Day-care sex-abuse hysteria

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Day-care sex-abuse hysteria was a moral panic that occurred primarily in the 1980s and early 1990s featuring charges against day-care providers of several forms of child abuse, including Satanic ritual abuse.[1][2] A prominent case in Kern County, California first brought the issue of day-care sexual abuse to the forefront of the public awareness, and the issue figured prominently in news coverage for almost a decade. The Kern County case was followed by cases elsewhere in the United States as well as Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and various European countries.

Significant cases[edit]

Kern County child-abuse cases[edit]

The Kern County child abuse case was the first prominent instance of accusations of ritualized sex abuse of children. In 1982 in Kern County, California, Debbie and Alvin McCuan were accused of abusing their own children. The initial charges were made by Mary Ann Barbour, the children's step-grandmother, who had a history of mental illness. Coercive interviewing techniques were used by the authorities to elicit disclosures of parental sexual abuse from the children. In 1982, the girls also accused McCuan's defense witnesses: Scott Kniffen, his wife Brenda, and his mother. Mary Ann Barbour reported that the children had been used for prostitution and child pornography, tortured, and forced to watch snuff films.[3]

In 1984, all of the McCuans and the Kniffens was sentenced to over 240 years in prison. Their convictions were overturned in 1996.

McMartin Preschool[edit]

The McMartin Preschool trial started in August 1983 when Judy Johnson, the mother of a 2 12-year-old boy, reported to the police that her son was abused by Raymond Buckey at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California.[1] After seven years of criminal trials, no convictions were obtained, and all charges were dropped in 1990. As of 2006, it is the longest and most expensive criminal trial in the history of the United States.[1] The accusations involved hidden tunnels, killing animals, Satan worship, and orgies.[4] Judy Johnson was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia[5][6] and in 1986 was found dead in her home from complications of chronic alcoholism.[7] Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin, were eventually released without any charges. In 2005 one of the testifying children retracted his testimony and said he lied, to protect his younger siblings and to please his parents.[8][9]

In The Devil in the Nursery in 2001, Margaret Talbot for The New York Times summarized the case:

When you once believed something that now strikes you as absurd, even unhinged, it can be almost impossible to summon that feeling of credulity again. Maybe that is why it is easier for most of us to forget, rather than to try and explain, the Satanic-abuse scare that gripped this country in the early 80s – the myth that Devil-worshipers had set up shop in our day-care centers, where their clever adepts were raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces, all unnoticed by parents, neighbors and the authorities.[10]

The trial was the subject of Indictment: The McMartin Trial, a made-for-TV movie that originally aired on HBO on May 20, 1995, starring James Woods.

Country Walk[edit]

In 1985, Frank Fuster – the owner of the Country Walk Babysitting Service in the Country Walk suburb of Miami, Florida – was found guilty of 14 counts of abuse.[11] He was sentenced to a prison with a minimum length of 165 years. Fuster's victims testified that his "unspeakable acts" included leading them in Satanic rituals and terrorizing them by forcing them to watch him mutilate birds, a lesson to children who might reveal the abuse.[11] Fuster had been previously convicted for manslaughter and for fondling a 9-year-old child.[1] Testimony from children in the case was extracted by Laurie and Joseph Braga, a husband-and-wife team who resorted to coercive questioning of the alleged victims when the desired answers were not forthcoming.[12] Fuster's wife recanted her court testimony in an interview with Frontline, saying that she was kept naked in solitary confinement and subjected to other forms of physical and psychological duress until she agreed to testify against her husband.[13]

The case was prosecuted by Dade County state's attorney Janet Reno.[14] As of 2014, Fuster continues to serve a 165-year prison sentence.[14][15] The incident also inspired a book and made-for-TV movie called "Unspeakable Acts".

Fells Acres Day Care Center[edit]

The incident began in 1984 when a 5-year-old boy told a family member that Gerald Amirault, administrator and handyman at the Fells Acres day care center in Malden, Massachusetts, had touched his penis.[1] The boy's mother notified the authorities, and Amirault was arrested. The children told stories that included being abused by a clown and a robot in a secret room at the day care center. They told of watching animals being sacrificed, and one girl said that Amirault had penetrated her anus with the twelve-inch (30 cm) blade of a knife (which left no injuries).

