Ed Driscoll


INTERESTING BOOKNOTES ON C-SPAN THIS SUNDAY, as Brian Lamb interviews Dorothy Rabinowitz, the author of No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times:

“No Crueler Tyrannies” recalls the hysteria that accompanied the child sex-abuse witch-hunts of the 1980s and 1990s: how a single anonymous phone call could bring to bear an army of recovered-memory therapists, venal and ambitious prosecutors, and hypocritical judges — an army that jailed hundreds of innocent Americans. The overarching story of “No Crueler Tyrannies” is that of the Amirault family, who ran the Fells Acres day care center in Malden, Massachusetts: Violet Amirault, her daughter Cheryl, and her son Gerald, victims of perhaps the most biased prosecution since the Salem witch trials. Woven into the fabric of the Amirault tragedy — an unfinished story, with Gerald Amirault still incarcerated for crimes that, Ms. Rabinowitz persuasively argues, he not only did not commit, but which never happened — are other, equally alarming tales of prosecutorial terrors: the stories of Wenatchee, Washington, where the single-minded efforts of chief sex crimes investigator Robert Perez jailed dozens of his neighbors; Patrick Griffin, a respected physician whose life and reputation were destroyed by a false accusation of sexual molestation; John Carroll, a marina owner from Troy, New York, now serving ten to twenty years largely at the behest of the same expert witness used to wrongly jail Kelly Michaels fifteen years previously; and Grant Snowden, the North Miami policeman sentenced to five consecutive life terms after being prosecuted by then Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno who spent eleven years killing rats in various Florida prisons before a new trial affirmed his innocence.