“And When Did You Last See Your Father?” by William Frederick Yeames, 1878, depicting English Puritan inquisitors grilling the child of a Royalist family

“And When Did You Last See Your Father?” by William Frederick Yeames, 1878, depicting English Puritan inquisitors grilling the child of a Royalist family


  • Exoneree sees through prosecutors’ excuses: ‘I call BS’

    Martha Waggoner


    Martha Waggoner

    June 30, 2016

    “North Carolina’s district attorneys say a proposed rule that would require them to turn over evidence of innocence after a person is convicted is….”

    Anyone familiar with the worst practices of  DAs won’t be surprised at the rest of Martha Waggoner’s sentence:

    “….unnecessary because prosecutors already believe it should be turned over at any point, including post-conviction.”

    Chris Mumma of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, herself punished for exposing wrongful prosecutions, wondered why DAs would object to putting their high standard in writing: “If all the rule does is raise confidence in the process, then it’s beneficial.”

    A more visceral response appeared on reporter Waggoner’s Facebook page – from exoneree Dwayne Dail:

    “If it is unnecessary and they already believe that there is a rule that holds them to that standard, then why haven’t they been doing it?! Why have they argued that they had no obligation to do this? Why wasn’t I told that there was an alternative suspect in MY case, who just so happened to be the true perp? Why did I only find out after years of investigation during my civil suits, after my exoneration, that the actual perp’s name was in their files but was never investigated? I call BS.”

    Dail was convicted of raping a 12-year-old Goldsboro girl in 1987. DNA evidence cleared him in 2007.


  • Immunity of office allows zeal, recklessness to go unchecked  

    Ariel Levy


    Ariel Levy

    June 29, 2016

    “Compensation is intended in part as a deterrent: a municipality that has to pay heavily for police or prosecutorial misconduct ought to be less likely to allow it to happen again. But it is taxpayers, not police or prosecutors, who bear the costs of litigation and compensation. Prosecutors enjoy almost total immunity in cases of misconduct, even if they deliberately withhold exculpatory evidence from a jury. A 2011 Supreme Court ruling also made it virtually impossible to sue a prosecutor’s office for such violations….”

    – From “The Price of a Life: What’s the right way to compensate someone for decades of lost freedom?” by Ariel Levy in the New Yorker (April 13, 2015)

    To “deliberately withhold exculpatory evidence” seems all too neatly illustrated in Bob Kelly’s trial. Here’s how the North Carolina Court of Appeals described the prosecution’s actions:

    “Judge L. Bradford Tillery, a pretrial Judge, directed the State to file and present for in camera review identifying information, medical and psychotherapeutic files and DSS files with respect to the ‘indictment children’….

    “In apparent compliance with Judge Tillery’s order… the State turned over a box of files to the trial court, Judge [Marsh] McLelland presiding. The box contained, inter alia, complete medical notes and therapy notes on the 29 indictment children, 12 of whom testified at defendant’s trial and 17 of whom did not….

    “After trial, defendant’s appellate counsel went to the Office of the Clerk of Court for Pitt County to view the exhibits. He opened several boxes containing trial exhibits, none of which were sealed. One of the boxes contained 29 files labeled with the names of the indictment children…. Defendant argues that the files contained undisclosed information that would have been material to the defense.”

    To wit, the withheld files were bulging with exculpation – conflicting claims, evidence of hysteria, eyewitness testimony that nothing happened.

    Prosecutors H.P. Williams Jr., Bill Hart and Nancy Lamb walked away rebuked by the Appeals Court but otherwise unpenalized. How differently might the Little Rascals case have unfolded had they known their recklessness wouldn’t be shielded by prosecutorial immunity?



  • Three jurors blamed stresses for verdict they regretted

    Roswell Streeter


    Roswell Streeter

    June 24, 2016

    “I was a juror on the Edenton Little Rascals sex abuse case, and I heard all the facts.

