Friday, 23 June 2017

The Little Rascals Day Care Fiasco                                                   

This particular Day Care Center was located in Edenton—a small town of 5,000 in the State of North Carolina.

During the winter of 1988-1989, Edenton police attended a Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) seminar. The first allegation of abuse in the day care followed shortly afterwards. One theory is that the first mention of abuse followed the accidental hitting of a child at the day care; another story has the first allegation following intensive questioning of a child by his mother under the guidance of a SRA course attendee.

Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) can be defined as psychological, sexual, spiritual, and/or physical assault forced on an unwilling human victim, and committed by one or more Satanists according to a prescribed ritual. The primary aim of the rituals is to fulfill their need to worship the Christian devil, Satan.

A "Satanic Panic" swept over the U.S. and Canada, starting about 1980 and continuing until the late 1990s. Many persons had beliefs that underground and sometimes inter-generational Satanic cults were murdering as many as 60,000 people per year, and exposing many tens of thousands of others—mainly children to horrendous levels of abuse. The panic slowly died out after 15 years because of lack of hard evidence that there was any evidence that these horrific murders and abuses by Satanic cults ever really existed.  

The panic was facilitated by a lack of knowledge of how human memory works. Over time, researchers have greatly increased their knowledge in this area. Studies revealed the dangers of improper interviewing of children that caused therapists to accidentally implant false memories of abuse into children's minds which then resulted in the children having memories of events that never actually happened.

Today, most investigators have concluded that Satanic Ritual Abuse was a hoax that was inadvertently perpetrated by sincere therapists, newspaper reporters, clergy, etc. It adversely affected hundreds of thousands of victims and members of the victims' families. However, there are still many people who believe that SRA was real; some believe it is still going on. Books are still being written as if SRA was real.

The irony is that "Satanic Ritual Abuse” was a hoax triggered by a 1980 fictional novel presented as non-fiction called Michelle Remembers. The Satanic Panic resulted in the convictions of abuse of 150 innocent adults with evidence based in false memories implanted in children's minds—memories of events that never happened. By 1995, police finally established that there was no hard evidence that any of it had happened, and the hoax collapsed. However, there are probably many tens of thousands of adults with implanted memories who are still suffering today

Unfortunately, before the Edenton police wised up about the children in Little Rascals Day Care Center having false memories planted in their young minds, they took the accusations seriously.

As in other similar cases, the children initially denied abuse at the school. However, after repeated interrogations, they started to reveal sexual and then ritual abuse. Children were criticized or rewarded in accordance with the abuse content of their stories. Cases against 13 of the adults who were accused by the children were not pursued; the remaining 7 were arrested. Two workers at the school, Dawn Wilson and Robin Byrum spent time in jail. Dawn was separated from her 19 month old infant; Robin was separated from her 3 month old infant. They were offered immunity from prosecution if they would testify against the main defendants, Bob and Betsy Kelly. Both refused to accept the prosecution's deal, apparently because neither had observed any abuse. If they had seen any abuse, it is very highly probable that both would have jumped at the offer of immunity. Otherwise, they could expected to be tried as co-conspirators in hundreds of Little Rascals' abuse cases and never see the light of day again.

Some of the children's disclosures included:
  being taken to the back room of a store and sexually abused. There is a very wide opening between the back room and the rest of the store, so that any sexual abuse would have been perpetrated in the full view of customers. 
  being taken on board a space ship and flown into outer space where they were sexually abused.
  seeing a large fish tank where sharks were trained.
  being taken on board a ship into the ocean and abused while trained sharks swam around the boat.

Now you would think that those investigating this particular case would come to the conclusion that there was definitely something fishy about the accusations against the staff.                

Bob Kelly was tried on 100 charges and found guilty on 99 of them and given 12 consecutive life sentences. Dawn Wilson was then tried on 5 counts and given one life sentence with no possibility of parole for 20 years. The third trial was to be of Betsy Kelly. She was faced with 30 charges involving 16 children. She accepted a "no contest" plea which allowed her to go free. She gave a speech to the court indicating her innocence. Willard Privott, a local merchant who claimed to have never been in the day care building, was held in jail for 30 months. He was unable to raise the 1 million dollar bail. He was interrogated only once, and initially given a plea bargain involving "only" a 50 year jail term. Eventually, he was offered and accepted a "no contest" plea bargain which would enable him to leave jail with time served. He also read a statement in court maintaining his innocence.

Of particular interest is the information the Jury received about the Little Rascals pre-school case in North Carolina. Eighty-five percent of the children received therapy with three therapists in the town; all of these children eventually reported various forms of satanic abuse. Fifteen percent of the children were treated by different therapists in a neighboring city. None of those children reported abuse of any kind after undergoing therapy during the same period of time.

Bob Kelly's and Dawn Wilson's guilty verdicts were overturned by an appeals court because of massive errors during their trials, to wit;  the trial judge refused to review transcripts of the children's interrogation. The judge allowed parents to testify as expert witnesses, even though they were not qualified to do so. There was gross misconduct by the prosecutors. The prosecutor, Nancy Lamb, decided in May of 1997 to not proceed with retrials. She said that the parents did not want their children to experience the stress of another trial subsequently, a new trial would have been clearly impossible.

If there was a new trial, the reliability of the children's' testimony would be destroyed by real experts in child interview techniques.  Further, there was no hard physical or medical evidence that anything "funny" happened at Edenton. As a result, all of the charges against everyone were dropped.

Bob Kelly was later charged with 8 child abuse indictments involving a girl who was 10 years old at the time of her alleged abuse in 1987. (Some sources say 9 years). These charges are unrelated to the Little Rascals cases, and were also dropped.

Every one of those persons in this particular case who were accused of doing strange so-called abuses against the children suffered because of the inept therapists who should never have been permitted to practice, the prosecutors who didn’t care what the accused had to say and who maliciously denied justice and continued to deny exoneration  to seven innocent defendants,  the judge hearing the case who obviously was stupid and the jurors who sat in the jury box who were definably not fit to make any kind of decisions. 

It would appear that in this case, the memories of abuse were accidentally implanted by Edenton therapists who foolishly believed in the reality of Satanic ritual abuse. The out-of-town therapists, who had no such belief system, found no abuse at all: Satanic or otherwise. Any group of young children anywhere in North America, if exposed to the same questioning procedures by believers in Satanic ritual abuse, would probably eventually accuse dozens of local adults with hundreds of crimes even when  some od the supposed crimes are absolutely provably false.

As with other cases in North America and elsewhere where ritual abuse has been alleged, I suspect that no ritual abuse occurred in Edenton of elsewhere. Probably no other abuse happened either, in the Little Rascals Day Care Centre other than the apparently accidental slapping of one boy. As in other cases, the children will be scarred for life by the memories inadvertently planted by the interviewers. There is probably little difference between a child actually being abused and children having had false memories of abuse implanted their minds. Both will be partly disabled for life.

At least two of the defendants have gone through divorces; all have been profoundly stressed and financially impoverished by these events. Perhaps if they sued the therapists who caused these victims all of their problems, the pain would be lessened.

Sometime in the future, I will tell you of another such fiasco.  

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