first posted 971118
last major change 971130
last minor change Y11219
Return to general index (in part 1)
index for this section only
Scroll back to end of previous section
(1) Healthy Western democracies do not countenance human sacrifice. The Amiraults have an absolute right to justice, just as the despised Jew Albert Dreyfus did a century ago in France.
(2) The methods used to brainwash the Fells Acres accusers, turning healthy children into screaming wrecks, are themselves a devastating form of child abuse. By discrediting such methods at Fells Acres, we are likely to save hundreds, even thousands of children in the future. (See section 7A and section 8 below.)
(3) Are the motives of those who want to "spare the victims" as honorable as they would like us to believe? Or are some afraid that the "victims" might finally suspect the truth, and demand an accounting from the quack psychotherapy, rogue investigators, and overly suggestible parents who really victimized them?
(2) Thomas F. Reilly-- current MA Attorney General, former Middlesex Country DA (1991-1999).
Like his predecessor Scott Harshbarger, Thomas Reilly as Middlesex County DA strongly defended the prosecution and looked for sympathetic coverage in the media.
(3) Larry Hardoon, the lead Fells Acres prosecutor, now is a private lawyer specializing in civil child-abuse lawsuits.
In the "Boston Globe" (1992), he asked, should not society be "willing to trade off a couple of situations that are really unfair in exchange for being sure that hundreds of children are protected?" Given his readiness to condone even those persecutions he knows are "unfair," he obviously has no use for fuddy-duddies like Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780): "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer" ("Commentaries," book IV, Ch. 27).
(4) William F. Weld, MA governor 1990-97, kept an invisibly low profile on Fells Acres.
(5) Our new governor Paul Cellucci has also avoided taking a public position on Fells Acres.
I understand he was of no help in the intense behind-the-scenes bargaining that saved Cheryl Amirault LeFave from returning to prison in October 1999. Perhaps he is simply a cypher, or perhaps he calculates that reflexive subservience to prosecutors might burnish "law-and-order" credentials with a possible new Republican President in Jan 2001. He may well have it wrong, however; Janet Reno, who made her break into national politics with cases similar to Fells Acres, is not a favorite among Republican conservatives.
(6) Elizabeth Dolan, judge at the 1986 trial of Gerald Amirault, refuses to admit to errors in the first trial. In 1993, she presided over a disreputable "repressed memory" trial of Ray and Shirley Sousa. I believe she may have retired as judge in 1998.
(7) John Paul Sullivan, judge at the 1987 trial of Violet and Cheryl Amirault, has since returned to private law practice. (This commonly happens with Massachusetts judges whose children are reaching college age.) Based on what has been learned since 1987 about the suggestibility of small children and the unsubstantiated hysteria behind "ritual abuse" scares, Judge Sullivan has come to believe the 1987 verdict should be overturned.
[His statement should be an acute embarrassment to prosecution supporters (eg Eileen McNamara), who repeatedly claim that skeptics are only found among the ignorant, people who did not attend the (overwhelmingly convincing) original trials. The prosecution's response, so far, has been to pretend Judge Sullivan doesn't exist.]
(2) How could Violet Amirault have inflicted her son Gerald (as a boy) with the nickname "Tooky"?
(3) After she was released on bail in 1995, Violet Amirault got into a nasty divorce with Bob Leighton.
I don't know who was at fault for the marriage breakdown; quite possibly nobody was. Prison marriages have a notoriously high failure rate; it is one thing to visit someone once a week and exchange letters, but something else entirely to have to live with them 24 hours a day. Among unquestionably honorable people with failed prison marriages are Nelson Mandela and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Violet Amirault filed in court for a 209a "Restraining Order" to keep Bob Leighton out of their jointly-owned condominium, alleging he had been violent. This lost her the sympathy of, among others, a divorced fathers' group; many of them had lost their homes and life savings because of fraudulently-acquired restraining orders.
The Leighton family, previously articulate defenders of Violet Amirault, took the 209a filing as a declaration of war. Bob Leighton brought his complaints to longtime Amirault foe Dan Kennedy of the "Boston Phoenix." Kennedy sympathetically presented Leighton's story in the "Phoenix," and went on to suggest that if Amirault lied to get the restraining order, she may have lied about Fells Acres as well.
I disagree. Even if Violet was at fault in the divorce (I did not know either her or Bob L. well enough to say), that might merely show the cumulative impact of 11 years of hell on the mind of a cancer-ridden woman in her 70s.
["The Boys of St. Vincent's," a powerful Canadian made-for-TV production, was a fictionalized dramatization of real abuse 1953-1958 at Newfoundland's Mount Cashel orphanage, run by the Christian Brothers lay order.]
