggestion that the convictions were based on “some of the most fantastic claims ever presented” presumptuously ignores the reality of the cases. The three Amiraults — Gerald, Violet and Cheryl – were convicted after two trials before different judges and juries almost one year apart. They were represented by able and well-known defense counsel. The convictions were upheld after review by state and federal appellate courts. The McMartin case in California was the result of a botched legal system and Kelly Michaels’s conviction was overturned because of legal errors. Contrary to Ms. Rabinowitz’s implication, the Amirault convictions were neither of these.
Studies show, as did testimony from a nationally recognized pediatric gynecologist, that most sexually molested young children have absolutely normal physical examinations. However, in Amirault, the majority of the female children who testified had some relevant physical findings, as did several female children involved in the investigation who did not participate in the trial. The findings included labial adhesions and hymenal scarring of the sort present in avery small percentage of non-sexually abused children.
Ms. Rabinowitz’s article is a superficial, one-sided look at a case handled extensively and carefully by the legal system. The victims and their families in these cases have been irrevocably harmed by what was done to them by the Amiraults. Every argument raised by Ms. Rabinowitz was ably presented by the defense at the trials. The juries, by their verdicts, rejected these arguments. Justice was done.
see for actual case evidence http://abusearticles.wordpress.com/category/commonwealth-vs-amirault/
“All nine children testified in a broadly consistent way…The children testified to numerous instances of sexual abuse. Some of the children testified that they were photographed during this abuse, describing a big camera with wires, a red button, and pictures which came out of the camera. The children testified that the defendant threatened them and told them that their families would be harmed if they told anyone about the abuse….The Commonwealth also presented a pediatric gynecologist and pediatrician who examined five of the girls who testified…She made findings consistent with abuse in four of the girls.”
http://pqasb.pqarchive r.com/bostonherald/access/77139259.html?dids=77139259:77139259&FMT=ABS& ;FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Aug+7%2C+2001&author=Peter+Gelzinis&pub=Boston+H erald&edition=&startpage=002&desc=Amirault%27s+accusers+reveal+the ir+faces%2C+and+their+pain
Amirault’s accusers reveal their faces, and their pain Boston Herald – Boston, Mass. – Peter Gelzinis – Aug 7, 2001
Mass. Victims Fight Commutation Plea By Leslie Miller, Associated Press Writer
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – Victims in the Fells Acres child abuse case broke down Thursday as they described their pain publicly for the first time in hopes of keeping the last person convicted in the case behind bars. Victims urged her to keep Amirault in prison. “During counseling meetings as a child, I would speak of a tall man touching me and taking pictures of me,” Phaedra Hopkins, 20, said at an emotional news conference. “So many times, Mr. Amirault hovered over me, touched me and hurt me and committed many disgusting acts of abuse.” Those children, now adults, stood by their testimony Thursday.
“This family raped me, molested me and totally ruined my life,’’said Jennifer Bennett, who was 3 1/2 years old when she started at Fells Acres. “We weren’t coaxed. We weren’t lying. We’re telling the truth and we always will,” said Bennett, 22. “I was there. None of you were there. We weren’t coaxed, nor were we ever ever ever brainwashed.”Brian Martinello, 21, said he was sexually abused by Amirault. His mother, Barbara Standke, claims her son came home from the day care with sores on his genitals and other people’s underwear. “I think it’s an absolute disgrace to let anyone out of prison for such a disgusting crime,” Martinello said.
Governor explains Amirault decision Says she needed to ‘live with myself’ By Douglas Belkin and Frank Phillips, Globe Staff, 2/21/2002
In her announcement, Swift said her first consideration was whether there was ”overwhelming evidence” to contradict the jury conviction and two decisions by the Supreme Judicial Court upholding the verdict.
”I concluded there was not,” she said. Swift said that she also considered the two guidelines for a commutation: that the sentence is too severe and that the person had made ”exceptional strides in self-development.” ”Again, my answer was no,” Swift said. ”I concluded after that review that the jury and the Supreme [Court] decisions should be upheld and that under the commutation guidelines commutation was not warranted,” Swift said….But ultimately, she said, she concluded that the sentence was appropriate and consistent with other cases. Pressed on how she could come up with a far different judgment than the five members of the Parole Board, Swift said her staff conducted ”a more exhaustive review of all of the legal aspects” than the board did. http://web.archive.org/web/20020221235441/http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/052/metro/Governor_explains_Amirault_decision+.shtml
Witness praises Amirault decision By John Ellement, Globe Staff, 2/23/2002 CAMBRIDGE – Jen Bennett wants to give Acting Governor Jane Swift a bear hug in appreciation, and she wants Gerald Amirault to admit he sexually abused her when she attended the Fells Acres Day Care Center in Malden in the 1980s. Bennett was one of nine children who testified against Amirault during his three-month trial in 1986, which ended with his conviction on multiple rape and molestation charges. He was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison….As for Amirault, ”I want to say to Mr. Amirault: Admit your guilt, you did this. He is where he is supposed to be. I will fight against you to the end. He destroyed my childhood.” Harriett Dell’Anno, whose daughter was one of the victims, echoed Bennett’s insistence that children were sexually violated and also thanked Swift for keeping Amirault in prison….Hardoon also said the quality of the investigation and the actions of prosecutors, police, and social workers working with the children were all scrutinized intensely during Gerald Amirault’s trial – and still the jury convicted.
He said Amirault supporters are focusing on 2 percent of the children’s claims that ‘’seem inexplicable and they are conveniently ignoring the 98 percent of the case that was overwhelming” against Amirault.…Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, who inherited the case from former district attorneys Scott Harshbarger and Thomas F. Reilly, said Amirault’s insistence that he is innocent does not make it true. She drew a parallel between John Geoghan, the former Catholic priest sentenced to 9 to 10 years in prison Thursday for molesting a child. Like Amirault, Geoghan insisted that he, too, was innocent, she said. ”Admitting to child abuse is a very difficult and often, a never-seen thing,” she said. Coakley said it was time for Amirault and his supporters to end their pursuit of an early release from prison so that the victims can finally begin to fully heal from the trauma he caused them as children. http://web.archive.org/web/20020224045327/http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/054/metro/Witness_praises_Amirault_decision+.shtml
Swift won’t free Tooky by David R. Guarino and Elisabeth J. Beardsley Wednesday, February 20, 2002 Convicted child molester Gerald “Tooky” Amirault lost his best shot at freedom yesterday, denied commutation of his sentence by acting Gov. Jane M. Swift in another stunning turn to the roller coaster abuse case. Swift rejected the unanimous July Parole Board recommendation that there was “real and substantial doubt” of Amirault’s guilt. Taking sides in a highly charged case as she drops in election-year polls, Swift said Amirault should be jailed at least until he’s up for parole in 2004 on his 30- to 40-year sentence. ``She carefully analyzed every bit of information generated through the investigation and came to her decision that the verdict was just and the sentence was appropriate,” said Swift spokesman James Borghesani….victims rejoiced last night, praising the acting governor for standing up to the Parole Board and claiming vindication after years of doubts about the case. “All along, they’ve always told the truth,” said Harriet Dell’Anno of Lynn, whose daughter, Jamie, remains in therapy over the incidents. Barbara Standke of Tewksbury, whose son, Brian Martinello, was molested when he was 4, said, “He may be doing 20 years, but my son’s doing life.” Amirault, his sister, Cheryl LeFave, and their mother, Violet, were convicted after a parade of children told horror stories about being fondled, raped.
Paul Ingram – Thurston County Washington Case
Seattle Post-Intelligencer – June 8, 1996 – News, Pg. B1 – Son of Deputy Says He Was Sexually Abused ; Dramatic Report in Testimony to Clemency Panel -: Rachel Zimmerman P-I Capitol Bureau – Olympia
The son of Paul Ingram, a former Thurston County deputy sheriff who confessed to raping his daughters during nightmarish satanic rituals but later recanted, said for the first time yesterday that he was physically and sexually abused by his father for eight years. Chad Ingram, 27, told the state Pardons and Clemency Board that his father, who is serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to six counts of third-degree rape – crimes he now says never happened – said he was abused by his father from ages 4 to 12. “He would put himself on top of me and I would perform oral sex on him,” Chad Ingram said.
Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards, though the case never went to trial, it was subject to intense judicial scrutiny, “all the way up to the Ninth Circuit.” Edwards added, “This case was not perfect but it had complete judicial review. “Paul Ingram did commit these crimes; he plead guilty to these crimes. I have no problem shaving in the morning. I can look myself in the mirror.”
The Facade of Scientific Documentation: A Case Study of Richard Ofshe’s Analysis of the Paul Ingram Case” by Karen Olio and William Cornell. APA’s journal “Psychology, Public Policy, and Law,” (1998, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1182-1197) “The case of Paul Ingram, a man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his daughters, has received widespread media attention. Richard Ofshe (1992, 1994) set forth a narrative of the case which included his account of an experiment to test the veracity of Ingram’s confessions and concluded that the inadvertent use of hypnosis during Ingram’s interrogation resulted in the creation of pseudomemories that convinced Ingram of his guilt. On the basis of an examination of the original source documents, the authors discusses the errors of fact, methodological flaws, and confounding factors in Ofshe’s rendering of this case of alleged child abuse. They also cite examples of the extent to which Ofshe’s imperfect narrative of this case and pseudoscientific conclusions have been uncritically accepted and repeated in the literature…”
Harvard Society for Law & Public Policy, Inc. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy – Spring, 1999 – 22 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 523 The Guilty and the “Innocent”: an Examination of Alleged Cases of Wrongful Conviction from False Confessions by Paul G. Cassell -”According to the authors (Leo and Ofsche), in twenty-nine of these cases the false confession resulted in the wrongful conviction of an innocent person.” “examines nine of these twenty-nine cases in detail. Based on review of original trial court records and other similar sources, the part concludes that each of these nine persons were, in all likelihood, entirely guilty of the crimes charged against them.””Leo and Ofshe rely in large measure on secondary sources for the descriptions of the evidence against the defendants in their collection….For many cases, court records are available only in the local courthouses where the trial took place, while media accounts are often readily accessible in computerized databases. Relying on secondary sources, however, poses the risk of inaccurate recounting of the evidence. Examining primary sources for the cases in Leo and Ofshe’s collection reveals that this is a very real problem.” “The problems with the subjective determination of “innocence” in the Leo-Ofshe collection, like similar problems elsewhere, suggests that reliance on second-hand sources combined with understandable enthusiasm for the enterprise of discovering miscarriages may produce more such cases than really exist.” “Only a relative handful of Leo and Ofshe’s cases would satisfy the criterion of undisputed wrongful conviction.” http://www.kspope.com/memory/facade1a.php
Wenatchee, Washington Case
information from articles :
At the trial, one girl showed “definite medical signs of sexual abuse” while “it could not be ruled out for two others.
In 1996, a consultant, retired Bellevue Police Chief D.P. Van Blaricom, hired by a city insurer who looked into how the Wenatchee police ran the child abuse investigations stated that the cases were handled properly. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation also found that there was no evidence of civil rights violations.
Cops Win Wash. State Sex Ring Case – June 29, 1998 – Aviva L. Brandt AP Online – Seattle “A jury on Monday rejected claims of police misconduct brought by four people who say they were falsely accused of child rape and molestation. After deliberating for more than five days, the King County Superior Court panel decided that the central Washington town of Wenatchee, the town’s police officials and three members of the Douglas County sheriff’s department did not violate the civil rights of the four, who said they were falsely accused in 1994-95. Douglas County Sheriff Dan LaRoche said the verdict allows police to keep investigating sex abuse and molestation cases without fear of lawsuits.
Debate Rages Over Wenatchee Sex-Ring Allegations – November 6, 1995- Aviva L. Brandt, Associated Press Writer – Wenatchee, Wash.
A line divides this town. On one side are those who believe dozens of children were raped and molested over seven years by adults in two loosely organized sex rings. On the other are those who assert a rogue cop and obsessed social workers created a whirlpool of sexual hysteria- coaxing children into accusations and bullying bewildered, poorly educated adults into confessions. Gov. Mike Lowry, petitioned by critics who believe the case is a witch hunt, has asked for a Justice Department review and is awaiting a decision from U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. Authorities say as many as 50 children were forced to have sex with adults since 1988 – sometimes alone, sometimes in groups. In the last year, 28 adults have been charged with child rape and sexual abuse. Five have been convicted, 10 have pleaded guilty.
“Every female victim had physical evidence of sexual abuse and the majority of the males did,” Smith said. “Clearly it’s pretty good evidence to show that this is occurring.”
Douglas County Prosecutor Steve Clem sounded frustrated when asked about allegations that his office hasn’t bothered to look for the truth. “The defense attorneys are using what I’m sure … some day in the future will be called the O.J. defense, where they sling mud, make wild accusations and see conspiracies all around them,” he said.” There’s physical evidence consistent with the stories they (the children) tell. There’s more than one person talking about the very same things going on,” said Tim Abbey, a regional supervisor with the state Child Protective Services. “And there are a lot of confessions, and many times they’re confessing to more than the kids said happened.”
Dale Akiki Case
Ex-School Volunteer Acquitted of Child Abuse Charges Verdict: After deliberating for just seven hours, jury finds Dale Akiki not guilty on all 35 counts. Trial was longest in San Diego’s history. Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, Calif. – Michael Granberry – Nov 20, 1993
http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/60254778.html?dids=60254778:6025 4778&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Nov+20%2C+1993& author=MICHAEL+GRANBERRY&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&edi tion=&startpage=29&desc=Ex-School+Volunteer+Acquitted+of+Child+Abuse+C harges+Verdict%3A+After+deliberating+for+just+seven+hours%2C+jury+finds+Dale+A kiki+not+guilty+on+all+35+counts.+Trial+was+longest+in+San+Diego%27s+history
A Superior Court jury concluded a 7 1/2-month trial Friday by acquitting a former nursery school volunteer of 35 counts of child abuse and kidnapping that had kept him jailed without bail for 2 1/2 years….
