May 21, 2012
Lee Coleman, a Berkeley, Calif., psychiatrist and co-author of “Has a Child Been Molested?” (2000), served as a consultant to the Little Rascals defense.
“When I examined the terrible interviewing methods,” he recalls, “it quickly became obvious that (Little Rascals) was like the McMartin and Kelly Michaels cases: a complete fabrication.”
How does Dr. Coleman account for therapists’ and prosecutors’ “unwillingness to see what was in front of their faces”?
“[(McMartin therapist) Kee MacFarlane became a national figure by claiming to know how to talk to kids to help them describe abuse. There followed a cadre of young, bushy-tailed professionals who saw themselves as the good guys of a movement. They were glamorous and self-righteous, and they had nothing left to think with. What if a child hadn’t been molested? They never thought about it….
“Then they led meetings across the country, where they taught their system to others, who applied it locally…”
Dr. Coleman’s characterization captures precisely the origin of the Little Rascals allegations, in which a seminar led by “sex rings” alarmist Ann Burgess attracted prosecutor H.P. Williams, therapist Judy Abbott and police dispatcher Brenda Toppin.