Pennsylvania State University What Causes Juvenile Delinquency Research Paper

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This assignment asks you to extend one or more of these perspectives to analyze a social problem of your choice. It can be any social problem that you find interesting: for example, global warming, liberal media bias, campus sexual assault, the response to campus sexual assault, pandemics, racist policing or anything else—any condition or behavior that, in your view, is harmful to society or is seen as harmful to society. It can be a social problem from the past or present and it can be from any country. It should not be a social problem that we will have discussed at length in class (ie. the opioid crisis, suicide, child sexual abuse, the disenfranchisement of black Americans, activism by undocumented students, fake news, unsafe food, or education reform).

You may address any one of three sets of questions about your social problem.

1) Why has the problem become such a problem? Why has it become as serious or widespread as it has? You might compare a functionalist explanation with a conflict explanation. For example, how would a Durkheimian account for homelessness as compared to a Marxist? Based on what you have learned about homelessness, which perspective do you believe is right? Or, can you use Durkheim's concept of social integration to understand the social consequences of Covid-19?

2) Why have authorities or the media or the public responded to the problem in the way they have? Has the response been appropriate to the scale and seriousness of the social problem? If not, why not? You might compare an objectivist approach with a constructivist approach. For example, why has international attention to sex-trafficking grown so dramatically? An objectivist might say that the social problem has grown more widespread and serious, but is that in fact the case? Alternatively, you might trace the "discovery" of bullying or the widespread concern with the amount of time young people spend on their digital devices. Why were these problems constructed in the ways they were?

3) Why did a movement to combat the social problem emerge when it did? Can the political process theory of social movements described by Caren and Nicholls be used to account for the movement you are interested in? Does the theory need to be expanded? For example, can the theory be used to account for the Defund the Police or MeToo movements? Based on what you have learned about the movement, how should the theory be revised?

Note that you may ask a different set of questions if you can draw on at least two readings from the course to help answer them.

You should write your essay in four stages. First, by reading articles and books outside of class, see if you can identify a question along the lines of one of those above. Second, draw on at least one perspective that we have or will have discussed in class to try to answer your question. Remember that since none of the articles or book excerpts we will have read are explicitly about your social problem, you will have to either extend the argument from one case to another or compare two perspectives from class to decide which one you believe is right. It is completely up to you which perspective(s) you draw on to help answer your question, as long as you 1) draw on two readings from the course in order to 2) summarize the perspective(s) you will be using. How does the perspective(s) you have chosen help you to answer your question?

Third, write a 1-2 page outline of your paper (double-spaced with 12 point font) and bibliography. The outline should use the headings described below. You may use bullet points. The bibliography should have at least two readings from the course and three readings from outside the course. Readings may be online articles but make sure they have an author.

Fourth write a 5-6 page, double-spaced, 12 point font, paper. Use the following headings to organize your paper:

1. Introduction: The Puzzle. Effective papers usually begin by posing a puzzle. Tell readers very briefly about your social problem in the first paragraph, pose your question, and give readers a "teaser": a sense of what is interesting about the answer you will provide. Try to do that all in two or three paragraphs.

2. (A) Sociological Perspective(s). Describe the perspective or perspectives you will use to analyze the social problem you have chosen. Discuss how an author we read uses that perspective to analyze a case that is in some way similar to yours. Or discuss two competing perspectives that one might draw on. Or identify a concept that is used (or more than one concept) by authors we are reading in the course. Spend at least a page on this discussion.

3. Applying (a) Sociological Perspective(s) to (your puzzle). Show the reader how the perspective or concept or theory you have chosen makes sense of the puzzle you have posed. Or show the reader how one perspective, concept, or theory makes better sense of the puzzle than another perspective, concept, or theory. This is the bulk of the paper: around 3 pages.

4. Discussion and Implications. Conclude the paper by talking about the implications of your analysis—the implications either for solving the problem, or for understanding other social problems, or for understanding society more generally. This can be short: a paragraph or two

Make sure to include page numbers in your paper. And consult this ASA style sheet (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.) on how to cite the readings you use.

