On April 12, 2009 at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, do not miss "Witch Hunt" on MSNBC. The documentary, executive-produced and narrated by Sean Penn, tells how dozens of innocent people in Bakersfield, California were convicted of molesting their own children, on the basis of evidence that was at minimum thin, and in most instances, borrowed from the world of fantasy.
In 2005, Kimberly Sevcik wrote about the impact of these prosecutions on the victims for "Rolling Stone Magazine" --
The day Jeff Modahl's daughters were spirited away from their school in the back of a squad car, no one would tell him where they were taken. He spoke to plenty of people in Bakersfield, California, who knew: The sheriff. The district attorney. The Department of Children's Services. "Your girls are safe," one official after another assured him. "But we can't let you talk to them." Earlier in the week, Modahl, a soft-spoken thirty-year-old mechanic with the build of a heavyweight wrestler, had called Children's Services to report that he suspected the girls' baby sitter of touching them inappropriately. Officials told him that they were investigating his charge, but until they had finished questioning Carla, 10, and Teresa, 12, no one in the family would be allowed to speak to them.
The morning sun was still low and tentative when police knocked on Modahl's door two weeks later and arrested him. Panicked and confused, Modahl repeatedly asked the officers what he was being charged with, but they refused to tell him. He sat on the couch, his hands cuffed behind his back, as they ransacked the house, rummaging through drawers and closets, confiscating all of his family photographs.
"Witch Hunt" offers greater depth, and spares none of the authorities -- who, for the most part, are still in positions of power. Foremost among these is DA Ed Jagels, consistently rewarded for malfeasance by re-election to a post where he has struck repeated blows to truth and to justice.
If you can't watch "Witch Hunt" on Sunday evening, record it and watch it later.