If the decision isn't bad enough, read the defense appellate briefs and learn the details and about how submissive urination in dogs became an issue in the trial.
Fells Acres. Malden, Massachusetts' daycare witchhunt
"This case should leave no one confident except for one thing -- justice was not done."
-- Superior Court Judge Isaac A. Borenstein, as quoted by Associated Press overturning the conviction of Cheryl and Vi 6/12/98. (The fight is not over-- that prosecutors are appealing and Gerald is still in jail)
Violet Amirault ran a thriving daycare center for 18 years. Read about how she and her two children, Gerald and Cheryl, were sent to prison in one of Massachusetts most infamous trials. Learn what went wrong in "The Return of the Witchhunts", a brief (1400 word) description of Fells Acres.
Cheryl and Vi's conviction were overturned by Superior Court Judge Robert Barton only to be reinstated by the Supreme Judicial Court. A excerpt of Judge Barton's decision and some commentary is now available.
On March 25, 1997, 300 years after Massachuetts declared a day of repentence for the witchhunts of 1692, the Massachusetts SJC decided that finality is more important than justice and ruled that all original verdicts should stand. Read the 6-1 decison and dissent and see if you can figure out how Justice Fried sleeps at night. Unfortunately this Fall Violet Amirault succumbed to cancer; however, her two children still continue the fight for justice.
On June 12, 1998 Judge Isaac Borenstein again overturned Cheryl and Vi's decision on grounds that the investigation techniques the tainted children's testimony. (Decision now at this link).
Learn more details about this case in the longer piece, "Junk Science. Junk Justice"
Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Wall Street Journal editorial page writer and media critic, has brought national attention to the Amiraults. Read her Wall Street Journal articles and the responses by the prosecutors and myself.
If this shocks you and you want to do something, there is a defense fund set up to overturn this miscarriage of justice.
/pub/witchhunt/fellsacre: Directory of documents related to Fells Acres including
Soon after the court approved arrangements for Ileana to testify via satellite, videotape, or telephone, the Miami Herald received a strange letter from Ileana retracting her retraction. A commentary by Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield is also available. Contact me (email@example.com) for further information on how to help Mr. Fuster.
The two convictions from this case, Bob Kelly's and Dawn Wilson's, were overturned in summer 1995 by the NC Appeals Court.
In May 1997 prosecutors finally dropped all charges against Bob and Dawn, but they recently sought and obtained an indictment against Bob in another accusation. This accusation was by a girl who claimed that Bob raped her in 1987 when she was 9. The accusation allegedly surfaced during the original hysteria, but nobody pursued it until after Bob Kelly won his appeal and the daycare case had fallen apart. This is especially strange since that if this case was so meritous, it would have bolstered the original prosecution.
**New Addition** The Little Rascals Story as told by the defense appellate brief (more details than my summary, but shorter than the transcripts).
transcripts of Bob Kelly's trial(1992).
Try this alternate link to the witchhunt ftp files if the one above did
This trial is the first
originating from the Little Rascals Daycare case in Edenton, North Carolina.
Some of the interesting parts of the testimony.
The magic key: Read a father's (from the family starting the case) account of Bob Kelly's magic key.
Archives of compressed files. Are available for more conveient downloading.
Try this alternate link to the witchhunt ftp files if the one above did not work. For information on how to help the Edenton seven contact
The Committee for Support of the Edenton Seven 432 West 47th Street, #2W New York, NY 10036 (212)307-1573 Rev. Raymond J. Lawrence, Chairman.
[Note: ftp access of most of these documents can be via anonymous ftp to liquid2.mit.edu in /pub/harris/witchhunt]