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. 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.
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.
Suggestions and false allegations when interviewing childrenEdit
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Children are vulnerable to outside influences that lead to fabrication of testimony. 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. 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. 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. Children are also especially susceptible to leading and suggestive questions. Some studies have shown that only a small percentage of children produce fictitious reports of sexual abuse on their own. Other studies have shown that children understate occurrences of abuse.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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 - Dan and Fran Keller, Fran's Daycare Center, Oak Hill, Texas
- 1991 – Christchurch Civic Creche, New Zealand, involving Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis
- 1992 - Kaare Sortland is killed after being found not guilty of child abuse
- 1992 – Martensville Scandal, Martensville, Saskatchewan, Canada
- 1994 – Wenatchee Sex Rings case
- 1996 – Convictions in the Kern county child abuse case overturned
- 2013 - Dan and Fran Keller released from prison, four years before being ruled innocent of the charges against them
The McMartin Preschool case was the first daycare abuse case to receive major media attention in the United States. The case centered upon the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, where seven teachers were accused of kidnapping children, flying them in a plane to another location, and forcing them to engage in group sex as well as forcing them to watch animals be tortured and killed. The case also involved accusations that children had been forced to participate in bizarre religious rituals, and been used to make child pornography. The case began with a single accusation, made by the mother - who was later found to be a paranoid schizophrenic - of one of the students, but grew rapidly when investigators informed parents of the accusation and began interviewing other students. The case made headlines nationwide in 1984, and seven teachers were arrested and charged that year. When a new district attorney took over the case in 1986, however, his office re-examined the evidence and dropped charges against all but two of the original defendants. Their trials became one of the longest and most expensive criminal trials in the history of the United States, but in 1990 all of these charges were also dropped. Both jurors at the trial and academic researchers later criticized the interviewing techniques that investigators had used in their investigations of the school, alleging that interviewers had "coaxed" children into making unfounded accusations, repeatedly asking children the same questions and offering various incentives until the children reported having been abused. Most scholars now agree that the accusations these interviews elicited from children were false. Sociologist Mary de Young and historian Philip Jenkins have both cited the McMartin case as the prototype for a wave of similar accusations and investigations between 1983 and 1995, which constituted a moral panic.
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. He was sentenced to prison with a minimum length of 165 years. Fuster's victims testified that he led them in Satanic rituals and terrorized them by forcing them to watch him mutilate birds, a lesson to children who might reveal the abuse. Fuster had been previously convicted for manslaughter and for fondling a 9-year-old child. Testimony from children in the case was elicited by University of Miami child psychologists Laurie and Joseph Braga. Fuster's wife recanted her court testimony in an interview with Frontline, saying that she had been kept naked in solitary confinement and subjected to other forms of physical and psychological duress until she had agreed to testify against her husband.
The case was prosecuted by Dade County state's attorney Janet Reno. As of June, 2017, Fuster continues to serve a 165-year prison sentence. The incident also inspired a book and made-for-TV movie called Unspeakable Acts (1990).
Fells Acres Day Care CenterEdit
In April 1984, Gerald Amirault was arrested and charged with abusing children in his care at the Fells Acres Day Care Center in Malden, Massachusetts. After Gerald changed the pants on a young boy who had wet himself, the boy's mother, uncle and therapist questioned him over a period of months, until the boy alleged that Gerald had been sexually abusing him. The boy's mother then called a child abuse hotline to report that her son had been sexually abused, and Gerald was arrested shortly thereafter. 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 also convicted of similar charges and sentenced to jail for eight to 20 years. According to Richard Beck, the case developed "in the usual way" compared to other moral panic cases, with more and more children leveling increasingly bizarre allegations against the accused during the course of the investigation. The allegations included reports of "bad clowns," robots, "magic rooms," and tortured animals. According to Beck, one of the prosecutors responsible for the case commented that coaxing allegations out of the children had been like "getting blood from a stone."
In 1995, The Wall Street Journal journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz questioned testimony from the children that had been elicited with dubious interrogation techniques, writing, "no sane person reading the transcripts of these interrogations can doubt the wholesale fabrications of evidence on which this case was built." Rabinowitz was a finalist for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for her newspaper columns on the issue, and made the Amirault's case a centerpiece of her book No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times. Violet and Cheryl were granted a new trial in 1997, on the basis that they had been denied the right to face their accusers and had been inadequately represented at trial, but Violet died and a judge reduced Cheryl's sentence to time served before the new trial could proceed. In 2001, the Massachusetts Board of Pardons recommended that Gerald's sentence be commuted, citing "substantial doubt" about his guilt. He was granted parole in 2003. Writing about the case at the time of Gerald's release, The Economist suggested in an editorial that while the Amiraults had long maintained their innocence and had attracted a "string of prominent supporters" who believed that they had been wrongly convicted, "many others continue to believe that Mr. Amirault committed the crimes."
