Dec. 14, 2011

Among the leaders of the Committee for Support of the Edenton Seven was Doug Wiik, whose own Breezy Point Day School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, had just been cleared of similar abuse accusations. I asked him to compare the two cases.

“I remember that Barbara Fleischman, a dear friend who had moved to North Carolina from Bucks County, called to let me know that the child abuse contagion had reared its head in Edenton.

“Having been deeply affected by my personal experience, I felt the need to reach out. I read about Raymond Lawrence’s formation of the Edenton Seven committee, and after several discussions with him and Dee Swain (a fuel dealer in Washington, N.C.) I was truly inspired to do what I could. I was gratified to find individuals who would fight the injustice being perpetrated upon the Kellys.

111214Wiik“The eventual outcome in Little Rascals was the correct one, but the damage done to many individuals was enormous. We all have a list of heroes in our lives, and Bob Kelly and Dawn Wilson certainly were added to mine. Both stood firm in speaking truth to a community that lacked leadership in politics and law enforcement….

“The Edenton case and my own were just two of many produced by the 1980s culture. It happened in Salem 300 years ago, and it will happen again some day.

“So why did my child care business survive, when so many others didn’t?

“We had the exact same claims of horrors perpetrated against children. We had the same media coverage that initially proclaimed ʻChildren don’t lie.ʼ We had the same overzealous child abuse investigators from the county Department of Children and Youth Services. We had the identical mass hysteria.

“But we also had leadership! District Attorney Alan Rubenstein was a seeker of justice, not political gain. He conducted a long, expensive criminal investigation, one that branded the parents’ and children’s claims as false and reckless.

“I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention my employees and our parent community, who all knew nothing had happened at Breezy Point. They went on camera, wrote letters to editors and participated in several large meetings answering all questions about our school.

“My experience lasted five or six years, caused lots of heartache and did much financial damage. However, Breezy Point Day School still opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. every day and is still filled with several hundred happy children, parents and staff.

“It’s a shame Bob and Betsy Kelly chose Edenton, North Carolina, to open a child care business and not Bucks County, Pennsylvania.”

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Later this week I’ll post excerpts from the DA’s 1990 investigative report, along with a few of his recollections (he’s now a judge).