The Centre Daily Times reported on Sept. 2 that repressed memory “evidence” played a role in convicting Jerry Sandusky of child sexual abuse charges. This means there is a very distinct likelihood that Pennsylvania is now dealing with its own version of the Amirault trials and the Wenatchee Witch Hunt.
Aggressive prosecutors in Massachusetts convinced gullible jurors that Gerald Amirault used a butcher knife to sexually abuse a child while miraculously leaving no injuries. Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein added, “Every trick in the book had been used to get the children to say what the investigators wanted.”
At least one prosecution witness against Sandusky was similarly coached to the effect that other victims had come forward. Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” in which witnesses begin to come forward after a girl accuses people of consorting with the devil, is highly instructive. This is however 2016 and not 1693, and our society can and should do better.
Anybody can claim to recover a repressed memory without the tiresome inconvenience of having to supply corroborating evidence to support it. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled in 1995 that repressed memory therapy is pseudoscience that is not admissible as legal evidence. The Irish Court of Criminal Appeal similarly threw out a child rape conviction in 2005.
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Prosecutions of this nature are gross injustices not only to innocent defendants, but also to genuine sexual abuse victims whom these scandals make less believable.
William A. Levinson, Wilkes Barre