You know the tragic thing about bringing a child
abuse case to court like this is that the victim -- the
child has to come up here and tell in his own words, the
child's words, these kinds of scary things. And then the rest of the trial, the whole rest of the time, the
defense tries to show that they're making it up for whatever reason.
Do you really believe that in this case that Mr. Bob did not do these things? You've seen 12 children; you've
seen a pattern. And we're going to go through that, maybe you've forgotten. I know I had when I started
going back through a lot of these things. Forgotten a lot of things that begin to become clear, emerge as a
pattern with all 12 of them. At first with all of them
there were little hints of disclosure: "Mr. Bob made me
keep a secret. I had a secret with Mr. Bob. I went in
Mr. Bob's truck." Little hints. Then these hints turned
into active disclosures where they told their mother or
their father what happened to them. And then as they
began to feel safe and see that Mr. Bob wasn't going to
kill their mommy, or kill their daddy, or kill their cat,
or their dog, or their grandma, or their granddaddy or
all the various people that he said he would kill if they
told and they began to feel safe and saw these things weren't going to happen, then they began to tell more.
And it makes sense. They were not going to say when
momma asked them, "What happened to you at day care?"
"Well, Mr. Bob put his finger in me and put his private
in me." I mean they were just not going to do that. And
why is that in this case? Because of the fear. They
lived in fear. These kids lived in fear for a long time.
They were utterly, totally powerless in their minds to
stop it. And that's what you've got to think about.
It's hard for me and y'all to stand up here and
think about the way a three or four or five-year-old
would think. It's hard. It's been a long time. I know
it has for me since I was that age. And it's hard to
remember how you would feel as a child. But I think all
of us here remember about being scared as a child. And
the kinds of things that scared you as a child. So they
felt they were utterly and totally powerless to stop this
So what did Doctor Mark Everson from the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill talk about in regard to
that? How easy it is to intimidate little children. How
easy it is to scare them. And he gave the example about
-- from a case that he was familiar with where a man was
charged with abusing children. And the man said, "Don't
tell or I'm going to kill your mommy and daddy." And
then he'll shoot off a gun. It becomes mighty real, I'd
argue to you, in a four-year old's mind, five-year old's
mind. Mighty real.
We have evidence in this case that Mr. Bob had a
gun. "Mr. Bob had knives. Mr. Bob scared me with a gun.
Mr. Bob got knives out." We'll hear more about that as I
take you through the evidence.
And you say -- maybe you'll say -- maybe you thought
this whole time, "why didn't they tell? My child would
have told me. I know my child would have told me. I
just know that they would." And that's one of the scary
things about child abuse. This kind of myth that has
been perpetrated in our society that it's not going to
happen to my family, because my child would tell me. And
the defense wants you to buy into that myth. And it is a
myth. And people in our society believe this and that it
can't happen in my family. And all of these parents
sitting out here behind you today, that's exactly what
they thought before it happened. It would have never --
they would have never thought this was going to happen in
their family, in their wildest dreams. That's what they
said. And then when it did start happening, when
behaviors started occurring that weren't making sense,
they still didn't think, ah, "child abuse."
Is that what the first thing you would think if your
child starts wetting the bed or being afraid of their
room, or being more aggressive, or having temper tantrums
like we're going to talk about? Is that the first thing
that's going to pop into your head? No. It's just like
these parents said, "I thought it was a phase. I talked
to Betsy Kelly about it. She told me it was normal."
And in that -- doesn't that make sense that that's the
person they would go to talk to. There's been a lot said
about, "Well, why don't you go talk to your doctor? Why
didn't you go to Mental Health? Why didn't you do
something if you've seen all these behaviors. Why didn't
you do something?
Well, I think that you have heard almost every
mother that got up here and testified did do something.
... If your child is
going to day-care, that's where they are spending most of
their time. So it makes sense if your mom is seeing
problems at home, she's going to go to the person that
spends the most time with the child besides herself and
say, "Are you seeing anything strange about my child?"
Or, "Are you seeing this at home? Are you seeing this at
day care?" No. Everything's -- she's fine. Five minutes after you walk out the door, she's fine. And how
convenient for Mrs. Kelly to be able to tell them that
and keep on abusing.
So it's not true, is it, if your child is going to
tell you or that it might not happen in your family? And
how do we know that these kids believed what Mr. Bob was
telling them about what was going to happen to them. How
do we know that? Because they didn't tell anybody. They
didn't tell when it was going on. And it went on for a
long time. So you probably thought as you sat there how
can this go on for so long in this little town of
Edenton, six thousand people. How could this happen?
