The McMartin preschool child sexual abuse trial made a lot of history. Not only did it become one of the longest and most expensive criminal trial in the history of the United States, it also attracted tons of media and public attention. After all the wrongful convictions, pain, suffering, costs, and loss, it’s unfortunate to know that majority of those involved have never recovered and live on normal lives again.
The seven people who were charged with child sexual abuse and assault became financially broke. Not only was the McMartin school closed, many other preschools also followed suit, fearing that the same fate might happen to them. This landmark case even became a precedent. Immediately after the first accusations were publicized, the same type of allegations and prosecutions swept through the entire country. It seemed like the McMartin case was te sparkplug of them all.
And all of this is largely because of the media reaction. The kind of reporting and coverage done by the press was so biased that it became evident the McMartins will be convicted. But of course, it was known in the end that they were innocent. All the accusations were a product of mass hysteria and manipulation.
Based on the experience on this case, we can see how influential the media and the common public sentiment can be. In fact, when the trial began, millions of Americans have started to believe that their children are already abused without them knowing it. Of course, that kind of sentiment was proven to be false in the end.
Child molestation and sexual abuse is a serious crime, that’s a fact. However, the gravity of the crime should not be considered as a barometer to assume that an accused is already guilty of it. We of all people should remember that due process of law and the rights of the accused must be upheld in a democratic country. Even if it is so disturbing to just even think that there are people who consider sexually exploiting children as fun and gratifying, not all of those accused are guilty and evil.