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10/30/2005 Archived Entry: "McMartin Preschool accuser recants"

McMartin Preschool accuser recants. "Saying he lied to please his parents and protect his younger siblings, 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. Kyle Zirpolo, now 30 and living near Santa Barbara, was among 360 children who told lurid stories of rape, animal mutilations and satanic rituals that would shock the South Bay and reverberate around the world starting in 1983."

During the McMartin hysteria, I lived in Los Angeles...[please click on more]

....about a 45-minute drive from Manhattan Beach where the case was centered. Day-in and day-out for many, many months, there was media saturation with every reporter racing to dig up more lurid and absurd stories from the lips of toddlers. Eventually, after putting the Buckey family who ran the Preschool center through unmitigated hell, no one was convicted of anything. Nor should they have been. It was through watching the McMartin trial unfold that I developed my deep antagonism toward "Syndromes" being used in court rooms. The children who testified had all been through intensive "therapy" to help them remember the trauma they'd allegedly experienced. Typically, when a child said 'nothing happened', the therapist would ask the same question over and over again, all the while reassuring the child that 'it is okay if something did happen. You'd be a brave girl/boy to talk about it.'

In an interview Ray Buckey said of the children who testified against his family. "It was really only a small minority that was causing all the trouble," Buckey said. "To believe them, you had to believe that half the community, half the businesses and the police were all part of an underground group of satanic pedophiles." And, yet, this is exactly what many people did believe. BTW, the satanic reference comes from some of the later embellishments on the stories told by children -- e.g. about the sacrifice of horses etc. on church altars.

The 1995 movie Indictment with James Woods did an excellent job in capturing the mood and message of the McMartin trial. Highly recommended.

P.S. Having posted the preceding, I just stumbled over a very nice analysis at Spiked -- an ezine to which I subscribe -- written by mick Hume. He asks, "Why do we believe these anti-human horror stories? From Lozells to New Orleans, unsubstantiated rumours of rape, murder and depravity are now being spread as hard fact. Why do we seem so ready to believe the worst of others these days?"

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