How could this happen and go on for so long and not one
child say anything about it? Well, I just take you back
to the fear that he put in them. And he did it well.
And some children, and you've heard about some of
them, thought their parents knew about it. Oh, how
horrible that must be for a child to go into a daycare
and being molested to think that their parents knew about
it and condoned it. Because their parents had taken them
there, they must know...
And you ask, "Well, how did this go on for so long?"
We've got 12 families here, 12 children. The children
didn't tell. But what about all these behaviors that
people were seeing with their children? What about
people that went to the day care and the doors were
locked? Or what about people whose kids were coming home
where their clothes had been changed or their hair was
wet? We've heard numerous testimony about that from
various witnesses. But the thing is these parents
weren't comparing notes. They wouldn't have any reason
to be talking to Parent A, to Parent B. "Hey, I went to
the day care and the door was locked. Did that ever
happen to you?" Again, they just thought that something
-- an odd incident, and Betsy had some explanation that
they thought made sense. Because each family didn't know what the other one was experiencing. So when you put it
all together, you see the pattern.
And when children did start to tell, as you heard,
what the parents said is that it suddenly made sense.
After this long I've been trying to figure out what was
wrong with Lauren. I've been trying to figure out what's
wrong with Josh, and Adam, and Kyle, and all 12 of them.
I've been trying to figure this out, but I can't. I
didn't know. And then all of a sudden Kyle, Lauren or
any of the 12, says, "Mr. Bob put his finger in my butt.
Mr. Bob put his ding-dong in my hiney." And all the
horrible acts you've heard about and suddenly the
behaviors make sense. .....
Kids aren't miniature adults. They don't think the same way
we do. They think in concrete, literal terms. And we
can't measure their actions and reactions by adult
standards. We have to try to measure it from their point
of view. So it's important to look back in time in two
First, to the time the child testified. And second,
to the time that the child actually talked about what
happened to them. And that's what we're going to do.
And I think as we do that you're going to see a package
with every child. A pattern, if you will. How they
didn't tell at first; they told little pieces at first.
But they had some mighty strange and unusual behavior
that mom and dad hadn't seen before or their teacher
hadn't seen before. And then they began to tell. And
they told little bits and pieces. And then they began to
tell more. And when they felt safer they told more. And
then they had all these behaviors associated with child
sexual abuse that you've heard expert witness after
expert witness testify about and kinds of things you
might see when a child is under stress. And believe me,
child sexual abuse would be a stress, wouldn't it?
Especially the kind of abuse that they were suffering at the hands of Bob Kelly. So you see the pattern. The
disclosures. The behavior before they disclosed. The
behavior after they disclosed, and it makes sense.
Now, this is a subject that is very, very easy for
anybody to get emotional about. If a child is, in fact,
abused or harmed by any adult, that's something to get
emotional about. It's something to get upset about
particularly if you're the child's parent. There's no
question about that. I don't think there's any stronger
emotion than the emotion of a parent who wants to either
protect his child or a parent who believes that his child
has been harmed and wants to do something about that.
That's a proper emotion--is a fitting emotion. It has
its proper place. But that place is not in the
courtroom. Because your job as jurors is not to sit
there and say "Well, I feel sorry for the children. I
feel sorry that they had to come to the court. I feel
sorry that they had to go through the court process."
Your job is not to take a bumper sticker slogan
and believe the children and send a man to prison for the
rest of his life based on a slogan. Your job is to dig
through this mess and get to the truth, if you can. And
you're not going to do that by getting upset. You're not
going to do that by getting emotional. You're not going
to do that by taking pat little statements that behaviors
always mean this and this always means that. You've got
to look and see what has been proven and what has not
been proven in this case. Because when you come into
criminal court, it's not a situation where an accusation
alone is adequate. It's not enough to simply accuse
somebody of a crime. If that were the case, if you
believe the children were the law, then we don't need
juries, and we don't need courtrooms and we don't need
courthouses because all you need is an accusation. And
once it's made, you just pack them off to prison.
Now, y'all have listened to all the evidence in this
case and you know that it is not that simple. The
prosecution says to you at this point, "Look at what the
children are saying. Look at what they're saying now.
Look at what they said during the course of the therapy
process. Look at what's going on in the testimony in
this trial. Look at the way they behave when they come
to court," and that type of thing.
I said to you at the beginning of the trial that
what the children are saying now is not the real issue in
this case. The real issue is the evidence that was most
crucial during the course of this trial. the question
is, how did the children come to say the things they're
saying now? Are you really ready at this point to
believe, wholeheartedly, everything the children said,
because you've heard the stories just as well as I have.