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SAMPLE OUTLINE The Rise of the #Me Too Movement Introduction: The Puzzle. Feminist activists mobilized against sexual harassment in the 1970s and successfully won recognition of sexual harassment as a form of discrimination. Why, forty years later, has a new movement against sexual harassment emerged? Political process theorists argue that movements require preexisting solidary networks to mobilize people. However, the rise of the MeToo movement suggests that digital media may make preexisting networks unnecessary. A Sociological Perspective. Political process theory of social movements argues that movements depend on three ingredients: political opportunities, mobilizing structures, and frames (Caren). Mobilizing structures are especially important (Nicholls). But digital media make it possible for people not only to communicate across space, but also to create solidary networks (outside reference #1 on digital networks). Applying a Sociological Perspective. Key events in the #MeToo movement (outside reference #2). How digital media substituted for preexisting structures in the #MeToo movement. It did so in two ways: by linking people in larger networks and by providing solidary motivations to participate. Outside reference #3. 1 Discussion. My case suggests more generally that social movements in the digital era may not require preexisting mobilizing structures. Further research should examine whether certain kinds of movements may require face to face mobilizing structures. References (alphabetical): 2 Bibliographic Details Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology Edited by: George Ritzer eISBN: 9781405124331 Print publication date: 2007 Update: 2007-02-15 Revision History ↓ Political Process Theory Neal Caren Subject Politics Government, Politics, and Law » Political Sociology DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x Sections Political Process Theory REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED READINGS The standard explanation for social movement mobilization, known as political process theory (PPT), emphasizes the role of political opportunities, mobilizing structures, and framing processes, along with protest cycles and contentious repertoires. Developed in the US in the 1970s and 1980s and rooted in an analysis of civil rights struggles, PPT focuses on the interaction between movement attributes, such as organizational structure, and the broader economic and political context. Critics argue that the theory is overly structural and invariant. Recent research by core PPT theorists has shifted focus to a more dynamic analysis of the reoccurring mechanisms and processes of contentious politics. PPT is the culmination of a series of critiques against the then-prevailing social scientific view that protestors and other social movement participants were irrational mobs, overwhelmed by a collective mentality. Movements did not result from alienation or abnormal psychological dispositions, but rather were means to achieve political ends and resolve legitimate grievances. Three precursors to PPT are noteworthy for their contributions to establishing this new analysis. First, Olson's (1965) analysis of collection behavior turned old notions about the irrationality of protestors on its head, exploring the rational and deliberate choices that individuals made before joining a movement. Second, in an influential analysis of the farm workers’ movement, McCarthy and Zald (1973, 1977) found that the availability of resources to the movement, as opposed to the degree of oppression, explained much of the variation in the level of mobilization. This resource mobilization perspective counted more than just material goods as resources, including aspects such as organizational strength and the presence of elite allies. Third, Piven and Cloward (1977) brought attention to important aspects of the economic and political system. Only during periods of great system-wide crisis, such as during the Depression, for example, were movements able to extract concessions from elites. Combined, these three developments formed the basis of PPT. The foundational work in PPT is Charles Tilly's From Mobilization to Revolution (1978), which synthesized these insights, along with those of other historical and political sociologists. Tilly asserts that the interaction between three components – interests, organization, and opportunity – explains a contender's level of mobilization and collective action. Interests represent the potential gains from participation; organization, the level of unified identity and networks; and opportunity, the amount of political power, the likelihood of repression, and the vulnerability of the target. From Mobilization to Revolution's impact on social movement scholarship is largely indirect, as McAdam's subsequent analysis of the Civil Rights Movement became PPT's central text. PPT crystallized in McAdam's Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency (1982). Drawing on earlier critiques of classical approaches, and building on resource mobilization and especially the work of Tilly, McAdam analyzed the rise and decline of the US Civil Rights Movement as a direct result of three factors: political opportunities, indigenous organizational strength, and cognitive liberation. Political opportunities resulted from “any event or broad social process that serves to undermine the calculations and assumptions on which the political establishment is structured” (p. 41). The definition was broad, and his examples included wars, industrialization, international political realignments, prolonged unemployment, and widespread demographic changes. Political opportunities worked indirectly, by changing the degree of power inequality between the challenging group and the target. Among the opportunities that McAdam found leading up to the Civil Rights Movement was the Southern black population shift from a rural to urban environment, the decline in lynchings, and the potential for international embarrassment during this phase in the Cold War. A second factor that encouraged mobilization was the strength of indigenous organizations. These are not the organizations that were formed in the heat of the struggle, but rather the preexisting political and potentially political organizations that existed among the aggrieved community. The organizations provide members who can be recruited as a group, respected leaders, a communications network, and individual ties. For the early Civil Rights Movements, these institutions included black churches, black colleges, and the NAACP, all of which saw rapid growth in the decades immediately prior to the movement. The third element of McAdam's political process model is a sense of cognitive liberation among potential social movement participants. This is a result of a group process, and flows directly from the political opportunities and through local organizations. In order to participate, McAdam argues, drawing on Piven and Cloward (1977), individuals must feel that the current political system lacks legitimacy and their social movement participation could make meaningful change happen. In the case of the Civil Rights Movement, McAdam notes a dramatic shift towards optimism about the future for African Americans in polling data in the 1950s. In addition to shifts in all three of these factors accounting for the rise of the Civil Rights Movements, McAdam also argues that PPT accounts for the decline of mobilization as well. He charts a negative shift in all three factors in the late 1960s, which, he argues, accounts for the end of civil rights protesting during that period. PPT has evolved since McAdam's formulation. Notably, framing has largely replaced cognitive liberation and indigenous organizational strength has been replaced by mobilizing structures. Political opportunities – the element which has received the most attention – has been both narrowed and broadened. Additionally, Tarrow's (1994) notion of protest cycles is sometimes included as a part of PPT, as is Tilly's concept of repertoires of contention. In place of cognitive liberation, PPTists soon began to speak of a movement's framing process. Drawing heavily on the work of David Snow and colleagues, framing is the “conscious strategic efforts by groups of people to fashion shared understandings of the world and of themselves that legitimate and motivate collective action” (McAdam et al. 1996). While McAdam's cognitive liberation was focused on an individual sense of empowerment prior to involvement, analysis of framing processes emphasizes the more strategic decisions achieved at a higher organizational level as an ongoing, dynamic process. At a minimum, a group needs to describe their grievances persuasively, the diagnostic frame, and present a feasible solution, the prognostic frame. Large movements often provide master frames, such as “civil rights,” which subsequent movement and groups can easily refer to. In contrast to the other two primarily structural elements, framing processes are the major place where the cultural is incorporated into the model. As such, framing is sometimes stretched to include all non-structural elements impacting mobilization. This tendency is something that PPT critics fault as a model flaw and that PPT advocates warn against. In a shift away from the explicit bias in favor of formal preexisting organizations in McAdam's indigenous organizational strength, PPTists moved towards an analysis of mobilizing structures, which are “those collective vehicles, informal as well as formal, through which people mobilize and engage in collective action” (McAdam et al. 1996). This includes not only preexisting groups, but also movement organizations and the informal networks among potential activists. How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down At the height of the 2016 election, exaggerated reports of a juvenile sex crime brought a media maelstrom to Twin Falls — one the Idaho city still hasn’t recovered from. By CAITLIN DICKERSON SEPT. 26, 2017 On a Tuesday morning in June 2016, Nathan Brown, a reporter for The TimesNews, the local paper in Twin Falls, Idaho, strolled into the office and cleared off a spot for his coffee cup amid the documents and notebooks piled on his desk. Brown, 32, started his career at a paper in upstate New York, where he grew up, and looks the part of a local reporter, clad in a fresh oxford and khakis that tend to become disheveled over the course of his long days. His first order of business was an article about a City Council meeting from the night before, which he hadn’t attended. Brown pulled up a recording of the proceedings and began punching out notes for his weekly article. Because most governing in Twin Falls is done by a city manager, these meetings tend to deal with trivial subjects like lawn-watering and potholes, but Brown could tell immediately that this one was different. “We have been made aware of a situation,” said the first speaker, an older man with a scraggly white beard who had hobbled up to the lectern. “An alleged assault of a minor child and we can’t get any information on it. Apparently, it’s been indicated that the perpetrators were foreign Muslim youth that conducted this — I guess it was a rape.” Brown recognized the man as Terry Edwards. About a year earlier, after The Times-News reported that Syrian refugees would very likely be resettled in Twin Falls, Edwards joined a movement to shut the resettlement program down. The group circulated a petition to put the proposal before voters. They failed to get enough signatures to force a referendum, but Brown was struck by how much support around town the movement attracted. In bars after work, he began to overhear conversations about the dangers of Islam. One night, he heard a man joke about dousing the entrance to the local mosque with pig’s blood. After he finished watching the video, Brown called the police chief, Craig Kingsbury, to get more information about the case. Kingsbury said that he couldn’t discuss it and that the police reports were sealed because minors were involved. Brown made a couple phone calls: to the mayor and to his colleague at the paper who covers crime. He pieced together that 12 days earlier, three children had been discovered partly clothed inside a shared laundry room at the apartment complex where they lived. There were two boys, a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old, and a 5year-old girl. The 7-year-old boy was accused of attempting some kind of sex act with the 5-year-old, and the 10-year-old had used a cellphone borrowed from his older brother to record it. The girl was American and, like most people in Twin Falls, white. The boys were refugees; Brown wasn’t sure from where. In his article about the meeting, Brown seems to anticipate that the police chief’s inability to elaborate was not going to sit well with the people whose testimony he had just watched. That weekend, Brown was on his way to see a movie when he received a Facebook message from Jim Dalos Jr., a 52-year-old known to Twin Falls journalists and police as Scanner Man. Dalos is disabled; he works six hours a week as a dishwasher at a pizzeria but spends most of his time in his apartment, sitting in a reclining chair and drinking Diet Pepsi out of a 52-ounce plastic mug, voraciously consuming news. He reads the local paper, old issues of which litter his living-room floor, and keeps the television blaring — usually Fox News. He got his nickname because he constantly monitors an old police scanner, a gift he received as a teenager from his father, and often calls in tips to the media based on what he hears. He also happens to live at the apartment complex, Fawnbrook, where the laundry-room incident occurred. Dalos told Brown that he had seen the police around Fawnbrook and that the victim’s mother told him that the boys had been arrested. He also pointed Brown to a couple of Facebook groups that were created in response to the crime. Brown scrolled through them on his cellphone and saw links flying back and forth with articles that said that the little girl had been gang raped at knife point, that the perpetrators were Syrian refugees and that their fathers had celebrated with them afterward by giving them high fives. The stories also claimed that the City Council and the police department were conspiring to bury the crime. Over the weekend, Brown plowed through his daily packs of cigarettes as he watched hundreds, then thousands, of people joining the groups. Their panic appeared to be piqued by a mass shooting, the deadliest in American history, that had just occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The perpetrator had declared allegiance to ISIS. The commenters also posted stories that claimed refugees were responsible for a rash of rapes in Europe and that a similar phenomenon in the United States was imminent. “My girl is blond and blue-eyed,” one woman wrote. “I am extremely worried about her safety.” The details of the Fawnbrook case, as it became known, were still unclear to Brown, but he was skeptical of what he was reading. For one thing, he knew from his own previous reporting that no Syrians had been resettled in Twin Falls after all. He woke up early on Monday to get a head start on clarifying things as much as possible in order to write a follow-up article. Before he got into the office, a friend texted him, telling him to check the Drudge Report. At the top, a headline screamed: “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.” As the only city of any size for 100 miles in any direction, Twin Falls serves as a modest hub within southern Idaho’s vast agricultural sprawl. Its population of about 45,000 nearly doubles each day as people travel there to work, primarily in the thriving agribusinesses. But its bucolic rhythms still allow for children to play outside unattended and make driving a meditative experience. Surrounding the city and sprinkled among its tidy tract neighborhoods, potatoes, alfalfa, sugar beets and corn grow in fields. Half a million dairy cows in the area produce threequarters of the state’s milk supply. Because of its location, Twin Falls is home to major food processors like Chobani Yogurt, Clif Bar and Glanbia Nutritionals, a dairy company. All have large facilities in town and have helped to push down the unemployment rate to just under 3 percent, below the national average. The wealth of