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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Riviting!
Witch Hunt should be required reading for all Attorney Generals, Prosecutors, Police Officers, Child Protective Services and anyone affiliated with CPS. The events related in this documentary are eerily similar to what the legal community perpetrated on my husband who was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of the same type of crime. He is currently serving a 20 year...
Published on April 19, 2009 by C. Molen

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing
Can't quite understand why all the kids didn't recant their earlier testimony. Shame to throw blame on law enforcement when their intent is to protect inspite of ill-trained underlings. The interviewers had every opportunity to correct such mistakes.
Published 21 days ago by George


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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Riviting!, April 19, 2009
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
Witch Hunt should be required reading for all Attorney Generals, Prosecutors, Police Officers, Child Protective Services and anyone affiliated with CPS. The events related in this documentary are eerily similar to what the legal community perpetrated on my husband who was falsely accused and wrongly convicted of the same type of crime. He is currently serving a 20 year sentence for a crime he did not conmmit..the same type of crime the men and women featured in Witch Hunt were charged with. I will be purchasing as many copies of Witch Hunt as I can afford to send the Deputy Attorney General who prosecuted my husband with no evidence, the police officer who "lost" evidence, the hospital case worker who did not follow protocol in interviewing the very confused child, the nurse who falsified her report and withheld evidence, the jurors who convicted on emotion and ignorance and the judge who made erroneous rulings in an effort to remain politically correct. I will use Witch Hunt in an effort to educate... in an effort to prevent such miscarriages of justice that befell the persons in this documentary, in an effort to bring attention to the plight of my husband and hundreds of others who are still behind prison walls waiting for someone to listen, to care and to help.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "SOME CONVICTIONS ARE CRIMINAL", September 7, 2012
By 
Matthew G. Sherwin (last seen screaming at Amazon customer service) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
Witch Hunt is a disturbing yet well done documentary about a dramatic surge in child molestation cases in Bakersfield, Kern County, California. The accusations and court hearings began in the early 1980s after Ed Jagels, a new tough on crime DA was elected. It's amazing; the story is just so stunning because it was so obvious that there couldn't have suddenly been huge numbers of people all abusing their own children and their neighbors' children. The film moves along at a very good pace, telling the story with compelling interviews with the children, now adults, who testified against their own parents and neighbors as well as interviews with some of the men and women falsely accused of child molestation. The cinematography works well; and the narration by Sean Penn is terrific.

Because of inept, poorly trained social workers and law enforcement, children were harassed, coerced and downright bullied into changing honest stories that nothing happened to fabricated tales the officials and counselors wanted them to say--that they were molested and even routinely molested! Fine upstanding citizens who had never had any trouble with the law were arrested, thrown into jail and had to await what became sometimes seemingly endless court hearings and trials until, of course, they were found guilty and usually sentenced to literally hundreds of years behind bars. Children of these good people were put into foster homes and paid a huge price in that they rarely if ever saw their parents. As you can imagine, practically all of the children have guilt issues to this day.

There is more to the story that just this; and I'm not going to write much more to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that we see how quite a few of these tragic stories played out and that is essentially the focus of the remainder of the film.

Look for insightful though painful interviews with a few of the adults unfairly imprisoned; just four of them are Jeffrey Modahl, John Stoll, Brenda Kniffen and Scott Kniffen. John Van de Kamp, a former California Attorney General, weighs in with his thoughts on the matter and legal issues involved; and Kathleen Ridolfi of The Northern California Innocence Project is very well spoken indeed. There is even more fascinating interview time with Carla Modahl, now a young adult, who was essentially forced to testify against her own father Jeffrey all those years ago.

The DVD comes with a few extras and they're all quite good. I particularly liked the extra interview with John Stoll; the "Q & A" session from The Toronto Film Festival and the update from The Northern California Innocence Project.

Witch Hunt is a must for anyone even remotely involved with law enforcement so that unjust convictions can stop; people who like crime documentaries with social and cultural themes will not be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and informative, November 16, 2011
By 
Michael Adams (Goose Creek, SC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
After watching "Just Ask My Children", I became interested in the subject of how sex crimes are handled today and wanted to learn more. This documentary did not disappoint. It goes into great detail about the actual events, showing the timelines and interviewing the actual participants. As with "Just Ask My Children", there are no graphic images, and very few graphic descriptions in this film. Maybe this would be asking too much, but I really wish it had included interviews with the jurors who had the ultimate power to convict or acquit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Legal System Runs Amok, May 12, 2012
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
Kern County, California. Bakersfield, to be exact. A town in the middle of factory farms and oil wells. Sean Penn narrates the story of a group of people who were accused of molesting their own children through the overzealous efforts of the local authorities, a judge who had made up his mind before the trial ever began, and children who were bullied into lying. The heroes of the story are the people of the Northern California Innocence Project. The victims were the parents who spent from 6 to 20 years in prison and their children, suffering from guilt feelings for having told the lies the social workers told them to say, from having to live without their parents in a variety of foster care situations because they went along with the bullies.

