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Information on alleged Kearn County California Sex ring
    * Jeffrey Modahl: Conviction Without Evidence
    * Human Rights
    * Judge Frees 2 Couples Imprisoned 14 Years in Child Molestation Case (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1996 Aug. 14)
    * News Release regarding overturned convictions of Kniffens and McCuans from The Justice Committee of San Diego (1996 August 11).
    * Article on defendant Donna Sue Hubbard (1995 December)
    * Information on Kern County "sex ring" case from the Justice Committee of San Diego (1995 September)
    * Article on defendants Alvin & Debbie McCuan and Scott & Brenda Kniffen (1996 July)
    * Article on recantation of accusing children, now adults, of Scott & Brenda Kniffen (1996 July)
    * Return to other alleged witchhunt cases
    * Return to Witchhunt Links
    * search: kern & ( (sex^ring) | abuse | witchhunt)
Articles on these cases culled from the FMSF and Witchhunt Mailing Lists (opinions are those of the authors):
                  F M S   F O U N D A T I O N   N E W S L E T T E R     (e-mail edition)
                  Vol 5 No. 8, September 1, 1996
                  3401 Market Street suite 130,  Philadelphia, PA 19104,  (215-387-1865)
                   . . .
                   Judge Frees 2 Couples Imprisoned 14 Years in Child Molestation Case
                                  San Diego Union-Tribune Aug. 14, 1996
                    Two couples will be freed from prison following dismissal of their
                  convictions of child molestation because authorities repeatedly asked
                  the children leading questions thereby tainting their testimony. Scott
                  and Brenda Kniffen and Alvin and Deborah McCuan will not be retried
                  because so many years have passed and because two Kniffen boys now say
                  they were not molested.
                    In the Kern County Superior Court ruling, Judge Jon Stuebbe wrote,
                  "It is apparent to this court that the result of the interviewing
                  techniques used in this case was to render fundamentally unreliable
                  the children's testimony at trial." This included "telling the child
                  reports of abuse would help their parents and they could all go home
                  and live together again."
                    These families are two of several who were prosecuted for sexual
                  molestation in Kern County in the 1980's and have since had their
                  convictions overturned.
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 07:39:51 -0400 (EDT)
                  From: (Peter Freyd)
                  Subject: Victory in California
                    Carol Hopkins writes:
                  Kern County Superior Court Judge Jon Steubbe today [Mon, Aug 12]
                  overturned the convictions of the Kniffens and McCuans!!!  He has
                  ordered that they be released immediately. These two couples were
                  convicted during the Kern County "sex ring" trials and have served
                  fourteen years. Mike Snedeker was the appellate attorney who prevailed
                  after also obtaining overturned convictions in a number of the other
                  Kern County cases.
                    For some of the background:
                  F M S   F O U N D A T I O N   N E W S L E T T E R     (e-mail edition)
                  Vol 4 No. 8, September 1, 1995
                                       Fresno Bee, August 10, 1995
                                             Robert Rodriguez
                    Donna Sue Hubbard was convicted of child molestation in 1985 and
                  given a 100-year sentence. The 5th District Court of Appeal overturned
                  the conviction which was one of the famous Kern County cases during
                  the mid 1980s. "The climate at the time was one of mass hysteria,"
                  said Glenn Cole, former Kern County grand jury foreman.
                    "There is substantial likelihood that the children's resulting
                  testimony was false and thus unreliable," appellate Justice Thomas
                  Harris wrote. The court also faulted the trial judge for faulty
                  instructions to the jury. The decision will result in a new trial if
                  prosecutors choose to retry the case.
                    According to the article the "allegations began 10 years ago when
                  police investigated the possible molestation of a 6-year-old boy by
                  one of Hubbard's neighbors. As investigations continued, the
                  allegations became increasingly detailed and horrific. The neighbor
                  was accused of "tying him up -- placing him on a wall hanger with
                  either a rope, harness or chain -- and molesting him."  Investigators
                  found only a small cup hood with a shank three-eights of an inch long
                  in the apartment.
                    Hubbard became involved after a neighbor said that Hubbard's son was
                  also at the neighbor's house. She became a suspect after a paid
                  informant "accused her of receiving money for allowing others to
                  molest her son."
                  F M S   F O U N D A T I O N   N E W S L E T T E R     (e-mail edition)
                  Vol 4 No. 9, October 1, 1995
                                          _Fresno Bee_, 8/30/95
                    On August 7, 1995 the 5th District Court of Appeal in California
                  overturned the conviction of Donna Hubbard. She was one of 37 people
                  convicted in the early and mid-1980s as Kern County prosecuted eight
                  "rings" of child molesters. Since that time, 14 of the 26 people found
                  guilty have had their convictions overturned.
