March 4, 2013

“What did Mark Everson, Dr. (Jean C.) Smith, Dr. (Desmond K.) Runyan, Dr. (Doren D.) Fredrickson… all say about behaviors of children who are sexually abused?”

 – From Nancy Lamb’s closing argument in the trial of Bob Kelly (March 23, 1992)

Although Lamb was understandably pleased with her parade of expert witnesses, their testimony brought only discredit to themselves, to their professions and to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, especially its School of Medicine.

The prosecution called on psychologist Mark “Where there’s smoke….” Everson to explain away the child-witnesses’ wild inconsistencies and on pediatricians Smith, Runyan and Fredrickson to serve as “educators of the jury” about the case’s dubious physical evidence. (As detailed in this article in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, the pediatricians overreached but at least testified with less enthusiasm and more caution than Everson.)

One Chapel Hill faculty member, however, wasn’t fooled by the funhouse mirrors. I’ll be writing about sociologist Anthony Oberschall in Wednesday’s post.