In the 1986 trial, Gerald was convicted of assaulting and raping nine children and sentenced to thirty to forty years in state prison. In a separate trial, his mother, Violet Amirault, and sister, Cheryl Amirault LeFave, were convicted and sentenced to jail for eight to 20 years. He was released in 2004.[16]

In 1995, a critical series of articles in The Wall Street Journal by Dorothy Rabinowitz alleged that the convictions relied entirely on testimony from the children that had been coerced by dubious interrogation techniques, with no corroborating evidence.[17][18] Current Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the chief prosecutor of both of the Amirault cases, responded to the articles with statements that "the children testified to being photographed and molested by acts that included penetration by objects" and "the implication … that the children's allegations of abuse were tainted by improper interviewing is groundless and not true."[19]

Bernard Baran[edit]

Main article: Bernard Baran

The first day care worker convicted was Bernard Baran. On October 4, 1984, a drug addicted couple who were police informants[20][21] called their contact in the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, police department to accuse Bernard Baran of molesting their son. The child had been attending the government operated Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) where Baran, an openly gay 19-year-old, worked as a teacher's aide. These parents had previously complained to the board of directors that they "didn't want no homo" around their son.[22][23] In granting Baran a new trial in 2006, the court equated homophobia in the Baran case with the other two prominent forces in day care panic cases, hysteria and suggestion.[24]

Within days of the first allegation, ECDC hosted a puppet show and delivered letters to parents notifying them about a child at the day care with gonorrhea. Five other allegations emerged. Baran was tried in the Berkshire County courthouse 105 days after the first allegation, a swiftness noted in the later court rulings. The courtroom was closed during the children's testimony, which Baran claimed violated his right to a public trial. Baran's defense attorney was later ruled ineffective. Baran was convicted on January 30, 1985, on three counts of rape of a child and five counts of indecent assault and battery. He was sentenced to three life terms plus 8 to 20 years on each charge. He maintained his innocence throughout his case.[25] In 1999 a new legal team took up his case. In 2004 hearings began in a motion for a new trial. In 2006, Baran was granted a new trial and released on $50,000 bail. In May 2009, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the new trial ruling, setting aside the 1985 convictions. The Berkshire County District Attorney's office dismissed the original charges and Baran's record was cleared.[26][citation needed]

The Bronx Five[edit]

Prosecutor Mario Merola convicted five men, including Nathaniel Grady, a 47-year-old Methodist minister, of sexually abusing children in day care centers throughout the Bronx.[1][27] Grady spent ten years in prison before being released in 1996.

Praca Day Care[edit]

Three employees of another Bronx day-care center were arrested in August 1984 on the charges of abusing at least ten children in their care.[28] Federal and city investigators then questioned dozens of children at the day care. They used 'dolls, gentle words and a quiet approach.'[29] More children reported being sexually abused, raising the total to 30.[30] "Three more city-financed day care centers" also were investigated for sexual abuse.[31] On August 11, 1984, federal funds were cut off to the Head Start preschool program at the Praca Day Care Center and four employees had been arrested. In June 1985, the day care center was reopened with new sponsorship.

In January 1986, Albert Algarin, employed at the Praca Day Care center, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for 'raping and sexually abusing five children.'[32] In May 1986, Jesus Torres, a former teacher's aide at the Praca Day Care "was sentenced to 40 years in prison yesterday for sexually assaulting two boys at the center.'[33] Franklin Beauchamp, who had been 'convicted of nine counts of rape, sexual abuse and sodomy involving three children at Praca,' had his case overturned in New York state's highest state court in May 1989. 'The State Court of Appeals ruled that the indictment used to obtain his 1986 conviction was duplicitous, or not specific enough.'[34]

On the web page from Frontline, "Innocence Lost: Other Well-Known Cases, "PBS stated that the "remaining defendants eventually had their convictions overturned as well."[1]

Wee Care Nursery School[edit]

In Maplewood, New Jersey, in April 1985,[1] Margaret Kelly Michaels was indicted for 299 offenses in connection with the sexual assault of 33 children.[35] Michaels denied the charges.[36] "The prosecution produced expert witnesses who said that almost all the children displayed symptoms of sexual abuse."[37] Prosecution witnesses testified that the children "had regressed into such behavior as bed-wetting and defecating in their clothing. The witnesses said the children became afraid to be left alone or to stay in the dark."[37] Some of the other teachers testified against her.[37] "The defense argued that Michaels did not have the time or opportunity to go to a location where all the activities could have taken place without someone seeing her."[37]

