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(p. 120) Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria 

(p. 120) Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria
(p. 120) Child Sexual Abuse Hysteria

Matthew Barry Johnson

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date: 04 December 2020

This chapter reviews the phenomenon of “child sexual abuse hysteria” and the series of day care child sexual abuse prosecutions that occurred in the United States from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The charges often involved highly implausible accusations. Suggestive questioning of children, prosecutorial overcharging, and a prevailing social hysteria contributed to a substantial number of innocent defendants being convicted. Psychological research findings informed legal appeals that contributed to the exoneration of more than 50 defendants. The cases presented highlight common features among many child sexual abuse hysteria prosecutions. Considered together, the manufactured and sociogenic nature of the prosecution’s evidence is apparent.

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