    “During eight months of testimony I heard no evidence to prove that Bob Kelly was guilty of any charge. I did hear children, parents and grandparents say that they believe sex abuse took place at the day care. I heard children talk about bizarre things that were supposed to have happened at the day care and other places (often being reminded by the prosecution). I heard parents say they believe sex abuse took place at the day care.

    “I also heard the same parents talk about their child’s normal behavior and how they noticed no abnormalities and that their children were fine and that they didn’t believe the allegations. I also heard how children asked parents why the day care closed and stated how they liked Mr. Bob and Mrs. Betsy.

    “I feel it’s very important that readers know what was going on in Edenton at the time of the allegations. We know what was said in court 2 1/2 years later. Do you ever wonder what the evidence would have been if the case went to trial six months after allegations? Well, I don’t have to wonder. Other than the evidence lost or destroyed, I heard it all, and I’ll say this to the last day of my life, that the evidence that came through the courtroom did not prove that Bob Kelly committed any kind of sex abuse.

    “To the grandmother who feels jurors made fools of themselves for appearing on ‘Frontline’ to try and tell the world the truth about the Little Rascals sex abuse case, then so be it.”

    Roswell Streeter

    – From “Court evidence did not prove Kelly guilty,” letter to the editor of the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector (Sept. 3, 1993)

    Forty-five days earlier, Streeter and four other jurors had appeared on “Innocence Lost: The Verdict,” revealing to Ofra Bikel how they came to vote guilty.

    From the “Frontline” web page: “Of the five jurors interviewed, only two were fully comfortable with the verdict they had issued. In both cases, it was the children’s testimony that had convinced them. The other three jurors were troubled and said they regretted their verdict and had serious doubts about Bob Kelly’s guilt. Two jurors, Mary Nichols and Marvin Shackelford, said that worries about their personal health (Shackelford had had two heart attacks, and Mary Nichols was very ill with leukemia) had driven them to vote guilty just to resolve the endless deliberations and go home. Roswell Streeter, who at 28 was the youngest member of the jury, said he felt intimidated and confused, and finally lost all sense of perspective.”

    One of the two jurors who acknowledged no doubts about Kelly’s guilt was Dennis T. Ray, who wound up in court defending (not very persuasively) his own behavior.


  • What is ‘appropriate indemnity’ for wrongful prosecution?

    Edwin Borchard


    Edwin Borchard

    June 21, 2016

    “One of the earliest arguments for financial compensation for the wrongly incarcerated came in 1932, from the Yale law professor Edwin Borchard. In an influential book called ‘Convicting the Innocent: Sixty-five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice,’ Borchard wrote, ‘When it is discovered after conviction that the wrong man was condemned, the least the State can do to right this essentially irreparable injury is to reimburse the innocent victim, by an appropriate indemnity for the loss and damage suffered.’ He noted, ‘European countries have long recognized that such indemnity is a public obligation.’ But it would be many years before the United States began puzzling through what constituted an ‘appropriate indemnity.’ It wasn’t until the first DNA exoneration, in 1989, that most states began to seriously consider compensation.

    “There is still no consensus about the value of lost time. Missouri gives exonerees $50 a day for time served, California twice that much. Massachusetts caps total compensation at $500,000. In Maine, the limit is $300,000; in Florida, it’s $2 million. The variation is largely arbitrary. ‘If there’s a logic to it, I haven’t seen it,’ Robert J. Norris, a researcher at SUNY Albany who has studied compensation statutes, told me…. Twenty states have no compensation statutes at all.”

    – From “The Price of a Life: What’s the right way to compensate someone for decades of lost freedom?” by Ariel Levy in the New Yorker (April 13, 2015)

    North Carolina exonerees are entitled to $50,000 for each year spent in prison, plus job training and college tuition, up to a maximum of $750,000. However, those statutes apply only to persons “granted a pardon of innocence by the Governor upon the grounds that the crime with which the person was charged either was not committed at all or was not committed by that person.”

    As excruciatingly demonstrated in the case of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, not every governor is in a hurry to enable that compensation.


