Friday, April 6, 2018

The Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers

A new display in the Riddick Room case features material from the library's most recent archival acquisition, the Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers. The collection concerns seven people who were falsely accused of sexually abusing dozens of children at a daycare in Edenton, North Carolina in the late 1980s. The case is one example of the preoccupation with perceived abuse taking place at daycares and preschools in the 1980s and 1990s. Often, these cases also involved allegations of Satanism or devil worship. Like the Little Rascals case, most of these daycare abuse accusations turned out to be false.

Riddick Room display of Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers;
curated by Lee Cloninger & Cas Laskowski
The Little Rascals Daycare material primarily concerns State v. Kelly, the trial of Robert "Bob" Kelly, the husband of the daycare's manager, Betsy Kelly. Both were members of the "Edenton Seven." Only two of the seven ever went to trial. Although both were convicted, the convictions were later overturned. For more detail about the collection, refer to the finding aid. Potential researchers should be advised to contact the Law Library in advance of their visit to make sure the collection is on-site.

"Exonerate Edenton Seven" t-shirt from Little Rascals collection and display. Donated by Lew Powell.
"Exonerate Edenton 7" t-shirt, donated by Lew Powell.

The Little Rascals archival material was generously donated by retired Charlotte Observer journalist and author, Lew Powell. Powell has worked to keep the Little Rascals Case in the public eye as a cautionary tale, maintaining a website and blog. The site includes video from a PBS Frontline documentary broadcast series about the case, Innocence Lost.

Donor Lew Powell has also published three books about North Carolina history and trivia, including Carolina Follies: A Nose-Tweaking Look at Life in Our Two Great and Goofy States, which can be viewed in the Rubenstein Library. Powell also amassed a large collection of North Carolina souvenirs and memorabilia; in 2007, he donated that collection to the North Carolina Collection at UNC’s Wilson Library.

For more information about the Little Rascals display and collection, or for additional resources on wrongful convictions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

--Lee Cloninger, Digital and Archival Initiatives Associate