Special Issue on The Witch-Hunt Narrative

March 30, 2017

The Journal of Interpersonal Violence has published its Special Issue about The Witch-Hunt Narrative (Vol. 32, No. 6). Here is the Abstract of my contribution, a response to the other articles and comments:

The articles and comments in this issue bear out the enduring impact of The Witch-Hunt Narrative. There is not sufficient space to acknowledge or respond to most of this feedback. This response corrects an error that was identified by one commenter and it responds to questions raised by another commenter about my analysis of the “Concerned Scientists” brief. This response also documents how Wood, Nathan, and Beck have misapplied the term ritual abuse, misstated the facts of many cases, and promoted “mythical numbers” that significantly exaggerate the number of false convictions. These critics are wrong about the only three cases they discuss in detail. The McMartin Preschool case began with credible evidence of child sexual abuse that continues to be distorted by critics. The Keller case began with even stronger medical evidence that is not diminished by the dubious and incomplete “retraction” of the Emergency Room doctor. The Fuster case involved overwhelming evidence of abuse, medical and testimonial, that continues to be distorted or overlooked by critics. Those who promote the witch-hunt narrative rely on selective use of evidence to reach an apparently predetermined result. That is politics and advocacy, not scholarship. This dismissive approach to children’s testimony has caused documented harm to children.

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