On October 4, 1984, a drug addicted couple acting as police informants 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. The accusers had previously complained to the board of directors that they "didn't want no homo" around their son.
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. 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.
The Bronx FiveEdit
Prosecutor Mario Merola brought prosecutions leading to the conviction of five men, including Nathaniel Grady, a 47-year-old Methodist minister, of sexually abusing children in day care centers throughout the Bronx. Grady spent ten years in prison before being released in 1996.
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. Federal and city investigators then questioned dozens of children at the day care. They used 'dolls, gentle words and a quiet approach.' More children reported being sexually abused, raising the total to 30. Three more day care centers also were investigated for sexual abuse. On August 11, 1984, federal funds were cut off to the Head Start preschool program at the Praca Day Care Center and three employees had been arrested. In June 1985, the day care center was reopened with new sponsorship.
In January 1986, Albert Algerin, employed at the Praca Day Care center, was sentenced to 50 years for rape and sexual abuse. In May, Praca employee Jesus Torres, a former teacher's aide was sentenced to 40 years. Praca employee Franklin Beauchamp had his case overturned in New York Court of Appeals in May 1989.
All five convictions were ultimately overturned.
Wee Care Nursery SchoolEdit
This section contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (April 2017)
In Maplewood, New Jersey, in April 1985, Margaret Kelly Michaels was indicted for 299 offenses in connection with the sexual assault of 33 children. Michaels denied the charges. "The prosecution produced expert witnesses who said that almost all the children displayed symptoms of sexual abuse." 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." Some of the other teachers testified against her. "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."
Michaels was sentenced to 47 years in the "sex case." Michaels "told the judge that she was confident her conviction would be overturned on appeal." 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." 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." The original judge was also criticized "for the way in which he allowed the children to give televised testimony from his chambers."
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.
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, pleaded guilty 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. Although he maintained his innocence, Toward said he plea-bargained to avoid an almost certain life sentence.
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.
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. In 1995, the North Carolina Court of Appeals granted new trials to two defendants, including Kelly. Charges were ultimately dropped for both.
The remainder of the defendants received a variety of sentences.
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.
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. 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. Akiki's public defenders received the Public Defender of the Year award for their work defending Akiki.
Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trialEdit
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
On June 20, 2017, the Travis County district attorney's office announced that the case against the Kellers had been dismissed, citing actual innocence. They were awarded $3.4 million in compensation from the state of Texas for the 21 years they spent in prison.
Wenatchee child abuse prosecutionsEdit
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. 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. A jury found the city of Wenatchee and Douglas County, Washington, negligent in the 1994–1995 investigations. In 2001, $3 million was awarded to a couple who had been wrongly accused in the inquiry.
Christchurch Civic CrècheEdit
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.
Martensville satanic sex scandalEdit
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".
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." In 2003, defendants sued for wrongful prosecution. In 2004, Richard and Kari Klassen received $100,000 each, out of the $1.5 million compensation package awarded for the malicious prosecution.
- False allegation of child sexual abuse
- False memories
- Moral panic
- Pizzagate conspiracy theory
- Repressed memory
- Salem witch trials
- Satanic ritual abuse
- Witch hunt
- Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome
- The Hunt (2012)
Notes and referencesEdit
- "Innocence Lost, The Plea". Frontline. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
- 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.
- 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" ...
- Pendergrast, Mark. Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives. ISBN 0-942679-18-0.
'It seems [the day-care sex- abuse hysteria] had something to do with this fear that we'd turned our kids over to total strangers,' sociologist Catherine Beckett says ...
- Carter, Sherrie Bourg (2005). Children in the Courtroom. p. 21.
- Ceci & Bruck 1996
- McGough, Lucy S. (1994). Child Witnesses: Fragile Voices in the American Legal System. p. 72.
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, pp. 79–81
- Carter, p. 21.
- Jones, D. P. H., and J. M. McGraw: Reliable and Fictitious Accounts of Sexual Abuse to Children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2, 27–45, 1987 doi:10.1177/088626087002001002 
- Oates, R. K., D.P. Jones, D. Denson, A. Sirotnak, N. Gary, and R.D. Krugman: Erroneous Concerns about Child Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect 24: 149–57, 2000  "There were 14 (2.5%) erroneous concerns emanating from children."
- Everson, M.D., and B. W. Boat: False Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 28, 230–35, 1989.
