How hysterical parents, incompetent therapists and malicious prosecutors destroyed the lives of seven innocent
North Carolinians – and have yet to admit they were wrong
July 22, 2016
“FARMVILLE, N.C. – Farmville’s only courtroom has never played host to a felony trial. This week, the town’s 4,000 residents will watch a parade of jurors, lawyers, psychologists, parents and children converge on that courtroom. There, they will unfold what may be the largest child sexual abuse trial this country has ever seen: the trial of Robert F. Kelly Jr. of Edenton.
“The trial was moved to this one-blink community in Pitt County, 65 miles west of Edenton in Eastern North Carolina, because of pretrial publicity.
“But the spotlight will find Farmville, if not for the unprecedented number of sexual abuse indictments, then for the sordid nature of the charges. And if not for that, then for the impact the trial – expected to last three to four months – could have on future large-scale child-abuse prosecutions.
“Jury selection is scheduled to start today….”
– From “Witnesses, jurors, lawyers mass for sexual-abuse trial” by Knight-Ridder News Service in the Baltimore Sun (July 22, 1991)
In fact, the trial would last nine months, not three or four. Although prosecutors won initial convictions of both Kelly and Dawn Wilson, for whatever reasons – surely including the eye-opening effects of Ofra Bikel’s “Innocence Lost” trilogy – the nation was spared “future large-scale child-abuse prosecutions.”
July 20, 2016
“Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice… angered party officials when he told a WRAL TV reporter that the nominee was ‘singularly unqualified to lead this country.’
State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Orr ‘hasn’t been a good Republican for a long time.’
“Orr said, ‘If I’d know there was some oath of loyalty, some code of omerta, where I couldn’t say anything against Trump, I probably wouldn’t have come.’”
– From “One NC delegate leaves GOP convention after criticizing Donald Trump” by Jim Morrill in the Charlotte Observer (July 19)
Orr’s willingness to break from the herd will be tested mightily in his efforts to undertake an external evaluation of the N.C. State Bar, which so eagerly finds ethics violations among innocence project lawyers but almost never among prosecutors….
Footnote: To the surprise of few, the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys supports restrictions on release of police body cameras and dashboard recordings.
July 19, 2016
“The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous. He can have citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations.
“Or the prosecutor may choose a more subtle course and simply have a citizen’s friends interviewed. The prosecutor can order arrests, present cases to the grand jury in secret session, and on the basis of his one-sided presentation of the facts, can cause the citizen to be indicted and held for trial. He may dismiss the case before trial, in which case the defense never has a chance to be heard.
“Or he may go on with a public trial. If he obtains a conviction, the prosecutor can still make recommendations as to sentence, as to whether the prisoner should get probation or a suspended sentence, and after he is put away, as to whether he is a fit subject for parole.
“While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of the worst….”
Although Jackson’s cautionary words were directed toward federal prosecutors, they could hardly be more applicable to the State of North Carolina’s prosecution of the Edenton Seven. H.P. Williams Jr., Bill Hart and Nancy Lamb surely missed no chance to put forth “veiled or unveiled intimations,” to make a “one-sided presentation” or to otherwise act “from malice or other base motives.”
July 15, 2016
“When you once believed something that now strikes you as absurd, even unhinged, it can be almost impossible to summon that feeling of credulity again. Maybe that is why it is easier for most of us to forget, rather than to try and explain, the Satanic-abuse scare that gripped this country in the early ’80s – the myth that Devil-worshipers had set up shop in our day-care centers, where their clever adepts were raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces, all unnoticed by parents, neighbors and the authorities….”
– From “The Devil in The Nursery” by Margaret Talbot in The New York Times (Jan. 7, 2001)
Looking for something posted here earlier? Click here for the Archive.