Response to Critics

The NCRJ, an advocacy group, has posted a “rebuttal” to the book. I encourage readers to compare the breadth and depth of the arguments in the book to the NCRJ’s rebuttal. Almost all of the case-specific evidence and analysis in the book—that is, the product of fifteen years of research—are left out of the rebuttal.

The rebuttal also mischaracterizes the book in ways that require correction:

  1. Denying the existence of “satanic panic.” NCRJ claims that the book denies the existence of any such problem. Yet the text addresses this problematic phenomenon, describing how it ruined investigations and/or prosecutions in many cases. Cases where the existence of those problematic social forces are recognized include: McMartin (pp. 69-74), Rogers Park (pp. 103-105), Cora’s Day Care (pp. 107-108), Niles (pp. 108-111), West Point (pp. 111-113), Schildmeyer (pp. 140-141), Kellers (pp. 144-147), and Fort Bragg (434-435 fn19).

By the same token, an important argument in the book is that many cases have been tagged as “satanic” and then quickly dismissed as laughable, when in fact the case had no satanic features. See, for example, the discussion of this issue in the Fuster case (pp. 338-340) and the Michaels case (pp. 261-264).

  1. Claiming the book “adopts the prosecution’s narrative in virtually every case.” This NCRJ claim is proven wrong in Table 3.2 (p. 95) which contains a column labeled “unjustified criminal charges?” Six cases are designated as “yes” in that table alone. Those are discussed in Chapter Three. Two other cases in that chapter are also described as including wrongful prosecutions: Bernard Baran (pp. 126-128) and Wenatchee (pp. 382-383). (See also the heading in the McMartin chapter called Prosecutorial Failures, pp. 74-77).
  1. Professors Ceci and Bruck. The NCRJ dismisses the entire chapter on the Kelly Michaels case with the unsupported claim that the book displays “disdain” for Professors Ceci and Bruck. This charge is made without reference to a single page or even sentence in the chapter. Professor Ceci and Bruck are criticized in the book, and the reasons are fully documented. None of these criticisms are personal in any way.
  1. The National Registry of Exonerations. The NCRJ quotes Professor Sam Gross, who claims the book contains some kind of error that would have been proven by checking their website. In fact, the text in question (p. 484 fn.144) provides a complete quote from their website along with the precise URL as documentation. [The issue is explained further in this blog post.]

Posts about a few remaining issues will be forthcoming. For example, the unapologetic embrace of adult-adolosent sexual contact, even involving positions of power and authority. It’s all seen as consensual, possible even beneficial, and certainly not criminal.