- Mikkelsen, E.J.; T.G. Gutheil; M Emens (1992), "False Sexual-Abuse Allegations by Children and Adolescents: Contextual Factors and Clinical Subtypes", American Journal of Psychotherapy 46: 556–70, 1992., 46 (4), pp. 556–70, PMID 1443285,
False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents are statistically uncommon, occurring at the rate of 2 to 10 percent of all cases.
- Lawson, L.; Chaffin, M (1992), "False negatives in sexual abuse disclosure interviews", Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7(4), pp. 532–42
- Sjoberg, R. L.; Lindblad, F (2002). "Limited disclosure of sexual abuse in children whose experiences were documented by videotape". American Journal of Psychiatry. 159 (2): 312–14. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.159.2.312. PMID 11823279.
- Malloy, L.C.; Lyon, T.D.; Quas, J.A. (2007). "Filial dependency and recantation of child sexual abuse allegations". Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 46 (2): 162–70. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000246067.77953.f7.
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, p. 140
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, pp. 146–47
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, p. 152
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, p. 162
- James M. Wood; Debbie Nathan; M. Teresa Nezworski; Elizabeth Uhl (10 August 2009). "Child Sexual Abuse Investigations: Lessons Learned from the McMartin and Other Daycare Cases". In Bette L. Bottoms; Cynthia J. Najdowski; Gail S. Goodman. Children as Victims, Witnesses, and Offenders: Psychological Science and the Law. Guilford Press. pp. 81–101. ISBN 978-1-60623-358-0.
- "During the 1980s and early 1990s, American newspaper headlines tracked an epidemic of bizarre sexual abuse cases as it spread across the nation. From California to Massachusetts to Florida, hundreds of young children reported being victimized by their teacher and daycare workers, often in orgies involving se rings or satanic cults."
- "Social scientists now generally agree that, although sexual abuse of children is a real and important social problem, the bizarre allegations that fueled the daycare cases of the 1980s were mainly or entirely false."
- Philip Jenkins (1 December 2004). Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10963-4.
- "The McMartin affair was followed by dozens of comparable cases in all parts of the country, all involving bizarre or ritualistic methods of abuse and all sharing similar backgrounds. Whether in Bakersfield (California), Jordan (Minnesota), Edenton, (North Carolina), Martensville (Canada) or Wenatchee (Washington), the affair generally began with a limited, plausible allegation... in the ensuing investigation, interrogation of child "victims" produced evidence that far more abuse had occurred than originally thought, and ultimately the compounding reports and rumors would implicate dozens of local residents in what could only be called sex rings or cults. Supposed victims were questioned, until they confirmed the charges and offered their own creative embellishments."
- "Most day care and preschool prosecutions resulted in either the acquittal of the accused or the conviction of some individuals on counts that involved neither satanic nor ritualistic elements. Even these convictions were often overturned when appeals courts examined the means by which testimony had been elicited from children."
- Nadja Schreiber, Lisa D. Bellah, Yolanda Martinez, Kristin A. McLaurin, Renata Strok, Sena Garven, and James M. Wood, "Suggestive interviewing in the McMartin Preschool and Kelly Michaels daycare abuse cases: A case study," Social Influence Vol. 1, Iss. 1, 2006.
- "In the 1980s and early 1990s the United States witnessed an epidemic of what some commentators have called 'Satanic panic' ... contributing to the panic was a national outbreak of so-called 'daycare abuse' cases, in which groups of young children alleged that they had been sexually abused by their caretakers and forced to participate in bizarre ceremonies with satanic overtones. Many social scientists, scholars, and legal authorities now view the stories of Satanic conspiracy that circulated in the 1980s as urban legends, and the daycare abuse cases as historical aberrations... Psychological researchers have taken a special interest in the interviewing techniques in these cases, which apparently induced children to make false accusations."
- Garven, Sena, et al. "More than suggestion: The effect of interviewing techniques from the McMartin Preschool case." Journal of Applied Psychology 83, no. 3 (June 1998): 347–59.
- During the 1980s a series of highly publicized “daycare ritual abuse cases” erupted in communities across the United States and Europe. The cases typically involved allegations by preschool children that they had been terrorized and sexually abused by day-care workers in bizarre scenarios with Satanic or ritualistic overtones. Some scholars continue to take the view that these cases were genuine and involved actual ritual abuse (Faller, 1996; Summit, 1994). However, skepticism has become widespread among research psychologists. An extensive body of research, arising in the wake of the day-care cases of the 1980s, has identified a variety of interviewing techniques that can induce children to make false reports.
- Mary de Young (9 February 2004). The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-1830-5.
