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Rabinowitz, Dorothy No Crueler Tyrannies

Rogers, Richard (Editor) Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception, 1997



Rabinowitz, Dorothy
No Crueler Tyrannies

reviews from

From Publishers Weekly
Wall Street
Journal editorialist Rabinowitz has collected her stories on false accusations of sex crimes into one harrowing account of failed justice. Though readers may be familiar with the court cases she details, which took place in the 80s and 90s, coming upon them all together is nonetheless chilling. Rabinowitz devotes the most attention to the Amiraults, a woman and her two grown children who ran a successful preschool in Malden, Mass., and who were all sent to jail on charges of child sex abuse. No scientific or physical evidence linked them to the crimes; rather, the courts relied on the testimony of children who appeared on the stand after lengthy coaching sessions in which counselors had used anatomically correct dolls and leading questions to encourage them to accuse their teachers. At times the author's careful documentation begs for interpretation. Why, for instance, did the public buy the increasingly bizarre accusations of teachers tying naked children to trees in the schoolyard, or of anal penetration with knives that left no physical mark? Rabinowitz leaves such speculation to others. But she presents her cases expertly-so well that her stories helped reverse the convictions of five people, which in turn helped her win the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. She writes clearly and for the most part resists melodrama, letting the facts speak eloquently for themselves.

From Booklist
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street
Journal reporter comes this unsettling look at some of the sex-abuse cases of the 1980s and 1990s that saw innocent men and women convicted of charges that, in hindsight, seem absurd. Take the case of Wenatchee, a smallish city in Washington State, where an overzealous police detective, acting largely on the allegations of his two foster daughters, led an investigation that resulted in the arrest of more than 40 people on thousands of counts of sex...

Book Description
In 1742, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, wrote, "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." Two hundred forty-three years later, in 1985, Dorothy Rabinowitz, a syndicated columnist and television commentator, encountered the case of a New Jersey day care worker named Kelly Michaels, accused of 280 counts of sexually abusing nursery school children -- and exposed the first of the prosecutorial abuses described in No Crueler Tyrannies.

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, Rabinowitz persuasively argues, not only did he 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.

No Crueler Tyrannies is at once a truly frightening and at the same time inspiring book, documenting how these citizens, who became targets of the justice system in which they had so much faith, came to comprehend that their lives could be destroyed, that they could be sent to prison for years -- even decades. No Crueler Tyrannies shows the complicity of the courts, their hypocrisy and indifference to the claims of justice, but also the courage of those willing to challenge the runaway prosecutors and the strength of those who have endured their depredations.

Reviewer: Jean Edouard Pouliot,Newburyport, MA United States
A good start at a serious work..., August 7, 2003
"No Crueler Tyrannies" retells the frightening prosecutions of supposed child sexual predators in the 1990s, focusing on the Fells Acre Day School case in Malden, Massachusetts. The book also skims over several other less notorious cases of horrifying child abuse. All of these cases show the alarming propensity among some prosecutors in the 1980s and 1990s to throw otherwise law-abiding citizens into prison, using the coached testimony of young children. Not to mention the Catch-22 judgements of so-called child experts who convinced juries that a child's denial of abuse was proof that it had taken place.

The book is a quick read, and very sketchy on details. Rabinowitz is satisfied to tell us about testimony rather than laying it out for us to judge on our own. This left me with a certain discomfort: it's easy for ideologues to get their points across when they shout their conclusions without disclosing their premises or evidence. This weakness aside, it's hard not to be angry and frightened that prosecutors can so skew the facts (in one case, holding back tape of an alleged perpetrator's anxious denial of the charges) and that the rest of us can so blithely go along with them.

The 1980s-an era when it was more and more common for working parents to entrust their children to day care centers-were ripe for bizarre child molestation cases. The guilt and anxiety over leaving their children with "strangers" made it easy for parents to believe that their worst nightmares were coming true. The post-9/11 environment is ripe for similar cases - this time targeting those who are perceived to be soft on homeland security. Books like Rabinowitz's however imperfect, serve as cautionary tales of our paranoid propensity to believe the worst about each other.


Rogers, Richard (Editor)
Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception, 1997


Bill Reid, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical and Forensic Psychiatrist; Past President, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Texas, Health Sciences Center; Former Medical Director, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
This long-awaited update and complete revision of Dr. Rogers' 1988 Guttmacher-award-winning classic provides clinical and forensic professionals with the latest knowledge and research findings on malingering and deception. It brings the reader up to date on the burgeoning literature of dissimulation, testing, experimental methodology, and contemporary topics such as false memories, polygraphy, and hypnosis. Dr. Rogers and his very impressive list of contributors--from psychology, neuropsychology, psychiatry, and law--do not stray from their goal of practical integration of clinical practice and applied research in the field. They have given us a worthy successor to his earlier work

Thomas Grisso, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry (Clinical Psychology) University of Massachusetts Medical Center
Much has happened in this field in the past ten years, and every chapter of Richard Rogers' second edition reflects those advances. This review of research on malingering and deception, and on methods for their assessment, retains all of the qualities that made the first edition an indispensable resource for every mental health professional who performs clinical evaluations. Like the first edition, this book will be the authoritative benchmark on this topic for another decade.

Clinical Gerontologist
Exceedingly well done, and a lot of book for the price....Rogers' summary chapters on clinical applications and research are an outstanding example of how to pull together the material of many chapters and authors