There is much evidence of false memories being persuaded into people being put on trial for a crime that they have not committed. This evidence has been greatly discussed by Elizabeth Loftus who wrote an article entitled "The Memory of Things Unseen." For further information, I am going to provide you with a link to her article. (https://webfiles.uci.edu:443/eloftus/LoftusCurDir04.pdf)
One of these cases includes the McMartin Preshool Abuse Trial, which was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. Ray Buckey was one of the principal defendants, having spent five years in jail awaiting the trial of a crime he never committed. The case that led to no convictions and the sufferers included hundreds of emotionally damaged children, ruined careers of the McMartin staff, and Buckey, who paid the biggest price.
The accusation started off with a boy claiming to have been sexually abused by Ray Buckey and whose mother filed a police report. But instead of handling it in the right manner, in my opinion, the police and other people considering the case handled it in the wrong manner.
First of all the police sent out a letter informing 200 McMartin Preschool parents of these accusations and asking for information. In this letter they listed many forms of sexually assault that could have been performed on their children. This letter should not have been sent out without the conviction of Ray Buckey at a trial for it can lead parents on.
Then, the children were sent to the Children's Institute International (CII) to be interviewed. These interviews were not done in the right manner either, for the children were given suggestive techniques to persuade them into giving the CII the "right" answer although their initial response to their questioning of having been sexually abused was "no."
Another portion of the case handled wrong included the medical examinations, in which the examiner didn't look for physical evidence but instead looked into the medical history of the children and found causation where no correlation existed. And on top of that, the preliminary hearing was not handled correctly. Instead of conducting a typical preliminary hearing, the court held one that mounted on an affirmative case and with aggressively cross-examining the witnesses.
Not only was the cased handled in an unfair manner, but there was much evidence that contradicted this extraordinary claim. This included the fact that the original boy was unable to identify Ray from photos and showed no sign of sexual abuse after medical examinations. But the searches of both the preschool and homes of the defendants showed no evidence that could potentially lead to conviction. Also there were no findings of secret tunnels, animal bones, or photographs of nude children. Lastly, there were many inconsistencies and contradictions among the children's stories.
Overall, the trial proved to be an expensive waste of time. But it taught people a valuable lesson regarding false memories and suggestive memory techniques. McMartin juror Brenda Williams said that the trial experience taught her to be more cautious: "I now realize how easily something can be said and misinterpreted and blown out of proportion."