- 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.
- De Young, Mary (2004). The day care ritual abuse moral panic. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland. pp. 71. ISBN 0-7864-1830-3.
- "Did Daddy Do It". Frontline. Transcript. PBS. April 25, 2002.
- "Was Fuster a Monster?: A Summary of the Frank Fuster "Country Walk" Case". Frontline. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Florida Department of Law Enforcement – Sexual Offender / Predator Flyer". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Richard Beck (4 August 2015). We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s. PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-1-61039-288-4.
- Dorothy Rabinowitz (2 March 2004). No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-2840-4.
- "Day Care Workers Get Retrial, As Accusers Did Not Face Them". The New York Times. August 30, 1995. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
- "Profile: Case of Gerald Amirault, a convicted child sex offender, and the prosecution of child sexual molestation cases." All Things Considered, April 19, 2000. General OneFile (accessed May 3, 2017).
- Rabinowitz, Dorothy (January 30, 1995). "A Darkness in Massachusetts". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009.
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.
- Rabinowitz, Dorothy (March 14, 1995). "A Darkness in Massachusetts – II". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009.
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."
- Kathleen Burge, "Board Grants Parole to Amirault," Boston Globe 18 October 2003.
- "Freedom for Gerald Amirault," Hartford Courant, 23 October 2003
- "A matter of evidence; crime and punishment," The Economist. 1 May 2004.
- "Video helps clear convict of abuse after 21 years." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32341725/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/ Associated Press / MSNBC. 2009-08-09. "The first complaint came from a drug addicted couple."
- Berman, D., Lock, C., Rainey, R., Taub, L. 2004-06-24. The Trials of Bernard Baran, The Boston Phoenix [https://web.archive.org/web/20100612171804/http://bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/03917095.asp 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?'"
- 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."
- "Video helps clear convict of abuse after 21 years." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32341725/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/ 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.
- Pollitt, Katha. 2000-02-03. "Justice for Bernard Baran." The Nation "Baran maintained his innocence throughout his imprisonment, making him ineligible for parole."
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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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An employee of a day-care center in Maplewood, N.J., has been indicted for 229 offenses in connection with the sexual assault of 33 children between 3 and 6 years of age over a 6-month period.
- Narvaez, A. (February 28, 1988). "Former Day-Care Teacher Denies Sexually Abusing Schoolchildren". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
A former day-care center teacher being tried on charges of sexually abusing 20 children in her care testified in her defense this week and denied ever having had sexual contact with the 3- 4- and 5-year-old youngsters.
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Legal arguments in the nine-month trial of a day-care teacher accused of sexually abusing 20 children at a center in Maplewood ended here today.
- Rangel, J. (August 3, 1988). "Ex-Preschool Teacher Sentenced To 47 Years in Sex Case in Jersey". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
A former preschool teacher was sentenced today to 47 years in prison for sexually assaulting 19 children and endangering the welfare of another child in a day-care center in Maplewood
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A New Jersey appeals court yesterday overturned the conviction of Margaret Kelly Michaels, who was accused of sexually abusing 19 children at a day-care center in Maplewood, and who was sentenced to 47 years in prison after a celebrated trial in 1988.
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- Ceci & Bruck 1996, pp. 9–11
- Ceci & Bruck 1996, p. 28
- "Texas frees daycare operator accused of 'satanic' sexual abuse". 27 November 2013 – via Reuters.
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- Barber, Mike; Lange, Larry (2001-08-01). "Jury finds city, county negligent in child sex ring case". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
A Spokane County jury yesterday found the city of Wenatchee and Douglas County negligent in the now-discredited 1994–1995 Wenatchee child sex ring investigations, awarding $3 million to a couple who had been wrongly accused in the inquiry.
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The nightmare that descended on Martensville, Saskatchewan began when a local mother had some grave suspicions. She worked as a nurse at a Saskatoon hospital and left her kids with a babysitter only a few blocks from her home. ... By the spring of 1992 Martensville was reeling with rumours about a Satanic cult called The Brotherhood of The Ram that had police officers as members. It was an explosive situation and the Martensville police were under tremendous pressure to do something about it.
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Travis Sterling, son of the day care's owners, was convicted of two counts of sexual assault. He was the only person convicted. ... Early reports of the case suggested the alleged abuse was part of a satanic ritual, but after an RCMP task force took over the investigation, it concluded the original investigation was motivated by "emotional hysteria."
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Richard and Kari Klassen received $100,000 each, a share of a $1.5 million compensation package for malicious prosecution.
- Ross E. Cheit, David Mervis, "Myths About the Country Walk Case" Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Vol. 16(3) 2007