                    Hubbard and two men were convicted in 1985 of the molest of
                  Hubbard's 9-year-old son and two other boys. She was sentenced to 100
                  years. Hubbard's son later recanted much of his testimony.
                    In its 470 page opinion, the Appeals Court was sharply critical of
                  the Kern County investigators' interview methods. The court noted that
                  investigators repeatedly used leading questions and conducted numerous
                  interviews with the children.  The court said that there was
                  "substantial likelihood" that Hubbard's conviction was based on false
# Return to top of page
Sender: Is there a child sex abuse witchhunt?
                  Date:    Tue, 13 Aug 1996 23:22:57 -0400
                  From:    "Carol L. Hopkins" CAROLHOP1@AOL.COM
                  Subject: Kern County/Congressional Hearings
                  The Justice Committee
                  625 Broadway, Suite 1111
                  San Diego, CA  92101
                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                  MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 1996
                  Kern County Superior Court Judge Jon Steubbe today vacated the convictions of
                  Brenda and Scott Kniffen and Alvin and Debbie McCuan.  He has ordered the
                  State of California and Kern County to expedite the immediate release of
                  these prisoners who have each served fourteen years of  combined sentences of
                  over 1000 years for child sexual abuse.  These are only the most recent
                  overturned convictions in this type of case.  Kern County alone has already
                  witnessed numerous others.  The investigation which led to these convictions
                  was the subject of a 1986 scathing review by the California Department of
                  Justice which did not, however, take the courageous position of recommending
                  immediate review by the courts.  Instead, many of those convicted have
                  languished more than a decade in prison.  In 1995, in a related case, the
                  California Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Donna Sue Hubbard in a
                  highly critical, but unpublished, decision.  Donna Sue  served eleven years.
                  At that time, the Justice Committee wrote a detailed letter to both Attorney
                  General Lungren and District Attorney Ed Jagels calling for them to stop
                  contesting the appeals  of the remaining prisoners.  Included in those
                  letters was  documentation of new scientific evidence regarding the now
                  discredited standards for physical evidentiaries at the time of the
                  convictions as well as information regarding recent experiments on child
                  suggestibility in the face of leading questioning.  Questioning in
                  Bakersfield went far beyond the definition of leading and was, in fact,
                  coercive, threatening, brainwashing of young children.
                  The Justice Committee pleaded fruitlessly with authorities, both in the name
                  of justice and fiscal prudence, to stop defending these highly flawed
                  convictions.  Mr. Jagels was quoted in the local press as saying that he had
                  filed our correspondence in the round file and that he had every intention of
                  continued, vigorous defense of these convictions.  More than a year later in
                  the lives of these tortured innocent people, and hundreds of thousands of
                  taxpayer dollars later, they will finally walk free.
                  The Kniffens and the McCuans are only four of the Justice Committee s more
                  than 1000 cases of false convictions resulting from the child sexual abuse
                  hysteria generated by the McMartin Case. These cases have occurred in every
                  state in the Union. The Justice Committee has spent the last year moving the
                  Congress toward hearings into  the causes of these prosecutions and the
                  remedies for those who have been falsely convicted.  Congressmen Sonny Bono,
                  Bill Archer,  Dick Armey, among others. have joined with the Justice
                  Committee and also support the need for these hearings.
                  Please contact Carol Hopkins for more information about the Justice Committee
                  and other cases.
# Return to top of page
Sender: Is there a child sex abuse witchhunt?
                  Date:    Sun, 4 Aug 1996 07:10:28 -0400
                  From:    Nicholas Peters
                  Subject: Edward Jagels Witch Hunt Unembellished
                  [This is an article from the Bakersfield Californian of July
                  26, 1996.  The article demonstrates the mode of operation of
                  the anti-justice, and anti-family and anti-science Kern
                  County child abuse witch hunt led by District Attorney
                  Edward Jagels and Assistant District Attorney Andrew Gindes.
                  It is not a pretty picture.  The witch hunt has continued
                  from 1982.]
                                  KNIFFEN SONS WANT PARENT BACK
                    Sons of Convicted Parents Tell How Testimony Was Coerced
                       Brian Kniffen clung to his mother as the deputies
                  swarmed around them.
                       "Go with these people and do what they say," said
                  Brenda Kniffen to her weeping 6-year old son that day in
                  April 1982.  "Then everything will be alright and we'll be
                  back home."
