The Archive that Never Was

January 31, 2015

411GZFY0E2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_One of the strangest and most revealing criticisms of my book is Cathy Young’s assertion that I did not acknowledge the use of “important materials” from the Satan’s Silence archive. The claim is strange because it is proven wrong by the clear acknowledgement on page 414 of the book; it is revealing because Ms. Young, by her own account, relied on Debbie Nathan’s word for this claim. Apparently neither one of them read the book carefully. 

But Ms. Young was doubly wrong. Not only were the Satan’s Silence materials acknowledged quite clearly in my book–and Maggie Bruck, who provided them, was thanked a second time on page 411–but the materials were not, by any measure, “important.” Their primary value was in demonstrating how little archival material backed up Nathan and Snedeker’s book. And even the material that was supposed to be contained in this “archive” turned out to be less than Nathan and Snedeker claimed. The “archive” is almost entirely materials from the McMartin case. There were two boxes of interview transcripts from Children’s Institute International (CII), largely from children who were not even in the case. There were almost no materials from any of the other cases discussed in their book in the third box. And most of the non-McMartin documents that were purported by Nathan and Snedeker to be in this “archive” were not actually there. Nathan informed me in 2006 that those materials might be in a shed on her in-laws’ property in Wisconsin. She later told me that they were not there. 

In sum, the “archive” is important, but not for the reasons that Cathy Young claimed. Instead, the “archive” demonstrates how little original research went into Satan’s Silence. It also demonstrates how Cathy Young was so dedicated to believing the witch-hunt narrative that she relied on the (incorrect) word of Debbie Nathan rather than on a careful read of the book that she was reviewing.