Michaels was sentenced to 47 years in the "sex case."[38] Michaels "told the judge that she was confident her conviction would be overturned on appeal."[38] After five years in prison her appeal was successful and sentence was overturned by a New Jersey appeals court. The New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the appellate court's decision and declared "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods."[39] A three judge panel ruled she had been denied a fair trial, because "the prosecution of the case had relied on testimony that should have been excluded because it improperly used an expert's theory, called the child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome, to establish guilt."[40] The original judge was also criticized "for the way in which he allowed the children to give televised testimony from his chambers."[40]

Glendale Montessori[edit]

James Toward and Brenda Williams were accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing six boys who attended Glendale Montessori in Stuart, Florida, as preschoolers in 1986 and 1987. Investigators claimed to know up to 60 victims, mostly from the ages 2 to 5.[41]

In 1988, Williams, an office manager, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. She pleaded no contest to sex and attempted kidnapping charges involving five boys and she was released from prison in 1993 after serving five years. In 1989, Toward, owner of Glendale Montessori School, entered an Alford plea to child sexual abuse charges and received a 27-year sentence. While technically maintaining his innocence, he allowed a guilty plea to be entered against him, convicting him of molesting or kidnapping six boys. Toward was placed in involuntary commitment due to the Jimmy Ryce Act. Hearsay testimony was admitted at trial, and although he maintained his innocence, Toward plea-bargained to avoid an almost certain life sentence.

Many parents and former co-workers supported Toward's assertions of innocence. Several of the victims had the same doctor (Allan Tesson), and the first child to make the claim was his secretary's and Tesson's patient. Tesson was sued in 1996 for $650,000 for implanting false memories of satanic ritual abuse and child pornography in an adult patient. During this lawsuit, it was proven that Dr. Tesson frequently consulted with self-proclaimed experts in satanic ritual abuse including Corydon Hammond, Catherine Gould and Judianne Denson Gerber, on the subject of satanic ritual abuse and mind control.[42]

Friedman cases[edit]

In Great Neck, New York, Arnold Friedman, his son Jesse, and Jesse's friend Ross Goldstein pleaded guilty to charges that they sexually abused various children who attended computer classes Arnold ran in his home. Arnold and Jesse proclaimed their innocence despite their guilty pleas. Arnold committed suicide in prison; Jesse served 13 years.

As of 2014, legal proceedings were continuing as Jesse tried to prove his innocence; despite contradictory testimony, the Nassau County Court reasserted Jesse's guilt in a lengthy report, after commissioning an unprecedented independent review of the case. The cases were the subject of a controversial 2003 documentary named Capturing the Friedmans.

Little Rascals[edit]

In Edenton, North Carolina, in January 1989, a parent accused Bob Kelly of sexual abuse. Over the next several months, investigations and therapy led to allegations against dozens of other adults in the town, culminating in the arrest of seven adults.[43] Allegations included rape, sodomy, fellatio and bizarre acts characteristic of satanic ritual abuse.

Despite the severity of some of the alleged acts, parents noticed no abnormal behaviour in their children until after initial accusations were made. Bob Kelly's trial lasted eight months and on April 22, 1992, he was convicted of 99 out of 100 counts against him. On 2 May 1995, all convictions were unanimously reversed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The remainder of the defendants received a variety of sentences.[44]

Dale Akiki[edit]

Dale Akiki, a developmentally-delayed man with Noonan syndrome, was accused of satanic ritual abuse in 1991. Akiki and his wife were volunteer babysitters at Faith Chapel in Spring Valley, California. The accusations started when a young girl told her mother that "[Akiki] showed me his penis," after which the mother contacted the police. After interviews, nine other children accused Akiki of killing animals, such as a giraffe and an elephant, and drinking their blood in front of the children. He was found not guilty of the 35 counts of child abuse and kidnapping in his 1993 trial.[1]

In 1994, the San Diego County Grand Jury reviewed the Akiki cases and concluded there was no reason to pursue the theory of ritual abuse.[45] On August 25, 1994, he filed a suit against the County of San Diego, Faith Chapel Church, and many others, which was settled for $2 million.[46] Akiki's public defenders received the Public Defender of the Year award for their work defending Akiki.

Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trial[edit]

Frances Keller and her husband, Dan Keller, both of Austin, Texas, were convicted of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl in their care, and they spent 21 years in prison until their release in 2013.[47]

The case began on August 15, 1991, when a 3-year-old girl told her mother that Dan Keller had hurt her. The mother and daughter were on their way to a scheduled appointment with the girl’s therapist, who drew out details that included Keller defecating on her head and sexually assaulting her with a pen. During the time leading up to the trial, two other children from the day care offered similar accusations. According to the children, the couple served blood-laced Kool-Aid and forced them to have videotaped sex with adults and other children. The Kellers, they said, sometimes wore white robes and lit candles before hurting them. The children also accused the Kellers of forcing them to watch or participate in the killing and dismemberment of cats, dogs and a crying baby. Bodies were unearthed in cemeteries and new holes dug to hide freshly killed animals and, once, an adult passer-by who was shot and dismembered with a chain saw. The children recalled several plane trips, including one to Mexico, where they were sexually abused by soldiers before returning to Austin in time to meet their parents at the day care.[48]

The only physical evidence of abuse in the case was presented by Dr. Michael Mouw, an emergency room physician at Brackenridge Hospital who examined the 3-year-old girl in 1991 on the night she first accused Dan Keller of abuse. Mouw testified at the Kellers’ trial that he found two tears in the girl’s hymen consistent with sexual abuse and determined that the injuries were less than 24 hours old. Three years after the trial, while attending a medical seminar, Mouw said a slide presentation on “normal” pediatric hymens included a photo that was identical to what he had observed in the girl.[48][49]

On November 26, 2013, the Travis County district attorney's office announced that Fran Keller, now 63, was being released on bond and her husband, Dan Keller, who was convicted at the same time, would be released within a week in a deal reached with lawyers. "There is a reasonable likelihood that (the medical expert's) false testimony affected the judgment of the jury and violated Frances Keller's right to a fair trial," said the district attorney.[47]

Wenatchee child abuse prosecutions[edit]

In Wenatchee, Washington, in 1994 and 1995, police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation's most extensive child sex-abuse investigation.[1] Forty-three adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex abuse involving 60 children. Parents, Sunday school teachers and a pastor were charged, and many were convicted of abusing their own children or the children of others in the community. However, prosecutors were unable to provide any physical evidence to support the charges. The main witness was the 13-year-old foster daughter of police officer Robert Perez, who had investigated the cases.[50] A jury found the city of Wenatchee and Douglas County, Washington, negligent in the 1994–1995 investigations. They awarded $3 million to a couple who had been wrongly accused in the inquiry.[51]

Christchurch Civic Crèche[edit]

Peter Ellis, a child-care worker at the Christchurch Civic Crèche in New Zealand, was found guilty on 16 counts of sexual abuse against children in 1992 and served seven years in jail. Parents of the alleged abuse victims were entitled to claim NZ$10,000 (equivalent to about US$11,000 in 2010) in compensation for each allegation from the Accident Compensation Corporation, regardless of whether the allegations were proved or not. Many victims' families made multiple allegations. Four female co-workers were also arrested on 15 charges of abuse, but were released after these charges were dropped. Together with six other co-workers who lost their jobs when the centre was closed, they were awarded $1 million in compensation by the Employment Court in 1995, although this sum was reduced on appeal. Peter Ellis has consistently denied any abuse, and the case is still considered controversial by many New Zealanders.[52]

Martensville satanic sex scandal[edit]

In 1992, a mother in the central Saskatchewan city of Martensville, alleged that a local woman who ran a babysitting service and day care center in her home had sexually abused her child. Police began an investigation, leading to a sharp increase in allegations. More than a dozen persons, including five police officers from two different forces, ultimately faced over 100 charges connected with running a Satanic cult called The Brotherhood of The Ram, which allegedly practiced ritualized sexual abuse of numerous children at a "Devil Church".[53]

The son of the day care owner was tried and found guilty, then a Royal Canadian Mounted Police task force took over the investigation. It concluded the original investigation was motivated by "emotional hysteria."[54] In 2003, defendants sued for wrongful prosecution.[55] In 2004, Richard and Kari Klassen received $100,000 each, out of the $1.5 million compensation package awarded for the malicious prosecution.[56]

Escola Base (São Paulo, Brazil)[edit]

In São Paulo, Brazil, in March 1994, several newspapers and broadcasters published a series of reports stating that six people had sexually abused children, all students of Escola Base, a day care center and school located in the neighborhood of Aclimação. The six defendants were the owners of the school: Maria Aparecida Shimada, Ichshiro Shimada, their employees, and Paula Monteiro Maurício de Alvarenga, plus Saulo da Costa Nunes and Mara Cristina France, parents of one of the students. According to the complaints made by parents, Maurício Alvarenga, who worked as a school bus driver, took the children during the day to Nunes and France's home, where the abuses were committed and filmed. The police chief Edélcio Lemos, without verifying the veracity of the allegations and based on preliminary reports, released the information to the press.

