... I have also been a victim of Frank Fuster, not that he sexually abused me or even knew who i was, but he killed my father, Jack Isenbek in 1969. Yes, "the man" that was referred to in all of these articles had a name. And more than that he had a family. He had a wife, two small children and another one on the way.
If you are going to portray a man, the truth as you call it then say all of the truth.
It was very upsetting for me to read the articles about his past and see my father referred to as "The man he killed in NY in 1969" or Mr. Isenbek. But, what about the loss of that man to an entire family. You seem to leave that out, but look for the losses in his life.
When i read his statements and what he says now as compared to what the truth of the case was from 1969, it is plain to see he is mentally distributed. To me is seems that he remembers things the way he chooses to, not really the way they happened. His recollections have become what he wants them to be, not necessarily the truth. The same way he said in 1985 that my Dads death was a crime that didn't take place and that he did his time in jail. This is the same thing he is doing now, his recollections have turned into what he wants them to be.
If you really want the publics opinion on this, you need to show the other side, the victims and how our lives have been changed or affected because of this man. You are asking the public to judge a story that no one has heard the other side of. THE VICTIMS.
I have so much to say about this man, but what's the sense...
Maria Isenbek Myers
monroe, new york
I have lived through two accusations. Horrifying events. Both devastated me. Know my life is destroyed beyond repair. I lost my career. My money, and my daughter for a time. I still cry every day. I mourn the loss of innocence...of my naivete... I mourn the loss of my daughter... as our relationship will never be the incredible bond it once was... she fears me in ways I do not even understand...and I fear her... I fear all children... and I love kids... but I now avoid them... I watched as "experts" who had little if any common sense kept me away from my daughter...
Powerless. Powerless over inept and idiodic social workers. Powerless to see my daughter. Powerless to see any justice done. Powerless to recover damages as social workers have immunity. I no longer have any faith in Psychology, or psychiatry... as far as I am concerned the profession is littered with imbeciles... the social work field also. People who replace sentiment in the place of common sense.
And if this all seems sad or disturbing that I now harbor these feelings...what do you think they did to my daughter? My daughter was most certainly molested in my case...not by me...by a social worker, a therapist, and an ex wife. These are the greatest perverts in our society. HHS must be stopped before they destroy another ten thousand families.
Thank you Frontline for shedding light on the tip of the iceberg
It's very difficult to look at Frank Fuster's case and determine whether or not he is giulty. Ileana, early in the interview mentioned that when she planned on taking Noel to the park for the first time, Fuster met her, without Noel, and then proceeded to take her to his home and commit sexual acts with her, then 14. She married him out of obligation, and HE suggested that she take care of children. These points seem to set Fuster up for blame.
However, then we see the Bragas, manipulating innocent children into alleging heinous acts. There cannot be anything worse than manipulating a child into admitting sexual atrocities were committed against him or her. If the acts were not committed and merely figments of the Bragas' imaginations, the two social workers single-handedly filled innocent children's minds with horrible visions which they probably are still coping with to this day.
It is almost impossible, in retrospect, to determine the guilt of Fuster looking at the evidence on both sides. I can only hope that justice has been done.
Thank you for your very informational programs. I have moved to Florida just recently, but after seeing the two most recent FRONTLINE stories, the most recent about the child molestations, and the insane actions of the Florida judicial system, and the story about the serial rape cases and the man who ended up on death row and later dying in prison of cancer,(I don't think there has been much improvement either), and especially the most recent news story about the wrongfully convicted Jacksonville teenager convicted of murder, it almost makes me think I would now like to look for another warm weather state to live in.
I am especially concerned now, since Janet Reno is running for the office of Governor of this state.
ponte vedra beach, fla
The story of Frank and Ileana Fuster has long bothered me due to the callous disregard for justice as displayed by Janet Reno and the infamous "child advocates," Drs. Laurie and Joseph Braga.
Over the years, I have been in letter contact with Frank. This documentary really hit home to me because, in his last letter, Frank sent me a picture of his son, Noel, visiting him in prison.
Enclosed was a copy of a letter to his Dad from Noel. In it, he expressed sorrow for his role in his Dad's being convicted. He, a 5 year-old, was pressured and cajoled, over many, many hours of "play therapy"/interrogation, by the two arrogant, uncaring, and cruel Bragas, to eventually and inadvertently "disclose" something implicating his Dad. Noel's pain is palpable. He feels responsible even though he could not even understand the questions and pressure exerted upon him as a 5 year-old.