easy-to-find low-skilled jobs made Twin Falls attractive as a place for resettling refugees, and they began arriving in the 1980s, at that time mostly from Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. Nearly 2,500 refugees have moved to the town over the years. Most Twin Falls residents are churchgoing, and about half of those are Mormons. Locally owned stores and restaurants are generally closed on Sundays, and the city has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. Liberals often register as Republicans just to have an opportunity to participate in the electoral process, by voting in the primaries. If a Republican is going to win regardless, the thinking goes, they would at least like to play a role in deciding which one prevails. The same qualities that bind the townspeople together can, in turn, be alienating to newcomers. The refugee community has begun to experience this effect as its demographic makeup has changed. Over the past decade and a half, as conflict spread across North Africa and the Middle East, Twin Falls started to resettle larger numbers of refugees with darker skin who follow an unfamiliar religion — two things that make it difficult to blend into a town that is 80 percent white. On a national scale, an ascendant network of anti-Muslim activists and provocateurs has exploited the fears brought on by these changes, finding a platform and a receptive audience online. The narrative they espouse — on blogs with names like Jihad Watch — is that America, currently 1 percent Muslim, is in the midst of an Islamic invasion. Central to the worldview of these bloggers, some of whom have celebrity-size social-media followings, is that Muslims have a propensity toward sexual violence. They seize on any news item that bolsters this notion. Perhaps their biggest touchstone is an incident that took place in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve in 2015. Mobs of men, many of them asylum seekers from the Middle East, pick-pocketed and groped more than a thousand women in and around a train station. The German police acknowledged the incident had taken place only under pressure, as the women’s stories began to leak out through the media. This established, for these activists, the contours of a narrative that they believe has been repeating itself. The Fawnbrook incident quickly drew their interest. What happened in Twin Falls was sadly somewhat commonplace but not in the way the activists believed. The local Police Department investigates sex crimes on a weekly basis, and in about half a dozen of those that proceed to court each year, the victims and the accused are both minors. “If it’s younger kids, it’s them being curious,” J.R. Paredez, the lead investigator on the case, explained to me. Some children who act out sexually have been victimized themselves, he said, while others have been exposed to explicit material at home or at school or, as is more common recently, on their cellphones. “As they start to get older, there’s more of the actual sexual component to it.” Two weeks after the incident, the boys were charged with lewd and lascivious behavior against a minor. (The 14-year-old who lent his cellphone to the boys was initially charged with the same crime. He was not present in the laundry room, and his charge was eventually reduced to make him an accessory.) In Idaho, this statute applies to physical contact “done with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of such person, such minor child, or third party.” Paredez said that the cellphone video made clear what specifically had happened between the children, but that he couldn’t show it to the reporters who asked him about it, because doing so would have constituted criminal distribution of child pornography. He called most of the details that he read about the case on the internet “100 percent false, like not even close to being accurate.” (The family of the accused declined to comment.) As more time passed without a solid account of what happened inside the laundry room, lurid rumors continued to surface online and came to dominate conversations in grocery stores and at school events. And while the City Council members did not have control over the case, the bloggers who wrote about it placed much of the blame on them. On the Monday when Twin Falls was the top story on Drudge, the City Council held another weekly meeting. Normally only a handful of people attend, and Brown is one of the few reporters among them. But that night, the auditorium filled until there was standing room only, and television news crews appeared from Boise and other nearby cities. When it came time for public comments, one man got up and praised the city’s handling of the case, followed by more than a dozen others who laid into the council members. Terry Edwards handed each of them a small copy of the Constitution and told them to do their jobs. A woman named Vicky Davis, her hair in a satiny white bob, stood up and proclaimed that Islam had declared jihad on America. “They are not compatible with our culture,” she said. “They hate us. They don’t want to be Americans. They don’t want to assimilate. What do you need to see? What more proof do you need?” This was a highly unusual meeting, but Brown wasn’t exactly surprised. Several months earlier, when the anti-refugee activists began to organize, he started reading up to try to better understand their views. He picked up a book by Ann Coulter and began to follow the anti-refugee blogs. At the meeting, he felt as if he were hearing all that he had read being repeated aloud by his neighbors. Kingsbury, the police chief, read from a statement while fumbling with a thicket of microphones piled onto the lectern by visiting reporters. In between exasperated breaths, he explained why he could not disclose the details of the incident but said that he could address some of the misinformation that was spreading online. There was no evidence of a knife, he said, or of any celebration afterward or of a cover-up, and no Syrians were involved: The boys were from Sudan and Iraq. “I’m a kid who grew up in Idaho,” he said. “Law enforcement takes these types of allegations very seriously. However, we can’t act on them within an hour. It’s not like a crime show.” He told the audience that the boys had been arrested, to applause. But online, Kingsbury’s words only inflamed the activists more. Just after midnight, someone posted his work email address on Jihad Watch, along with those of the council members and the mayor. A commenter on another website called The Muslim Issue posted the phone numbers and email addresses for the town’s government officials, the head of the refugee-resettlement center and some administrators at the college, which runs the refugee resettlement program. From there, the information spread to more blogs and to the comments sections of farright news outlets with massive audiences. By 9 the next morning, messages were pouring into the inbox of the mayor of Twin Falls, Shawn Barigar, nearly every minute. Barigar grew up in a neighboring town and went to work in Boise as a television news anchor before moving back to start a family. His even keel and the air of sophistication he picked up while living in a comparatively big city have made him popular politically. He is left of the town on many social issues, which has made some of his constituents suspicious of him. But most of the people who contacted him that summer were from other states and even other countries. Some people demanded that the city pay for a new car and apartment for the victim and her family. Others said that local officials’ attempts to correct inaccurate details about the incident were veiled efforts to suggest that no crime had occurred at all, in order to protect the refugees. Others accused him of being a “globalist,” a word that has taken on many definitions but in this case meant he was part of a vast, arcane conspiracy. They believed that establishment politicians wanted to turn red states like Idaho blue by starting wars and then importing refugees from those war zones as cheap labor who would not only displace American workers but also reliably vote Democratic. Many of the people who wrote to the mayor had a much simpler goal: to unleash their hatred of Islam. One message, with the subject line “Muslims,” said that refugees were committing rapes and hit-and-runs and urinating on women and that the mayor was guilty of treason. “It’s out of the bag, [expletive],” it read. “We will and are holding you responsible for any and all crimes committed by these quote refugees. No courts. No police. Just us. You will answer to us in the darkness of night.” The next day, Camille Barigar, the mayor’s wife, arrived in her office at the college, where she ran the performing-arts center, and started listening to her voice mail. In a calm, measured voice, a man who sounded as if he was reading from a script went on for nearly four minutes. “I wonder, Miss Barigar, if your residence was posted online and your whereabouts identified, how you would feel if half a dozen Muslim men raped and sodomized you, Miss Barigar, and when you tried to scream, broke every tooth in your mouth,” he said. “And then I wonder how you’d feel if, when you went to the Twin Falls Police Department, they told you to run along, that this is simply cultural diversity.” The caller said that life was “becoming difficult” in the United States, just as it had in England. He referenced Jo Cox, a British member of Parliament who spoke out in support of refugees and later “met with opposition in the form of a bullet to the head.” “She’s dead now,” he said. “They’ve buried her.” The Twin Falls story aligned perfectly with the ideology that Stephen Bannon, then the head of Breitbart News, had been developing for years, about the havoc brought on by unchecked immigration and Islamism, all of it backed by bigbusiness interests and establishment politicians. Bannon latched onto the Fawnbrook case and used his influence to expand its reach. During the weeks leading up to his appointment in August 2016 to lead Donald J. Trump’s campaign for president, Twin Falls was a daily topic of discussion on Bannon’s national radio show, where he called it “the beating heart” of all that the coming presidential election was about. He sent his lead investigative reporter, Lee Stranahan, to the town to investigate the case, boasting to his audience that Stranahan was a “pit bull” of a reporter. “We’re going to let him off the chain,” he said. Then 50, Stranahan was relatively new to journalism. He had spent a few decades as a television producer and a graphic illustrator in Los Angeles, and on the side he shot erotic photography, which is how he met his wife. Stranahan’s transition into journalism began during the television writers’ strike of 2007 and 2008. To keep himself entertained, he created parody political advertisements and posted them on YouTube. One of the first was a satirical Rudy Giuliani ad, asking Republican primary voters to support him because he had taken good care of his mistress, offering her private security courtesy of the N.Y.P.D., whereas Mitt Romney “didn’t even bother” to take on a paramour. Stranahan says that within weeks, the videos led to invitations to appear on CNN and to meet with a vice president at NBC and to a job offer, which he accepted, writing political comedy for The Huffington Post. In college, Stranahan was a libertarian and even attended Ayn Rand’s funeral. But when he moved to California, he became a liberal, vehemently opposing the Iraq war and the presidency of George W. Bush. He voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Two years later, Stranahan interviewed Andrew Breitbart, a fellow Huffington Post alumnus, for an article he was writing about Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. They spoke for more than three hours, bonding over their shared love of Depeche Mode. Eventually, Breitbart became Stranahan’s mentor, converted him to conservatism and offered him a job. In 2011, Breitbart took Stranahan to the Conservative Political Action Conference and introduced him to Michele Bachmann, who, in Stranahan’s recollection, convinced him that she had uncovered disturbing details about Islam that no one in the establishment was willing to talk about. Stranahan says this conversation was the genesis of his concerns about the religion. Stranahan arrived in Idaho in August, after covering the national party conventions. The sealed nature of the case prevented any journalist from an exhaustive examination, and the accused and the victim’s families refused to speak to the mainstream media. But Stranahan thrived in the void of facts. He was granted one of the few interviews with the victim’s family, but his account of the crime offered little more information than others’ had — and far more inaccuracies, according to the police and the county prosecutor. He described what took place as a “horrific gang rape” and wrote graphic details about the incident, which the Twin Falls Police say are untrue. On Breitbart radio, Stranahan openly wondered whether Barigar, the mayor, was “a big, you know, Shariah supporter.” And he suggested repeatedly that mass rapes by refugees had occurred in Europe and were inevitably coming to the United States. “If you want to wait until your country turns into France or Cologne, Germany. If you want to wait, you can wait,” he warned the audience. “But if you want to watch it and stop it now, you’ve got a chance to do it in November.” Stranahan says his Breitbart editors sent him to Twin Falls to report on the “Muslim takeover” of the town. (Breitbart denies this and says it’s “absurd.”) But he soon became enamored of a grander theory about what was happening in southern Idaho: globalism. He wrote that local businesses received government kickbacks for employing foreigners instead of Americans. (Stranahan did not cite any evidence of this, and it is untrue, according to the state Department of Labor.) And he often referred to a Syrian refugee crisis, though no Syrians were ever resettled there. Then, to bring the story full circle, he claimed these Muslim refugees were being used to replace American workers and that the government, big business and law enforcement were either conspiring to conceal the sexualassault case or intentionally looking the other way, in order to keep the machine turning. “Bottom line, this is bad for business,” he told me in an interview last winter, explaining his interpretation of the city officials’ rationale: “ ‘I’m not really going to look into this too deeply because if I find out the truth, if I discover what actually happened, if I figure out the truth, it’s not really good for business.’ ” Stranahan believed that Chobani, a Greek-yogurt company, was at the center of the scheme. Breitbart had been covering the company for months, ever since the owner, Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish-born businessman, made a speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos encouraging other chief executives to pledge financial and political support to refugees. While he was in town, Stranahan embedded with critics of the refugee program. They drove him to some of his interviews and to the yogurt factory to shoot drone footage. Stranahan doesn’t get around well on his own in part because he has been mostly blind in one eye since grade school, when a neighborhood kid threw a rock at him, shattering his right optic nerve. Rather than a round pupil, his is jagged-edged, and so large that it nearly covers his iris. He shuffles when he walks because of neuropathic foot pain from diabetes, which he regulates by eating a ketogenic diet, usually one meal a day, consisting entirely of protein and fat. In Twin Falls, he subsisted most days on blackened chicken from Popeyes. During the three months he was in Twin Falls, City Council members refused his interview requests, leaving him stuck inside an echo chamber with the activists, which he amplified online. When I was in Twin Falls, I found myself empathizing: These same activists refused to speak with me. One of the most outspoken among them is a woman named Julie DeWolfe, who lives atop a grassy hill 20 minutes outside town and who spent significant time with Stranahan. When I went there to ask for an interview, she came outside with several barking dogs and told me to leave. “The company you work for is not trustworthy,” she said. As the summer came to a close, The Times-News was bombarded with threatening phone calls and email from all over. After it received a threat that was deemed credible enough to engage the F.B.I., the editor of the paper told Brown and the other reporters to conduct their interviews outside the office and ordered the entire staff to walk in pairs when going out to their cars. For months, the reporters covered protests around town, which were widely hyped on social media but, for the most part, sparsely attended. At least once the Police Department deployed plainclothes officers into the crowds, with instructions to look after the journalists. Later, it turned out that fake Facebook accounts linked to the Russian government helped to spread stories about Twin Falls and even organized one of the rallies there. The event was also poorly attended but is the first known Russian attempt to spark a demonstration on American soil. The phone and email attacks continued through the fall and spiked each time a new conspiracy theory was posted online. One council member told me that she gained 15 pounds from the stress. At night, Shawn Barigar would lie down with his iPad and spend hours reading stories that called him a crook, a liar or an ISIS sympathizer. He had to shut down his Twitter account after someone accused him of having been convicted of sexual assault. Before he could debunk the myth, the post had spread, leaving untold numbers of constituents under the impression that he was a rapist. He stopped sleeping and struggled to focus at work or to be present with his family. He and his wife say they bickered all summer. “It was like being in a hole,” he told me, his eyes welling up with tears. “It was all-consuming.” Stranahan now works out of a trendy shared workspace in Washington, across the street from the White House. He quit his job at Breitbart, which he said was being mismanaged in Bannon’s absence, to host a drive-time FM radio show with Sputnik, a state-run Russian news outlet. He told me that he jumped at the chance to transition to a Kremlin-funded outfit and, knowing that it would be controversial, spoke to every media outlet that inquired about it, in order to draw even more people to his work. He expressed no contrition about the reporting he did in Twin Falls, though many of the conclusions that he drew on the radio and online have been debunked. Still, many of the outlets that covered Twin Falls made only minor tweaks to their stories or did nothing at all. Many of the falsehoods that were written about the Fawnbrook case still appear at the top of a Google search of the city. The most transparent course-correction resulted from a lawsuit against Alex Jones, the publisher of InfoWars, for its misleading stories about Chobani. After initially vowing to fight the yogurt company in court, Jones retracted several stories and issued an apology in order to make a lawsuit go away. Stranahan said that his editors forced him off the Twin Falls story during the fall and suggested that they had done so under threat from Chobani. (Breitbart denies this.) Stranahan and I spoke a handful of times over the course of the last year, each time for several hours. Talking with him feels like being inside one of his conspiracy theories. When you ask him a question, he begins to answer and then immediately swerves in a different direction, bouncing like a pinball between topics that barely connect to one another — from the Fawnbrook case to clitorectomies and stoning, then Syrian refugees, then a prominent Wahhabi cleric — and seems to increase in velocity as he ricochets off them. It’s an exhausting exercise, but also a fascinating one. He seems perpetually on the precipice of pulling the argument together, sparking just enough curiosity that you let him keep going. Stranahan uses this talent most effectively in his work, painting himself as a champion of people who are understandably uninformed about other cultures and religions based on their own experiences. “It’s just easy to brand these people as a bunch of Islamophobic, racist yokels,” he told me, with a hint of disgust in his voice. “I just don’t like it.” Stranahan struck me as passionate about his stories; not about their veracity but about the freedom he and the critics of refugee resettlement should have to speculate as they wanted without being belittled by the fact-mongering mainstream. When I reached him by phone this June, he told me he was planning to travel back to Idaho for more reporting on Fawnbrook, now that he was no longer constrained by his editors at Breitbart. He told me that he believed that he had uncovered another dimension of his globalist theory related to Chobani’s participation in the federal school-lunch program. He felt compelled to follow up on the earlier coverage, because he was frustrated that Alex Jones and others were forced to retract their stories and apologize under pressure. “I don’t like people getting shut up like that,” he said. “Even if their stories have problems, I don’t like journalists getting shut down.” I started to ask why anyone should be allowed to publish false information for the express purpose of angering their audience and pushing them further away from those with whom they disagree, but Stranahan cut me off. “Hey, I’m walking into the White House right now,” he said. He had just arrived for a press briefing with the president’s spokesman. “Let me call you back.” This April, the boys accused in the Fawnbrook case admitted guilt — the juvenile court equivalent to pleading guilty — and were sentenced in June. The judge prohibited city officials from commenting on the outcome of the trial, but juvenile-justice experts told me that the boys would most likely be placed on probation and required to attend mandatory therapy to correct their behavior. Even in Idaho, a state with tough sentencing requirements, the law bars anyone under 10 from being jailed and only allows it in extreme cases for anyone under 12. Late one Monday night in June I received a phone call from Dalos, the Scanner Man. He asked if I had heard about the “fireworks flying around Twin Falls.” The news of the boys’ fate had somehow reached the public. “The suspects didn’t go to jail or nothing,” he said, adding that people in town were “irate.” Facebook posts about the story were again flooding his feed. “They’re blaming it on Muslim law,” he said. One of the articles circulating, from a site called Bare Naked Islam, included a photograph of the judge in the case with a large red arrow pointing toward his head, next to the caption “Corrupt Judge.” Another article published the judge’s home address and phone number, inciting another flood of harassment, a year after the initial onslaught. Shawn and Camille Barigar’s bickering has subsided, but they have discovered that they disagree over whether Islamic teachings conflict with American social norms. “I can’t take the leap,” Shawn told me, “that because you are Muslim therefore you are reading the Quran verbatim, and you’re going to go out and do genital mutilation.” Camille said she supported the local resettlement program but thought that her husband’s unwillingness to even consider cultural differences or acknowledge any nuance was naïve. “I think we’ve got to be careful,” she said. “And I don’t want to be afraid to talk about it entirely or, like, sound racist.” It is precisely this discomfort that provides an opening for people like Stranahan to dominate the conversation. Part of the reason a fear of Islam has persisted in Twin Falls is because the local leadership refused to defuse it, according to Matt Christensen, 36, the editor of The Times-News. While Brown wrote articles that sorted out the truth about the Fawnbrook case, Christensen was publishing commentary that castigated the people who were spreading falsehoods. He told me that he had closed-door meetings with city officials, in which he asked them to write guest editorials doing the same, but none of them did. Christensen suspected that they were afraid of one of the most reliable political dangers in the region, the same force that leads wouldbe Democrats there to register as Republicans: being outflanked on the right is the quickest way to lose your job. “Behind closed doors, they would all tell you they were pro-refugee, and we wanted them to step forward and make that declaration in a public arena, and it just never really happened,” he told me. “That was frustrating to us especially at the beginning because it really felt like the newspaper was out there all alone.” He continued: “There were days where we felt like, Godammit, what are we doing here? We write a story and it’s going to reach 50,000 people. Breitbart writes a story and it’s going to reach 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 million people. What kind of a voice do we have in this debate?” The refugee resettlement center received a dramatic increase in donations from local residents during the last year. But those in the town who support the program have often been drowned out by the relatively smaller, but louder, group of activists who oppose it. Brown said he expected to see an anti-Shariah bill introduced in the State Legislature when the next session starts in 2018. Bills like this, which try to bar Islamic law from being used in American courts, have been introduced in the past two years in Boise but never passed. He speculated that the momentum of the past year could force a different outcome. “There are a lot of people who feel like society is changing too quickly, like the community is changing too quickly,” he told me. “And who view other people not like them or who don’t speak their language as a threat or a sign that their culture is going to be weakened. And they want to do what they can to stop that.” Caitlin Dickerson is a national reporter for The Times. She has covered changes in immigration policy and often profiles the lives of immigrants, including those without legal status. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week. A version of this article appears in print on October 1, 2017, on Page MM46 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down. © 2018 The New York Times Company • Shelby Steele: Ghettoized by Black Unity oN COL .~ MAY 1990 $2.50 1:1." S j .I.. ----------+ ---------- FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES TO A JAIL CELL Child Abuse and the Abuse of Justice: A Case Study By Dorothy Rabinowitz BUT WHAT ABOUT AFRICA? On the Global Economy's Lost Continent By Richard]. Barnet A LIFE COLORED BY WAR Amsterdam, May 1940: When the Germans Came By Hans Koning ELEANOR IN THE UNDERWORLD A story by ]. S. Marcus '[025"0 393110) h'f20 nro, Eric Bogosian, N01~~I~2~~m listening to Vaclav Havel J./\ L~H>l9NINN38 '[0 t [6 Nor dH . t5106EOJ/IIIILNNBI l02S0 J.I9ra-5 ------------- ***c** 352'[# 1 + ------------- R E p o R T FROM THE ~10UTHSOF BABES TO A JAIL CELL Child abuse and the abuse of justice: A case study By Dorothy Rabinowitz On August 2, 1988, Margaret Kelly Michaels, then twenty-six years old, was sentenced by a New Jersey judge to forty-seven years in prison. It was as harsh a sentence as any judge in this country is likely to mete out for a crime involving neither drugs nor murder, but it was not nearly harsh enough for most of those assembled in the courtroom that day at the Essex County Court House in Newark. She faced, according to those moved to carefully calculate such things (and there were many on hand), an imprisonment of no fewer than 730 years. Three months earlier, Michaels had been convicted on 115 (of an alleged 131) counts of sexual abuse against twenty children, ranging in age from three to five. Each of the children had been in her charge at the Wee Care Day Nursery, an exclusive preschool in the suburban community of Maplewood, New Jersey, about twenty miles from New York City; each of the crimes was said to have been committed during regular school hours at the nursery, essentially a few rented rooms in the basement and on the second and third floors of the town's large Episcopal church; each day during the seven months she worked as a teacher's aide and then as a teacher at Wee Care, from Dorothy Rabinowitz writes frequently on social and political issues. She lives in New York City. 52 HARPER'S MAGAZINE / MAY 1990 September 1984 to April 1985, Kelly Michaels, according to the prosecutors, raped and assaulted them with knives, forks, a wooden spoon, and Lego blocks. The prosecution maintained that she had been able to do all this unnoticed by her fellow teachers, by school administrators, by parents and other visitors to the school, and unnoticed as well by anyone working for the church or attending services at the churchthat is to say, unnoticed for nearly 150 school days by any adult. Unnoticed, and on a daily basis, Michaels had also, according to the prosecutors, licked peanut butter off the children's genitals, played the piano in the nude, and made them drink her urine and eat a "cake" of her feces. For 150 school days, not a single child ever said so much as a single word about any of these crimes because-again according to the prosecution-Kelly Michaels had forced them to keep at least 115 terrible secrets. Although monstrous in its allegations, the case against Kelly Michaels was as much a work of the prosecution's feverish imagination as a construction of the law. A substantial body of evidence suggests that Kelly Michaels was convicted of crimes she did not commit. Her story deserves telling in some detail because the circumstances that resulted in her arrest, trial, and imprisonment bespeak a condition of national hysteria not unlike the hysteria that seized the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the seventeenth decided to go back and research the history of century during the excitements of the Salem this case, beginning with the first allegations witch trials. If Kelly Michaels was unjustly conmade against her in the spring of 1985. In the course of my research, I read through trial matevicted, it is because we live in an age of trial by rials and interviewed most of the leading paraccusation. Our society, at the moment, is ticipants: the investigators, prosecutors, judge, quick to condemn anybody and everybody and parents, as well as the convicted defendant charged, on the flimsiest of evidence, with the herself. What emerged at the end of that recrimes of abusing or molesting children. In the search was not only the story of a young woman interest of a higher virtue (i.e., protecting the whom I believe to have been falsely accused and children), a credulous public and a sensationalunjustly condemned but also an understanding ist press stand willing to cast aside whatever civof the ways in which the laws can be made to il liberties or constitutional rights obstruct the sustain the decrees of fear and superstition. In judgment of heaven. almost every detail, the prosecution of Kelly At the time of Kelly Michaels's conviction, I Michaels replicated the prosecution of similar was working for WWOR- TV, New Jersey's largest television station. I reported and wrote cases being brought against alleged child molesters everywhere in the United States. The accommentaries about the media for the station's evening news program, and because the Michaels case was one of the biggest local stories, I had followed udYlng the. trial Y·knew t " it for months. From the beginning, are s I found something strange about sealeg), the state's case-something incom- te of"y prehensible in the many counts of abuse, in the large number of children allegedly victimized, in the highly improbable circumstances in which Kelly Michaels was said to have accomplished the molestation of half the children in the school. I found no less strange the reactions of my colleagues to my casually voiced doubts to the effect that the case against Kelly Michaels was as rotten as last week's fish. Youngish journalists who prided themselves on their skepticism-types who automatically sniffed with suspicion at any and every pronouncement by a government official-were outraged by the merest suggestion that the state's charges against Kelly Michaels lacked credibility. In late July 1988, just before Michaels's sentence was to be handed down, I told one of the station's news managers that I planned to do a commentary on the cused tend to be teachers, camp counselors, and media coverage of the trial. The Village Voice members of "sex rings." The cases almost always had published a lengthy story on the case by rely on only the testimony of small children; journalist Debbie Nathan that raised critical and this testimony invariably comes to involve questions about the press coverage. The story more and more victims, who describe more and provided, I thought, the perfect opportunity to more bizarre, cruel, and lurid acts. All the cases raise certain, by now deeply nagging, questions also make extensive use of child-abuse "specialof my own about this case. ists" and "investigators," who insist that par"Forget it," the news managers informed me. ents, prosecutors, and jurors must-in a phrase This meant, in translation: This news organizawhispered frequently at such trials and even aftion is not prepared to air doubts about the trial fixed to posters and buttons-believe the chilof one of the most despised defendants ever condren. As proof of the prevailing doctrine, Essex victed in a New Jersey court-a child molester. County Assistant Prosecutor Glenn Goldberg, Shortly after Kelly Michaels's sentencing, I who tried the state's case against Kelly Mi- The accused tend to be teachers and counselors. The cases almost always rely on only the testimony of small children ies~onsiblY';:if"i. lIIustrations by Victoria Kann --------------""""'''''''''''''''''-_ .