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Nap Time: The True Story of Sexual Abuse at a Suburban Day Care Center Hardcover – December, 1989

1.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sexual abuses suffered during a seven-month period from 1984-1985 by 51 students at the Wee Care Day Nursery in Maplewood, N.J., led to a widely publicized trial and 1987 conviction of teacher Margaret Kelly Michaels. Basing her book on numerous interviews and daily attendance at the trail, first-time author Manshel recounts, often in excessive detail, the experiences of children, parents, school and child agency staffs, medical experts and legal officials. While she perceptively discusses the emotional court proceedings and the case's trauma for most concerned, Manshel wisely leaves long-range psychological prognoses to professionals. She points out, however, that the legal system gives children little credence as witnesses.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1985, the passing remarks of a small boy in a New Jersey suburb, who told of how his teacher took his temperature, led to a massive child abuse investigation which eventually involved 51 students at a day care center. The children told of bizarre sexual acts they were forced to perform on each other and on their teacher, Margaret Kelly Michaels, who was later convicted of 115 criminal charges. Manshel has adeptly covered the many facets of the case, from the pain suffered by the children and parents, to the problems investigators and prosecutors had in trying to piece together the story, to the drama of the trial, where the children testified via closed-circuit television. Some skeptics may question the possibly leading nature of some of the investigation; but all will be convinced that horrible things did indeed happen at the hands of Kelly Michaels. A troubling but well-written account that will remain with the reader long after the verdict is read. Highly recommended.
- Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (December 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688087639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688087630
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 1.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,749,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ms. Manshel better not call herself a journalist. Journalists do not take sides even if they sympathize with a victim. I know this because I am one.
It is painfully clear that Manshel wanted to paint Kelly Michaels as an overweight childish woman desperate for sexual gratification by any means possible. She describes Kelly as "pungent" and makes fat-phobic comments about tight clothes and a double chin. Since when does being fat make someone a child molester?
I don't know whether she did it or not. I do know her conviction was overturned as a result of the questioning of children.
Ms. Manshel further proves her bias by painting Kelly's lawyers as overzealous (which they were) but making the prosecutors look heroic (they were just as overzealous)
I also found it sickening how at least half of this way-too long book went into disgusting and graphic details about sexual activities with children. It makes the book pornographic.
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
First of all, the title of the book praising itself as a true story of sexual abuse at a day-care is untrue. The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that because of the ridiculious behavior of the people questioning children there is no way that it could ever be determined if allegations are accurate. Thus the conviction was overturned and Micheals has not been convicted to this day. To summarize Dr. Steven Ceci, professor of developmental studies at Cornell University, there is no doubt children in this case were abused...by the therapists who questioned them. Certianly Dr. Ceci carries much more credibility than the author of this... To gain an accurate report on how the allegations developed, read the Amicus breif submitted to the New Jersey Supreme Court by a group of concerned scientists available in the first volume of psychology, public policy, and the law.
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Format: Hardcover
Now that Christmas is upon us, this tome would make an ideal stocking-stuffer for that special someone. Only problem is, that stocking would have to be made of latex, black leather, or a similarly kinky material. Because this allegedly Upstanding Defense of Children and Condemnation of the Perverted Female is more than a little bent itself.
WHY is the bulk of the book devoted to lip-smackingly-graphic descriptions of sex acts between a grown woman and small boys? WHY are we subjected to page after page of scatological and copulatory details, when the author does not even provide notes, trial transcripts, police records, or documentation of any kind? Nothing dry or factual please; go straight for the midsection.
Actually, there's another problem. All the cutest twists to the story were left out of this book. Little touches like, er, the fact that the prosecution's star witness (a mother) had been arrested for child abuse herself--and that her implausible verbal "evidence" against Michaels got her off the hook? Oh yes, and there's the little matter of the court focusing for two days on a lesbian experience Michaels had in college. (Wasn't suburban homophobia a handy courtroom tool in the 80's? Sigh.) And the fact that the child witnesses constantly (and emotionlessly) contradicted their own stories when questioned.
And why was Ms. Michaels forced to defend her interest in theater and poetry at her trial?
More than anything, this book reminds me of the moralistic, drooling postcards from the 1920's of innocent minorities being lynched. I assume it elicited the desired sensations and Ms. Manshel can be proud of her back-alley-creeping, raincoat-wearing clientele.
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Format: Hardcover
While many still feel that some kind of abuse did take place at the Wee Care Day Care Center, the charges trumpeted by the prosecutors and Manshel herself were found to have been fabricated by overzealous (the most polite term) child-abuse investigators. The children were fed a script, and there was absolutely no evidence, physical or otherwise, to support Kelly Michaels's conviction. (It was later overturned, and the verdict declared one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice in American history.)
Manshel acknowledges the absence of evidence and the sheer physical impossibility of the children's stories. Yet she goes on with her fierce agenda, perhaps prompted by dreams of a best-seller or even baser motives. This is the saddest, most confusing aspect of the whole, sordid case: that a grown adult could ignore all evidence and common sense and continue to believe something so ghastly about another, apparently affable, young woman. Given the book's lack of documentation of any of its facts or "interviews," I will have to assume Manshel did not make them up and is merely unprofessional and naive. I hope so. Anyone who would so grotesquely libel a teacher in the name of protecting children is almost equivalent to a child molester.
Kelly Michaels was found not guilty. I don't think that this book should be sold, or read, again.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"...but all will be convinced that horrible things did indeed happen." Well, count me out, I've not been convinced...This book only succeeded in convincing me that the author was overly biased, against Michaels.

Nap Time, based on interviews with the prosecution team, doesn't discuss any hard evidence or forensic findings (probably because the case lacked any evidence, physical or otherwise) that solidified doubt into certainty for the prosecution team; it only relates emotions and (mis?)perceptions. For instance; Nap Time describes how an investigator, searching for some physical evidence to back up the wild accusations, finds peanut butter (allegedly used by Michaels in sexually explicit acts) in the day-care kitchen:

"She thought, `Oh God, it's really here, I found it!" Peg was surprised at herself for not having expected success, stunned, even after all she had heard, to be reminded (by the jar of peanut butter) that the sexual activity had actually happened...."

If a jar of peanut butter, found in a day care kitchen, is proof of sexual perversion --

There was no way for these children to demonstrate that he or she had not been abused. To the prosecution, "disclosure" meant the child had been abused, and refusal to disclose also meant the child had been abused but was threatened to remain silent.

Yet, again and again in Nap Time, Manshel records that after "disclosure," the children's behavior got worse, not better. Is this a sure sign that the children were abused for the seven months that Michael's worked at Wee Care?
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