We've been through all of this kind of thing before. In the McMartin pre-school case during the 1980s, California government agencies acted on rumors that turned out to be absolutely false.
As Doug Linder wrote in 2003, the resulting McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial, which he called "the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history," created a seven-year, $15 million investigation that led to not a single conviction.
"More seriously, the McMartin case left in its wake hundreds of emotionally damaged children, as well as ruined careers for members of the McMartin staff," Linder recalled.
I'm not saying that the FLDS case is a replay of that notorious miscarriage of justice, but we surely must keep in mind the lessons it taught us about rushing to judgment and endangering the welfare of children before the real facts are known.
In the meantime, the Christian community needs to come forward and provide homes for the families and their children until all this can be sorted out.
Finally, as an afterthought we should be thankful that it is not Bill Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, running this operation against the FLDS Waco-style. If she were, by now the moms and their children would probably all be charred bodies in the smoking ruins of their compound.
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