From The Wall Street Journal
By Barbara D. Phillips
"In 1991, "Frontline" producer Ofra Bikel profiled Edenton, N.C., a small town torn
by allegations of child abuse at the Little Rascals day-care center; seven people
were eventually indicted. In 1993 she raised compelling questions about the evidence
and the fairness of the trials, which had resulted in 12 life sentences for owner Bob
Kelly and one life sentence for day-care worker Dawn Wilson. This latest installment
brings all the cases up-to-date. Most harrowing of all is the decision faced by Betsy
Kelly, Bob's wife-after years of protesting her obvious innocence should she go to
trial and risk meeting her husband's fate, or cop a plea and be quickly reunited with
her daughter? The dilemma, and the ramifications of her choice and those faced by the
others, are painful to watch and to contemplate."
From St. Louis Post Dispatch
By Gail Pennington
"Innocence Lost: The Plea is an outstanding look not only at the difficulties of
getting to the truth in accusations of child sexual abuse but also at the lingering,
divisive effects on both the accused and on their town. Sometimes sad, often
maddening, it's always fascinating."
From Atlanta Constitution
By Phil Kloer
"Franz Kafka would feel right at home in Edenton, N.C. The adjective "Kafkaesque"--inexplicable, nightmarish persecution--fits the town like a straitjacket.
For seven years, PBS' FRONTLINE and dogged producer Ofra Bikel have been chronicling byzantine allegations of massive child sexual abuse at the Little Rascals Day Care Center, and the resulting trials. The case has yielded two previous award-winning documentaries, in 1991 and 1993. There is now a third--"Innocence Lost: The Plea."
"...Bikel tells her story with a quiet dispassion that is unnerving; she lets the viewers supply their own outrage. She has devoted hundreds of hours to the story of Edenton, edited down to eight hours of FRONTLINE so far."
From USA Today
By Matt Roush
"Producer Ofra Bikel, who won an Emmy and two prestigious duPont-Columbia Silver Batons for her earlier Innocence Lost installments in 1991 and 1993, trains her meticulous and unwavering focus this time on the moral quandary of several defendants--including Kelly's wife, Betsy--who have been offered plea bargains."
....One who accepts a plea says it's 'not an admission of guilt, but an admission of fear.' Prosecutors would not talk to FRONTLINE about why the pleas were even being offered to such presumed monsters.
These are tragic figures in a bleak modern epic that FRONTLINE revisits to its credit and our unhappy edification. If you've followed this story, and especially if you haven't, you can't afford to miss this chapter."
From Boston Herald
By Monica Collins
"In her examinations of the Little Rascals case, Bikel has gone to the dark heart of that system. With Betsy Kelly's plea bargain, the filmmaker points up the folly of Kelly's act. For those Little Rascals defendants who did not make deals, there was eventual vindication . Last week, the final judgment came.
For her previous two FRONTLINE films about the Little Rascals case, Ofra Bikel has won numerous awards and distinction. In a hit-and-run TV news universe--where--there is rare follow-up to stories--she has persevered. Certainly, her trilogy of films about "Innocence Lost" in Edenton will endure as a remarkable document of modern times, trials and torments."
From Newark Star Ledger
By Jerry Krupnick
"FRONTLINE which has been there in Edenton from the beginning in 1989, brings the sordid, sensational, sad saga to its bitter end tonight with "Innocence Lost: The Plea," the third in a series of documentaries by journalist/producer Ofra Bikel. And like the others, this latest report goes into great depth about what brought about the hundreds of accusations that changed so many lives and tore apart what had been an idyllic small town community."
From The Washington Post
By Michael E. Hill
"While "The Plea" raises doubts about the validity of the prosecution in the first place-- doubts that are enhanced by the prosecuting attorneys' refusal to present their side in the documentary--this third installment is really about the criminal justice system in general. And it's about plea bargains in particular."
"An expert story-teller whose work has been honored with an Emmy and other awards, Bikel makes the viewer share the angst and anxiety of the defendants as they weigh their options and pay various prices for their choices. It is a wrenching two hours."
From The Chicago Tribune
By Steve Johnson
"This two hour follow-up finds that after seven years, two trials and millions of dollars in public costs, all defendants are free, at least for the moment, and the state's case is in disarray. Her peers have awarded Bikel prizes for the previous two installments; prosecutors contend they have tainted the prosecution and won't speak with Bikel. In a tale nearly as otherworldly as some of the child witnesses' fantastic tales of abuse, the filmmaker documents the series of ever more generous plea bargains offered to defendants, the overturning of two convictions, and the dropping of some charges. It is a fascinating tale of the continuing aftershocks from the national hysteria about child sexual abuse."
From The Oregonian
By Howard Rosenberg
"Ofra Bikel's three "Innocent Lost" documentaries about the troubling Little Rascals Day Care case--the last of which airs on tonight's FRONTLINE--are one long, throbbing, agonizing ache, a remarkable body of work that records an odyssey of anguish straddling a hellish eight years.
And it does nothing to inspire confidence in the legal system."
"In an age in which more and more emphasis is put on victim's rights, here is a case whose main victims, judging by Bikel's films, appear to be the accused. You can't help inferring that North Carolina authorities were the ones doing the abusing, ultimately advancing their case against seemingly innocent defendants in order to avoid losing face."
"...Bikel artfully chronicled the case in FRONTLINE programs that aired in 1991 and 1993, and her latest program is powerful a update that includes a dramatic new twist that just came about Friday."
From New York Daily News
By David Bianculli
"For 'Innocence Lost: The Plea' the latest installment of the PBS series FRONTLINE , producer Ofra Bikel returns to the same subject for the third time--and proves, once again, that her time has been well spent. This time, too, she's just in time."
"...The special timeliness of this latest FRONTLINE comes from a ruling handed down just Friday, in which North Carolina district attorneys dropped all standing charges of child abuse against Kelly and Dawn Wilson, the other defendant whose case had gone all the way to trial.
Amazingly, as a last-second FRONTLINE postscript will note, Kelly's story and ordeal are not yet over--but credit FRONTLINE , and Bikel, for being there every step of the way."
From The New York Times
By Walter Goodman
Ofra Bikel, the FRONTLINE producer who won several awards for her probing reports on the seven people arrested in 1990 on charges of abusing scores of children at the Little Rascals day-care center in Edenton, N.C. would probably agree that the case was tainted. But her programs indicated that the taint had come from vindictive or frightened parents, manipulative therapists, persecutive prosecutors and credulous jurors, ail possibly influenced by a national obsession with sex-abuse charges.
For viewers who missed those powerful programs, the equally revealing follow-up...begins with a summary. "
"...Last week, finally, the standing charges against Mr. Kelly and Ms. Wilson were dropped. However, that may mean that Ms. Lamb will now be permitted to prosecute Mr. Kelly on the additional charge. Mr. Kelly's lawyer says his client remains in 'grave danger' If it is less grave than it was seven years ago, credit FRONTLINE , Ms. Bikel and their important television series."