Richard Wexler

Richard Wexler

Oct. 5, 2016

Richard Wexler’s unequivocal recollection of how the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children promoted the “satanic ritual abuse” day-care panic made me curious about what APSAC might have to say about the subject today.

I was startled to see this description of a presentation at the organization’s most recent (June 21-25) annual colloquium in New Orleans:

“From disco to pet rocks, our past is littered with things which make us wonder, what in the world were we thinking? The field of child maltreatment and interpersonal violence has certainly had its share of misguided ideas, from satanic ritual abuse hysteria to multiple personality disorder treatment centers.  How did this field get so many things so wrong?”

Sorry I missed such a provocative self-examination! [I’ll post APSAC’s video soon.]

I asked Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, whether sanctioning the pet rock analogy might signify APSAC’s tacit disowning of  the “satanic ritual abuse” myth.

“I wouldn’t call it disowning,” he said. “Over the years their position seems to have evolved into ‘Well, yes, some people may have been a little overzealous, but…’  At one point, even Roland Summit, in his ‘Tunnels’ article, no less, tried to cast himself as falling between two extremes in the debate.

“What they have not done, of course, is apologize to the children victimized by the McMartin madness, and withdraw the awards given to Summit and [Kee] MacFarlane.”

Nor, of course, have they apologized to the wrongfully prosecuted defendants in cases such as McMartin and Little Rascals.