They tell you to believe the children. Just look at what
they are saying and believe the children.
Do you believe the stories about, ah, from Beth
Bateman about a black man being upstairs skinning
hamsters at the day care? Do you just take that at face
value? Do you believe the story about a moose being shot
dead somewhere and hauled off on a truck or whatever? Do
you take it at face value? Do you believe the stories
about sharks and machines and scooped them up out of the
water and salt water ponds behind people's houses where
they kept sharks? And children were being hung by the
neck in a tree and yet living to testify about it?
Obviously, those are things that are simply not true.
But they are all coming out of this same process.
The thing that is of more concern, of greater
concern, when you look at the idea of -- let's look at
the children's statements or the allegations for the
statements where they say things that are taken as being
of a sexual nature or in fact are clearly statements of a
sexual nature. You got both kinds. You got some things
that you don't know for sure whether the child means
something sexual by it or it's simply an adult's
interpretation or an adult takes it in a sexual way. For
example, that might be, "to touch my bottom or she
touched my bottom." That could mean a lot of things now.
As an adult, if you got a sexual viewpoint on it and
you're thinking child abuse and thinking child sex, you
may think about it in a sexual way. The child may not
mean it that way. When you have a statement relating to
some type of oral sex or intercourse or something like
that, it's a very clear-cut statement from the child,
then I don't think there's any question that's what a
child is talking about. The question still is, where
does that come from? Because what you see is time after
time after time in this case is you're not getting those
things until this thing gets rolling, until this process
gets going. It's not a simple matter of saying let's
take something six months down the road and say this is
it. And if you've listened to the evidence, in each
case, time after time, the statements of really gross
allegations of all types of sexual acts and things are
occurring during the course of the investigative or
theraputic process, however you care to term it. So you
got to look at that entire process to get an idea of what
did or what didn't happen in the case.
Now, the prosecution says there's a pattern to this
case. And I think that is one of most troubling things
about the case, if there is a pattern to it. And they
say that basically every child is going to respond the
same to an event. You go through this course of action
where first there's a, ah -- as I understand the
pattern, the first thing is that some act of abuse occurs
and then you threaten the child at the same time so the
child won't tell anybody. In every child, that works.
Everyone of them. And not just the child who's involved
in the act of abuse but it works for every other child in
the day care because nobody ever tells anything. Out of
all of the kids going through there, nobody ever says a
So you have a very effective system of somehow, you
abuse the child, you threaten them, it's universally
effective with every child. Then the child will start to
demonstrate certain behaviors. And from those behaviors
you know something is going on with the child and it's
probably sexual abuse.
The next thing that's going to happen is that the
child is going to do one or two things when you ask about
it. Well, he's going to say it didn't happen. Now, if
they say it didn't happen, that's a sign that it did
happen. Because children will deny it because they've
been a threaten. On the other hand, if they say anything
happened at all, it's not going to be what really
happened. It's going to be a little bit because they're
going to make a partial disclosure. They're going to
test the waters a little bit. They're going to say,
"Well, I was spanked" or something like that, just to see
what your reaction is. And then you're going to put them
in therapy and in the course of the therapy process, the
child will begin to tell everything. And the story that
the child tells will become wilder and wilder and wilder,
and the behavior becomes worse and worse and worse, and
every child responds that way. And that's just not real
life. That's not the way people or children respond. ....
There is no doubt children who will be abused in
some way will exhibit some behavioral response to that.
They may wet the bed. They may have nightmares. But
there's also a tremendous number of children who have
exactly the same behaviors that's never had anything to
happen to them. Some children will be abused and the
type or manner of abuse may be such that they don't show
any particular reaction to it at all. You may get no
behavioral response from the child.
So you would not expect in a situation of mass abuse
where you have a gang of child molestors operating a day
care center, that every child is going to fit this nice,
neat little pattern where no body says anything. The
behaviors supposedly exist during this given period of
time that everybody sees the behavior but nobody knows
what to make of it. Nobody gets upset enough to ask
their family doctor about it. Nobody says anything about
it. There's no problem about it until after the case is
started. Then everybody starts looking back at that
point in time saying "Oh yeah, I remember now. This
child had a nightmare at that period of time." This
child did this. This child did that. And suddenly
everything, everything, right down to a child going up to
the street corner, running up to the street corner, is a
sign of sexual abuse. Every behavior a child has,
everything that they do is related to the idea that
they've been abused. Kids just don't work that way.
It's just not realistic.