                       Those were the last words Brian heard from his mother
                  for many, many years, he said Thursday after testifying once
                  again in a Kern County courtroom.
                       He had been here before, as a child, sitting on a
                  booster seat in a witness chair 10 feet away from his mother
                  and father, Scott, weeping and scared and made to start over
                  and over again.
                       At that 1984 trial, he testified that his parents,
                  Brenda and Scott, and their two friends, Deborah and Alvin
                  McCuan, had molested him in hotels, hung him from hooks in
                  their homes and sodomized him repeatedly.
                       Thursday, he was hoping to make things right by telling
                  a Kern County judge what really happened.  Now 20, he told
                  Judge Jon Stuebbe in a closed courtroom that he was coerced
                  and badgered by social workers and district attorneys, he
                  said after the hearing.
                       "I believed my mother's words when she said to do what
                  these people said," Brian said.  "And I believed them
                  (social workers and district attorneys) when they promised I
                  could go home if I just said it all had happened.  So I did.
                       "And I never did go home."
                       The testimony of Brian and his older brother Brandon
                  and the McCuans' two young daughters at the 1984 trial sent
                  the Kniffens and McCuans to prison for 1,000 years
                       Brandon, now 23, also testified at the hearing
                  Thursday, saying he was never molested by his parents and
                  only agreed after many grueling interviews.
                       Attorneys for the Kniffens and McCuans hope the boys'
                  testimony as men will be a compelling piece of new evidence
                  for Stuebbe to consider.  The judge is presiding over a
                  special hearing that is part of the appeal process.
                       Because the hearing was closed Brian told his story to
                  a reporter after the hearing.
                       He smiles a lot, and reveals his deepest hurts in
                  simple words.
                       He remembers his life before with nostalgia.  There
                  were Sunday mornings, walking beside his father with a
                  plastic toy mower as the two trimmed the lawn.  There were
                  soccer games and wrestling events and family get-togethers
                  where the adults played cards and the kids played pretend.
                       The night before the deputies came, he had a bad dream.
                  He crawled into bed with his parents and fell back to sleep.
                       "The next thing I remember she was leaning over me,
                  crying, and telling me I had to go with these people," Brian
                       Now his life would become a bad dream, he said.
                       The man he remembers most is prosecutor Andrew Gindes,
                  a tall imposing attorney who scared Brian with his
                  questioning techniques.
                       "He would slam books down, yell when we wouldn't
                  cooperated.  He was demanding and scared us and wouldn't
                  take no for an answer.
                       "I wish I could talk to him now and ask him... why, why
                  did he do that to me?"
                       Brian and Brandon were whisked away to foster homes and
                  their relatives kept away except for a few strictly
                  supervised meetings, according to court records.  Brian
                  lived in 16 foster homes before hew was 13.  Some were fine,
                  others made yet another scar on his fragile psyche.
                       "There was one foster home where they kicked me out,"
                  he said.  "I slept walked, and they were really churchy
                  people.  They thought I was possessed by the devil."
                       Brian's grandparents, Dick and Marilyn Kniffen, tried
                  to get custody of both boys but, for seven years, were
                  unsuccessful.  At 13, Brian finally moved in with them.
                  Brandon remained in foster homes, kept away from relatives
                  for several more years, according to court records.
                       "For a long time I felt deserted by my family," Brian
                  said now.  "I didn't know that all along they were trying to
                  see me, get custody.  I just thought they had forgotten
                  about me."
                       Those feelings led to rage during his high school
                  years.  He fought a lot, he was jittery with nerves, moody,
                  depressed.  His grandparents, who spent hundreds of
                  thousands of dollars on appeals for Scott and Brenda
                  Kniffen, put Brian into counseling where he learned to deal
                  with the ancient hurts and angers.
                       "I've always felt different from everyone else," he
                  said, smiling and shrugged.  "And I don't trust the law."
                       Today he lives in a Bakersfield apartment with his
                  girlfriend.  They both work full-time and part-time jobs.
                  They just bought a brand new car, he says proudly.
                       He was proud of his testimony Thursday, as well, he
                  said.  He was a man, and could take care of himself.  No one
                  would ever make him say a lie again, he said.
                       "I just wish I was bigger then," in 1984, he said.
                       In 1993, both he and his brother recanted their
                  testimony.  Earlier, at 15, Brian had tried to set things
                  right, he said, but a social worker told him his life in
                  Foothill High School would be over if he did.  The endless
                  days in court would begin again, he would be questioned
                  again and again.
