New Book Reviewing all the Court Documents of Child Abuse that Occurred in the 80s and 90s

What do you mean by “Witch-Hunt” in the title of your book?

The witch-hunt narrative is a really popular story that goes like this: Lots of people were falsely convicted of child sexual abuse in the 1980s and early 1990s. And they were all victims of a witch-hunt. It just doesn’t happen to line up with the facts when you actually look at the cases themselves in detail. But it’s a really popular narrative – I think it’s absolutely fair to say that’s the conventional wisdom. It’s what most people now think is the uncontested truth, and those cases had no basis in fact. And what 15 years of painstaking trial court research (says) is that that’s not a very fair description of those cases, and in fact many of those cases had substantial evidence of abuse. The witch-hunt narrative is that these were all gross injustices to the defendant. In fact, what it looks like in retrospect is the injustices were much more often to children.

Ross Cheit, professor of public policy and political science, will discuss the 15-year process of compiling his new book, “The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology and the Sexual Abuse of Children” in a talk Thursday at the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions. Cheit sat down with The Herald to discuss the release of his book, the methods and challenges of trial court research and how the collective efforts of Brown undergraduates helped him compile his publication.

Comments are closed.