Feb. 9, 2015
The Little Rascals Day Care case has often been likened to the Salem Witch Trials, but this lengthy list from “Understanding The Crucible: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents” by Claudia Durst Johnson and Vernon Johnson (1998) drives home the point:
- Both involved children as accusers.
- Convictions were determined almost solely on the basis of the children’s testimony.
- Everything escalated rapidly – the number of children involved, the number of the accused, and the different kinds of charges.
- The minds of the children were in both cases manipulated by adults.
- Charges were instigated by adults who held grudges against the accused.
- There was an absence of corroborating evidence.
- “Fanciful” testimony was regarded seriously. In Salem, it was spectral evidence. In the twentieth-century cases, it included children’s stories of spaceships, sharks, and ritual murder.
- Community hysteria arose from the feeling that evil – witches and sex abusers – had access to their children.
- “Poppets” or dolls were involved. In the Salem trials, little dolls were immediately seized upon as poppets used by witches to pierce with pins with the object of inflicting torture. In sexual abuse cases, “anatomically correct” dolls were used by psychologists to coach details from the children.
- There were charges that satanic rituals were conducted.
- The prosecution showed a single-minded determination, by threat or bribe, to get the accused to confess.
- The prosecution showed a single-minded determination, by threat or bribe, to get children to disclose more and more details of misconduct without regard to truth.