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12 U. Bridgeport L. Rev. 175 (1991-1992)
Innocent until Proven Guilty: Shallow Words for the Falsely Accused in a Criminal Prosecution for Child Sexual Abuse

handle is hein.journals/qlr12 and id is 185 raw text is: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY: SHALLOW WORDS FOR THE
Sexual abuse is one of the most egregious crimes committed
against children. They are the innocent victims, dependent on
the adults who harm them and often unaware of the negative
social attitudes which accompany such behavior.' Given the
public view that children are unable to protect themselves from
initial or continued abuse, the legislatures and courts have inter-
vened to protect them. As a result, the incidence of child sexual
abuse reports has increased,s and the criminal justice system has
taken a more active role in prosecuting offenders.' In the reac-
tionary attempt to deter and minimize the occurrence of child
sexual abuse, however, there are those who have fallen victim to
the witch hunt of the 1980's.'' They are the individuals who
0 The gender based references contained within the following Note are not intended
to imply that the victim or accused in a criminal prosecution for child sexual abuse is
predominantly male or female.
SoURcE BOOK, 2 (1987) (general review of child sexual abuse litigation) [hereinafter
2. See infra notes 21-39 and accompanying text for a discussion of state and fed-
eral response to child sexual abuse.
3. See infra note 24 and accompanying text for a discussion of the increased inci-
dence of child sexual abuse.
4. See infra notes 37-39 and accompanying text for a discussion and illustration of
federal and state statutes imposing criminal penalties for sexual abuse. See also Moss,
Are the Children Lying?, 73 A.BA. J. 58 (May 1987). In 1983, seven teachers at the
McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach, California were indicted for sexual abuse. Id.
at 59. Charges were eventually dropped against five of the teachers, but Peggy McMartin
Buckey and her son, Ray, went to trial. Id. Indicative of the force behind criminal prose-
cutions is the expense and duration of the McMartin trial, which lasted 30 months and
cost 15 million dollars. Child Abuse-and Trial Abuse, N.Y. Times, Jan. 20, 1990, at 24
5. See SOURCE BooK, supra note 1, at 7-9. The reference to sexual abuse litigation
as the witch hunt of the 80's derives from the Salem witch trials in the 1600's, where
too much credence was given to children's testimony. Id. at 7. When children in Salem
engaged in games about ghosts, devils, and witches, town elders became disturbed, fear-
ing the children were bewitched. Id. at 8. The children were questioned, and as attention.
was drawn to the bewitching, their imaginations took command with rampant accusa-

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