Now, ordinarily what happens in a -- any case that
comes into criminal court is, some event happens outside
somewhere, either somebody makes an accusation against
somebody, whether it's true or not, or if the police
become aware that some crime has been committed, they go
and try to find out who did it. When that accusation is
made or that event occurs, the next thing that happens
is, there is an investigation by whatever agency is
responsible for that particular jurisdiction in terms of
conducting an investigation. At that stage of the
process, what the investigator is supposed to be
concerned about is simply gathering facts. It should not
be a process of going through and let's find facts that
will prove this or it will prove that. It should be a
process of simply finding all the facts that will give
you an answer to the question: "Was a crime committed?
And if so, who did it?"
Once that evidence is gathered, then the next step
in the process is for the prosecuting authorities to
either get a warrant from a magistrate to arrest somebody
or they can present their case to a grand jury. And
that's what was done, as you know, in these cases. Miss
Toppin appeared before the grand jury. As a result of
that Mr. Kelly and a number of others were indicted and
charged in connection with this case.
Now, the distinction between an investigation and a
prosecution should be a fairly clear cut one. An
investigation is designed to gather evidence, to gather
facts. A prosecution is designed to prove a particular
theory. It's designed to prove that this crime occurred
and that this particular person did it. So it's a
different focus at that point.
.... [O]rdinarily the
investigators just go out and gather up the facts. They
interview witnesses and see what they've got to say. If
there's physical evidence to be collected, fingerprints
or that type of thing, they collect that type of evidence
and make it all available, so if it's needed, it can be
taken to court.
We've got a very different situation in this case,
in terms of how the investigation was conducted. And
that had a significant impact on the type of evidence
that you heard in this case. The difference in this case
is that the parents of the children were brought into the
investigative process. They were in essence made
When you talk about going back and trying to unravel
this case and looking at the statements of the children
and what the children said, you haven't heard, from back
at the time that things were actually occurring, anything
directly from the children. Now, you've heard the
children on the witness stand. You've heard what the
parents say children said in the questioning process.
You heard what the investigator, Miss Toppin, said the
children said. There has been evidence, through the
parents, of what the children in part told the therapist,
not about how the therapist was dealing with the child or
what the therapist was doing with the child or how the
therapist was conducting the so-called "therapy". But
all of these statements are basically coming to you
secondhanded. There's no original material there.
Where do we get our material from? Our material, by
in large, comes from the diaries or journals that each
parent brought to the stand to testify from. When were
those created? Were they created by objective,
independent investigators who were out just to gather the
facts? In every instance, what you have is a record made
by somebody after they became convinced that abuse had
occurred at Little Rascals. So at that point in time,
they're not looking at making a record to say I want
something to take before a jury that would be objective,
that would be fair, that would be even handed, that would
treat Mr. Kelly and the State even. I've gathered the
facts objectively. What they're looking to create is
something that can get even with the man they believe
abused their child. Now, that's understandable. If I
believe somebody abused my child, I would feel the
exactly the same way and so would you. But then you
ought not to make me the investigator because I'm not
going to be fair about it. And it's going to be awful
tough for me, even if I want to be fair, when I go back
and sit down a month or two months or three months later
to try to reconstruct what happened, what was my child's
behavior like? What did my child say to them in this
conversation or that conversation?
Now, if what I have in my mind at the time I'm going
back and reconstructing those events is the idea that I
am absolutely convinced of whether I'm right or wrong,
but if I'm convinced that Mr. Kelly is a child molester,
am I going to sit down and do an objective, fair
recollection of that? Or am I going to -- is it going to
be slanted towards the idea of proving what I already
believe? And I think we all know the answer to that.
We're all human. It's going to be slanted towards the
idea supporting what we already believe. It's going to
be slanted toward the idea of our child.
So when we talk about the statements of children
that are coming from these records, they are not coming
from disinterested people. Not by any stretch of the
imagination. So when we go back to try to unravel what
happened, we're having to use materials and information
that was prepared by people. And it's the only thing
that exist, but it was prepared by people whose interest
was in seeing Mr. Kelly convicted.
Now, what information was objective information?
The tape recording. Anything that existed back at the
time this originally got started is gone. And it's gone
because it's been destroyed in many instances. Always
some sort of accident. But I'm going to tell you right
now, Edenton is just absolutely death on tape recorders.
I've never seen so many tapes get reused, taped over,
lost. ... All that stuff is gone. So it gives us a very difficult task
to try to get back to the beginning and unravel this case
and try to get some sense of where it started and what
happened that led to all of this. But I think that's the
task that you've got to perform. ....