Thursday, February 13, 2014

Edenton Little Rascals case: Reporter Lew Powell makes clear why it's time for North Carolina to exonerate the Edenton Seven; News and Observer;

STORY: "Like Salem's 'witches,' it's time for NC (North Carolina) to exonerate the Edenton Seven," by reporter Lew Powell, published by the News and Observer on january 18, 2014. (Lew Powell, a former Charlotte Observer reporter and editor, blogs at

GIST:  "Twenty-five years ago Sunday, a child-abuse complaint filed with the Department of Social Services in Edenton ignited what would become the state’s longest, costliest and surely most bizarre criminal trial. Bob Kelly, co-owner of the Little Rascals Day Care Center, and six other innocent defendants fell victim to an ad hoc conspiracy of hysterical parents, ill-trained therapists and malicious prosecutors. ........Claude Sitton was editor of The News & Observer from 1970 to 1990. “When I look back,” he told an oral history interviewer in 2007, “I think my greatest mistake [was] my failure ... to make sure we had a top-notch investigative reporter on the Little Rascals case. ... I think had we sent someone like Pat Stith down there, that would have been it. “That prosecutor had gone wild, eaten up by ambition, I suppose, to hang these people, these people who operated the Little Rascals Day Care Center, no matter how. As it turned out, [the Edenton Seven were eventually released], but it wrecked their lives forever. And I still feel sorry about that.” Unlike Sitton, the state of North Carolina seems remorseless. Eighteen months ago I petitioned Attorney General Roy Cooper to issue a statement of innocence for the Edenton Seven. “The Little Rascals case not only shattered the lives of the defendants,” my letter argued, “but also left a deep and ugly stain on the reputation of the State of North Carolina. “In 2001 Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift signed a resolution proclaiming the innocence of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. In time, such victims of the ritual-abuse day-care panic as the Edenton Seven will surely receive similar exoneration. Why not now? Why not in North Carolina? This is an opportunity to demonstrate moral leadership on a national scale.” Cooper has yet to respond."

The entire story can be found at:


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