"Wenatchee may be the worst example ever of mental health
services being abused by a state, its social workers and hired therapists,
to control and manage children who have been frightened and coerced into
falsely accusing their parents and neighbors of the most heinous of crimes."
Dr. Phillip Esplin, a forensic psychologist and senior research consultant
with the National Institute of Health's Child Witness Project.
"The ghost won't lie still: Ten years after first arrest,
'sex-ring' episode still haunts the community" Headline of a
newspaper article written by Martin Salazar on 2004-APR-11.
"It began with the cry of a young girl and escalated into the
victimization of dozens of citizens for allegedly committing horrific sex
crimes against children. Soon families were broken up, adults were accused
of heinous crimes and were prosecuted, without anyone questioning the
methods of the so-called experts. Now, an independent attorney, who spent a
year in Wenatchee, pieces together the story of one of the most blatant
cases of misuse of power and miscarried justice since the McCarthy
witch-hunts." Review of the book "Witch Hunt"
which chronicles the Wenatchee disaster. 1
The child abuse hoaxes at Bakersfield, CA and Manhattan Beach, CA
in 1983 were the first large scale
Multi-Victim / Multi-Offender (MVMO) cases in North America, that were based on sexual
and ritual abuse events that never happened. Many observers hoped that the 1996 sex
ring hoax at Wenatchee, WA would prove to
be the last in the series.
Two and a half decades have now passed since the two California hoaxes
surfaced. Most child psychologists, police
investigators etc. have learned how easy it is for children to be coaxed to disclose
details of sexual and ritual abuse events that never happened. All that is required is repeated, direct questioning by an adults. If the front-line
professionals are unaware of this trap, then most DA's offices are now certainly cognizant
of the hazards of incompetent questioning of children. There are many
examples of disclosures of non-existent abuse, leading to a community panic, mass
trials of innocent adults, and eventual multi-million dollar lawsuits by those same
adults. If the DA's offices are unaware of recent history in this field, defense attorneys
With luck, there may be no further false MVMO cases in North America. They will
be recognized as as groundless community panics and never
get to trial.
Since the Wenatchee hoax of 1996, no more sex-ring accusations of the "Wenatchee
class" in North America have surfaced. However, one did emerge in
Lewis Island, Scotland in the fall of 2003.
Meanwhile, the main preconditions for
the Wenatchee fiasco are present in every municipality in the U.S.:
A child protective service whose budget is linked to the number of abuse
cases that they uncover.
Aggressive detectives who are heavily motivated to uncover criminal
Hopefully, child protective services and law enforcement -- and above all,
the public -- are now familiar with the abuses in Wenatchee and will prevent its
recurrence elsewhere. However, massive moral panics have a long history in the
U.S., going back at least to the Salem, MA witchhunts in late 17th century.
There is no good indication that the nation has learned from its past mistakes.
Some new type of moral panic probably exists on the horizon.
Kathryn Lyon: "Witch Hunt: The true story of social hysteria and abused justice," (1998).
Read reviews or order this book
It appears to be currently out of print. As of late 2007, you can buy a used
copy for $0.01 plus shipping at Amazon.com marketplace. This book is by a lawyer
and public defender. A reviewer at
"Kathy Lyon's book "Witchhunt" has
ripped open a festering lesion of Washington state abuses. This boil of
corruption in the Washington state child care agency is rampant county by
county, the same practiced behavior of social workers and detectives,
therapist, judges, and state appointed attorney's involved in the Wenatchee
cases are a practiced pattern in every county in the State."
Amazon.com customers gave this book a 4 star rating out of 5.