Nearly 170 witnesses testified during Akiki’s trial-the longest in San Diego history-which ended after only seven hours of jury deliberation….
Several on the (jury) panel sided with Akiki’s attorneys, public defenders Kathleen Coyne and Susan Clemens, who tried to show that Akiki’s alleged victims-nine boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 5-had been systematically brainwashed by parents and therapists.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Avery, the lead prosecutor, disputed such claims.
“The whole idea of contamination and suggestibility just does not account for the major behavior changes that occurred (in the children) while they were in Dale Akiki’s (nursery school) class,” she said, referring to such incidents as bed-wetting and nightmares.
Witnesses accused Akiki of sexually molesting and terrorizing children at Faith Chapel charismatic church in Spring Valley by hanging them upside-down from a chandelier, dunking them in toilets and making them drink the blood of animals in ritualistic ceremonies.
Molestation Hearing Continues Next Week – Los Angeles Times – February 8, 1992 – San Diego County Edition
.…Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Avery has called some of the parents to testify about behavioral changes they observed in the children. “There were drastic changes observed,” Avery said. Defense attorney Kate Coyne, however, maintains that Akiki has been falsely accused by parents who did not like his physical appearance.
Judge Rejects Bail for Suspect In Molestations at Preschool – Los Angeles Times – May 25, 1991 Amy Wallace; Times Staff Writer
….But Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Avery, the prosecutor, said that, in addition to the grand jury testimony of seven children who attended the Faith Chapel in Casa de Oro, her case will rely on behavioral symptoms observed by parents months before any allegations of abuse were raised.
One mother said her daughter was so terrified of having her head near water that it was impossible to wash her hair, Avery said. Grand jury testimony later revealed that at least one child had had her head dunked in a toilet, she said.
Testimony was also heard that a child became hysterical when he was taken to a hospital to get stitches, apparently because he had a flashback of “the defendant holding him down and hurting him,” Avery said. The indictment filed against Akiki said he inflicted injuries on children with a needle.
Avery maintained that some of the children remain so traumatized by Akiki’s treatment that they have attempted suicide–one by running in front of a car, another with a knife.
Other Suspects Added to Child Sex Abuse Probe – Los Angeles Times – May 15, 1991 – Amy Wallace; Times Staff Writer
As many as three former child care workers at Faith Chapel in Spring Valley are suspected of molesting and abusing preschoolers over a 15-month period ending in August, 1989, a San Diego County prosecutor said Tuesday.
Speaking after the arraignment of Dale Anthony Akiki, a former church volunteer who was indicted last week on 50 felony counts of child molestation and related charges, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Avery said two other former child care workers are being investigated….
According to the 13-page indictment, which a grand jury returned after hearing live televised testimony from seven of the children, Akiki abused them sexually and physically, at times using a bottle top, a toy, a glass, a stick and a needle.
Church Volunteer Indicted in Molestations – Los Angeles Times – May 14, 1991 – Amy Wallace; Alan Abrahamson; Times Staff Writers
….Soon, Avery said, a couple of parents noticed that their children were exhibiting similar “unusual” and “regressive” behavior. The children had not yet said they were abused, Avery said, but the parents observed a pattern.
“In thinking it over, they realized the one thing the children had in common was they went to the same church,” she said.
The church asked a licensed social worker to assess whether there was reasonable suspicion of abuse and, after talking to a few families, he reported the case to the authorities.
Avery began investigating in February, 1990. Since then, she said, the district attorney’s office has kept Akiki under periodic surveillance, “to make sure he was not working with children during the week or involved with child care in any way.”
Avery said her case is strengthened by the fact that it relies on the children’s behavior as well as their testimony. “It will focus on behavior that was observed prior to the initial disclosure” of the alleged abuse, she said. “So there cannot be a contamination issue regarding behavior that occurred prior to anyone ever mentioning this to the children.”
Unlike other child molestation cases that rely largely on the testimony of the victims, the Akiki case is “one which can be cleanly and coherently presented to a jury for their determination,” said Steve Casey, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.
Glendale Montessori – Toward case
Headmaster’s evil lives on in 20-year-old abuse case By Jill Taylor Palm Beach Post Staff Writer 3/1/08 Stuart – Twenty years ago today, on a quiet street in a guard-gated Palm City community, investigators snapped handcuffs onto the wrists of a respected Montessori school headmaster and delivered a message the people of Martin County did not want to hear. Little children, lots of little children, were raped and defiled in unspeakable ways by a man some of the smartest and richest people in the community had trusted to care for their sons and daughters….Hours later, Toward’s office manager, Brenda Williams, turned herself in at the Martin County jail to answer similar charges. Four months later, Toward was charged with molesting and kidnapping five more preschool boys, and Williams was charged in four of those cases. Investigators later learned of up to 60 victims, most ages 2 to 5….Toward, now 77, pleaded guilty to molesting or kidnapping the six boys and was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He was released from his prison term on probation after 12 years, but has remained in custody under the state’s Jimmy Ryce Act, which allows confinement of sex offenders deemed a continuing danger to the community. Toward is challenging his commitment and maintains his innocence, saying his plea was only to avoid a harsher sentence. No date has been scheduled for a civil trial on the issue. He did not respond to a request for an interview. Part of Toward’s plea deal prevented prosecutors from filing more charges or arresting others they thought were involved when dozens more victims came forward later….”We found there were literally dozens of kids who were affected by this guy for a long time,” Colton said. “He spent his life manipulating people. He convinced people they could trust him with their children.” Ralicki expects she will be called to testify at an upcoming Jimmy Ryce hearing. She says she has no doubt that Toward still poses a threat to children. She can never forget what he did to the 20 or so children she treated….Williams pleaded no contest to sex and attempted kidnapping charges involving five boys, and was released from prison in 1993 after serving five years of a 10-year sentence. She could not be reached for comment, but is listed in records as owning a home in Vero Beach….
The psychotherapist Jeanne Ralicki, who treated many of the victims stated “There’s this whole underbelly of evil here that just oozes…Who wants to think that that exists in the world?”
