NAP TIME: The True Story of Sexual Abuse at a Suburban Day Care Center by Lisa Manshel

NAP TIME: The True Story of Sexual Abuse at a Suburban Day Care Center

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In her first book, Manshel focuses on the investigation and trial of a day-care center teacher convicted of sexual abuse of numerous very young children. Missing--and needed--are the insights of a Capote or a Mailer into the background and character of 23-year-old Mary Kelly Michaels, into the dark forces that--among even worse abominations--impelled her to insert knives into children's private parts. Despite this lack, however, and despite Manshel's penchant for peripheral details (e.g., the disruptive high jinks of a disturbed alternate juror), this is a competent, often gripping, work of reportage. The investigation began with a single report to New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services that a teacher at Maplewood's Wee Care Nursery may have, against regulations, used an anal thermometer on a young boy. It eventually turned up the likely abuse of 51 children, primarily during nap periods. Despite precautions on the part of investigators, the children were traumatized all over again by their reluctant revelations: Kelly had reportedly said she would kill them or their parents if they talked. Manshel's rendition of the televised courtroom testimony of 20 of the squirming children as they reluctantly repeated--or refused to repeat--what they had told the investigators graphically demonstrates the difficulties and dangers of subjecting suggestible and inarticulate children to standard courtroom procedure. A cautionary real-life horror tale, told well enough to make the blood run cold. (For another account of the case, by a mother of one of the involved children, see Crowley's Not My Child, reviewed above.)

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow