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bullet"Serious holes remain in the prosecution's case against the Amiraults -- including a lack of substantial physical evidence that anything occurred -- faults that were ignored amid the hysteria of the trial setting." Editorial, Lowell Sun, Lowell MA 1
bullet"...more than 20 witnesses testified that their open access to the facility precluded the secret activities described by the children...Two Superior Court judges have taken highly unusual positions expressing deep doubts about the events at Fells Acres." James M. Shannon, former Attorney General of Massachusetts. 2
bullet"[The case represents] a closed system of thought: denials, recantations and failure to remember are categorized as manifestations of repression and fear and thus stand as confirmations of actual abuse." Dan Finneran, lawyer for Gerald Amirault, falsely accused of ritual abuse in the Fells Acre day care center. 6
bullet"If no means yes, and yes means yes, how do you say no?" Katha Pollitt, The Nation Magazine. 6

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In 1984, the Amirault Family (consisting of Gerald "Tooky" Amirault, 32, his mother Violet Amirault, 62, and his sister Cheryl Amirault LeFave) were charged with multiple counts of child abuse. 3,4 Nine children who attended Violet Amirault's Fells Acre Day Care Center in Malden MA testified that Gerald had dressed up as a clown, took them to a what they called a hidden, magic, secret or special room upstairs (or downstairs) in the day care building and abused them there. Other sadistic abuse had allegedly occurred in front of the building. Gerald was tried and convicted in 1986 on 15 counts; he received a 40 year jail sentence. A year later, at a separate trial, 3 children testified against the mother and daughter; they received jail sentences of 8 to 20 years.

After the family was imprisoned child psychologists began to realize that very young children can be easily coaxed to disclose stories of abuse that never happened. An interviewer only has to do is to repeatedly ask direct questions. Many states now have protocols in place to prevent such disclosures. Nobody accuses the children of lying. Debra Poole, a professor of psychology at Central Michigan University said: "It has nothing to do with lying and everything to do with the implanting of false memories... Studies have shown that children will vehemently defend the veracity of implanted memories. They recall reporting them, and those reports produce mental images of the events that these individuals cannot distinguish from their real experiences. But the kids are not responsible for that. The interviews are." 5

Violet and Cheryl were released on appeal in 1995. Violet died of cancer in 1997. Gerald continues to rot in jail. The Massachusetts Parole Board unanimously voted to parole Gerald Amirault. Their decision was unanimous. He is expected to be released sometime later in 2003.

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Topics covered in this section:

bulletPart 1:
bulletThe source of the charges
bulletThe trials
bulletProceeds from insurance
bulletRequests for parole
bulletComments on their guilt/innocents
bulletThe first appeal
bulletPublic appeal for commutation
bulletPart 2:
bulletA second appeal
bulletDevelopments during the year 2000
bulletPart 3:
bulletRecent developments (2001 to now)
bulletAmirault defense fund
bulletAuthor's opinion

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A ground-breaking book that deals in depth with the Amirault cases:

Dorothy Rabinowitz, "No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times" Wall Street Journal Books, (2003). Read reviews or order this book "No Crueler Tyrannies recalls the hysteria that accompanied the child sex-abuse witch-hunts of the 1980s and 1990s: how a single anonymous phone call could bring to bear an army of recovered-memory therapists, venal and ambitious prosecutors, and hypocritical judges -- an army that jailed hundreds of innocent Americans." (Amazon.com review)

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  1. "Swift must free Amirault," Lowell Sun, 2001-JUL-14, at: http://www.lowellsun.com/default.asp?
  2. James M. Shannon, "Why Swift should free Amirault," The Boston Globe, 2001-AUG-17.
  3. "Defense Fund for the Victims of a Modern Massachusetts Witch Hunt" . See: http://web.mit.edu/harris/www/defensefund.html
  4. "Junk Science. Junk Justice. The Fells Acres Daycare Case" See: http://liquid2-sun.mit.edu/fells.html
  5. Tom Mashberg, "Memories questioned; studies show kids can be easily led," Boston Herald, 3002-JUL-8, Page 7.
  6. Katha Pollitt, "Justice, not so swift," The Nation Magazine: Subject to Debate, 2002-MAR-18. Online at: http://www.thenation.com/
  7. Bob Chatelle, "The Amirault Tragedy," at: http://users.rcn.com/kyp/amirault.html

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Copyright 1997 to 2003 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-MAR-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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