The disclosure of the case led to the destruction and looting of the school. Its owners were arrested. However, the police investigation was dropped for lack of evidence. There were no signs that the allegations were in any way well founded. No film was ever found. With the closing of the investigation, the accused initiated a successful legal battle for compensation. Newspapers, broadcasters, and the government of São Paulo state were obliged to pay compensation.[57] Some of the cases were not decided until 2014.[58]



In the late 1970s and early 1980s, more and more mothers were working outside of the home, resulting in the opening of large numbers of day-care centers. Anxiety and guilt over leaving young children with strangers may have created a climate of fear and readiness to believe false accusations.[10][59]

Suggestions and false allegations when interviewing children[edit]

Children are vulnerable to outside influences that lead to fabrication of testimony.[60] Their testimony can be influenced in a variety of ways. Maggie Bruck in her article published by the American Psychological Association wrote that children incorporate aspects of the interviewer's questions into their answers in an attempt to tell the interviewer what the child believes is being sought.[61] Studies also show that when adults ask children questions that do not make sense (such as "is milk bigger than water?" or "is red heavier than yellow?"), most children will offer an answer, believing that there is an answer to be given, rather than understand the absurdity of the question.[62] Furthermore, repeated questioning of children causes them to change their answers. This is because the children perceive the repeated questioning as a sign that they did not give the "correct" answer previously.[63] Children are also especially susceptible to leading and suggestive questions.[64] Some studies have shown that only a small percentage of children produce fictitious reports of sexual abuse on their own.[65][66][67][68] Other studies have shown that children understate occurrences of abuse.[69][70][71]

Interviewer bias also plays a role in shaping child testimony. When an interviewer has a preconceived notion as to the truth of the matter being investigated, the questioning is conducted in a manner to extract statements that support these beliefs.[63] As a result, evidence that could disprove the belief is never sought by the interviewer. Additionally, positive reinforcement by the interviewer can taint child testimony. Often such reinforcement is given to encourage a spirit of cooperation by the child, but the impartial tone can quickly disappear as the interviewer nods, smiles, or offers verbal encouragement to "helpful" statements.[63] Some studies show that when interviewers make reassuring statements to child witnesses, the children are more likely to fabricate stories of past events that never occurred.[72]

Peer pressure also influences children to fabricate stories. Studies show that when a child witness is told that his or her friends have already testified that certain events occurred, the child witness was more likely to create a matching story.[73] The status of the interviewer can also influence a child's testimony, because the more authority an interviewer has such as a police officer, the more likely a child is to comply with that person's agenda.[74]

Finally, while there are supporters of the use of anatomically correct dolls in questioning victims of sexual abuse/molestation, there are also critics of this practice.[75] These critics say that because of the novelty of the dolls, children will act out sexually explicit acts with the dolls even if the child has not been sexually abused.[75] Another criticism is that because the studies that compare the differences between how abused and non-abused children play with these dolls are conflicting (some studies suggest that sexually abused children play with anatomically correct dolls in a more sexually explicit manner than non-abused children, while other studies suggest that there is no correlation), it is impossible to interpret what is meant by how a child plays with these dolls.[75]


  • 1982 – Kern county child abuse case
  • 1983 – McMartin preschool trial in California
  • 1984 – Fells Acres Day Care Center
  • 1984 – Bernard F. Baran, Jr., convicted January 30, 1985. The first known conviction of a day care worker
  • 1985 – Bronx Five case
  • 1985 – Wee Care Nursery School in New Jersey in April
  • 1987 – Cleveland child abuse scandal in England
  • 1987 – Friedman cases begin
  • 1989 – Glendale Montessori sexual abuse case in Stuart, Florida
  • 1989 – Little Rascals Day Care Center scandal in Edenton, North Carolina
  • 1990 – All charges dropped in McMartin preschool trial
  • 1991 – Christchurch Civic Creche, New Zealand, involving Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis
  • 1992 – Martensville Scandal, Martensville, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 1994 – start of Wenatchee Sex Rings case
  • 1996 – Convictions in the Kern county child abuse case overturned

