Dec. 28, 2011

“Throughout the trial, prosecuting attorneys (in the Little Rascals case) repeatedly pursued their hunches without an apparent desire to test an alternate theory. This resulted in a rather spectacular false admission by 6-year-old Andy, who had been a 3-year-old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse by Bob Kelly.

111228Ceci“ ‘Prosecutor: Do you remember a time where you ever had to do anything to Mr. Bob’s hiney with your mouth?

“ ‘Andy: No, ma’am.

“ ‘Prosecutor: Do you remember telling Dr. Betty that one time you had to lick Mr. Bob’s hiney? Did that happen? Did you ever have to do that, that you didn’t want to do it?

“ ‘Andy: Yes, ma’am.’

“In reality, the prosecutor had made a mistake, thinking that the charge was that Andy had sodomized Bob Kelly, rather than the other way around. The state dropped this charge after it realized Andy had admitted to the wrong charge.

“This ought to have sensitized the prosecution to the very real dangers of pursuing a single hypothesis in the relentless manner we have described, but unfortunately it did not appear to have done so.”

– From “Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children’s Testimony”
by Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck (1995)