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News of the Day ... In Perspective


Witness recants lies in child-abuse case

At age 30, a former pre-schooler who was a star witness in the notorious 1980 McMartin Pre-school child molestation case, has come forward to confess that it was all a lie.

Kyle Zirpolo explained to reporter Debbie Nathan how he desperately wanted to please his mother and stepfather, and how the prosecution’s team asked leading questions and wouldn’t accept any answers that they didn’t want to hear. He was quite aware that he was making up stories, and struggled to be consistent so that lawyers couldn’t trap him. The lying had been on his conscience for years.

Exploitation of children’s suggestibility and susceptibility to peer-group pressure is now recognized by psychologists to be inappropriate.

The McMartins, accused of mass molestations, were ultimately acquitted. Surviving family members declined to meet with Zirpolo, saying they didn’t need apologies from former students, who were children and couldn’t help themselves. They said they would rather hear from the police, social workers, therapists, prosecutors, doctors, and parents who fueled the unjust case.

Zirpolo now has two children and wants to lead them by example and be totally honest with them (Debbie Nathan, LA Times 10/30/05).

Additional information:

“Child Protective Services said to endanger children, families,” News of the Day 4/13/05.

“False witness,” AAPS News, July 2004.

“Tools of the Inquisition,” AAPS News, April 2002.

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