•...-.~_.-•..-.- REPORT . 53 People everywhere in the country have believed tales as fantastic as any story ever told by the Brothers Grimm chaels, kept a BELIEVE THE CHILDREN button pinned to his office bulletin board. By and large, this commandment has been obeyed. People everywhere in the country have believed. Believed almost anything and everything told to them by witnesses under the age of six. Believed tales as fantastic as any fairy story ever told by the Brothers Grimm. In Sequim, Washington, investigators listened attentively as children in a local preschool charged that they had been taken by a teacher to graveyards and forced to witness animal sacrifices. In Chicago, children told sympathetic authorities of how they were made to eat a boiled baby. A Memphis preschool teacher, Frances Ballard, was acquitted of terrorizing children into watching her put a bomb in a hamster and exploding t;d\y told 'bly" in ist • 1 g the tna w this ~ still t . :d), the 't it, and of fifteen other charges no less fantastic; but, in a trial to rival those of the Salem witches, she was convicted of kissing the genitals of a four-year-old boy. The most sensational case of child abuse reached its denouement on January 18 of this year, when a jury in Los Angeles acquitted Ray Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, on fifty-two counts-this after deliberating for nine weeks over evidence presented in the course of thirty-three months at a trial that cost the taxpayers of California an estimated $15 million. Buckey, a teacher at the Virginia McMartin Preschool (founded by his grand- 54 HARPER'S MAGAZINE I MAY 1990 mother) in Manhattan Beach, a well-to-do seaside city that is a part of greater Los Angeles, was said by the children to have stuck silverware in their anuses, taken them on visits to cemeteries, and killed a horse with a baseball bat. The parent who first came forth after believing her son, a woman named Judy Johnson, died in 1986 of an alcohol-related illness; not long after her initial charge against Buckey of child sodomy, she made a similar allegation against . an AWOL marine, claiming that he also had sodomized the family dog. T .the prosecution of Kelly Michaels took place in the midst of a national hysteria about the crimes of child abuse that, by the spring of '1985, had become as virulent and as contagious as the Asian flu. Kelly Michaels left the Wee Care Day Nursery on April 26, 1985, in order to accept a better-paying job in the nearby town of East Orange, New Jersey. Four days later, on April 30, one of her former students, a four-year-old boy whom I will call Terry Weldon,' inadvertently set in motion her transformation into an object of revulsion. His mother had taken him to his pediatrician for a checkup, and a nurse began to take his temperature by putting a thermometer in his rectum. Terry played quietly for a halfminute or so and then said, "That's what my teacher does to me at nap time at school." When the nurse asked him what he meant, he answered, "Her takes my temperature." His nap-time monitor was Kelly Michaels. Kelly Michaels had not come to Maplewood from Pittsburgh, where she was raised, to teach preschoolers. Nor, for that matter, had she come east to settle in Maplewood. She loved the theater and wanted to be an actress. She was pretty in a traditional, American-girl sort of way, with a dimply smile and eyes, as even her childhood photos show, that knew how to meet a camera lens. She was voted "best actress" of her high school, St. Benedict's Academy, and went on to major in theater at Seton Hill, a Catholic women's college near Pittsburgh. In the summer of 1984, then just a few credits shy of her B.A., she took up the offer of a college friend who had invited her to share an efficiency apartment in a poor, mostly black neighbor•All the names of the Wee Care preschoolers and of their parents have been changed. hood in East Orange. For the time being, East Orange was as close as she could get to Manhattan's theaters and drama schools. Up to this point, she had lived with her parents, John and Marilyn Michaels, and her four sisters and brothers in a pleasant, woodsy, middle-class section of Pittsburgh called White Oak Heights. Her early life had been, from all evidence, a happy one as the eldest child of a close-knit family. They were a talkative, bookish lot, given to heated debate on art and politics, which might explain Kelly Michaels's rather extraordinary command of the language-a faintly formal, old-fashioned eloquence that made her seem, at times, the child of another era. When I met Kelly Michaels for the first time, in the dark visitors' cubicle at the women's prison in Clinton, New Jersey, two months after her sentencing, she still retained some of the wholesome look I had seen in her school photographs. Her shock at the accusations brought against her were still as fresh in her mind as at the moment when she was first questioned in 1985. Her gift for language allowed her to express not only rage at her accusers but also an intellectual scorn for the absurdity of their charges. On several subsequent occasions when I spoke to her, she never failed to voice her amazement that a jury had believed the charges. "To watch these witnesses, these prosecutors with their details-and none of it had ever happened," she once told me. "Yet, all these people were coming up to the stand to give descriptions of what never happened." After arriving in East Orange, Michaels began looking for work. She answered a number of want ads, including one for a teacher's aide. She had never worked in the child-care field, but the director of the nursery was impressed with her. She was subsequently hired by Wee Care (the pay was about four dollars an hour) and began work there in September. Her mother, Marilyn, told me last year, when I visited her in White Oak Heights, that she had teased Kelly when she called to say she had begun working at a preschool. Be careful, she told her daughter, look at what is happening in Los Angeles to those teachers in the McMartin case. Within a month at Wee Care, Kelly Michaels was promoted to teacher. She had impressed her supervisors and appeared to be popular with the three-year-olds whose class she took charge of and with the other children whom she supervised during nap time. Following days that she stayed home sick, children would run to greet her-a fact the prosecution would not deny but rather pointed to as evidence that Michaels "was an actress" and that "child abusers are very clever people." Michaels liked the children and their parents too, but the salary proved impossible to live on. When she went home for Christmas, her parents told me, she said she planned to leave Wee Care and return to Pittsburgh. John Michaels, to his bitter regret, urged her to be responsible and finish out the year. Kelly Michaels returned to Wee Care but did not finish out the year; she left two months before the school was to close for the summer in order to take the job in East Orange. Ten days after Terry Weldon's checkup, Essex County Investigator Richard Mastrangelo and Maplewood Detective Sergeant John Noonan knocked on the door of the apartment Kelly Michaels shared with her friend Cynthia. Terry Weldon's mother, upon arriving home after his examination, had fixed her son lunch and then phoned the doctor to talk about the temperature-taking incident. The doctor advised her to call the state child-protective agency, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). Her call was referred to the agency's Institutional Abuse Unit, which contacted the Child Abuse Unit of the Essex County prosecutor's office, which agreed to initiate an investigation. We have now in this country a vastly increased number of child-protection agencies and experts. This is largely a result of the passage in L 979 of the Federal Child Abuse Act, which dramatically increased funds available to states and localities for such agencies and experts. Funds begat staffs, which grew, as did their zeal. On May 2, Terry's mother-the wife of a Maplewood police officer and the daughter of a prominent Essex County judge-brought him to the Essex County prosecutor's office in Newark, where he was questioned by the head of the office's Child Abuse Unit, Assistant Prosecutor Sara Sencer, now Sara McArdle. She happened to live in Maplewood. McArdle questioned Terry, handing to him during the interview what is called, by childabuse experts, an "anatomically correct" dollthat is, a rag doll that has an anus and genitalia. On the basis of what the child does with-and to-such a doll, investigators like McArdle say they can conclude whether and what type of abuse is likely to have occurred. Under questioning by McArdle, according to a prosecutor's report, Terry Weldon stuck his finger in the doll's rectum. Terry also told McArdle that two other boys had had their temperature taken. Both were questioned. The boys seemed to know nothing about temperature-taking, but one of them, according to McArdle, said Michaels had touched his penis. Then a fourth allegation was made: The Weldons had notified Wee Care director Arlene Spector of their son Terry's story, and We have now in this country a vastly increased number of child-protection agencies and experts. Funds begat staffs, which grew, as did their zeal REPORT --------------------~_._•.._. - ~---------------------- 55 The child~ abuse experts convince parents that the number of abuses and abusers is virtually limitless, beyond their imagination Spector, in turn, had notified the members of the school board. Under repeated questioning from his father, a board member-with the father telling him "he was his best friend and that he could tell him anything" {this from the prosecutor's office report)-another boy said that Michaels had touched his penis with a spoon. A decision was made to bring Kelly Michaels in for questioning. The two investigators who arrived at Kelly Michaels's apartment on the morning of May 6 found only one bed in the apartment, and this, Michaels later said, at once attracted their attention. She said they exchanged sly and significant glances. She was told she was not under arrest and did not need a lawyer but that she was under investigation and would she please come to the prosecutor's office for questioning. Once there, she waived her Miranda rights and spent several hours insisting that the allegations were unfounded and that she was innocent. About temperature-taking, she explained that teachers took it by placing plastic strips on the children's, foreheads. She was urged to take a lie-detector test and did; she passed. Two and a half years later, at Michaels's trial, the county prosecutors prevented the results of this polygraph from being admitted into evidence, basing their objection on a state law stipulating that any person submitting to a police lie-detector test must first sign an agreement authorizing future use of the results. Michaels, who had never before been brought into a police station, knew nothing of this requirement; nor did the detectives questioning her see fit to mention it. She was driven home, and, shaken though she was at the end of this day, she remembers reaching the conclusion that it must all have been some kind of bizarre misunderstanding. In one sense it was: The jury eventually rejected the charge that she had taken Terry Weldon's temperature rectally-the very charge that provoked the entire investigation: anal penetration of the boy. But, as is invariably true in these cases, the first accusation was followed by more accusations-many more. N o one examining the scores of such child sexual-abuse cases can fail to be struck by the way in which, in almost every instance, an initial accusation leads to others and still othersand on and on, until the charges number in the hundreds. At one point during the McMartin case, the police announced they had thirty-six suspects and had uncovered as many as 1,200 alleged victims of sexual abuse. An investigation begun in Jordan, Minnesota, at about the same time that Judy Johnson first made her allegations about Ray Buckey, followed a similar-if even stranger-pattern. 56 HARPER'S MAGAZINE / MAY 1990 ~-~~~~-~~~- ___ ~- There, a case was opened after a woman named Christine Brown alleged that her daughter had been sexually abused by James Rud, a trash collector and a neighbor in the trailer park where she and her daughter lived. Other children in the trailer park were questioned, and some acknowledged that they, too, had been victimized-by Christine Brown. She was charged soon after with eighteen counts of criminal sexual activity. A mother of five with little money, Brown approached her older sister and brother-in-law, Helen and Tom Brown (the shared surname is coincidental), for help, and they agreed to mortgage their house to post Christine's bail. Two months later, the prosecutor in the case, Kathleen Morris, had Tom and Helen arrested for child abuse, and they spent five days in jail. Several dozen-local residents met at City Hall to protest the arrests, among them an automobile painter named Bob Bentz, his wife, Lois, and a local policeman, Greg Myers. Not long after, all three were arrested on charges.otchild abuse, along with Myers's wife and a married couple who had driven the Browns home from jail. In nearly all such cases, the allegations and the numbers of suspects begin to mount only after the entry of investigators and of representatives of child-abuse agencies. It is these experts who convince parents and children alike that the number of abuses and abusers is virtually limitless-beyond their imagination. On May 15, 1985, nine days after Kelly Michaels had been brought in for questioning, Wee Care convened a meeting of parents. The school had sent out a letter on May 8, informing the parents that a former employee of the school was being investigated "regarding serious allegations made by a child," and while this prompted a flurry of phone calls by the school, no other allegations against Michaels emerged. The prosecutor's office was set to wrap up its case-based on the allegations made by Terry Weldon and the two boys who alleged Michaels touched their penis-and present it to a grand jury. But the Wee Care board thought it best that the parents be informed about abuse by an expert, in this instance, Peg Foster, a social worker who codirected a Sexual Assault Unit at a Newark hospital. On the evening of May 15, Foster told the assembled parents a number of things they had never heard before. She told them that sexual abuse is not unusual. She told them that, although she could point to no hard evidencebecause no such evidence exists-she believed that one in three children in the United States has had an "inappropriate sexual experience" by the time he or she reaches the age of eighteen. She encouraged the parents to take their chil- ~---------------_ -~~----~~~~--~~-~-~...- •._ •.... • _- L- ~~-"---~- _ 'f .