Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The UFO/Ritual Abuse Nexus

The infamous McMartin Preschool abuse case of the 1980s is rife with paradoxes, contradictions, and just plain weirdness -- clear indications, to the trained eye, that we're moving out of the mundane and into the realm of the Trickster.

The subject of ritual abuse has much in common with UFO abduction reports: eyewitness testimony of outrageous, belief-stretching events; a rabid either/or split between warring believers and skeptics; horrific violence, often with sexual aspects; scant, but tantalizing evidence; and a surreal otherwordliness that envelops the entire phenomenon.

I continue to read both "sides" of the ritual abuse argument and, as with UFO contact reports, I remain uneasily afloat in the middle of the skeptics and the believers, drifting back and forth with my mental currents. SMiles at Elfis called it "flipping," which is very apt. While some might call it fence sitting, or equivocating, I'm convinced the truth is hidden between the extremes. It's a slippery truth -- a truth that wants to stay hidden.

I'll be writing more about this in the near future, but this latest tidbit is an example of difficult to dismiss testimony that something out of the ordinary happened at McMartin, and that maybe it wasn't just "Satanic Panic" after all.

From a letter to the Hermosa Easy Reader:

Dear ER:

For the residents of the beach cities and beyond who remember the McMartin and Manhattan Ranch cases and want the dark stain removed from their conscience, Kevin Cody’s article (“The McMartin Preschool case: What really happened?” ER, Oct. 27, 2005) will help them. The need to whitewash this horror and scrub it clean has been with us from the day my wife and I were contacted by the Manhattan Beach Police Department and told our son was one of the children identified as a victim of molestation at Manhattan Ranch Pre-School.

My wife and I didn’t want to believe any of this ever happened, either. But wishing it never happened doesn’t make it go away. Put yourselves in my wife’s and my shoes for a moment.

We had just moved to the Hollyglen neighborhood of Hawthorne in the summer of 1983. We enrolled our four-year-old son at Manhattan Ranch Preschool because my wife and I both worked full-time jobs. Sometime in the following summer, we received a phone call from the Manhattan Beach Police. We were told to come down to the headquarters to speak with a police detective. At that time we learned that our son had been identified by other children at the preschool as a fellow victim of molestation. Based on that information, we acted to protect our son. We scheduled him for medical examination. We took him to therapy. My wife asked him to show her the places where he had been taken during the day while we were at work.

When the medical report came back with positive confirmation that my son had been sodomized, I didn’t need to be persuaded further. The news was devastating.

For this, we and the other parents were castigated by the media for expressing concern about the safety and well-being of our children. We were branded as “witch-hunting” parents because our children had been violated and we wanted justice.

Now, one of the adult children involved in this sad saga comes forward and admits he lied under oath. And the community in need of vindication will once again tell itself that none of this ever happened. The same public that chafes at the notion that “ . . 300 children told authorities that they were molested at the preschool, but no adult every acknowledged witnessing the assaults . . .” will find it similarly difficult to believe that priests abuse altar boys behind closed doors. Both groups will go on hiding their heads in the sand and believe what they want to believe.

As for Cody’s inference that the parents’ silence since the trial’s end be read as an admission of error, I can offer my own reaction. McMartin and Manhattan Ranch happened over 20 years ago. My son who was four at the time is now 26 years old. In the intervening years, he has asked about Manhattan Ranch once. His request was to look at the newspaper articles that we kept from the trial. He looked at the file when he was 16 or 17 and never asked about it again. The memories of Manhattan Ranch, McMartin, and the specifics of his molestation, are not easy topics to bring up or resolve. The fact that parents and their children don’t want to discuss this issue is self-evident to those of us who went through it. There is only emotional pain, like a scab being ripped off, to greet our effort. Instinctively, we knew then as we know now that survival means moving on.

Cody’s explanations regarding the prosecution’s failure to bring about convictions in the McMartin case (and Manhattan Ranch, as well) overlooks the most obvious problem – the children themselves. They never stood a chance in the face of attorneys whose profession relies on the ability to impeach testimony. Were they coached by therapists, encouraged by their families, prepped by attorneys? Certainly. Who wouldn’t have been? They were also scared to death – literally. Then they were thrown to the lions.

The strategy now is to discredit Children’s Institute therapist Kee MacFarlane, and all the therapists and medical specialists who were literally on the cutting edge of justice in child abuse cases. We were supportive of the therapists’ techniques of using hand puppets, of encouraging the children to draw their feelings, of encouraging, even prompting them to reveal their secrets. Without these tools, my son’s therapy would have been pointless. For Cody to suggest that “hundreds of children were virtually molested by the therapists and doctors who examined them” is absurd. How does one elicit the truth from a child who fears physical harm if he reveals his secrets?

In retrospect, our son’s inexplicable night terrors, his panic over having his picture taken, his fear of going to school and being dropped off, of being dressed in other children’s clothing when we went to pick him up at the end of the day, would have made sense if only we had stopped in unannounced at Manhattan Ranch to observe.

Instead, we assumed our son was safe in pre-school. Lesson learned.

Michael S. Simpson

San Pedro


Blogger Old Gary said...

A very sad story. But also for the accused persons. Many lives were ruined over this case. Only the lawyers profited from this incident. But if I remember correctly, no hard evidence was ever obtained in this case. It was mostly "he said, she said." Pity.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Na'axa camred. Miaz frue naat ud ze. Miaz na rexuible. laak tu hieglyphs paas d'awer. Xaas

7:38 PM  

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