How hysterical parents, incompetent therapists and malicious prosecutors destroyed the lives of seven innocent
North Carolinians – and have yet to admit they were wrong

“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


  • ‘What may be the largest child sexual abuse trial this country has ever seen’

    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.

    140120TwentyFive“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.”


  • He stood up to Trump mania – how will he fare with Prosecutors Club?

    Robert F. Orr

    Robert F. Orr

    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.


  • ‘Tremendous … discretion’ has changed little since 1940

    Robert H. Jackson

    Robert H. Jackson

    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….”

    – From an address  by Attorney General Robert H. Jackson to the Conference of United States Attorneys, Washington, D.C., April 1, 1940

    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.”


  • Why we want to forget the panic ever happened….

    Margaret Talbot

    Margaret Talbot

    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)



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The Little Rascals Day Care Case in brief

In the beginning, in 1989, more than 90 children at the Little Rascals Day Care Center in Edenton, North Carolina, accused a total of 20 adults with 429 instances of sexual abuse over a three-year period. It may have all begun with one parent’s complaint about punishment given her child. Among the alleged perpetrators: the sheriff and mayor. But prosecutors would charge only Robin Byrum, Darlene Harris, Elizabeth “Betsy” Kelly, Robert “Bob” Kelly, Willard Scott Privott, Shelley Stone and Dawn Wilson – the Edenton 7.

Along with sodomy and beatings, allegations included a baby killed with a handgun, a child being hung upside down from a tree and being set on fire and countless other fantastic incidents involving spaceships, hot air balloons, pirate ships and trained sharks. By the time prosecutors dropped the last charges in 1997, Little Rascals had become North Carolina’s longest and most costly criminal trial. Prosecutors kept defendants jailed in hopes at least one would turn against their supposed co-conspirators. Remarkably, none did. Another shameful record: Five defendants had to wait longer to face their accusers in court than anyone else in North Carolina history.

Between 1991 and 1997, Ofra Bikel produced three extraordinary episodes on the Little Rascals case for the PBS series “Frontline.” Although “Innocence Lost” did not deter prosecutors, it exposed their tactics and fostered nationwide skepticism and dismay. With each passing year, the absurdity of the Little Rascals charges has become more obvious. But no admission of error has ever come from prosecutors, police, interviewers or parents. This site is devoted to the issues raised by this case.