The basic technique was to ask the kid a question, and just keep at them until you got the answer you wanted. As the kids grew up, they were horrified to realize the consequences of their having gone along with it.

The final irony is that the officials responsible for this miscarriage of justice have gone along in their political careers and have never been charged with anything.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true, December 19, 2009
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
The more some people will get paid to unearth imaginary crimes, the more other people will be persecuted. Especially as the guilty party (i.e.the prosecuters) never receive punishment.
This excellent film should be shown in schools all around the world though, apparently, it is hardly distributed anywhere outside a very narrow circle. Nobody ever gets a chance to watch it, here in Europe...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars when hysteria overrules the truth, September 22, 2013
By 
albarino (Left Coast, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
I saw this documentary on my PBS station in Sept, 2013.

As the film unfolded, I dropped everything I was doing and was horrified by the momentum that was built against the multiple - and innocent - defendants based first upon hearsay and then the manipulation of young children by the Kern County (CA) DA's office in the 1980s.

As they say, context is everything. Kern County, at the bottom of the Central Valley, is a very conservative region with a white populace that feels "under siege" by a growing Latino population. It predictably votes for right wing Republicans. It is an area where the power base is relatively under educated, prone to authoritarianism and fearful. This was the backdrop for the wrongful, ultimately baseless prosecution of numerous individuals based upon coaxed and manipulated accounts from young children - "victims" - of wildly imagined sexual orgies, supposed sexual exploitation and abuses involving these young children. The societal premise was the assumption that "children don't lie." So children are immune from the human condition?? In "Witch Hunt," however, we learn that children, when pressured by adults in authority, can be urged to tell these adults what they want to hear.

One of the most disgraceful characters in "Witch Hunt" is Ed Jagels, an uber law-und-ordnung right wing prosecutor who, upon his election as Kern Co. DA in the 1980s, wreaked havoc in California's criminal justice system in the age of Reagan. Relying on suggestive and unreliable police and social worker interrogations of children, Jagels' office put 26 people behind bars on felony child sex abuse charges in the 1980s and `90s. Of those 26 convictions, 25 have since been overturned. Further, California had to pay more than $10 million dollars in damages for Jagels' judicial fanaticism. He left office in 2010 - disgraced.

"Witch Hunt" is one of the most powerful documentaries about the miscarriage of justice, both in California and the US. Most outrageous of all, the Kern Co. DA, Jagels, was still in office at the time this film was made - re-elected 7 times. He denied co-operation in this film and decided not to stand for election after its release.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witch Hunt DVD Witch Hunt DVD, February 19, 2013
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This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
Witch Hunt DVD
It's sad but true false allegations really do happen.
the most famous case is the Michael Jackson false allegations and both cases were about the Money
think about it if your child were molested, would you take the money and run and refuse to testify 2 times?
And threaten to sue if they made him testify?
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cautionary Tale, July 16, 2010
By 
Karen Shaub "Nickname: Queen B" (the inner reaches of the outer limits) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Witch Hunt DVD (DVD)
The title WITCH HUNT is somewhat misleading for this documentary since it conjures up images of the infamous McMartin case involving a Day Care center where the owners and workers were accused not only of molestation but also of satanic rituals and human and animal sacrfices. Although such things are mentioned in passing in this film they have no relevance to any of the cases represented and if you're looking for coverage of that you'd best look elsewhere. The film does offer up a truly terrifying example of what can happen when the public panics and allows the police and the judical system to run roughshod over the individuals rights to a fair trial in the name of protecting innocent children.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, June 23, 2014
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This review is from: Witch Hunt (Amazon Instant Video)
Can't quite understand why all the kids didn't recant their earlier testimony. Shame to throw blame on law enforcement when their intent is to protect inspite of ill-trained underlings. The interviewers had every opportunity to correct such mistakes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As A Native Bakersfieldian Approves, April 27, 2014
This review is from: Witch Hunt (Amazon Instant Video)
As a native Bakersfieldian, I approve. I've lived in this town all my life and this movie captures what remains to be a problem in this town - a cowboy police department and a District Attorney who doesn't care about the facts, only the conviction rates. I loved this movie when it first aired, and I still love it today. I recommend this to viewers of all races, nationalities and principalities. If it happened to us, it can happen to you.
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