Los Angeles, CA–“I remember telling them nothing happened to me…Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted…”
In several posts lately we’ve discussed how impressionable children can be manipulated into having fake memories or telling adults whatever they think adults want to hear. One of the best examples of this is the McMartin Pre-School case.
In November, 2005 the Los Angeles Times published the article “McMartin Pre-Schooler: ‘I Lied’: A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case.” It is a horrifying read.
Kyle Zirpolo, now 30 years-old, writes:
“[As a child] I remember them asking extremely uncomfortable questions about whether Ray [Buckey, a defendant] touched me and about all the teachers and what they did–and I remember telling them nothing happened to me. I remember them almost giggling and laughing, saying, ‘Oh, we know these things happened to you. Why don’t you just go ahead and tell us? Use these dolls if you’re scared.’
“Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted…
“I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin…
“My parents were very encouraging when I said that things happened. It was almost like saying things happened was going to help get these people in jail and stop them from what they were trying to do to kids. Also, there were so many kids saying all these things happened that you didn’t want to be the one who said nothing did. You wouldn’t be believed if you said that.
“I remember feeling like they didn’t pick just anybody–they picked me because I had a good memory of what they wanted, and they could rely on me to do a good job. I don’t think they thought I was telling the truth, just that I was telling the same stories consistently, doing what needed to be done to get these teachers judged guilty. I felt special. Important.
“It always seemed like I was thinking. I would listen to what my parents would say if they were talking, or to what someone else would say if we were being questioned at the police station or anywhere. And I would repeat things. Or if it wasn’t a story I’d heard, I would think of something in my head. I would try to think of the worst thing possible that would be harmful to a child. I remember once I said that if you had a cut, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it, the McMartin teachers would put on dirt, then put the Band-Aid over the dirt. That was just something in my head that was bad. I just thought of it and told [the investigators]…
“The lawyers had all my stories written down and knew exactly what I had said before. So I knew I would have to say those exact things again and not have anything be different, otherwise they would know I was lying. I put a lot of pressure on myself. At night in bed, I would think hard about things I had said in the past and try to repeat only the things I knew I’d said before…”