STOSSEL Who went with you to the hospital?
BOY My mom and my dad and my brother Colin, but not the baby. He was in my mom's tummy.
What he told me was even more remarkable because just a few days before, his father discussed the experiment with him, explained that it was just a test, and that the mousetrap event never happened. The boy agreed-it was just in his imagination.
But when he talked to me, the boy denied the conversation with his father, and insisted the mousetrap story was true.
STOSSEL Did your father tell you something about the mousetrap finger story?
STOSSEL Is it true? Did it really happen?
BOY It wasn't a story. It really happened.
STOSSEL This really happened? You really got your finger caught? This really happened?
Why would the boy lie to me? I said to Professor Ceci that I assumed he wasn't intentionally making up the story. Ceci said, "I think they've come to believe it. It is part of their belief system."
Some molestation "experts" thought they'd come closer to the truth by giving kids anatomically correct dolls. With dolls, the social workers wouldn't have to ask so many questions. They could just say, "Imagine you are the doll; what did the teacher touch?" Lawyers argued that kids "wouldn't make up" what had been done to the doll. But Ceci's colleague Dr. Maggie Bruck conducted tests that showed that they would.
Bruck had a pediatrician add some extra steps to his routine physical examination. He measured the child's wrists with a ribbon, he put a little label on the child's stomach, and he tickled the child's foot with a stick. Never did the doctor go anywhere near the child's private parts. Then, a few days after the exam, using an anatomically correct doll, Bruck and the child's father asked leading questions about the doctor's exam. We caught it on tape.
FATHER So what did he do?
GIRL He put a stick in my vagina.
FATHER He put a stick in your vagina?
[Then the girl claimed the doctor hammered the stick into her vagina. And she said the doctor examined her rectum.]
DR. BRUCk He was where?
GIRL In my hiney.
None of it was true. But when dolls were used, half the kids who'd never had their private parts touched claimed the doctor touched them. The tests made Dr. Bruck question her prior faith in the testimony of children. She told me she thinks dozens of innocent people are in jail.
Dr. Ceci told me their leading questions were mild compared to what the investigators asked: "What we do . . . doesn't come close, for example, to what was done in the Kelly Michaels case."
The appellate court decision that set Kelly Michaels free garnered just a smidgeon of the media attention her trial and conviction got. After she was freed, she told me about her nightmare.
MS. MICHAELS One day you're getting ready for work and making coffee, minding your business, trying to get along as best you can, being a reasonable, decent, honorable citizen, and the next minute you are an accused child molester with the most bizarre- I'd never even heard of such things even being done.
STOSSEL They say you inserted objects, including Lego blocks, forks, spoons, serrated knives into their anuses, vaginas, penises-
MS. MICHAELS And a sword. It was in there.
STOSSEL -and a sword-
MS. MICHAELS Yeah.