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A £4 million inquiry into child abuse on Jersey lay in tatters today after senior officers revealed police were relying on discredited evidence.
Deputy chief officer David Warcup ruled out murder and criticised operations as it was reported that the island's most senior officer, Graham Power, has been suspended.
Jersey's former deputy chief officer, Lenny Harper, was wrong in suggesting youngsters might have been murdered at Haut de la Garenne children's home, which closed in 1986, Mr Warcup said.
The longest trial in American history, California’s McMartin Day School case, was one of the first day care center cases to claim Satanic ritual abuse. There were some 500 separate reports filed at the Manhattan Beach Police Department in connection with the case. The children’s stories matched those of other cases cited. However, there was an additional component to the McMartin case. The children consistently talked of being abused in an underground tunnel below the day care center.
A highly qualified archaeologist, hired by the children’s families, talked about a series of what he says were highly questionable incidents in the search for the elusive tunnels.
Archeologist Gary Stickle, Ph.D., has worked extensively in the United States and in Europe, including heading the largest underwater archeological sonar survey ever conducted in Europe. In addition, he has been a consultant to Lucas Films in the development of the Indiana Jones movie series. He has also been professor of Archeology at the University of California at Long Beach. Stickle said initially a private investigator went to the day care center site and did some preliminary informal digging. It is reported, said Stickle, that this investigator found some rabbit bones in the soil. (The children talked about rabbits being sacrificed.) However, the day before he was to testify, the private investigator was found dead from a gun shot wound. It was determined to be a suicide. But Stickle said that determination was questioned by more than a few people, given the timing. Eventually, said Stickle, the prosecution hired an archeological firm that dug seven pits clustered outside of the building. (This was curious, said Stickle, because the children were reporting the abuse had gone on in tunnels below the building.) Stickle said a remote sensing device was also used at the time, but it was reported that no tunnels were found. That was 1985.
The lack of a tunnel damaged the credibility of the children’s stories tremendously.
Stickle’s firm was hired by the parents in 1990. Using a sophisticated ground penetrating radar, Stickle said a tunnel was found, right where some of the children had told his staff it would be.
However, even though evidence of the tunnel was found in May of 1990, while the trial was still in progress -- the evidence was never introduced in court, said Stickle.
"Finding such a tunnel was highly relevant (to the case)," said Stickle. "Because it (prior lack of physical evidence of a tunnel) was a major thing used to discredit the children."
The accused McMartin Day Care Center staff were eventually acquitted. However, some of the McMartin parents haven’t quit fighting. A two hundred page report on the tunnel findings has recently been released by the parents, in an ongoing effort to keep the case before the public.
=The belief that Bynum had been murdered was fueled by the memory of another odd death, the alcohol toxicity that claimed the life of Judy Johnson. She was the first mother to speak publicly about child molestation at McMartin. and sympathizers of the Buckeys in the press have gone to great lengths to portray Johnson as "crazy." Her life was inverted the day her son came home from the McMartin school, bleeding. Strangers entered her life, intimidated her. She believed she'd been poisoned. (In 1992, therapists at the L.A. Commission for Women's Ritual Abuse Task Force were also poisoned, and corroborated their allegations with medical reports - the Los Angeles Times was given the reports, but ignored them and alleged the therapists were paranoid fantasists.5) She lived in fear, felt it necessary to keep a gun in the house. Her estranged husband appeared to have joined in the harassment campaign. She took to alcohol. She was allergic to alcohol. It poisoned her.
The McMartin Tunnels are just one more example of the continuing uncovering of evidence of a bizarre and industrious dedication to deception. The tunnels should raise serious questions against the reassuring premise that no one would go to such elaborate lengths to entrap children into illicit control. If the therapists were to blame, and they implanted only stories of tunnels, then who planted the pots in Joanie's runway? The continuing obscurity of this potentially provocative archaeological discovery should give the lie to another reassurance: if things like this went on it would be impossible to hide the evidence. It is not so much that the evidence is difficult to hide as that we as a just and fair society are incapable of seeing it.
Judy Johnson saw blood on her infant's diaper and has paid a terrible price for trying to find how it got there. Other McMartin parents, now distilled down to the essence of one, tried to find evidence for their children's complaints, only to be reviled as a malicious threat to world serenity. Jackie McGauley has a hard-won documentation of physical evidence to share. Who will buy it?
impossible to date the bones accurately
Detective Superintendent Michael Gradwell then discredited a number of the claims made about the operation by the island's former deputy chief officer, Lenny Harper.
• After being examined by experts from the British Museum, a fragment thought to have been from a skull turned out to be a piece of Victorian coconut shell.
• "Shackles" found in rubble turned out to be "a rusty piece of metal", and there was no evidence to suggest it had been used for anything suspicious.
• There was no blood in the cellar, and the bath blood was said to have been found in had not been used since 1920.
• The "secret underground chambers" were just holes in the floor, "not dungeons or cellars".
• Most of the 170 pieces of bone found in the search came from animals. Three were human and two of these dated from between 1470-1670 and 1650-1950 respectively.
Mr Warcup said: "Our assessment is that the forensic recoveries do not indicate that there have been murders of children or other persons at Haut de la Garenne.
"Nor do we believe that the evidence indicates that bodies have been destroyed, buried or hidden at Haut de la Garenne.
"It's very unfortunate and I very much regret that information was put into the public domain by the States of Jersey police about certain finds at Haut de la Garenne, which was not strictly accurate."
This Is the first glimpse inside the former children's home where forensic experts are digging for human remains.
Detectives probing harrowing allegations of child abuse and torture at at Haut de la Garenne, Jersey, have discovered a secret trapdoor.
It is thought to lead to hidden dungeons where a child's skull and shackles have already been found.
On hands and knees, officers are painstakingly searching the first of three underground chambers where victims are said to have been drugged, flogged and raped.
Police chief Lenny Harper said: "We have uncovered a trapdoor - a space in the floorboards. Its size and location corresponds with what we've been told by victims.
"It is a homemade entrance in the floor above the cellar."
Meanwhile a politician who tried to expose the scale of the horror on Jersey’s east coast claimed authorities had covered it up for generations in case it wrecked the holiday island’s image..............
Ex-Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret told how he was SACKED after being shouted down for trying to raise the abuse scandal in the island’s parliament last year.