(2) The orphanage molestations were individual crimes, rather than collective orgies of "ritual abuse."
(3) The orphans had no need for weeks of hypnosis and leading questions to remember that they had been molested.
Child psychologists Stephen Ceci and Maggie Bruck (section 7A below) find this argument, heard over and over again in "ritual abuse" cases, to be unpersuasive. They cite ("Jeopardy in the Courtroom," p. 35) studies showing (1) that small children may stay silent while a threatening abuser is present, but (2) such children quickly forget the threat as soon as the threatener leaves the area, and become just as likely to talk as children who were not threatened.
Children who have been brainwashed into thinking they were abused suffer exactly the same traumas as children who really were abused. See also the statement of 45 research psychologists at the end (paragraph 8) of this article.
Index, Sections 5 to 8 only
(2) 1684: The British Crown revoked the colonial charter of Massachusetts, overthrowing a narrow theocracy that deprived 80% of the population of civil rights.
(3) October 1692-- A group of Dutch and French ministers in New York denounced the use of "spectral evidence" (testimony about dreams) in witchcraft trials.
(This emboldened the Royal governor of Massachusetts, Sir William Phips, to put a stop to further executions of Salem "witches.")
(b) If you have a politically-inclined Massachusetts friend, you might ask some questions
2. about the possibility that the state's next governor might be a man (Atty Gen Harshbarger) who built his career on railroading three innocent people. One of the first acts of Janet Reno, a politician of similarly disreputable origins, was to barbecue the children at Waco, largely based on unfounded reports they were being "abused." Is Massachusetts really ready to run a similar risk?
3. about the possibility that the next attorney general might be a man (Middlesex County DA Reilly) who sees political advantage in railroading innocent people
4. whether it is time for Massachusetts to appoint a panel of reputable scientists to evaluate the Fells Acres evidence in view of what has been learned since the original trials about "repressed memory" and "ritual abuse" scares.
5. whether it is time for Massachusetts to take broader precautions against other injustices, eg by
B. reexamining other prosecutions dependent solely on "repressed memory," or comparable forms of leading interrogation of "accusers."
Many, indeed quite likely most of the people at the "Globe" are decent and honorable, and would be ashamed of the hatchet-job David Armstrong and Kevin Cullen did on Bob Chatelle [section 4B(6) above]. So be polite, and don't be a nag (aka "kook"), lest your concern be counter-productive.
Nevertheless, it would do good, politely to ask your "Globe" acquaintance for an opinion. Such curiosity by society at large is bound to find its way back to the workplace, and create a considerably less nurturing environment for sleaze.
Index, Sections 5 to 8 only
Psychologists Ceci and Bruck were among the first to demonstrate that leading questions implant false memories in young children.
Though skeptical of day-care "ritual abuse" (pp. 26-29), they are not pushovers for the defense in all abuse cases. They argue that tentative, even contradictory testimony from a young child should not be dismissed with the same automatic skepticism as similar testimony from an adult, provided said testimony actually comes from the child's own memory. Careful recording (ie videotaping) of the first interview is crucial for later investigators, judges, and juries to distinguish between original memory and later influence.
B. For a good historical overview of the "Satanic ritual abuse" hysteria, see Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedeker, "Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern Witch Hunt," Basic Books (Harper Collins Publishers Inc.), New York, 1995.
C. Other interesting references can be found with Internet searches against
"The authors of this brief also wish to convey their deep concern over the children in this case. Our concern is that if there were incidents of sexual abuse, the faulty interviewing procedures make it impossible to ever know who the perpetrators were and how the abuse occurred. Thus poor interviewing procedures make it difficult to detect real abuse. But we have further concerns. And these involve the interviewing techniques which we view as abusive in themselves. After reading a number of these interviews, it is difficult to believe that adults charged with the care and protection of young children would be allowed to use the vocabulary that they used in these interviews, that they would be allowed to interact with the children in such sexually explicit ways, or that they would be allowed to bully and frighten their child witnesses in such a shocking manner. No amount of evidence that sexual abuse had actually occurred could ever justify the use of these techniques especially with three- and four-year-old children. Above and beyond the great stress, intimidation, and embarrassment that many of the children so obviously suffered during the interviews, we are deeply concerned about the long-lasting harmful effects of persuading children that they have been horribly sexually and physically abused, when in fact there may have been no abuse until the interviews began. The authors of this brief will be permanently disturbed that children were interviewed in such abusive circumstances regardless of the ultimate innocence or guilt of the accused."
Return to general index (in part 1)
Index, Sections 5 to 8 only
Return to Bob Chatelle's Fells Acres site.
Go to HSC home page