See also[edit]


Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Innocence Lost, The Plea.". Frontline. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  2. ^ Miller, L (2001-07-06). "Parole Board recommends Amirault's commutation". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2007-11-04. Retrieved 2007-10-31. The Amiraults always insisted they were innocent, the victims of a sex-abuse hysteria that swept the country in the 1980s and questionable testimony from child witnesses. 
  3. ^ Jones, M (2004-09-19). "Who Was Abused?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  4. ^ "Los Angeles Pressing Inquiry Into Sexual Abuse Of Children.". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1984-04-01. Retrieved 2007-07-21. To the children at the Virginia McMartin Preschool, it was The Hollywood Game or Naked Movie Star. Adults use more sophisticated terms to describe the sexual games the children were reported to have played with trusted teachers, such as pedophilia, felony child abuse, child pornography. Despite stricter laws against the sexual abuse of children, three cases pending in Los Angeles alone indicate that trafficking in children for pleasure or profit has not disappeared. Seven defendants, including 76-year-old Virginia McMartin, who founded the school in 1956; her daughter, granddaughter and grandson, are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. They face a total of 115 counts of having sexual relations with children as young as 2 years old at the preschool center in suburban Manhattan Beach. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Mike (1989-11-13). "A Search For Victims Quest Search For The Truth In California Child Abuse Case Has Cost The Taxpayers Six Years, $15 Million.". Miami Herald. pp. 1C. 
  6. ^ "Child-Abuse Case Ends In 2 Acquittals Preschool Trial Lasted 32 Months.". Miami Herald. January 19, 1990. 
  7. ^ Chambers, Marcia (1986-12-21). "Sex Case Accuser is Found Dead.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  8. ^ "McMartin Preschool accuser recants.". October 30, 2005. Archived from the original (archive) on November 4, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-31. One of the 360 children who made accusations says he lied to protect his siblings and was never raped. ... Saying he lied to please his parents ... one of the children who claimed he was molested at the notorious McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach more than 20 years ago has recanted his original story. 
  9. ^ Zirpolo, Kyle (October 30, 2005). "McMartin Pre-Schooler: 'I Lied'". Los Angeles Times Magazine. Archived from the original on November 2, 2005. 
  10. ^ a b Talbot, Margaret (January 7, 2001). "The Lives They Lived: 01-07-01: Peggy McMartin Buckey, b. 1926; The Devil in The Nursery." (reprint from New America). The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Buckey's ordeal began in 1983, when the mother of a 2½-year-old who attended the McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, called the police to report that her son had been sodomized there. It didn't matter that the woman was eventually found to be a paranoid schizophrenic, and that the accusations she made – of teachers who took children on airplane rides to Palm Springs and lured them into a labyrinth of underground tunnels where the accused "flew in the air" and others were "all dressed up as witches" ... 
  11. ^ a b Collins, Glen (1986-12-14). "Nightmare in Country Walk". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-01. Mr. Fuster was convicted of molesting the children entrusted to his wife's care in their home in the middle-class Dade County suburb of Country Walk, a planned development that was intended to be an idyllic refuge from the anxieties of urban Miami. 
  12. ^ De Young, Mary (2004). The day care ritual abuse moral panic. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland. pp. 71. ISBN 0-7864-1830-3. 
  13. ^ "Video Excerpt – Did Daddy Do It – FRONTLINE". 
  14. ^ a b "Was Fuster a Monster?: A Summary of the Frank Fuster "Country Walk" Case". FRONTLINE. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Florida Department of Law Enforcement - Sexual Offender / Predator Flyer". Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "Day Care Workers Get Retrial, As Accusers Did Not Face Them.". The New York Times. August 30, 1995. Retrieved 2008-03-23. A judge ruled today that two women convicted of sexually abusing children at a suburban day care center in the 1980s should be granted a new trial because some of their child accusers were allowed to face away from them while testifying. The judge, Robert A. Barton of Lowell Superior Court, also set a bail hearing for Thursday for the women, Violet Amirault and her daughter, Cheryl Amirault LeFave, who have been jailed since they were convicted in 1987. The women could be released from prison while awaiting the new trial. Prosecutors said they would appeal. 