This is the legacy of the child sex abuse witchhunt run amok. A man in prison for life. His son in a prison of blame put upon him by a couple of charlatan child protectors, intent only on making a case for their boss, Janet Reno. A young woman tortured for over a year in solitary confinement and intimidated by Janet Reno to provide the false accusation needed to cement the case.
What is truly ironic is that this case, Country Walk, is touted in District Attorneys' Child Abuse Units as an example of a "corroborated child sex abuse conviction in a daycare setting."
Our society seems to casually accept the possibility of an innocent man remaining in jail, a morally corrupt prosecutor becoming the Attorney General of the United States, and the same prosecutor running for governor in Florida without any widespread outrage. It was an absolutely chilling Frontline made chillier by the lack of media follow up today.
Janet Reno's response that she didn't have time to consider the possibility of a false prosecution that she created speaks of a callousness and moral emptiness that would be frightening in a person met randomly on the street and is terrifying in a former Cabinet member.
Your program was most disturbing because it confirmed my feelings about the criminal "justice" system. I am a liberal and I have routinely voted Democrat but what I have recently learned about the justice system is that repressive and dictatorial attitudes are not restricted to right-wing, "Christian" Conservatives. I should have considered more carefully about Janet Reno, who did "not have time" to re-evaluate Mr. Funster's situation, because of her prosecutorial background. My experiences lead me to conclude that prosecutors (police, lawyers, and even judges) are people with out concern for others, only for winning a conviction, even though the accused may be innocent or in need of care rather than punishment. The repressive and excessively punitive aspects of the system are disgusting for a supposedly civilised society. Life sentences and unnecessarily long sentences in general are meted out by apparently unfeeling judges. All I can say is that I will not vote for Janet Reno because at last I see her lack of humanity and compassion shining through from your program; after the events at Waco why did it take so long for the penny to drop for me?
Your program only shows one case out of thousands that have occured throughtout the United States.
While Legislative Liaison for VOCAL NY I spoke to hundreds of parents and teachers who lost their children and jobs and freedom as a result of the "child-savers". Our group knew about Reno's reputation in Florida before she became Attorney General. No one would listen to us.
Frank Fuster's story strikes me as something of a non-issue. As I watched, I found myself wondering how this came to be a Frontline episode at all. Considering Fuster's prior convictions for killing a man and molesting a 9-year-old, the overwhelming number of child "witnesses", his own son's gonorrhea infection, and the inconsistency and opportunistic behavior displayed by Ileana in the course of recanting of her earlier testimony, it really seems no great surprise that Fuster's conviction has held.
To suggest that Fuster is unjustly in prison at the hands of Janet Reno is to oversimplify the case, and frankly strikes me as classic Reno-bashing at a time when the stakes are highest. I canít help but wonder if Ileana Fuster hasn't been manipulated by political interests in the Florida Governorís race. Now there's a Frontline story.
I congratulate Frontline on another excellent expose of the ritual abuse moral panic of the 1980's.
Over the last decade I've been examining this moral panic and I'm struck by all of the "little" cases that never received much more than local attention, but that repeated the errors of Country Walk, and that left the shattered lives of innocent day care providers, coerced and manipulated children, devastated parents, and deeply divided communities in their wake. Here are just a few examples: the Rogers Park Jewish Day Care case in Chicago in which the janitor was accused by children of boiling a baby in the basement furnace and forcing the children to eat the body; the Felix case in Carson City, Nevada where children had to be interviewed on nearly 100 separate occasions before they finally told the ritual abuse story their interrogators wanted to here; the Fran's Day Care case in Austin, Texas where Fran Keller and her husband Dan are still in prison for ritually abusing children in their care. Like Janet Reno in the Frontline documentary, too many of the people--from social workers, psychologists, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and professional organizations-- involved in these cases just "don't have the time" to review the cases or assess their own roles in them.
As we teeter on the edge of another sexual abuse crisis, this one involving the Catholic Church, it seems a particularly propitious time to take a long, hard look at the ALL of the day care cases of the 1980's, and to rectify all of the things that were done wrong.
Mary deYoung Ph.D.
grand rapids, mi
I really don't know what to say. At age 7, I was one of those children that was interrogated with those horrible anatomically correct dolls, was told stories until I started to believe they were true, cried my eyes out and knew that the only way to make them leave me alone was to say it happened. And then I was left alone. Left with the images of sex, coercion, and mutilation; left with fear, shame, and the knowledge that my thoughts were not my own, were not safe in my head and in fact, could be taken from me at any moment if they chose to hypnotize me.
