1. The McMartin Preschool Panic
In 1983, Manhattan Beach, California resident Judy Johnson asserted to authorities that her son had been anally raped by McMartin Preschool teacher Ray Buckey based on her son having painful bowel movements. Additionally, Johnson made a number of other allegations including that her son saw Buckey “fly”, that bestiality was taking place at the preschool, that children had power drills run through their arms.
Police investigated then sent a letter to the 200 parents of the students at the preschool indicating what the allegations were and telling them their children may have been molested or abused. Many of the children were then interviewed about possible abuse they may have suffered. The interviews were highly criticized by outside groups as being highly suggestive. Medical examinations included close up photographs of children’s assholes in an attempt to locate minute scarring that might have resulted from forced sodomy. None was found.
Other allegations that surfaced during these interviews included that the other children had been ritually abused, that they had seen witches flying, that they were taken to underground tunnels, child orgies at car washes, children being flushed down toilets, and that they had flown in hot air balloons. During the course of the investigation, Chuck Norris was identified by one of the children as being an abuser.
It was later found that the original complainant’s son never identified Buckey as ever having abused him but during the subsequent trial all the workers at the daycare were charged with “115 counts of child abuse, later expanded to 321 counts of child abuse involving 48 children.”
It wasn’t until 1990 that all charges of abuse were dropped against all parties for what the district attorney referred to as “incredibly weak” evidence.
Even more bizarre is that it became clear soon after the original allegations were made that Judy Johnson was mentally unstable and a potent alcoholic. She died of alcohol poisoning at her house in 1986, four years before the final charges against the preschool workers were finally dismissed. She was 42 years old.
The case was a firestorm at the time and set off insane allegations of Satanic ritual abuse all over the country with claims such as “I was raped by a lion” coming out of kids mouths and being taken seriously.
The following is just one example of the many nonsensical claims by Johnson that were taken seriously by the state of California and soon echoed by other children and their parents.
In 2005, several of the children who gave testimony against the preschool apologized for their statements. Of course they were just preschoolers and it wasn’t their fault.
2. Cameron Todd Willingham And The Pentagram Arson
In 1991, there was a fire at Willingham’s home in Corsicana, Texas that quickly grew into a full blaze, completely engulfing the house. Willingham, a husband and father of three girls managed to escape the house but his daughters all died. Almost immediately, Willingham became a suspect and was arrested and charged with arson and the murder of the three girls.
Police quickly asserted the theory that the fire had been started intentionally and that burn patterns showed “pooling” which indicated that a liquid accelerant had been used.
During Willingham’s trial, his criminal record was discussed and a psychiatrist James Grigson testified that Willingham’s love of the bands Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin indicated that he was a sociopath. Additionally, the Willingham’s left arm tattoo of a snake crawling through a skull was also used as evidence that he was an “extremely severe sociopath.” Grigson was later disbarred from the American Psychiatric Association for ethics violations including lying and making prognoses without ever examining subjects at all.
Willingham was no saint and the prosecution used his past against him, claiming that he serially abused his three daughters physically and that he had burned them to death in the house to conceal this abuse. Willingham’s wife asserted that this was 100% false and that while Willingham had previously hit her, he had never hurt they’re children. Indeed she claimed that he spoiled his daughters.
Willingham declined an offer by the prosecution to plea guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison stating that he’d rather die than go to prison for something he didn’t do.
The prosecutor, John Jackson, made a number of unsubstantiated claims during the trial and to the press including that Willingham poured lighter fluid in the shape of a pentagram in his daughters’ room as an “act of Satanic worship.” He also referred to Willingham as “a demon.” This tied together neatly with now disgraced psychiatrist James Grigson’s assertions that Willingham was a dangerous sociopath because he liked Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin and had music posters of the two bands.
Willingham appealed continually from 1991 until his execution in 2004. Since that time, investigative reports have indicated that the investigation into the fire was based on old science and poor investigative techniques on the part of authorities and that if the state of Texas had taken modern science into account then Willingham would have been acquitted.
In May of this year, prosecutor John Jackson was charged with obstruction of justice and withholding evidence in Willingham’s case. The charge claims “Before, during, and after the 1992 trial, [Jackson] knew of the existence of evidence that tended to negate the guilt of Willingham and failed to disclose that evidence to defense counsel.”
The case is ongoing.
3. The Keller Daycare Witch Hunt
Dan and Fran Keller ran a Daycare center in Oak Hill, Texas. In 1991, a three-year-old child in therapy due to his parents divorcing accused the Kellers of sexually abusing her. Other parents got wind of the accusation and their children began making accusations of their own which included forcing children to drink Kool-Aid with blood in it, have sex on camera with adults, killing animals and babies in a ritualistic way while wearing white robes and candle-lit rooms.
They also claimed to have been sexually abused by Mexican soldiers.
Over the course of a trial that lasted only six days, the Kellers were found guilty of child abuse and sentenced to forty-eight years in prison each, largely based on the testimony of medical expert for the prosecution, Dr. Michael Mouw.
In 2013, Mouw retracted his testimony stating that at the time he gave it he was simply wrong and ignorant. Additionally, it also became clear that testimony from one of the supposed victims had retracted their claim of abuse and police had simply ignored this. The suppressed memory psychiatric theories practiced at the time and used to produce allegations of abuse in the first place, including those of clinical psychologist Randy Noblitt, have also since been roundly discredited in psychiatric circles.
The Kellers were finally released. Both are now in their mid-60s and have each served twenty-one years in prison.
4. The Wee Care Nursery School Case
Wee Care was a school located in Maplewood, New Jersey in the 80s. It all started in 1985 when a child whose temperature was being taken up the rectum told the nurse “that’s what my teacher does to me at nap time at school.” The teacher in question was a woman named Margaret Kelly Michaels. In a climate of satanic panic and belief that ritualized child abuse was running rampant across American, an investigation was begun and fifty three children were interviewed regarding the alleged abuse.
Additional allegations that resulted from these interviews included that she “forced them to lick peanut butter off of her genitals, that she penetrated their rectums and vaginas with knives, forks and other objects, that she forced them to eat cakes made from human excrement and that she made them play duck, duck, goose while naked.”
Some of her fellow teachers also testified against Michaels, apparently in an attempt to distance themselves from the monstrous allegations although none had direct knowledge of any abuse.
The interviews resulted in 235 counts of child abuse for Michaels. The trial lasted three years and resulted in her being sentenced to 47 years in prison. Michaels appealed and, after serving only five years, all the interviews conducted with the alleged victims were deemed invalid because they included coercive and suggestive techniques designed to get certain answers from the children.