  • He’s still ‘helping survivors’ of imaginary trauma

    160616WonketteJune 16, 2016

    “We thought [“satanic ritual abuse”] was a wholly debunked artifact of the 1980s, but apparently there are still a few ‘therapists’ out there dedicated to ‘helping survivors’….

    “According to the Satanic Temple (who aren’t really “Satanists” so much as anti-theocracy advocates), the ‘therapists’ seem to be the ones who are desperately in need of help. And perhaps having their licensure revoked….

    “The Satanic Temple’s ‘Grey Faction’ – ‘dedicated to combating pseudoscience and witch-hunting conspiracism with rational inquiry’ — has posted a petition at Change.org asking the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to investigate counselor Neil Brick….

    “Brick, head of something called ‘Survivorship,’ runs conferences where some seriously weird advice is given. For instance, you shouldn’t trust your spouse, since they may actually be an agent of the mind-control conspiracy. The petition asks Massachusetts authorities to investigate a number of ‘potentially dangerous’ and ‘radically paranoid, unsubstantiated, delusional beliefs’  pushed by Brick:

    Neil Brick claims to believe that he was brainwashed to be an assassin for the Illuminati/Freemasons.

    Neil Brick claims that, as part of his brainwashing by the Illuminati/Masonic conspiracy, he was programmed to rape and kill “without feeling.”

    Neil Brick claims that he once murdered a man in an unreported incident in Europe.

    Neil Brick holds regular conferences wherein his delusional beliefs are propagated to mental health consumers by him and his co-conspiracists.

    At a very recent conference (May 2016), Neil Brick expressed concern that attendees could “trigger” mind-control programming by touching their faces. Neil Brick imposed a prohibition against face-touching and asked that people sit on their hands. (Keep in mind, this is a man who claims that his own mind-control programming impels him to rape and kill. The implication is clear.)

    Neil Brick continues to propagate debunked and disregarded narratives of concealed occult crimes from the height of the “Satanic Panic.”

    Neil Brick demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding cognitive/behavioral development, claiming to believe that Masons and/or Satanic cults torture fetuses so as to begin mind-controlling them at the earliest possible stage.

    – From “Mental Health Professional Thinks Someone Programmed Him To Murder. Could It Be … Satan? at Wonkette (June 14)

    It took several requests, but in 2012 the Charleston-based nonprofit Darkness to Light withdrew its approval of Brick’s Survivorship site.


  • Yet another cousin to ‘satanic ritual abuse’: unverified ‘gang-stalking’  

    Dr. Lorraine Sheridan


    Dr. Lorraine Sheridan

    June 13, 2016

    “…A large community of like-minded people on the internet who call themselves ‘targeted individuals,’ or T.I.s…. is organized around the conviction that they are victims of a sprawling conspiracy to harass thousands of everyday Americans with mind-control weapons and armies of so-called gang stalkers. The goal, as one gang-stalking website put it, is ‘to destroy every aspect of a targeted individual’s life.’…

    “An internet search for ‘gang-stalking’… turns up page after page of results that regard it as fact. ‘What’s scary for me is that there are no counter sites that try and convince targeted individuals that they are delusional,’ said Dr. Lorraine Sheridan, co-author of perhaps the only study of gang-stalking. “They end up in a closed ideology echo chamber.’”

    – From “United States of Paranoia: They See Gangs of Stalkers” by Mike McPhate in the New York Times (June 10)

    The T.I. phenomenon is new to me, but the proliferation of true believers sounds all too familiar. And my own Google alert continues to turn up page after page of supposed validation of “satanic ritual abuse.”

    Not surprisingly, T.I. and SRA hang out in the same rationality-resistant neighborhoods. This is a promo for a recent conspiracy podcast:

    “Meet David and Patty: David was raised in a Satanic cult under MK Ultra mind control. Patty is being burned with plasma lasers and having her thoughts extracted without her consent. We talk about electronic harassment, microchipping, breathable nanotechnology, mind control, sex kitten programming, project Monarch, brain mapping, gang stalking, voice to skull technology (V2K), and Satanic ritual abuse. And we find out how much it costs to build your own laser at home….”



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