June 24, 2013

“(I) followed the Little Rascals case closely in the Norfolk and other papers…. Moved by (its) strangeness and patent senselessness, as well as by reports nationwide at the time of what came to be tagged ‘false memory syndrome,’ I wrote and later published a short story inspired by the spectacular miscarriage of justice…. The thrust of my story was popular hysteria and jaundiced, ambitious therapists together with a grievous breakdown of the judicial system….

“I believe that behind the recovered memory and child abuse therapeutic notions of that time, so destructive of the lives of the Edenton Seven and many others, lies Freud’s almost immeasurable popular impact on our now so heavily sexualized culture  though the easy lure of the witch hunt seems to have been all too contagious in Edenton’s fearful, credulous and manipulable parents as well.”

– Historian and writer John L. Romjue of Yorktown, Va., responding to “Remembering the shame of the Little Rascals Day Care case” at North Carolina Miscellany (Oct. 24, 2011)

Although “Witches of Devon,” the title story in Mr. Romjue’s 2002 collection, veers dramatically from the course of the Little Rascals case, it does indeed capture the essence: “It had started as a rumor – and not about molestation, not at first. There had been an ‘assault’ incident at Happy Children (day care). Joanne Jamison had spanked a little girl’s bottom and not suitably apologized to the mother….”