UNPARDONABLE SINS by Robert M. McQueeney

UNPARDONABLE SINS

A Father's Fight for Justice
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 False accusations of child sexual abuse are made against a man by his wife, resulting in his prosecution. After five years of marriage, McQueeney's wife, Vicki, was complaining of boredom. One day she disappeared with the couple's three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. When she was located, she informed McQueeney that she wanted a divorce and custody. Several months later, upon her complaint and the testimony of a social worker at a local mental-health center, McQueeney was charged with sexual assault, for which he faced 40 years. His subsequent two-and-a-half-year ordeal is described here with the help of Vacon, who covered the story for The Hartford Courant. (Vacon died during the writing of the book, which was completed by his wife, Susan.) In McQueeney's trial, grippingly told, it was revealed that the ``therapist'' who said that McQueeney had sodomized his own son had no training in child psychology or sexual abuse, and that she had learned to diagnose ``on the job.'' The testimony of the boy, moreover, appeared to have been fabricated and coached by his mother. One expert witness--a child psychologist--stated that it was crucial in such cases to evaluate the parents (which was not done) because ``most false allegations of sexual abuse are made in the context of custodial disputes.'' Another testifying psychiatrist had written papers on child abuse stating that unsubstantiated reported cases outnumber documented ones--overzealous reporting and investigation having contributed to ``hysteria reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials.'' (In an afterword, the authors cite a 1988 study suggesting that of 328,000 reported cases, 285,000 were probably false accusations.) Although exonerated, McQueeney (and his parents) were nearly bankrupted, and he had no contact with his children for four years. An important and previously untold viewpoint, then, vividly rendered. (Film rights sold.)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-88282-068-0
Page count: 290pp
Publisher: New Horizon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1992