• " , dren to their pediatricians to check for physical injury. She told them to go home and begin checking their sons and daughters carefully for genital soreness-and also for nightmares, biting, spitting, bed-wetting, masturbation, or for what might be construed in any way as sexual behavior, or, for that matter, for any sort of noticeable changes in behavior. She did not tell them, of course, that the "symptoms" are for many children a normal part of development. On May 22, the state's Division of Youth and Family Services-the agency that Terry Weldon's mother had first contacted-initiated its own investigation. The agency had allowed the county prosecutor's office to have the first chance at the case, but by law its staff was required to undertake its own inquiry. That afternoon, a DYFS social worker named Lou Fonolleras made his first of many visits to Wee Care and conducted his first of many interviews with the school's children. It was Fonolleras, a roundish man of thirty-four with a B.A. in psychology, who played the crucial role in building the case against Kelly Michaels. Something of the state of mind that Fonolleras brought to his work is perhaps revealed in his official report of his first day at Wee Care. Describing the large, stone-faced church's many nooks and crannies, he noted that these would make ideal hiding places for child molesters. In his report, he described the school as a "pedophile's paradise." But no child he interviewed that first day told him that he or she had been abused by Kelly Michaels, or by anyone else. Two days after Fonolleras's visit to Wee Care, the county prosecutor's office brought its case to the grand jury, and the grand jury, agreeing that the state had a case, handed up an indictment. On June 12, Kelly Michaels was arrested and charged with six counts of abuse; she pleaded innocent to all charges. She was taken to the county jail, where she was confined in protective custody. Fonolleras continued to suspect that there was more to the Wee Care case than six counts of abuse. When I met with him more than two years later, he explained that despite the denials of abuse voiced by the children he had talked with that day in May, he had glimpsed clues in "the children's body language," and that "you can't go by what they say"-though, of course, he himself eventually did just that. On June 6, he returned to Wee Care at the behest of a parent who, following instructions, had noticed her son behaving strangely. During the course of this interview, Fonolleras has said, he learned of the "pile-up" game. The "pile-up" is said to have worked this way: During nap time in a basement classroom, Kelly Michaels would march her students upstairs to a third-floor choir room, place kitchen utensils on the floor, and make the children strip and, once naked, roll around together. In the days that followed, Fonolleras conducted interviews with other Wee Care children, bringing to these meetings not only crayons and paper but knives and forks and spoons. Remarkably, he made no tape recordings of these interviews, nor did he keep his written records. At the Michaels trial, he told the court that he had destroyed all the notes he took at these initial meetings because, at the time, he saw no reason to save them. He was not at this time gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution-although, as it turned out, there would have been no prosecution, beyond the six initial charges, had not Fonolleras, moved by what he heard in these unrecorded interviews, raised the specter of widespread child abuse. During my conversation with him, he explained that the only way to understand his technique of eliciting testimony about child abuse was to know what the children had told him in the very first interviews-the records of which, of course, he had thrown away. Sometime in mid-June, Fonolleras called the county prosecutor's office with the suggestion that it might want to look further into the Wee Care case. The prosecutor's office and the DYFS agreed to launch a joint investigation and also brought in Peg Foster, who had earlier instructed the Wee Care parents on what she believed to be the symptoms of child abuse. For two months-during July and August of 1985-this investigative team talked with the Wee Care staff and with parents, and also recorded interviews with the children. These interviews, it is important to understand, are not like those that might take place between two adults. Listening to tapes of the interviews, one might be struck by how little the children actually confided on their own and also by the wholly fantastical nature of so much of what they did say. Most of the children were confused, had nothing to say, or flatly denied that anything had happened to them. It was also clear that what a child actually said during the questioning often carried little weight with the investigators. If a child persisted in denying that anything had been done to him or her, Fonolleras or another investigator would typically write: "At this time Hugh denied victimization. It should be noted [that] during the interview, Hugh was victimizing an anatomically correct doll." As a rule, the children were given knives and forks and then asked to show-on an anatomically correct doll-where Kelly had hurt them. On the tapes that I heard, a child's first response more often than not was to poke the doll in the eye or the neck or a knee. Invariably, the listen- Listening to tapes of the interviews with the allegedly abused children, one might be struck lry how little they actually confided on their own REPORT _ .. 57 _._.--._---------------------- As the investigations progressed, it became amply clear that some of the parents took as true every word of the stories of abuse er then hears the voice of Fonolleras, urging, "Where else? Uh-huh, where else?" After a succession of "where else?" responses, the child winds up poking at a penis, or a vagina, or an anus. Here, the "where elses" stop. Later, Fonolleras's official report typically would note how a child "described" the penetration of her vagina or his anus. Fonolleras was quick to praise those who confirmed his suspicions: "Boy,' you're doing so good." But he was stem with those who responded with firm ontrequent noes. Here' is Fonolleras with one tiny recalcitrant: "If you don't help me, I'm going to tell your friends that you not only don't want to help me but you won't help them." What follows is part of a transcript of an interview with Luke, age four, conducted by Fonolleras and Essex County Investigator Richard Mastrangelo. FONOLLERAS: A lot of other kids have helped us since we sawyou last. LUKE: I don't have to. No! FONOLLERAS: Did we tell you Kellyis in jail? LUKE: Yes,my mother alreadytold me. FONOLLERAS [indicatingMastrangelo]:Did I tell you this is the guy who arrested her, put her in there? Don't you want to ask us any questions? LUKE: No! Fonolleras at this point handed Luke an anatomically correct doll, then proceeded with his questioning. FONOLLERAS: What color did Kelly have down there? Brownlike her head? Didshe have hair under her arm? LUKE: My daddy do. At this point, Luke began to shriek, and there are indications that he was kicking Fonolleras. Fonolleras offered him a piece of cake anu asked him if he would like to' see Investigator Mastrangelo's badge. Mastrangelo then said to Luke, "So your penis was bleeding?" Luke laughed. FONOLLERAS [taking a new tack]: Did Kellyplay "Jingle Bells"with clothes on? LUKE [screamingnow];No, I sawher penis!I peed on her! FONOLLERAS: Youpeed on her? LUKE: No, she peed on me! At this time Luke told Fonolleras that he wanted to stop. But Fonolleras urged him to continue. He asked more questions about Luke's penis, about whether he put it in Kelly's mouth. FONOLLERAS: Whose mouth did you have to put your penis in? LUKE: Nobody. FONOLLERAS: Did anybodykissyour penis? LUKE: No. I want to go home. FONOLLERAS: Did she put this fork in your bottom? Yesor no. LUKE: I forgot. 58 HARPER'S MAGAZINE I MAY 1990 FONOLLERAS: Did she do anything else to your bottom? LUKE: That's all she did. There followed a series of "I forgot" and "I don't know" responses. Finally, tiredly, Luke said, "Okay, okay, I'll try to remember." He then said-in an obviously playful, makebelieve tone-"She put that in my heinie." FONOLLERAS: The fork! LUKE [shrieking):Yes! There were more questions, and more noes· from Luke. Fonolleras then said, in a disappointed tone, "I thought you were going to help me." The session ends with Luke shouting, "It's all lies!" If the parents of the Wee Care children harbored any doubts about these interviews and the resulting abuse charges, they kept those doubts to themselves. One Wee Care parent, grateful for the kindness Kelly Michaels had shown his child, did write to express his faith in her innocence. Still, the months of group meetings with investigators and other parents eroded his faith. At the trial, this father took the stand as a vocal witness for the prosecution. As the investigations progressed, it became amply clear that some of the parents took as true every word of the stories of abuse they began hearing from their children. One mother explained (to a grand jury) how her four-and-ahalf-year-old son had told her that Kelly had stuck a spoon and a pencil in his ear, that her aide, Brenda Sopchak, had given him a "truth drink," that Kelly had begged the aide not to call the police, that she had told the little boys she would cut them in pieces and throw them away so the mothers couldn't find them again. Asked if she thought her son might have been fantasizing, the mother, a school board member, answered, "No." He was, she further explained, "merely recounting what had happened during the day." If Kelly Michaels's fellow teachers harbored doubts about her guilt, they, too-with one notable exception-kept these doubts largely to themselves. There were children, it appears, who had told investigators that other teachers had been present when they were being molested by Kelly. Some of the children named every teacher in the school. This would explain the clear eagerness to please in the answers some teachers gave during their grand jury testimony. Before being questioned herself, Kelly Michaels's classroom aide, Brenda Sopchak, was played a tape of a child accusing her. She now began to remember things: Michaels's suspiciously even temper, how she seemed to be in a daydream like state at times, and the like. Another teacher testified that Kelly wore no underpants under her jeans. Only Wee Care's head teacher, Diane Costa, remained unwaveringly supportive of Kelly Michaels, whom she described as a "model teacher." But Costa herself was indicted on the charge of failing to report child abuse, which meant that she could not testify at Michaels's trial without placing herself under the threat of prosecution. The indictment effectively silenced the one authoritative voice capable of undermining the state's case. After closing for the summer, Wee Care did not reopen in September 1985. Only the members of the investigative team returned from time to time to the classrooms. Assessing their months of research, these investigators claimed that Kelly Michaels had, in her seven months at the school, sexually abused the entire Wee Care student body, fifty -one children. Two more grand juries were convened, and in December, Kelly Michaels was indicted on Z35 counts of abuse against thirty-one children . sought to stir outrage-and, of course, to convince the jurors that they should simply believe the children. They needed some sort of facsimile evidence, and in the summer of 1985, months before the Z35-count indictment against Michaels was handed up, they began instructing Wee Care parents in the preparation of charts and diaries detailing the "symptoms" of abuse-the bedwetting, nightmares, changes in behavior, and so on-that they had first learned of at the meeting at Wee Care in mid-May of that year. During my interviews at the prosecutor's office in the winter of 1988, I saw huge stacks of these charts. One of the more noteworthy symptoms of abuse listed on the charts was "child won't eat peanut butter." The children's lack of appetite Lacking material evidence, the prosecutors sought to stir outrage-and, of course, to convince the jurors that they should simply believe the children T • he trial of Kelly Michaels began on June ZZ, 1987. (One of the Wee Care families had moved out of ,\\ Ietul Maplewood, and others had chosen ng. Sbe.f Vl not to expose their children to the ;'s con ground: rigors of a jury trial; as a result, the me CQu charges against Kelly Michaels now ;ged chilo numbered 163.) Because the Mi- has the chaels family had run out of money, e accus. Kelly Michaels was defended by a ional ct team of "pool attorneys" appointed ts have by New Jersey's Office of the Public her apP Defender. Pool attorneys are not ; will be article salaried employees of the state but noW. free-lancers permitted to pick and choose among available cases. Michaels's case went unassigned for .lon th four months: It would seem that iey, and the Mall many of these lawyers were relucornicas tant to take on a case that looked as 1 ces . to P a "'5000 reslthough it would drag on for months, " The M' • or to defend a woman accused of lnd the. 17~O~,,:~ sexually assaulting, among others, the grandson of a prominent local judge. (The for peanut butter, the prosecutors contended, judge, as it turned out, was the first witness was proof of the charge made by the children called by the prosecution.) that Michaels had spread peanut butter on their Harvey Meltzer and Robert Clark, the degenitals and then licked it off. Sometimes it was fense attorneys eventually assigned to the case, peanut butter alone, but sometimes-as the tesbelieved their client to be innocent. They timony evolved in ever more elaborate detailhoped to base their defense on logistics and it was peanut butter and jelly. common sense-on the contention that no one I met that winter as well with a number of could have abused children sexually in every Wee Care parents who were eager to tell me all comer of the school without anybody else findthe significant changes they had noticed in ing out about it. their children, in particular their suddenly sexThe prosecutors, for their part, knew their ualized behavior. Each time I was told a new dehopes lay in the emotional nature of the case. tail-how a child grabbed his father's genitals Lacking material evidence, the prosecutors or talked about kissing penises-I inquired REPORT 59 No matter what else might be going on at home, the parents held that their children's problems stemmed from abuse when this kind of behavior or talk had begun. Invariably I was told, "Just after disclosure." That is, not after Kelly Michaels is said to have begun sexually molesting the children, in the fall of 1984, but after the parents were told, in the spring of 1985, to look for portents and signs. One mother told me, "My daughter was all over my husband. She had turned into a little five-year-old whore!" I asked her when this behavior had begun. "After disclosure." Disclosure, like so many other quasilegalisms that support the accusations of child abuse, became a household word among the Wee Care parents. It never occurred to the mother in question or to any of the other moth- ers with whom I spoke that the hypersexuality of their children might have to do not with Kelly Michaels but with the exhaustive questioning, and lurid disclosures, to which they were subjected by investigators and by their parents. (There were parents, I learned, who kept separate charts listing suspicious behavior they began to remember having occurred prior to disclosure. But not one of these parents had found the behavior unusual enough at the time to consult a pediatrician or ask a Wee Care teacher about ir.) The charts were useful not only to the prosecution. They also provided some parents with 60 HARPER'S MAGAZINE I MAY 1990 a way of explaining all types of problems they had with their children. That their children had been molested at school now served to explain everything. As one parent said, "Everything my husband and I had passed off as just some phase our child was going through, we could look back on and say, 'Now, now we could understand why.''' Other parents cited the molestation as the cause of their marital breakup. No matter what else might be going on at home, parents held that their children's problems stemmed from abuse at Wee Care. In court, the charts aided the parents in their testimony and perhaps aided Judge William Harth in his decision to allow such testimony. In a similar case, a higher state court in New Jersey subsequently ruled as inadmissible-as' hearsay-the testimony