Little Rascals Day Care Center case
Closing Arguments in Child-Abuse Trial By Ronald Smothers, 3/24/1992 New York Times – Calling the operator of a day-care center who is the defendant in a child sex-abuse case an “evil, evil man,” the prosecution in the eight-month-long case began closing arguments today, painstakingly recalling children’s testimony that jurors had not heard since September…. Mr. Kelly, 43 years old, is facing 100 charges of sexually abusing a dozen children in 1988 and 1989 at the Little Rascals Day Care Center in Edenton, N. C., 60 miles east of here. Originally there were 248 charges involving 22 children, but the prosecution has withdrawn many charges while Judge D. Marsh McLelland of Pitt County Superior Court has dismissed others. Six Others Charged – Still, the case remains one of the largest child sex-abuse cases in the nation’s history in terms of number of charges and alleged victims. The case also involves charges against Mr. Kelly’s wife, Elizabeth, three adult employees of the center and two other adults. All have been accused of fondling, raping and sodomizing the children at the center….Testifying on his own behalf in January, Mr. Kelly said he never touched any of the children in a sexual way….Using 8-by-10-inch color photographs of each of the dozen children who testified, Mrs. Lamb recounted their own childish words in testifying about what “Mr. Bob” did to them. The words, which were children’s euphemisms for sex organs and body parts, seemed incongruous coming from the adult prosecutor, but with repetition even that incongruity served to highlight the horror of the allegations. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/24/us/closing-arguments-in-child-abuse-trial.html
Man convicted in N.C. child sex abuse case M. Mayfield 4/23/92 USA TODAY In April 1992, “Robert Kelly Jr. was convicted of 99 of 100 counts of rape and related crimes against children.” One of the mothers of the 12 children that testified against Kelly stated that she felt “overwhelming relief.” The six other defendants, including Kelly’s wife, would face trials later. The jury believed the children on the witness stand. One juror stated “the children were convincing.” Kelly and his supporters believed he was innocent. He was sentenced to 12 consecutive life terms in prison. The trial “included 83 prosecution witnesses and 60 defense witnesses.” The children had testified that Kelly had forced them to have different types of sex. The parents testified that the children exhibited abnormal behavior. “Twelve children, between the ages of 4 and 7, testified, and the results of physical and psychological tests of them were presented as evidence.”
Child Abuse Conviction in Day Care Case; N.C. Man Was Subject of Sympathetic Documentary – The Washington Post – April 23, 1992- Megan Rosenfeld ” North Carolina’s longest and most expensive trial came to a close yesterday with the conviction of former child-care center operator Robert Kelly on 99 of 100 charges of sexually abusing 12 children. Kelly’s wife, Betsy, and five other people are also charged with abusing children at the Little Rascals Day Care Center, but have yet to stand trial. Kelly’s trial, which started in August, included 83 prosecution witnesses and 60 defense witnesses. In the end, juror Dennis Ray told the Associated Press, “the children were convincing.” Twelve children, between the ages of 4 and 7, testified, and the results of physical and psychological tests of them were presented as evidence.” http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1002268.html
Day-Care Owner Is Convicted of Child Molesting 4/23/92 The longest and costliest criminal trial ever held in North Carolina ended today when the owner of a day-care center was convicted on 99 of 100 charges of sexually abusing 12 children there. After 14 days of deliberating, a Pitt County Superior Court jury found the 44-year-old defendant, Robert F. Kelly Jr., guilty of 4 counts of rape, 46 of taking indecent liberties, 36 of first-degree sexual offense and 13 crimes against nature. He was acquitted only of a single charge of taking indecent liberties with one of the 12 children….one juror, Dennis Ray, did speak to reporters, saying the panel had rejected the defense’s assertion of widespread hysteria and had believed the children. “The children were convincing,” Mr. Ray said. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/23/us/day-care-owner-is-convicted-of-child-molesting.html
Six months after Betsy’s release, the Appellate Court of North Carolina overturned the convictions of both Robert Kelly and Dawn Wilson, stating that there were legal errors by the prosecution. On May 23, 1997, the prosecution dropped all charges related to the Little Rascals case against the two.
Fran’s Day Care Case – Randy Noblitt, PhD http://ritualabuse.us/ritualabuse/articles/frans-day-care/
Baran received a fair trial By William W. Simons – Pittsfield 9/13/03 “I have spent my professional life (going on 50 years) as a prosecutor, defense lawyer and Superior Court judge….I was the presiding judge in the Superior Court trial of Bernard Baran that took place in Pittsfield, extending for 10 days in January 1985. Baran was charged with rape and indecent assault and battery on six children while he was a child-care worker in a Pittsfield day care center. He was originally represented by the Public Defender’s Office but chose to obtain private counsel, Leonard Conway of Westfield. After his conviction on these cases involving five of the children, an appeal was taken on Baran’s behalf by Attorney David O. Burbank of Pittsfield, also an experienced and able trial and appellate counsel. The appeal was decided on March 27, 1986, affirming the convictions. Mr. Burbank sought further appellate review and that application was denied by the Supreme Judicial Court on May 30, 1986….The concern that young victims are prone to suggestibility pales in comparison to the suggestibility of grown and experienced newspapermen. A more serious injury is that distorted claims of injustice that seek freedom for Baran are not without consequences for society and this community, should they succeed.” http://www.berkshireeagle.com/
also see: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/ctf/bib.html
The Legend of Robert Halsey – Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, v9 n3-4 p37-52 2001 – Cheit, Ross E. Abstract: A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. Examines the criminal conviction of Robert Halsey for sexually abusing two young boys on his school-van route near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Based on a comprehensive examination of the trial transcript, suggests that the credulous acceptance of the “false conviction” legend about Robert Halsey provides a case study in the techniques and tactics used to minimize and deny sexual abuse. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ672707&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ672707
False-conviction chic in the Berkshires
Robert Halsey was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing two boys on his school van route in Lanesboro, Mass. There was a mountain of evidence against him, and he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Now a growing movement is trying to suggest that Halsey was unjustly convicted. A country that cherishes the presumption of innocence still needs to learn something about the presumption of guilt. There is a dark side to the growing movement on behalf of persons falsely convicted by the criminal justice system: phony false-conviction claims. There is just such a phony claim currently brewing in the Berkshires….As long-time residents of the Berkshires will remember, Robert Halsey was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing two boys on his school van route in Lanesboro, Mass. There was a mountain of evidence against him. The two boys…had clear medical signs of the abuse. Their disclosures were extremely detailed and they were written up well before the boys were involved in any repeat interviews, therapy sessions or other measures which are commonly cited as sources of “child suggestibility.”….Various parts of the boys’ testimony were corroborated by three other children, two of whom had moved to Florida nine months before Halsey was arrested.
The Legend of Robert Halsey: A cautionary tale about the dangers of “false-conviction chic”
These articles describe graphic crimes of abuse
West Memphis 3 confession, witness corroboration and physical evidence
Echols’ psychiatric records
Misskelley’s Third Confession Transcript
Misskelley describes the crimes in front of his lawyer, implicating Echols and Baldwin.
Statement about Damien Echols stomping and killing a dog
Misskelley confession to Kim Floresca
Misskelley confession to Buddy Lucas
Death Penalty Recommended for Teen-Ager March 20, 1994 …Prosecutors presented evidence suggesting Mr. Echols was a devil worshipper and the younger teen-ager his loyal follower. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/20/us/death-penalty-recommended-for-teen-ager.html?scp=18&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Youth Is Convicted In Slaying of 3 Boys In an Arkansas City CORNING, Ark., Feb. 4 The teen-ager, Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr., 18, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a boy whom he had admitted chasing down. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of the other two boys….Mr. Misskelley told the police in two tape-recorded interviews that he had watched as his two friends beat the boys, raped two of them and castrated one. The prosecution said the slayings might have been part of a Satanic ritual. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/05/us/youth-is-convicted-in-slaying-of-3-boys-in-an-arkansas-city.html?scp=11&sq=west+memphis+3+murder+case&st=nyt
Jessie Lloyd MISSKELLEY, Jr. v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-848 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered February 19, 1996
On June 3, 1993, the crime having remained unsolved, Detective Sergeant Mike Allen sought the appellant out for questioning. The appellant was not considered a suspect, but it was thought he might have knowledge about Damien Echols, who was a suspect. Detective Allen located the appellant and brought him back to the station, arriving at approximately 10:00 a.m. Later in this opinion, we will address in detail the circumstances surrounding the appellant’s interrogation. For now, it is sufficient to say that the appellant was questioned off and on over a period from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. At 2:44 p.m. and again at approximately 5:00 p.m., he gave statements to police in which he confessed his involvement in the murders. Both statements were tape-recorded….
