The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children, by Ross E. Cheit
Ross Cheit, Professor at Brown University, has published a book that many of us have been waiting for. Professor Cheit has been a respected member of Brown University since 1986.
Professor Cheit has a law degree and a PhD in public policy. He is currently the chair of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.
Ross Cheit knows full well about repressed memory of child sexual abuse, as he himself was sexually abused by a male camp counselor when he was just a young boy.
Decades later, Ross Cheit began to recall the abuse after his sister told him she was sending her son to a similar camp.
You can now pre-order his book (linked below).
“In the 1980s, a series of child sex abuse cases rocked the United States. The most famous case was the 1984 McMartin preschool case, but there were a number of others as well.
By the latter part of the decade, the assumption was widespread that child sex abuse had become a serious problem in America. Yet within a few years, the concern about it died down considerably. The failure to convict anyone in the McMartin case and a widely publicized appellate decision in New Jersey that freed an accused molester had turned the dominant narrative on its head. In the early 1990s, a new narrative with remarkable staying power emerged: the child sex abuse cases were symptomatic of a ‘moral panic’ that had produced a witch hunt.
A central claim in this new witch hunt narrative was that the children who testified were not reliable and easily swayed by prosecutorial suggestion. In time, the notion that child sex abuse was a product of sensationalized over-reporting and far less endemic than originally thought became the new common sense.
But did the new witch hunt narrative accurately represent reality? As Ross Cheit demonstrates in his exhaustive account of child sex abuse cases in the past two and a half decades, purveyors of the witch hunt narrative never did the hard work of examining court records in the many cases that reached the courts throughout the nation. Instead, they treated a couple of cases as representative and concluded that the issue was blown far out of proportion. Drawing on years of research into cases in a number of states, Cheit shows that the issue had not been blown out of proportion at all.
In fact, child sex abuse convictions were regular occurrences, and the crime occurred far more frequently than conventional wisdom would have us believe. Cheit’s aim is not to simply prove the narrative wrong, however. He also shows how a narrative based on empirically thin evidence became a theory with real social force, and how that theory stood at odds with a far more grim reality.
The belief that the charge of child sex abuse was typically a hoax also left us unprepared to deal with the far greater scandal of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which, incidentally, has served to substantiate Cheit’s thesis about the pervasiveness of the problem. In sum, The Witch-Hunt Narrative is a magisterial and empirically powerful account of the social dynamics that led to the denial of widespread human tragedy.”
Pre-Order Here: amazon.com
–Professor Cheit may or may not mention his own experience in his book. Like Professor Jennifer Freyd, Ross Cheit probably prefers to stay focused on the science, research, and academics of child sexual abuse and repression. You can read about his case of repression by reading the article linked here: ordinaryevil.wordpress.com
Please visit his Blog for more information on documented cases of repression for child sexual abuse: blogs.brown.edu/recoveredmemory