of parents on the subject of what their children told them. Michaels's lawyer Harvey Meltzer requested a mistrial based on this ruling, which was handed down after the prosecution had presented its case. The judge refused to grant the mistrial. Instead, he instructed the jury to disregard some twenty charges based on hearsay; but he did not give the instruction until much later, just prior to the jury's deliberation. Thus, the jurors had been allowed to listen for months to hearsay that at the last moment they were told to erase from their minds. In Judge Harth's courtroom, the parent-plaintiffs were treated with unstinting consideration for their every concern, particularly the concern for anonymity. The guarantee of anonymity, of course, encourages the multiplication of charges and accusations. To the privacy of the parents and children Judge Harth accorded something akin to sacred status, while the name of the accused-like that of the accused and their families at similar tribunals across the nation-was emblazoned in headlines, irremediably tarnished. To protect the Wee Care families' anonymity, the judge strictly curtailed the amount of investigation into their backgrounds he would allow defense attorneys. To protect that anonymity, the judge sealed the trial transcript. Nor were the children required to testify in open court. They testified in the judge's chambers, and their testimony was shown to the jury on closed-circuit TV -a not uncommon arrangement at such child-abuse trials. Judge Harth also refused to allow the defense psychologists to 'f examine the children, as the prosecution doctors had been able to do. These children (who had, in fact, been analyzed and counseled for some two years prior to the trial) would, the judge said, be too traumatized to answer questions by a second set of psychologists. The defense argued in vain that its psychologists must have a chance to determine whether the children were, in fact, traumatized, but the judge held firm. It was a decision that violated the most fundamental principle of due process-the principle that both sides must be heard in a courtroom. Not even a cardinal principle of the justice system was a match, apparently, for the revered status accorded alleged victims of child abuse. At the trial the children's testimony, given • after two and a half years of preparation and training, was rich in detail, a startling difference from the earlier denials and bewilderment recorded during the investigative phase. One witness was Luke, who had shouted "It's all lies!" at Fonolleras's questions. Mindful of this taped outburst, prosecutor Sara McArdle asked Luke whether he hadn't meant he was hoping it was all lies. This time he didn't disappoint his interrogator: Yes, the child answered, he had been hoping it was all lies. Still, even now there were child witnesses who continued to change stories, midtestimony, or to deny that anything had happened. One child told the court that Kelly forced him to push a sword into her rectum. A lengthy and earnest colloquy then took place, between the attorneys and the judge, as to whether the child was saying sword or saw. After he had pushed the sword, or saw, into his teacher's rectum, the boy told the court, she told him to take it out. "What did Kelly say when you took the sword out?" the child was then asked. "She said, 'Thank you.''' Brad Greene told the court that Kelly threatened to tum him into a mouse-that, in fact, she had turned him into a mouse for a little while during a plane trip to visit his grandmother. Child witness Celine Mauer said that she had been "tractored" by Kelly; that is, been abused, with other children, inside a tractor. Indeed, the prosecutors went to some trouble to substantiate this claim-bringing a representative of the Maplewood street maintenance department to confirm that a tractor had been parked in the vicinity of the schoo!' Who would have believed any of this? Surely no reasonable adult, no jury. Yet it was offered as evidence. Thanks to the current zeal to prosecute child abusers, strange new rules have come to obtain at these trials according to which the witnesses need not be credible all the time. These rules did not obtain at the McMar- tin trial, at which jurors rejected the children's stories, but it did obtain at the trial of Kelly Michaels. Prosecutor Glenn Goldberg advised the jury at the outset that it was not necessary to believe everything the children said. Where child abuse is concerned, the prosecutor told them, "there is no physical evidence. Is the jury going to be able to understand this?" In effect, the prosecutor asked the jurors if they could bring themselves to forget certain 'values with which they had been imbued as citizens of a democracy, values such as the importance of evidence in a criminal trial, and if they could suspend their belief in the Constitution in the interest of protecting children. As the verdict proved, they could. Perhaps the most important witness for the prosecution was not a child or a parent but Bronx psychologist Eileen Treacy. An article in New York magazine later revealed that the curriculum vitae of this particular child-abuse "expert" exaggerated her credentials. The article also cited a ruling by a New Jersey judge, Mark Epstein, in a similar child-abuse case. That ruling declared, "The most damning witness [against the prosecution] was Eileen Treacy.... Ms. Treacy's questioning gently but surely led [the child] where Ms. Treacy wanted to take him." The judge was convinced, he said, that Treacy would have been able to elicit the same accusations from children who had not been abused. If a child said emphatically that nothing had happened, the denial, Treacy explained, was the very proof that the abuse had taken place. In this expert's view, all friendship or affection shown by teacher to child signified an effort to seduce. At the Michaels trial, Treacy testified that the Wee Care students were "the most traumatized group of children" she had ever seen. She explained the trauma by referring to the theories of Suzanne Sgroi, a pediatrician and the discoverer of the Child Sex Abuse Syndrome. According to Dr. Sgroi, the syndrome develops in a number of phases. There is the "engagement phase," during which time the abuser seduces the child into the activity. This is followed by the "secrecy phase," the "suppression phase," and so on; and Treacy explained each of them to the jury. "Proof of the suppression stage," she said, "is the succession of no, no, no answers." When one child, during testimony, expressed concern for Michaels, this demonstrated "that she [the child) had a relationship with Kelly, and that fits into the engagement phase." Treacy, it should be said, did not limit herself to interpretations based on the theories of Dr. Sgroi. In one of the abuse diaries, a parent had noted that her child no longer liked tuna fish. Not even the principle of due process was a match, apparently, for the revered status accorded alleged victims of child abuse REPORT 61 The psychologist had in effect told the jury that they must suspend all rational belief if they were to understand the abuse the children had suffered 62 This, Treacy pointed out to the jurors, was significant. "It's well known," she said, "that the smell of tuna fish is similar to the odor of vaginal excretions." In the winter of 1988, when I visited Treacy in her office in the Bronx, I remarked on the many children's drawings on the walls. She told me that if I looked closely at the drawings, I would "see how obvious hands are in all their pictures." The predominance of hands, she explained, was a strong sign that the children who drew these pictures had been molested. To encounter Treacy's Kafkaesque testimony is to understand how a jury managed to find the accused in this case guilty, however improbable the evidence. The abuse expert, a psychologist, had in effect told the jury that they must suspend all rational belief if they were to understand the abuse the children had suffered. It was a world in which no meant yes, black meant white. Yet, the jury was told, they must believe its premises, believe the children, or else be counted guilty of betraying these young victims. The principal witness for the defense was Dr. Ralph Underwager, an avowed opponent of the child-abuse investigators' techniques, their reliance on dolls and children's drawings, and their insistence on finding child abuse whether or not any took place. At the Michaels trial, Dr. Underwager said, "The child is interrogated and desperately is trying to figure out what are the rules, what's wanted of me by this powerful adult before me? The child says no, Kelly's clothes were on, when the interrogators want the response 'Her clothes were off.' And what happens? The interviewer doesn't stop, doesn't believe the child, repeats the question. It just tells the child: What you told me before isn't enough. It isn't right. It's not what I want ... " His testimony said, in effect, that nothing had happened to the Wee Care children except the visits of the investigators. The Wee Care parents I talked to vehemently agreed that, of everybody on the defense side, the person they hated the most was Dr. Underwager. Defense attorneys Clark and Meltzer made the decision early not to present character witnesses to testify on Kelly Michaels's behalf. Such a witness may be asked anything under cross-examination, and what the attorneys feared most was the discovery that Michaels had been involved in two brief homosexual love affairs. Kelly Michaels refers to the liaisons as nothing more than youthful experiments, but the defense lawyers reasoned that the prosecution would seek to make a damaging connection between her sexual history and the criminal acts with which she was charged. (Prosecutor Goldberg sought to nourish this view by close textual analysis of a Bob Dylan HARPER'S MAGAZINE/MAY 1990 song that Kelly Michaels had copied into her roll book. The lyrics included the lines "Your lover who just walked out the door / Has taken all his blankets from the floor." The prosecutor, who has an undergraduate major in psychology, told the jury that the song was very significant, that it was an extremely important clue to Kelly Michaels's secret life as a sexual criminal. The Wee Care children, he told the jury, "slept on blankets and mats.") With no character witnesses called-no old classmates, friends, neighbors, or teachers to color in, with stories and comments, the outline of a normal life-the jurors saw only the Kelly Michaels of the Wee Care case, the abuser of children so luridly portrayed in the testimony. For the jurors who doubted that one woman could commit so many awful crimes, Assistant Prosecutor Sara McArdle reminded them in her summation that Adolf Hitler, "one man," had persecuted not a "little school" but the "entire world"-"Jews, Gypsies, Czechs, and blacks." Blacks, of course, were not among Hitler's victims, but many of the jurors were black. Bearing in mind, perhaps, that prosecutorial excess is one of the grounds relevant to an appeal, prosecutor McArdle later vehemently denied any intentional parallel between the defendant and Adolf Hitler. She went on to say that she could not imagine that anyone could read anything untoward into this simple historical analogy. Thus, the prosecution, which had vested so much faith in a lack of appetite for peanut butter, and which divined damning proofs of guilt in Bob Dylan lyrics in a roll book, now disdained as fanciful any notion that a comparison to Hitler might be something other than a neutral reference. It took the jury thirteen days to reach its verdict that Michaels was guilty of 115 counts of abuse. Meltzer requested that the court consider granting his client bail pending appeal. The judge turned down the request: Michaels, he said, was a danger to the community. He said, "I just cannot forget the children." But a three-member appellate panel agreed that, because of the legal questions the trial raised, Kelly Michaels should be granted bail pending appeal. Among the questions the judges doubtless had in mind was the defendant's constitutional right to face her accusers-denied in this trial, as in many of the other trials involving children's hearsay testimony. News that Kelly Michaels might get bail raised storms of protest from the Wee Care parents. The prosecutors appealed. Local politicians, declaring themselves outraged, joined them. The parents marched and picketed. One mother, weeping, told reporters that when she had informed her child that Kelly had been con- 'f victed, the child had said, "Now I'm safe." "What do I tell her now? Now, my daughter's not safe!" The state's highest court, in short order, vacated the bail decision. I n the days immediately following the end of the McMartin trial and the acquittal of Ray Buckey and his mother, the Los Angeles Times published an analysis of the press coverage of the case. The headline above the first install,. ment in the series could as easily have been affixed to analyses of the Michaels trial: WHERE WAS SKEPTICISM IN MEDIA? PACK JOURNALISM AND HYSTERIA MARKED ... COVERAGE .... FEW JOURNALISTS STOPPED TO QUESTION THE BELIEVABILITY OF THE PROSECUTION'S CHARGES. During the trial, stories began leaking from the prosecutor's office suggesting that Kelly Michaels had herself been sexually abused by her parents. The stories were widely circulated among reporters covering the case. One of them, a television reporter, told me of stories she had heard that Kelly Michaels's mother had molested her and sent her nude photographs of herself; and of how Kelly Michaels's fatherwho, the story went, also molested his daughter-had called Wee Care every day to make sure that she was initiating the children in the practices of pederasty. Such stories were not broadcast or printed. Still, they had enormous impact on the press, for they meshed nicely with current dogmaand the press is nothing if not up on the latest dogma-which holds that children who are molested become molesters themselves. The rumors that Kelly Michaels had been sexually abused by her parents thus counted heavily in persuading many reporters that she was guilty. In turn, these reporters, subtly and sometimes not so subtly, conveyed their belief to rheir readers and viewers. Of course, the newspapers and the TV stations no longer concern themselves with Kelly Michaels, who will not come up before a parole board for twelve more years. When she does come up for parole, the Wee Care parents have vowed they will be there to see that it is denied. Her attorney is moving ahead with an appeal. In the meantime, Kelly Michaels sits in her small cell at the women's prison in Clinton, New Jersey, where the Wee Care parents are determined to keep her. The Wee Care Day Nursery closed down in the aftermath of the investigation; the former Wee Care students, it would appear, thereafter went to another sort of school: one in which they were instructed, by child-agency investigators and by prosecutors, in the details of the sex crimes supposedly committed against them. Perhaps the worst thing about the long investiga- tion and trial is that-however unfounded the charges-the child witnesses grow up having internalized the belief that they have been the victims of hideous sexual abuse. No one who saw them will soon forget the frenzied faces of thirteen- and fourteen-year-old former McMartin pupils in the hours following the verdict. These adolescents had spent their last six years -fully half their lives-instructed in the faith that they had been subjected, at ages four and five, to unspeakable sexual horrors; this belief they had come to hold as the defining truth of their lives and identities. It is not surprising that these children should have wept and raved when the verdict was handed down denying all that they believed in. Believe the children is the battle cry of the child-abuse militants, who hold as an article of faith that a pederast lurks behind every door and blackboard. But child after child repeatedly said that Kelly Michaels had done nothingand they had not been believed. The prosecutors had brought experts to court to testify that children denying abuse should not be believed. Believe the children apparently means-to those raising the rallying cry-believe the children only if they say they have been molested. "To believe a child's no is...
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What Causes Juvenile Delinquency?

