Remembering the shame of the Little Rascals Day Care case

Aside from posting on the Miscellany, your Charlotte correspondent has been busy launching into the blogosphere

The tragic injustice of the Little Rascals Day Care case — which produced the longest, costliest trial in North Carolina history — has galled me for more than two decades. This blog is my modest attempt to keep alive the memory of the Edenton Seven’s assault by hysterical parents, biased therapists and shameless prosecutors.  When charges were finally dropped, the defendants deserved an apology and a statement of innocence — what they got was a gratuitous kick to the curb.

For more information, you now know where to look.


11 thoughts on “Remembering the shame of the Little Rascals Day Care case”

  1. Mr. Powell,

    I’m a historian and writer living in Yorktown, VA, who followed the Little Rascals case closely in the Norfolk and other papers at the time. Moved by the strangeness and patent senselessness of the Edenton event as well as by reports nationwide at the time of what came to be tagged false memory syndrome, I wrote and later published a short story inspired by the spectacular miscarriage of justice of the Little Rascals trials. The thrust of my story was popular hysteria and jaundiced ambitious therapists together with a grievous breakdown of the judicial system. You might be interested in “Witches of Devon,” which appears in my short story collection of the same title, published in 2002 (see google or A few libraries hold the book (see
    Sincerely, John L. Romjue (Nickell John Romjue)

  2. Thanks so much, Mr. Romjue — I look forward to reading “Witches of Devon.”
    Coincidentally, I’ve only recently discovered two nonfiction accounts of the Little Rascals case:
    “Crimes Against Children: A Guide to Child Protection
    for Parents and Professionals featuring the Little Rascals Day
    Care Sex Scandal” (1995) by David E. McCall, a former Edenton child abuse investigator
    “Magical Child Molestation Trials: Edenton’s Children Accuse” (1993) by Margaret Leong, a Chapel Hill poet who worked with preschool children
    Their views of the case could not be more at odds.

  3. Mr. Powell,

    In establishing the archive documenting this awful travesty of justice and its continuing fallout, you have done a valuable and very good thing. And it is reassuring that Ofra Bickel has been honored for the honesty and power of her reporting. Dorothy Rabinowicz merits great credit too in her investigations of the similar case in Massachusetts.

    I believe that behind the recovered memory and child abuse therapeutic notions of that time, so destructive of the lives of the Edenton 7 and many others, lies Freud’s almost immeasurable popular impact on our now so heavily sexualized culture–though the easy lure of the witch hunt seems to have been all too contagious in Edenton’s fearful, credulous and manipulable parents as well.

    All the best to you,

    John Romjue

  4. Thank you so much for your wonderful site on this case, and especially for uploading all the videos dealing with it. Truly a wealth of information that can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet.

    It’s amazing how Americans tend to forget this nation-wide ‘moral panic’ of the 1980s-1990s, even though so many communities were caught up in it, and so many innocent people had their lives destroyed.

    Thanks again.

  5. The hope is that this ‘trial’ shall be remembered forever along with the Scopes trial as an egregious injustice facilitated by BOTH the prosecutors AND both of the presiding judges.

    I shudder to think how many innocents were found guilty and executed in the name of the law and by unconscious prosecutors eager to make a name for themselves – as the prosecutor in the trial of Bob Kelly. She ought to be disbarred, as the judge who continuously overruled the defense’s objection to the prosecutor ‘leading questions’ to the children on the witness stand.

  6. The witch hunts of Edentown, North Carolina.
    This is a true horror story, one that left true victims in it’s path. The victims were the children of parents who, for whatever reason, decided to sacrifice their own children and put them through bringing false charges against so many innocent people. The victims also included those who were charged, some even convicted, and had their lives forever destroyed.
    I hope one day justice will find these parents, and those in law enforcement and the district attorneys office, who left so many lives destroyed, although I doubt that real justice will happen in this life. Someday they will all have to answer for their actions while on this earth. I wonder how they will than defend themselves. I don’t believe they will be able too.
    I have never heard of a more unsettling case than the one of The Little Rascals Daycare. The District Attorneys office and the police involved only made a mockery of our justice system, and put good, honest people through absolute hell.
    I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Jane Mabry is judged. I hope Betsy is allowed to push the “down” button on that elevator when she is sent to hell.

  7. Lew,

    Thank you so much for creating this website and helping to keep this tragic witch trial in the public eye. It disturbs me as an American citizen that no one has published a book on this case and that the parents who fueled the hysteria have never been made to publicly apologize to the Edenton 7. I’d love to see Michael Moore do a documentary, complete with scenes of him shoving a microphone into the faces of people like Chris Bean and Jane Mabry and asking them to explain themselves.

    Diane Stranz
    Arlington, Texas

  8. I loved the site, but like many others believe that a book, an up to date documentary which includes the through line from the absurdity of the 1980’s & 1990’s “Satanic Panic/Ritual Abuse”daycare hysteria to the 2014-current MAGA-GOP/Trump conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate/QAnon/Hollywood-Satanist Democrat-Blood drinking Vampires” and all the rest of the far-right/evangelical eschatological nonsense used to promote fear and anger. There is a direct correlation between the tragic injustice of cases like Bob & Betsy Kelly’s Little Rascals Daycare nightmare and the current influence of Q-Anon conspiracy theories that target people online through vile social media in an effort to create an environment in society where generalized unfounded, baseless accusations of horrendous acts of deviant depravity can be made, without ANY evidence whatsoever and have it taken seriously and even acted upon by the authorities. The pervasive use of disproven junk science, similar to the “spirit evidence” of the Salem Witch Trials. Our apparent unwillingness to examine, honestly and transparently the causes of the hysteria and the motivations and incentives involved for those who should absolutely know better. District Attorneys should not be immune from malicious prosecution charges themselves or even civil liability where appropriate. HP Williams knows full well that NONE of the children involved in this case were “actually” abused at Little Rascals, as does ADA Nancy Lamb. The so-called “repressed memory”, “SRA” or Satanic Ritual Abuse is and has always been a complete and total fabrication, a lie. Looking at the state of American society today in 2024, particularly the so-called “conservative evangelical” slice of the population has gone down a dangerous and delusional rabbit hole of MAGA lunacy and traffic in lies about elections, immigrants, foreign wars, climate change, and even our own nations history for God sakes!! The chickens have come home to roost for all these people who have become corrupted and have become liars without shame. Nothing is sacred to them anymore and all their talk about moral authority is bankrupt. Today Republicans say that character doesn’t count, objective truth and honesty are not virtues but obstacles to getting their way. They’ve become what I suspect they always were but sought to hide, ruthless hypocrites, faithless in the face of actual evil with its orange smiling face, childish lies and violent, lawless rhetoric spinning new tales of grievance and victim hood. This is the legacy of the “Little Rascals Era”, lies based on falsehoods, stacked on hysterical claptrap, junk science and dime store psychological theories, followed by novel unprecedented legal arguments that failed again and again. Is this truly the legacy of this wretched era of fools, malcontents, like snippy gossiping jezebel Jane Maybry and lazy Mrs Latham, with her silly, scary certitude?
    My God I hope not. I hope that we’re better than this…….

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