Martha Coakley is a crank.
If this were the year 1692 in Massachusetts, the Democrat Senate candidate would fit in perfectly with Puritan hysterics accusing innocent women of witchcraft. After all, she built her career by putting innocent people in jail—based on charges about as credible as those levied in the Salem witch trials. Not nearly enough has been said about Coakley’s unique mix of fanaticism and incompetence.
In 1990, a Massachusetts woman named Shirley Ann Souza had a dream that her parents and brother raped her. She was in therapy for “repressed memories,” the since-debunked theory that people can forget incidents of sexual abuse. She called her sister-in-law and announced that her parents were child molestors. Both women hauled their daughters to professional cranks (oops, I mean “child therapists”) who coerced the girls into making ludicrous accusations.
“During her testimony, seven-year-old Cindy revealed that her grandparents routinely locked her and her first cousin Nancy in a basement cage,” scholar Mark Pendergrast reported in 1996. “Six-year-old Nancy then told Judge Dolan how her grandparents had stuck their entire hands and heads into her vagina, where they would wiggle them around. They also abused her, she said, with a huge multicolored machine, as big as a room, which was kept in the cellar.”
There was no physical evidence that either girl had been abused. Although they claimed to have been raped by hands, machines and other large objects, their hymens were intact. Needless to say, the cage and enormous molesting machine were never found. But no matter: the Souzas were convicted and sentenced to 9- to 15-year prison terms.
The prosecuting attorney? Martha Coakley.
After ruining the Souzas’ lives, Coakley went on a personal crusade against Gerald Amirault, a former daycare worker jailed 18 years for child abuse. Amirault was convicted on the testimony of toddlers who claimed, after years of browbeating by child psychologists, that they’d been raped with swords, molested by clowns and robots, and tied naked to trees. As in the Souza case, there was no physical evidence and no witnesses, even though the alleged abuse took place in a crowded school.
While most Massachusetts voters know about Coakley’s role in the case, few know the extent to which the children’s testimony had been discredited by the time she went on her crusade. In the 90s, Cornell professor Stephen Ceci published numerous studies demonstrating the suggestibility of small children. In one study, he and his partner found that when they asked preschool kids suggestive questions—such as “can you show me how the doctor touch your private parts?”—more than half falsely claimed they had been molested.
In 2001, a parole board voted to release the obviously innocent Gerald Amirault. Instead of admitting the prosecution had been horribly wrong, Coakley said she was “disappointed” and hoped “the voices of the victims would be heard.” (There were no “victims.”)
Liberals love to sneer at superstitious and fanatical Christians. Republican governor Bobby Jindal has been mocked by the likes of “The Huffington Post” for allegedly performing excorcisms. Yet liberals have total confidence in a woman who prosecuted people based on dreams, bought into crank theories like “repressed memories,” and believed children’s stories of being molested with swords and giant machines. How, exactly, is she more rational than someone who believes in exorcism?
Nevermind her position on health care. An inept witch hunter like Martha Coakley shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Senate.