I am now 25 years old and I have not escaped this prison for a single day of my life. My "case" along with others who attended my day care in Michigan went to court and was settled. I think that there are still a few employees of the Smallworld daycare center in prison today. I still do not know what to beleive, though I know that the abuse that I suffered at the hands of the licensed psychologists far outweighs any trauma from my time in daycare. Thank you, Frontline, for this piece. I am slowly, but surely, reclaiming my power.
new york, ny
I am a defense attorney in Los Angeles, and am quite aware of the questionable methods used by police and prosecutors used to obtain convictions "at any cost" in child molestation cases.
What I found most disturbing about the documentary was Janet Reno's role. As a card-carrying Democrat, I had a great deal of respect for Reno, particularly in her taking blame over the Waco incident. Now, I realize that her role in Waco was more reflective of her despotic attitude towards crime; she is willing to destroy as many lives as necessary to "get her man". Thank you, FRONTLINE, for exposing her as the evil prosecutor that she was, is, and will always be. She has lost my support, permanently.
los angeles, ca
I had a communcations teacher reiterate time and time again that 90% of all communication is non-verbal. This is probably one of the greatest things I learned from his class. Another thing learned was listening for what is NOT being said and choice of words.
It is evident through the body language and choice of words that Frank and Ileana did not commit these crimes.
Does Frank's eyes glaze over? Does his eyes or face twitch? Does Ileana make any uncomfortable moves stating what really happened after the fact, or did she do that during the original trial? Do either of them make "sour" word choices during their interviews? Do they state "there is no absolute evidence that supports them being the violators"? When Ileana was talking about what pressure she was under, does she flagrantly throw blame on Reno or does she state how scared she is of her? People that lie do so by starting extreme finger pointing at the other parties from the onset. Look closely at the nuances and you will understand.
There are rwo things which concern me over the Frontline program.
Firstly, while the wife would seem to be honest over the reasons as to why she came to give her evidence and these reasons could be true, why oh why leave her former husband in jail for all the time if she knew him to be innocent. She seems to be ingenuous at best and opportunistic and uncaring to a shocking degree at worst.
Possibly the treatment she received, which would be classified as torture by the Florida authorities, if true may have had a severe long term effect upon her.
Secondly, given the subsequent information that came to light on the methodology used to elicit information out of children and the very dubious actions of the prosecutions in these cases (and here I rely more on the actions of the prosecutors in the McMartin case in Los Angeles which was vindictive and eggegious), why has there been no action by the government to review ALL cases within the 1981-1986 time frame for probable bad practice. At least in Europe this has been done in other cases which have been tainted.
As a last point, if the statements made on Janet Reno conduct are true I find it hard to justify any of her actions in this matter even taking into account the hysteria of the time (I lived about 100 yards down the road from the McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach at that time).
This may well be another black eye for the U.S. justice system.
los angeles, ca
What troubles me about the Fusters is this: About Frank--his history. The man killed another person and he fondled a 9-year old. Clearly, he is capable of abusing children. I was in Mr. Fuster's presence once in the jail--I used to work there--and the man gave off seriously bad vibes. That doesn't mean he did everything they said, but it sure tells me instinctively that he made a person uncomfortable, and that would include a jury. The other matter that is disquieting is his habit of acquiring "child brides". This 34 year old man with a history of fondling a prepubescent child married a 16 year old.
About Ileana: I remember feeling really bad for her in the 80's. She was always dressed like a schoolgirl in the news footage, and she was so very young, and I thought, "He forced her into it." Now, the PBS show shows a gal who liked skimpy and tight outfits, so those schoolgirl dresses were "defense strategy" sham. She wanted to be in a nice big house in the US and married Fuster to get it. Now, she wants to be a US citizen, and it's not farfetched to think she's saying what she needs to say to get that. She needs to clear her name if she wants to stay. This is a self-serving woman. She marries a man to stay in US. She lies on the application to get back in the US. She takes money from Rev. Watson and Shirley Blando, then turns on them. I don't trust her as far as I could spit.
Reno and the prosecutors and the Bragas were likely too zealous. No one is blameless here, but perhaps Fuster was best off in prison where he couln't fondle more children, kill more people or take on more teen brides.
I am furious that Janet Reno "does not have the time" to look at the new material in this case. I can understand her initial concern about children, being an educator for the past 35 years; but for her, and for individuals in positions of power to not acknowledge the possibility of mistakes, is the most egregious reflective despotism I can imagine. I can only hope that the Frontline program, knowing how carefully these documentaries are put together, will being to change those 'empowered' individuals, such as Reno, to say, well, yes, I did make a mistake.