Introduction: The Puzzle. Juvenile delinquency has significantly grown to be a major social issue
in addressing criminal activities and gangs' rise. Minors are increasingly participating in serious
offenses such as violent robberies and murder. The trivial view of juvenile offenses has developed
over the years to a point where juvenile offenses are too much to be considered a minor social
issue that can easily be fixed with a little discipline. So, where exactly does juvenile delinquency
stem from? What are its causes, and how far-reaching are its effects? During the adolescent years,
many individuals behave in ways that challenge the agreement to environmental matters (Chavira).
The increase of juvenile delinquency cases makes it necessary to address the causative factors of
the social problem.

Sociological perspectives. Structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism
develop the driving factors behind juvenile delinquency's causative influences. Various areas of
consideration, such as social stratification and socioeconomic factors, and policy developments
are encompassed within these perspectives in explaining juvenile delinquency. Sociologists have
attempted to explain the rise of delinquent behavior among young people, but very little knowledge
is provided for the decline as young people grow older (Hirschi and Gottfredson).

Application of Sociological Perspectives. Among the very many information discussed in the
sociological perspectives include the theoretical frameworks of juvenile delinquents. How have
these theories advanced the understanding of juvenile delinquency is a crucial concern? Most of

these theories, such as the anomie theory, advance the social classes' concept as a primary reason
behind criminal activities in young people (Cohen).

Discussion. My analysis suggests that juvenile delinquency's sociological perspectives are a
starting point in attempting to solve the social problem. However, the best attempt at solutions
involves a societal harmony at addressing the causative factors rather than condemning offenders
with the hope of behavior change. The contribution of society to the social problem should not be
under-looked. Rehabilitation, social support, and restorative justice measures are among the many
effective ways of putting the knowledge on sociological perspective to solve juvenile delinquency.

Chavira, D., P. Fowler, and L. Jason. 2018. “Parenting and the association between maternal
criminal justice involvement and adolescent delinquency.” Children and Youth Services
Review, 87, 114-122.
Cohen, Albert, 1955 Delinquent Boys. New York: Free Press.
Hirschi, Travis 1969 Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.


What Causes Juvenile Delinquency?


The modern world has experienced its fair share of challenges that are gradually poisoning
social constructs and values. One such poisonous social menace is a criminal activity that has
developed as an urban concern but has broken borders to affect societies. From a ...

Just what I needed…Fantastic!


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