In the early morning hours of May 5, 1993, the appellant received a phone call from Jason Baldwin. Baldwin asked the appellant to accompany him and Damien Echols to the Robin Hood area. The appellant agreed to go. They went to the area, which has a creek, and were in the creek when the victims rode up on their bicycles. Baldwin and Echols called to the boys, who came to the creek. The boys were severely beaten by Baldwin and Echols. At least two of the boys were raped and forced to perform oral sex on Baldwin and Echols. According to appellant, he was merely an observer.
While these events were taking place, Michael Moore tried to escape and began running. The appellant chased him down and returned him to Baldwin and Echols. The appellant also stated that Baldwin had used a knife to cut the boys in the facial area and that the Byers boy was cut on his penis. Echols used a large stick to hit one of the boys. All three boys had their clothes taken off and were tied up….
The appellant was asked about his involvement in a cult. He said he had been involved for about three months. The participants would typically meet in the woods. They engaged in orgies and, as an initiation rite, killing and eating dogs. He noted that at one cult meeting, he saw a picture that Echols had taken of the three boys. He stated that Echols had been watching the boys….
Damien Echols was observed near the crime scene at 9:30 p.m. on May 5. He was wearing black pants and a black shirt and his clothes were muddy. A witness testified that she had attended a satanic cult meeting with Echols and the appellant….a witness from the State Crime Lab testified that she found fibers on the victims’ clothing which were microscopically similar to items in the Baldwin and Echols residences. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996/cr94-848.html
Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas CR 94-928 S.W.2d Supreme Court of Arkansas Opinion delivered December 23, 1996
Where two witnesses testified that they overheard appellant Echols state that he killed the three boys, this was direct evidence; a confession is sufficient to sustain a conviction if it is accompanied by other proof that the offense was committed by someone….
There was substantial evidence of the guilt of appellant Echols where, among other things, the testimony of witnesses placed him in dirty clothes near the crime scene at a time close to the murders; where two independent witnesses reported Echols’s statement that he had killed the three boys and was direct evidence of the statement; where a criminalist from the State Crime Laboratory and a State Medical Examiner testified concerning the similarity of fibers found on the victim’s clothes with clothing found in Echols’s home and the serrated wound patterns on the three victims that were consistent with, and could have been caused by, a knife found in a lake behind appellant Baldwin’s parents’ residence….
Echols admitted on cross-examination that he had delved deeply into the occult and was familiar with its practices and where various items that had been found in his room supported the State’s theory of motive that the killings were done in a satanic ritual; where an expert in occult killings testified that there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings; where a detective testified that Echols had made a statement regarding the mutilation of one of the victims that the jury could have reasonably concluded he would not have known about unless he had been involved in some manner; and where Echols’s testimony contained additional evidence of guilt….
Echols admitted on cross-examination in the penalty phase of the trial that he had an altercation with his father in which a knife was involved and the police were called; where he admitted that he was hospitalized that same day and that when his father came to the hospital, “I told him I would eat him alive”; where headmitted that he tried “to claw the eyes out” of a student; and where a psychologist who testified for Echols admitted that Echols had “an all-powerful God-like image of himself,” that his parents were concerned with his satanism or devil worship, and that Echols’s medical records included notations of statements by Echols pertaining, among other things, to his rage and the drinking of the blood of others….
Where one witness testified that appellant Baldwin had told him that he had dismembered one of the boys, sucked the blood from his penis and scrotum, and put the testicles in his mouth, and where an expert on ritual killings stated that one of the facts that led him to believe that the killings were cult-related was that one of the victims had been castrated and had had the blood sucked from his penis, there was sufficient evidence of appellant Baldwin’s participation in occult activities, and the trial court correctly allowed the evidence….
Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.” The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols….
Dr. Dale Griffis, an expert in occult killings, testified in the State’s case-in-chief that the killings had the “trappings of occultism.” He testified that the date of the killings, near a pagan holiday, was significant, as well as the fact that there was a full moon. He stated that young children are often sought for sacrifice because “the younger, the more innocent, the better the life force.” He testified that there were three victims, and the number three had significance in occultism. Also, the victims were all eight years old, and eight is a witches’ number. He testified that sacrifices are often done near water for a baptism-type rite or just to wash the blood away. The fact that the victims were tied ankle to wrist was significant because this was done to display the genitalia, and the removal of Byers’s testicles was significant because testicles are removed for the semen. He stated that the absence of blood at the scene could be significant because cult members store blood for future services in which they would drink the blood or bathe in it. He testified that the “overkill” or multiple cuts could reflect occult overtones. Dr. Griffis testified that there was significance in injuries to the left side of the victims as distinguished from the right side: People who practice occultism will use the midline theory, drawing straight down through the body. The right side is related to those things synonymous with Christianity while the left side is that of the practitioners of the satanic occult. He testified that the clear place on the bank could be consistent with a ceremony. In sum, Dr. Griffis testified there was significant evidence of satanic ritual killings….
Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper….
Jason Baldwin does not contend that there was insufficient evidence of his guilt. This is, perhaps, in part, because of the testimony of Michael Carson, who testified that he talked to Baldwin about the murders. Carson’s testimony, in pertinent part, was abstracted as follows:
I said, just between me and you, did you do it. I won’t say a word. He said yes and he went into detail about it. It was just me and Jason [Baldwin]. He told me he dismembered the kids, or I don’t know exactly how many kids. He just said he dismembered them. He sucked the blood from the penis and scrotum and put the balls in his mouth. http://courts.state.ar.us/opinions/1996a/961223sc/cr94-928.html
Deal Frees ‘West Memphis Three’ in Arkansas
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON August 19, 2011 JONESBORO, Ark.
….Under the terms of a deal reached with prosecutors, Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Misskelley leave as men who maintain their innocence yet who pleaded guilty to murder, as men whom the state still consider to be child killers but whom the state deemed safe enough to set free.
Last November, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that there was enough evidence to call a hearing to determine whether to have a new trial. The hearing was scheduled for this coming December. But it was less than three weeks ago that lawyers representing Mr. Echols began working on a deal to offer to prosecutors that would free the men.
Under the seemingly contradictory deal, Judge David Laser vacated the previous convictions, including the capital murder convictions for Mr. Echols and Mr. Baldwin. After doing so, he ordered a new trial, something the prosecutors agreed to if the men would enter so-called Alford guilty pleas. These pleas allow people to maintain their innocence and admit frankly that they are pleading guilty because they consider it in their best interest.
The three men did just that, standing in court and quietly proclaiming their innocence but at the same time pleading guilty to charges of first- and second-degree murder. The judge then sentenced them to 18 years and 78 days, the amount of time they had served, and also levied a suspended sentence of 10 years.
