TELEVISION: CHRONICLE OF A WITCH HUNT

AN HBO MOVIE GRIPPINGLY, IF TOO ZEALOUSLY, RETRIES A NOTORIOUS SEX-ABUSE CASE OF THE '80S

Mass paranoia flourished in this country long before it dressed up in camouflage and stockpiled assault weapons. During the 1980s, hysteria lived in comfortable homes with jungle gyms out back and family vans parked in front. In a number of highly publicized cases-in places such as Maplewood, New Jersey; Edenton, North Carolina; Chicago; and Los Angeles-hordes of parents accused nursery-school and day-care-center workers of sexually abusing children. Spurred by public outrage, prosecutors charged staff members with horrific crimes, often based solely on the claims of youngsters whose tales ranged from gropings in the classroom to ritual satanic killings and rides aboard...

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