                       "So I just said I couldn't go through with it," he
                  said.  "That's not the same as taking back my recanting.
                  It's just saying I couldn't deal with all that court stuff
                  again at 15."
                       A few years ago, he listened to the tape recording of
                  an interview with former [Assistant] District Attorney Don
                  McGillivray and himself.  The moment he heard the words
                  spill out of the speakers, the old fear curled in his gut.
                       "They scared me, completely coerced me.  I always knew
                  it never happened.  But I was only 6, you know what I mean?
                  And they just kept on and on."
                       Today, his greatest wish is for his parents to come
                  home.  He has visited them numerous times in prison, with
                  glass barriers and guards keeping the meetings distant.
                       He teases his mother into laughing when he comes to
                       "Wherever me and Brandon are is where they want to be
                  when they get out," he said.  "Because of what's happened to
                  us, we'll be close the rest of our lives."
    * Return to top of page
    * Website under construction with more information on these cases.
    * Return to other alleged witchhunt cases
    * Return to Witchhunt Links      This link has more on the witch hunts of 1980 in Bakersfield Ca.
bullet  "A mere suspicion of witchcraft justifies the immediate arrest and torture of the suspected person. If the prisoner mutters, looks on the ground, and does not shed any tears, all these are proofs positive of guilt." Jean Bodin, French lawyer, judge and witchhunter, "The Demonomanie," published circa 1580.
bullet  "A prisoner may be promised immunity or reduced punishment if he accuses his accomplices." Jean Bodin
bullet  "In the Little Rascals day-care-abuse case in North Carolina, one mother told reporters that it took 10 months before her child was able to "reveal" the molestation. No one at the time considered the idea that the child might have been remarkably courageous to persist in telling the truth for so long." Carol Tavris 1
bullet  The following quotations relate to the Fells Acre case, but apply to many others as well:
bullet  "We just suspended intellectual integrity. We believed the absurd when it came to child abuse cases." Kimberly Hart 2
bullet  "It has nothing to do with lying and everything to do with the implanting of false memories...Studies have shown that children will vehemently defend the veracity of implanted memories. They recall reporting them, and those reports produce mental images of the events that these individuals cannot distinguish from their real experiences. But the kids are not responsible for that. The interviews are." Debra Poole 3
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We have studied over 40 Multi-Victim, Multi-Offender (MVMO) cases at 24 locations, mostly involving allegations of ritual abuse, since 1995.
In other areas of this web site, we do not take sides. We do not reach conclusions. We merely report both or all sides of each issue and let our readers make up their mind. However, with these ritual abuse cases, it seemed obvious to us that grave injustices had been done. As Kimberly Hart of the National Child Abuse Defense Center said, the police and District Attorneys' offices had suspended their "intellectual integrity." They readily "believed the absurd." We decided to write the essays with the assumption that most of the defendants were innocent.
We believe that some sexual molestation did happen at Country Walk, in Miami FL, and perhaps in a few of the remaining cases. But it is our opinion that:
bullet  No ritual abuse occurred in any of the cases.
bullet  Any criminal acts were non-ritual abuse by a single perpetrator.
bullet  Most or all of the crimes never happened.
Hundreds of adults were convicted of ritual abuse of children, mostly during the 1980s and early 1990s. Almost all have had their cases revisited. Most convictions have been overturned because of what we now know about:
bullet  How easy it was for investigators to get false disclosures of abuse from young children by simply asking direct questions, repeatedly.
bullet  How meaningless the past standards of evidence were for sexual abuse of girls.
bullet  How meaningless past STD lab tests were on children.
A few innocent people continue to rot in prison in the United States and elsewhere. A list of addresses of US prisoners is available. 5
Child psychologists and police investigators now are generally aware of how to avoid improper questioning of young children. New cases dried up in the early 1990s. However, one strange case did surface in Lewis Island, Scotland, in late 2003.
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US Cases:
Location  People and Facility Involved
Bakersfield CA  The McCuan and Kniffen Families (and 8 other cases)
Bucks County, PA  A Day School teacher, and others
Edenton, NC  Robert "Bob" Kelly et al (Little Rascals)
Unknown location, NC  Michael Parker
Malden, MA  The Amirault Family (Fells Acre)
Manhattan Beach, CA  Peggy & Ray Buckey and Virginia McMartin * (McMartin Preschool)
Maplewood NJ  Kelly Michaels
Marty I.R., SD  J Rouse, D Rouse, G Feather, R Hubbeling, D Rouse
Miami, FL  Francisco and Iliana Fuster (Country Walk)
Niles, MI  Allan Barkman
Olympia, WA  Paul R. Ingram
Pittsfield, MA.  