The prosecuting attorney, Scott Ellington, said in an interview that the state still considered the men guilty and that, new DNA findings notwithstanding, he knew of no current suspects. “We don’t think that there is anybody else,” Mr. Ellington said, declaring the case closed.
Asked how he could free murderers if he believed they were guilty, he acknowledged that the three men would likely be acquitted if a new trial were held, given the prominent lawyers now representing them, the fact that evidence has decayed or disappeared over time and the death or change of heart of several original witnesses. He also expressed concern that if the men were exonerated at trial, they could sue the state, possibly for millions of dollars. “I believe that with all the circumstances that were facing the state in this case, this resolution is one that is palatable and I think that after a period of time it will be acceptable to the public as the right thing,” Mr. Ellington said.
Dale Griffis – West Memphis Three Case Information
Friedman’s case – Capturing the Friedmans
many of the quotes in this section come from:
Capturing the Friedmans: Annotated Bibliography http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/ctf/bib.html
Many viewers leave the theater believing that they have seen an objective documentary presented by a director who entrusted audiences to draw their own conclusions on Arnold Friedman’s and Jesse Friedman’s guilt. A careful review of the original evidence, however, shows that the case against the Friedmans was much stronger than the film revealed.
Geraldo Rivera’s interview with Jesse Friedman “Busting the Kiddie Porn Underground” February 23, 1989 — Geraldo!
Jesse’s attorney, Peter Panera, is interviewed. He tells how he and Jesse made a special trip to Wisconsin to visit Arnold Friedman in prison to convince him to reveal where he had hidden the photos and videos of the children. Arnold refused to reveal what he had done with them, despite the fact that it would have helped gain lenacy for his son. Jesse’s mother Ms. Friedman also appears on the show.
Frances Galasso, the detective-sergeant who was in charge of the Friedman case, describes Jesse’s lack of remorse for his victims and describes how he and his brother harassed some of the victims’ parents at court proceedings. She says that Jesse told the grandfather of one victim: “Well maybe we are suffering now, but with what we’ve done to your children, they’ll suffer for the rest of their lives.”
Geraldo Rivera’s interview with Jesse Friedman http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/ctf/geraldo.html
Geraldo: “How many kids, Jesse, did you and your father actually physically abuse in your home?” Jesse: (long sigh, appears to be mentally counting) “I guess 17.”….
Geraldo: “What did you do to the children?” Jesse: “What did I do to the children? I fondled them. I was forced to pose in 100′s of photos for my father in all sorts of sexual positions with the kids and the kids likewise with myself.
The Secret Life of Arnold Friedman By Alvin E. Bessent – Newsday — LI., NY May 28, 1989
Bessent reports on the victims’ fear of the Friedmans:
“As the abuse escalated so did the threats. Police said the children were extensively videotaped and photographed. No pictures of the children have been recovered. But police said Arnold Friedman told the children he would send pornographic pictures of them to magazines and tell the publishers to print their names if they told what was going on. He threatened to burn their houses down. He reportedly said he would kill their parents. . . . Some of the children who testified before the grand juries received threatening telephone calls warning them not to cooperate with police.” “Some of them still wet their beds, take baseball bats to bed with them or are unable to sleep.”
State of New York v. Arnold Friedman.
Motion for order requiring return of property seized from 17 Picadilly Road, Great Neck, Nassau County, New York, seized pursuant to search warrant of November 25, 1987. Motion #C-427, Indictment #67104 & 67430.
September 14, 1990.
Judge Abbey L. Boklan approved Arnold Friedmans’ request for the return of all property seized at the Friedman home with the exception of pornographic materials listed in this document. Materials include such items as: 5 pornographic movies, assorted order forms for pornography, assorted pornographic magazine cutouts, 2 partially nude photos of children, 3 sheets advertising homosexuality with boys, 6 photos of naked people, 3 battery operated sex aids, 1 hypodermic needle, 9 pornographic computer games (with descriptions), list of names and phone numbers of 9 victims, 2 registration sheets with names of victims.
The People of the State of New York , Respondent, v. Ross G., Appellant 163 A.D.2d 529; 558 N.Y.S.2d 603; 1990 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8786 June 28, 1990
The Supreme Court of New York responds affirmatively to an appeal by Ross Goldstein who asks the state to reduce his sentence to the terms recommended and agreed to by the prosecution. Although he was not mentioned in the film, Mr. Goldstein was a third defendant who was arrested along with Arnold and Jesse Friedman. According to this document, Goldstein, a former friend of Jesse’s who was between 15 and 16 years old when he committed the crimes. He later became repulsed by the abuse, and six months before the Friedmans were arrested, Goldstein disassociated himself from Jesse Friedman and his activities. Goldstein, now age 19, confessed to the crimes and agreed to testify against both Arnold and Jesse Friedman in exchange for leniency.
In Their Own Words: Jesse’s Victims Speak Out
Victims break their silence Victor Manuel Ramos — Newsday — LI., NY February 29, 2004 Newsday staff reporter Victor Manuel Ramos interviews several of the victims who Arnold and Jesse Friedman plead guilty to abusing.
“For Gregory, the hullabaloo over Jarecki’s film — and whether the director will pick up an Oscar tonight — is a sideshow to the legacy of the abuse. Even now, Gregory said he sometimes wakes up at night shaking, especially after hearing of other child abuse cases on the news or elsewhere. What would be passing news to others, hits home for him.
Diagnosed in his preteen years, Gregory said he has persistent rectal bleeding from the abuse. Memories aside, the physical scar will never let him forget. `This is the constant reminder I live with every day,’ Gregory said, `that I was abused.’”
Case of Arnold Friedman and Jessie Friedman “Capturing The Friedmans” http://web.archive.org/web/20070918045108/www.theawarenesscenter.org/arnoldandjessefriedman.html
Our research into the case shows that the director of the film sacrificed truth in favor of creating artistic ambiguity. Clear evidence is omitted and facts are distorted. In addition, the film relies on popular but erroneous myths about child sexual abuse. As a result, uncertainty is created about the guilt of two confessed pedophiles — who are recast as victims — while the real victims — the boys and their families — are portrayed as untrustworthy.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS” Documentary or Whitewash?
Man’s 1988 child molestation conviction to be revisited by Vivienne Foley, CNN August 17, 2010 “In August 2010, the 2nd Circuit Court decision stated that “… the police, prosecutors and the judge did everything they could to coerce a guilty plea and avoid a trial” and said there was a “reasonable likelihood” Friedman was “wrongfully convicted” of sexually abusing children.” Nassau County (Long Island) District Attorney’s office will re-open the case.
Christchurch Civic Creche sex abuse – Peter Ellis case
The Dominion Post August 16 2003.
‘I am sick of being called a liar’ by Linley Boniface
“A decade after the Christchurch Civic Creche sex abuse trial, two of the children whose evidence has now been called into question by supporters of Peter Ellis tell Linley Boniface why they feel betrayed.”
