Review: The Witch-Hunt Narrative

Review: The Witch-Hunt Narrative: Politics, Psychology, and the Sexual Abuse of Children by Ross Cheit

By Lundy Bancroft, author of The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics.
July 22, 2015

I am eager to tell the world how impressed and inspired I am by the meticulous research and careful analysis that Ross Cheit has put into The Witch-Hunt Narrative. It is the most important book I’ve read on child sexual abuse in a decade. Cheit demonstrates that in almost all the famous cases where children were led into making outlandish accusations, there first were children making spontaneous and credible disclosures, and whose statements were often backed up by unusual medical findings. These cases now just get painted as “witch-hunts,” ignoring the fact that there were true perpetrators hiding among the ones who were falsely accused.

Cheit also shows that many of the cases that have been labeled “witch-hunts” or “accusations of satanic rituals” had no such aspects to them. One stunning example is his account of the James Watt case (White Plains, NY) where multiple children were found to have STD’s, yet writers such as Tom Charlier and Shirley Downing nonetheless took up the cause of James Watt as a supposed victim of false accusation. In reviewing the evidence in this case and many others, Cheit demonstrates the remarkable occluding of many powerful facts by key writers who promote the “witch-hunt” claim, including Charlier, Downing, Debbie Nathan, Michael Snedeker, and others.

Cheit has done abused children — and falsely accused adults — a huge favor with the outstanding work he has done in producing this book.”