Bernard Baran
Robin Hood Hills AR  Damien Echols and two others,  "The West Memphis Three"
Roseburg, OR  The Gallup family
San Diego, CA  Dale Akiki
Smithfield, NC  Patrick Figuered & Sonja Hill
Wenatchee, WA  Rev. Robert Roberson & dozens of others
Westchester, NY  Rev. Nathaniel Grady (and 4 others)
* See also: Magical tunnels under McMartin Preschool
The Justice Committee has examined many child sexual abuse convictions that were triggered throughout the United States by the Bakersfield and McMartin cases. They believe that there are more than 1000 persons who are innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. The Committee's main project is to persuade Congress to hold hearings to study the causes of these prosecutions and initiate remedies for the unjustly convicted. They have obtained support from Congressmen Bill Archer, Dick Armey, Sonny Bono, and others. 3
ABC-TV's Turning Point program of 1996-NOV-15 stated that: "Since 1980, in over 40 [US] communities, some 200 people have been accused of these crimes... Today, 141 people, -- nearly three quarters of the accused in these cases -- have been acquitted, had their convictions overturned or charges against them dropped.."
This menu continues below.
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Canadian cases:
Location  People Involved
Cornwall, ON  Allegations of sex-rings and ritual abuse
Martensville, SK  The Sterling  Family (Martensville Nightmare)
Prescott, ON  120 adults! We call it the Prescott Nightmare
Richmond, BC, Canada  Michael Kliman
Red Deer, SK  The Klassen family and 11 other adults
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Cases Outside North America
Location  People accused
Sydney, Australia  "Mr Bubbles"
Charleroi, Belgium  Marc Dutroux
Muenster, Germany  Rainer Moellers
Ashhurst, NZ  The Venus Case
Christchurch, NZ  Peter Ellis and 4 other cases
Bishop Auckland, UK  4 families
Lewis island, UK  Group of 8 adults
Newcastle, UK  Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed
Nottingham, UK  Group of 9 adults (the one that started the UK Satanic panic)
Pembroke, UK  Group of 6 adults
Rochdale, UK  Group of 10 adults
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Three groundbreaking books that explain how the justice system failed both children and adults:
Stephen Ceci & Maggie Bruk, "Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A scientific analysis of children's testimony," American Psychological Association, (2000). Read reviews or order this book This book was largely responsible for changing child interview techniques across North America, and bringing an end to implanted false memories of child abuse.
Dorothy Rabinowitz, "No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times," Wall Street Journal Books, (2003). Read reviews or order this book "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." ( review)
Mary de Young, "The Day Care Ritual Abuse Panic," McFarland & Company, (2004). Read reviews or order this book "This work is a sociologically based analysis of the day care ritual abuse panic in America. It introduces the concept of moral panic and analyzes its relevance to the ritual abuse scare, explores the ideological, political, economic, and professional forces that fomented the panic, discusses the McMartin Preschool case as the incident that brought attention to satanic menaces and children, and examines the dialect between the various interest groups that stirred up and spread the moral panic and the day care providers accused of ritual abuse. Also covered are the popular culture representations of day care ritual abuse, the diffusion of the scare to areas overseas, the institutionally symbolic and ideologically contradictory social ends of the panic, and the outcomes of the panic in various settings. The book ends with a discussion of moral panic theory and how it needs to be changed for a complex, multi-mediated postmodern culture, and what lessons can be learned from the scare." ( review)
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   1. Carol Tavris: "Mind Games: Psychological Warfare Between Therapists and Scientists," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Section: The Chronicle Review, Vol. 49, Issue 25, Page B7, 2003-FEB-28.
   2. Kimberly Hart is executive director of the National Child Abuse Defense Center in Ohio. The quote came from the National Post, 2001-JUL-10, Page A10. The National Post is a conservative Canadian newspaper.
   3. Debra Poole is a professor of psychology at Central Michigan University. She is the author of the forensic interviewing protocol for children now mandated by Michigan law.
   4. Carol Hopkins, News Release, The Justice Committee, 625 Broadway, Suite 1111, San Diego, CA 92101. Issued 1996-AUG-11
   5. Bob Chatelle has a list of falsely accused inmates at:
 I put this page on here to show people how so many have been wrongly accused of molesting children. Our courts are so corrupt and there are to many times where innocent people have been inprisoned.  In Illinois alone there have been to many people released off of death row because of this  broken system.

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When a person fails to read or understand the Constitution then we will live in a POLICE STATE!