“Tom and Katrina were pivotal to the Crown case against Ellis. In June 1993, Ellis was found guilty of 16 out of 25 charges of sexual abuse of seven young children (three of the convictions were quashed a year later, when one child withdrew her allegations). Three of the convictions related to Tom and four related to Katrina. Ellis was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and served seven.”
“Katrina’s dad, Gavin, says he finds it frustrating that transcripts can be taken out of context, without any of the intense scrutiny that occurred during the judicial process. “The jury was able to see the children giving evidence on video. They watched very young children go through the anxiety of remembering things that were very painful to them. They didn’t just hear the words; they were able to see the children’s body language. They were also able to see that the children backed up each other’s stories.”
“Many of the children involved in the case were said to have suffered behavioural problems, including nightmares, tantrums, bedwetting, separation anxiety, fear of men, sexual disorders and toileting problems. For a year and a half before the abuse was uncovered, Katrina was terrified of going to the toilet.”
“Both families ask repeatedly why everyone seems to believe Ellis, despite the fact that his case has already been through a jury trial, two appeals and a ministerial inquiry. And they ask why so many journalists seem happy to report everything Ellis and his supporters say without bothering to ask the victims’ families for comment.
They also point out the irony in the fact that Ellis has a well-run and well-bankrolled campaign behind him, while the families don’t even have a legal representative.
The families believe A City Possessed tells only half the story –Ellis’ half — and were particularly angered by a recent comment by Hood that the children deserved to “know the truth and go forward into adulthood with the whole thing sorted”. Tom says the matter is sorted already “We were there, we know it happened. It’s not easy to live with, but I could live with it if everyone didn’t keep bringing it up all the time. The only closure I want is for Peter Ellis to admit he did it.”
originally was at:
A House Divided 1994 Jun 26 By Katy Butler Los Angeles Times
On May 13, Ramona won the public war but lost his most important private battle. The jury, in a complex 10-to-2 decision, ruled that Holly’s memories were probably false. Her therapists, they said, had not implanted them but had reinforced them. But they awarded Ramona only $475,000-far less than the $8 million he had sought, less than the $1 million he had spent on the trial….
But the jury verdict was ambiguous. Said jury foreman Thomas Dudum: “We all got rather disturbed when Mr. Ramona captured the headlines by claiming a victory of sorts, when we knew the case did not prove that he did not do it. I want to make it clear that we did not believe, as Gary indicates, that these therapists gave Holly a wonder drug and implanted these memories. It was an uneasy decision and there were a lot of unanswered questions.”
On one point, Dudum was unequivocal: “It was apparent from the beginning that Mr. Ramona was a wonderful salesman for Mondavi, and he was selling us a story,” he said, referring to the improbably idyllic life Ramona had described. “A lot of it was very difficult to swallow, and we were not fooled for a minute by his convenient act of tearing up.”
As for the people who Ramona said mattered most-his ex-wife and three daughters-the verdict convinced them of nothing but the injustice of the legal system. “I don’t think he should have gotten a penny for raping his own daughter,” said Stephanie, weeping, outside the courtroom after the verdict. “You don’t know what I know. You don’t know what my children know. Nobody gets it.”….
AFTER THE VERDICT, GARY Ramona felt vindicated. He says he’s ready to turn his attention to his new business, which imports wines from Chile and is a marketing consultant for small wineries. He says he hopes that someday his daughters will understand that he never did what he was accused of.
permission given to publish the article in full
West Point Day Care Sexual Abuse Case with Ritual Abuse allegations
Cunningham, Douglas and Alan Snel “A Legacy of Pain: Settlement Doesn’t Ease Abused Children’s Fears,” The Times Herald Record (Middletown, New York), June 11, 1991.
The Times Herald-Record Copyright (c) 1991, The Times Herald-Record 9106110008 Long : 227 lines Tuesday, June 11, 1991 Final North News 4 By DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM and ALAN SNEL Staff Writers
The Record photos: A new sign indicates a building number change. The red brick West Point Child Development Center was at the center of controversy in 1984. Mug photos: Judge W. Knapp William E. Crain Dr. Walter R. Grote
Record photo by Jeff Goulding: New center Director Nancy Campbell-Capen, above, talks about improvements to the building, including viewing windows in doors.
The Record photo: The West Point Child Development Center as it was in the mid-1980s, when the child abuse charges first surfaced. Back then, the building number was 666, leading to speculation that the abuse was satanically motivated.
A LEGACY OF PAIN SETTLEMENT DOESN’T EASE ABUSED CHILDREN’S FEARS
Seven years have passed since she was sexually abused at West Point’s child-care center. Yet today, the 10-year-old girl can’t go to the bathroom without her mother waiting by the door.
The girl – who was 3 when West Point child-care workers were accused of sexually abusing her and 10 other children in 1984 – also asks her mother about whether she will be able to bear children when she grows up.
“This happened seven years ago, and it’s not any better,” the girl’s mother said. “She’s constantly asking, `What if we’re out in the store, Mommy, and we see these people? Are they going to hurt me?’ . . . But this is constantly on her mind because she knows these people are not in jail for what they did.”
In the U.S. District Court files in Manhattan, the West Point sexual abuse case is resolved. The government failed in 1985 to indict any suspects in its criminal investigation. But last month, it settled a civil suit brought by the parents of the 11 victims. Nine of the victims will receive $2.7 million, with awards ranging from $25,000 to $625,000.
But even as the legal dust has settled, the case lingers as a legacy of pain for the families.
“These people stole our children,” the mother said. “(She’s) nothing like she used to be. She’s a very angry little girl. She doesn’t trust anyone. She’s nothing like she was before this happened.
“It’s never going to be over for them, or for us.”
The case began in 1984, when allegations surfaced of sexual and physical abuse of children at the West Point Child Development Center.
The incidents unfolded against a backdrop of satanic acts, animal sacrifices and cult-like behavior among the abusers, whose activities extended beyond the U.S. Military Academy borders to Orange County and a military base in San Francisco, parents charged.
The specter of satanism would later spur U.S. Military Academy officials to change the West Point child-care center’s building number from 666 to 673.
Despite 950 interviews by 60 FBI agents assigned to the investigation, an investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani produced no federal grand jury indictments. The investigation did find “significant indications that children may have been abused” at the center.
Until now, no official reports or investigations have verified the sexual abuse.
The Times Herald-Record, however, has learned that a still-secret, independent report – prepared by one of the nation’s top experts on child sexual abuse – confirms the children’s accusations of abuse. The report also played a vital role in ending the seven-year legal ordeal and in enabling the case to be settled without the children undergoing potentially hostile questioning on the witness stand, said U.S. District Judge Whitman Knapp, who heard the civil case.
The expert, Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess, a professor of psychiatric nursing at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia and the author of the book, “Child Pornography and Sex Rings,” entered the case in 1989.
She interviewed all the children. She said yesterday that her goal in the case had been to reduce harm to the children because testimony in open court could have triggered symptoms of abuse, prompted by a “resurfacing” of the original incident.
Knapp said that because Burgess worked for neither the government nor the plaintiffs, but reported directly to the court, her findings carried additional credibility. Neither Burgess nor others would speak about her specific findings.