  17. ^ Rabinowitz, Dorothy (January 30, 1995). "A Darkness in Massachusetts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-31. On Labor Day 1984, 60-year-old Violet Amirault, proprietor of the thriving Fells Acres Day School in Malden, Massachusetts, received a call about a child-abuse accusation against her son. Two days later the police arrested 31-year-old Gerald (who worked at Fells Acres) on charges of raping a five-year-old boy, a new pupil. 
  18. ^ Rabinowitz, Dorothy (March 14, 1995). "A Darkness in Massachusetts – II". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-10-31. A few months after Violet and Cheryl Amirault were imprisoned for committing, the State alleged, barbarous sexual assaults on small children, the prosecutors sponsored a seminar titled "The Fells Acres Day School Case – A Model Multidisciplinary Response." 
  19. ^ Hardoon, Larry (January 24, 1995). "Letters to the Editor: The Real Darkness Is Child Abuse". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on July 19, 2001. 
  20. ^ "Video helps clear convict of abuse after 21 years." Associated Press / MSNBC. 2009-08-09. "The first complaint came from a drug addicted couple."
  21. ^ Berman, D., Lock, C., Rainey, R., Taub, L. 2004-06-24. The Trials of Bernard Baran, The Boston Phoenix Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine.. "'It was a way of life,' Joe Hill acknowledged in court documents, 'Nembutal, Seconal, Percodan, Heroin, cocaine, Methedrine. Is that enough?'"
  22. ^ Superior Court Criminal Action No. 18042-51. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts versus Bernard F. Baran, Jr. Memorandum of Decision and Order on Defendant's Motion For A New Trial. 2006-06-21. Background, p. 6. "In 1984, Bernard Baran worked at the Early Childhood Development Center ('ECDC') as a teacher's aide. The allegations in this case emanate from his contact with pre-school children who were enrolled in this facility. The first family to bring accusations against Mr. Baran was that of Boy A. Previously, the boy's father had filed a complaint with ECDC objecting to Mr. Baran being allowed to work with children because he was a homosexual. On September 12th, 1984, the ECDC Board of Directors discussed Mr. Baran's sexuality and his possible termination. On October 5th, 1984, this family contacted the police to report that Mr. Baran had molested their child."
  23. ^ "Video helps clear convict of abuse after 21 years." Associated Press / MSNBC. 2009-08-09. His case had followed a tortured path – the first complaint came from a drug-addicted couple, acting as narcotics informants, who told their police connection they "didn't want no homo" watching their son.
  24. ^ Superior Court Criminal Action No. 18042-51. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts versus Bernard F. Baran, Jr. Memorandum of Decision and Order on Defendant's Motion For A New Trial. 2006-06-21. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, p. 32. "The defendant claims that he was deprived of the effective assistance of trial counsel in many ways, such as by his failure to properly investigate the alleged offenses, his failure to seek meaningful discovery from the Commonwealth and any assistance from experts in child psychology, failed to properly prepare for trial, failed to develop evidence that would support the defense that the evidence was unreliable and was the creature of an unfair climate of hysteria, homophobia and suggestion."
  25. ^ Pollitt, Katha. 2000-02-03. "Justice for Bernard Baran." The Nation "Baran maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment, making him ineligible for parole."
  26. ^ "D.A. Capeless decides not to continue prosecuting Baran." 2009-06-09. The Berkshire County District Attorney's Office. Archived 2010-08-08 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ "20th-century witch hunt.". Associated Press. December 1, 1996. The Rev. Nathaniel Grady, a pious man and a fiery orator, was born to do the Lord's work. As a boy, he walked to Sunday school hand-in-hand with his mother and sister. As an adult, he became a Methodist minister, shepherding a devoted flock in the rugged East Bronx while fostering friendships with judges, bishops, police chiefs, an ex-governor. Yet, prosecutors ignored Nat Grady's past when he was accused in 1984 of sexually abusing a half-dozen ... 
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Further reading[edit]

  • Hechler, David (1988). The Battle and the Backlash—The Child Sexual Abuse War. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-669-14097-X. 
  • Lyon, Kathryn (1998). Witch Hunt: A True Story of Social Hysteria and Abused Justice. Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-79066-1. 

External links[edit]