Rebuttal of Wendy Murphy posting, Jul 2001

She opposed release of last Amirault in Fells Acres day-care ritual-abuse case

Copyright © 2001 by Hugo S. Cunningham

first posted y10920
last minor update Y10920

This is derived from a Usenet posting:


Wendy Murphy, noted cheerleader for the Fells Acres witch hunt, is a nationally-known spokesperson for junk science.

Wendy Murphy wrote [all italicized]:

I was pleased to see Judy Beals speaking out in support of the Amirault victims. It is frustrating to see the media falling all over itself to help get "Tooky" out of prison and there seem to be few voices on the "other" side. I have no idea whether Jane Doe has considered writing a formal letter to Gov. Swift against commutation, but whatever is done as an organization, we can all - as individuals - at least e-mail the governor a brief note about our thoughts on the case. (for those who may not know the facts - E.K. at Justice for Children, C.S. at the AG's office

So AG Thomas Reilly still has connections with these shameful people -- not too surprising considering his record in 1991-1999.

and the Leadership Council - a national non-profit on whose board I sit as an officer and for whom I wrote an amicus brief - can provide information for your review ).

It was reported in the Boston Globe last week that Swift has received about 80 emails and letters - almost all in support of commuting Amirault's sentence. We all have the internet and can get Swift's e-mail off the website.

It is

We can and should stay objective but not be concerned about concluding

I believe she means "Although we should pose as objective, that should not prevent us from concluding..."

that the children were victimized (remember - two juries and six appellate decisions have concluded that the convictions were just

while 3 out of the 4 trial judges (those most closely familiar with the evidence and most experienced in evaluating it) believe the convictions should be set aside.

and that the children were credible).

Governor Swift will make a political decision - based not on the evidence but on whether she believes she will lose fewer votes by choosing one option over the other. Most people believe the convictions are correct

until they are actually exposed to the flaws in this case; then they change their minds.

- only a small minority (a very loud but nevertheless small minority) of people truly doubt Amirault's guilt.

and an even smaller minority of witch-hunting true-believers and morally-corrupt political hacks can still seriously claim to believe the prosecution.

The trouble is - at this point - Jane Swift has little reason to believe there is political value in refusing to commute Amirault's sentence. We should play a role in persuading her otherwise.

A few points to consider - if Amirault's sentence is commuted at this point, it will perceived by the public as evidence that he suffered an injustice and that he is innocent - (Harvey Silverglate's letter to the "Wall Street Journal" the other day expressly stated that the parole board's decision was based not on technical or procedural errors at trial but on the fact that the board understood Tooky to be innocent).


Amirault is up for parole in 2002. If he earns release then, so be it

A phony compromise offer. To qualify for parole in Massachusetts, you have to confess guilt. Since Gerald, like his mother and sister, is innocent, that means he must sit out his full 40-year term.

- but why now when a commutation decision will only mislead the public about child abuse, the truth in the case and the integrity of the justice system? If Amirault is released now, he will have served only 20 months of incarceration for each of the 9 children he was convicted of raping and molesting. The original investigation involved about 40 victims - most were simply too young to testify - so the case proceeded with the 9 victims who were able to participate.

Why weren't you able to find any accusers from the previous 20 years that Fells Acres had been operating? In substantiated cases of serial abuse (eg Father James Porter), publicity about an arrest brings plenty of accusers out from the distant past.

In other words, his sentence was a bargain to begin with given what was uncovered - even if you limit the analysis to the charges for which he was convicted.

Even worse is the zero months of imprisonment given out to the quack psychotherapists who brainwashed these previously healthy children with toxic garbage. As Judge Borenstein noted
the children were in far better shape in 1984, before the alarm was first raised, than in the 1986-87 trials, after the quacks had 2-3 years to work them over.

We often complain, as we should, that the criminal justice system doesn't punish child rapists harshly enough. We argue that it is partly a result of our inability to accept the reality of child sex abuse.

Nonsense. The nationally-recognized forensic experts on child abuse Maggie Bruck and Stephen Ceci (cited by the Amirault defense) don't deny child abuse. Instead, they describe reliable ways to ask children about it. They do point out, however, that the Fells Acres/McMartin Preschool/Little Rascals day-care model of multiple offenders against multiple unrelated children simply hasn't held up.

This case will send a strong message to the public on both counts. Remember Judy Herman's quote: "It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil.

That describes the irritation of the Harshbarger-Coakley-Fried gang with repeated demands by the public to reverse this travesty. "Finality" demands that innocent people be left to rot in jail. To right an injustice would disturb the "recovery" of the accusers.

The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering."

If we do nothing, we are part of the problem. This is not a controversial case in any real sense of the word. The suggestibility claims are a ridiculous red herring - an excuse that enables those who don't want to know the truth to look the other way. We know better - or at least we claim to know better. We need to help tell the truth.
--Wendy Murphy

You could start by *learning* the truth, known to criminologists for several years now -- child molestation is a furtive crime of *individuals* (notably live-in boyfriends), not of bizarre Satanic cults [Wenatchee WA] and child pornography rings [Fells Acres MA] in day-care centers, -- cults who don't leave a trace of physical evidence and are never caught by the steady stream of parents and tradesmen who visit at all hours of the day.

For a definitive textbook on children's testimony, see Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck, Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony, American Psychological Assoc, Washington DC, 1995. 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 other 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 (that means *videotaping*) of the *first* interview is crucial for later investigators, judges, and juries to distinguish between original memory and later influence.

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