120625RabinowitzJune 25, 2012

“I saw this woman in her 20s … accused of something like 2,800 charges of child sex abuse. Oh, I thought, well, that’s very odd….

“I thought, How can (Kelly Michaels) one woman, one young, lone woman in an absolutely open place like the child care center of the church in New Jersey that she worked for – how could she have committed these enormous crimes against 20 children, dressed and undressed them and sent – you know what it is to dress and undress even one child every day without getting their socks lost? – 20 children in a perfectly public place, torture them for two years, frighten and terrorize them, and they never went home and told their parents anything?… This did seem strange.”

– Dorothy Rabinowitz, recalling on C-SPAN the 1985 case that led to her Pulitzer-winning coverage of the ritual-abuse day-care mania

“This did seem strange.”

From the vantage of 2012, of course, such allegations seem not only “strange” but also patently incredible.

So why didn’t everybody – therapists, journalists, prosecutors, jurors – share Rabinowitz’s reasonable doubt?

How did such a grotesque misconception flourish?

Had skepticism really fallen that far out of fashion during the “Believe the Children” zeitgeist?