The longest and most expensive trial in United States history prosecuted crimes that never occurred.

The McMartin pre-school case was The Children’s Hour come to Godzilla-like life.

That sordid story sits on my mental desk like a momento mori, cautioning me against rushing to judgement whenever the media comes down with a contagious new sex-related “epidemic,” be it real (those Catholic Church abuse scandals) or fake (like “rainbow parties.”)

Moral panics we will always have with us, and the real harm they do is incalculable, both to those accused and to society at large.

Caution is advised.

Which brings me to Operation Yewtree, a.k.a. the BBC pedophilia scandals involving the late children’s show presenter, Top of the Pops host, and conspicuous philanthropist Sir Jimmy Savile, along with who knows how many others.

Now, I don’t doubt that, particularly during the permissive 1960s and 1970s, myriad sexual hijinks transpired in and around BBC headquarters, or that underage girls and boys were frequently targeted.

And space doesn’t permit an in-depth rumination upon public school “fagging” rituals or the matter-of-factly mainstream “St. Trinians” series.