“You can draw your own conclusions from the fact that (the government) paid all this money,” Knapp said about Burgess’ report. “The government wouldn’t have likely paid that money unless the report gave them a basis for doing that.”
The families’ lawyer, William E. Crain, who now practices in Elkin, N.C., and formerly worked in Newburgh, said the report is independent confirmation of the children’s claims. He received nearly $300,000 in legal fees in the case. The amount, 25 percent of the settlement, is set by law.
“Just generally speaking, it corroborated the children’s allegations they had been sexually abused by day-care center staff,” Crain said of the report.
“That report was sealed and has never been seen by anybody else and I hope it never will be,” Knapp said. “That has all the intimate details of what happened to these children. Certainly, they don’t want to be plagued by that when they grow up.”
The government, however, admitted none of the allegations in making the settlement. Edward T. Ferguson III, the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the case, declined to comment on Burgess’ role. He said that the settlement was in the best interests of the children and did not require them to testify in court.
“Everyone involved – the parents, the government and the court – all wished to avoid (the children taking the witness stand), if an accommodation could be reached,” Ferguson said.
Among other things, several of the settlements – made individually with each child’s family – provide for medical costs, counseling and a college fund. The actual cost of the settlement is $1.175 million. Much of the money will be invested and paid out during the victims’ lives, thereby increasing the total to $2.7 million.
“They’re children. They’re going to have to live with what happened to them. So are their parents,” Crain said. “But in terms of legal work, the legal end of it is finished.”
Nancy Campbell-Capen’s job began just four months ago. West Point hired the New Jersey native to run its child-care program, including the center, a red-brick building tucked on a hill between playing fields and a playground.
Ms. Campbell-Capen recalled talking about the sexual abuse case with her boss and other center staffers.
“More people were reacting to the media coverage than the actual possible event,” Ms. Campbell-Capen said she was told.
The center serves 150 children – 80 percent from military families and 20 percent from civilian workers. There are 120 children on a waiting list for the center that now complies with federal guidelines, which were strengthened in 1989.
“They certainly tightened the old regulations,” said Ms. Campbell-Capen, who ran child-care centers at Army bases in Germany. “We discovered the need to tighten up with staff training.”
Only a handful of the center’s 86 workers remain from the 1984 staff. Ms. Campbell-Capen said the staff had no response to the lawsuit settlement.
The center is trying to receive accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The center’s dedication to meeting child-care standards contrasts with the way victims’ parents were treated when they sought to alert West Point and the military that their children had been sexually violated.
The Army’s reaction to the parents’ plight so enraged former Army Dr. Walter R. Grote that the ex-captain refused a promotion to major in 1985 because of the treatment of his child’s sexual abuse case at West Point. He was one of the first parents to file the lawsuit, but later dropped out of seeking money from the case.
“Unfortunately, money can’t . . . undo the trauma incurred by scores of children at West Point . . . because people with responsibility didn’t exercise that responsibility,” said Grote, now in private practice in New Jersey. “What the hell is a settlement? . . . They could have caught these people doing it at the time that they were doing it.
“We have a tendency to think that everything that’s evil and bad is on the other side of the Pacific or the Atlantic. “And that’s not the case.”
The mother of the 10-year-old said the settlement will pay her daughter’s college bills. But the mother said she would have preferred the government kept its money and punished the abusers.
Without the prosecution, West Point has retained its polished national image, she said. Even last month, the government admitted none of the allegations in making the settlement, a reminder of what parents say was West Point’s callous denial.
“They wouldn’t acknowledge what happened,” the mother said. “I’m sure if it was done anywhere else but West Point, it would have been acknowledged.”
Another parent whose son was sexually abused recalled that the Army was not prepared to treat satanic abuse.
“You had a bunch of kids who had some kind of abuse and the concerns of the parents seeking assistance fell on deaf ears. The medical treatment for the satanic abuse was not meeting the bill. It was far beyond what (the Army) could handle,” said Maj. Bob Caslen, an infantry officer reached stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Two teacher aides were suspended and later quit after the charges surfaced.
After a federal grand jury failed to return indictments, community members joined the parents in calling for another investigation in 1985.
Joan Benedict walked with parents at a protest in Highland Falls in hopes of inspiring another probe. And she was a member of an Orange County anti-pornography group that sponsored a forum to allow the victims’ parents to speak out in 1986.
Ms. Benedict said she used to pray and walk at West Point because of the 189-year-old institution’s majestic Hudson River views. But no more.
“When I saw the headlines of the child pornography ring at West Point, it cut me to the heart,” Ms. Benedict said. “I know West Point is only surface beauty. They were outright cruel to the parents.”
Ms. Benedict, a Town of Cornwall resident, started her own crusade to spark the Justice Department to reopen the abuse case. She ended her efforts in 1988 when she was convinced of a federal cover-up after receiving a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mary C. Spearing, a special attorney with the Justice Department’s National Obscenity Enforcement Unit, wrote that the case was closed.
“Unfortunately, no new evidence, revelation or hint of wrongdoing or negligence surfaced during our review,” she wrote. She noted in her letter that the assistant U.S. attorney on the case was a father of four and that she had two children herself.
The monetary settlement, however, did not resolve the parents’ bitterness over what they still maintain was a botched FBI investigation. In fact, court papers filed by parents showed federal investigators not only refused to believe the children, but, in some cases, also criticized some parents for not keeping their children under control in their homes.
“When the agents came to the house, they did not appear to have a tape recorder and they were not taking notes during the interview,” one parent said in a sworn statement, according to 1984 court papers. “He became annoyed and frustrated and said, `It looks like she’s just trying to get attention.’ ”
Recalled Grote: “The tragedy is the abusers could have been caught . . . with a little imagination and a lot less chauvinistic narcissism on the part of West Point and the initial FBI investigator.”
Prosecutor Giuliani did not return calls last week. In 1987, Giuliani said his detailed investigation showed only one or two children were abused. The federal investigation cleared the center staff members accused by the children.
The mother of the 10-year-old girl still tries to cope with the abuse’s aftermath.
“As far as I’m concerned, the government gave them a license to go out and abuse other children,” the mother said. “I have to explain to my daughter these people are still out there.
“And she still has nightmares. She’s afraid they’re going to come through the window at night to get her.”
Despite sexual abuse charges that surfaced in 1984 and a $1 million renovation of the building, the West Point day-care center was hit with 79 violations in January 1988. Here are some of the violations found by the 14-member Pentagon task force and how they have been resolved:
– Doors lacked windows. According to inspectors, this “increases the potential for child abuse.” All center doors now have windows.
– No background checks. The names of the 22 child-care providers were not submitted to the Army Central Registry to determine whether they had prior criminal records. All employees now have background checks done.
– Unprotected electrical outlets. All outlets now have protective caps.
– Toilets not immediately adjacent to activity areas. Restrooms have been renovated and child-size toilets have been installed.
– Some workers, from the center’s acting director to receptionists, did not receive proper training. Training has begun.
An Army Child Care Evaluation team spent a week in August scrutinizing the center and did not list any infractions, said Ray Aalbue, a West Point spokesman