Crime in 1984

Published: 1984
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Attorney General John Van de Kamp: "We've unearthed an epidemic of violence."

Barbara Campbell: That's how California State Attorney General John Van de Kamp describes the explosion of reported child-abuse cases, particularly sexual abuse, that marked 1984.

Ann Cohn, Director of the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, says it all started in January with the showing of a TV movie about abuse called "Something about Amelia". She says her organization got 3,000 letters that month from people who had been abused as long as 50 years before, but had never told anyone about the experience.

Those people were victimized, like Jeannine and her brothers and sisters. She testified about it before a Senate Committee …

Jeannine: "There were four girls and four boys. My two oldest sisters had been sexually abused; the rest of us were only physically abused, to my knowledge."

Barbara Campbell: Experts say 1984's avalanche of publicity about the nightmare of child sexual abuse educated people, who mistakenly thought abuse was not widespread and was practiced by strangers, not trusted friends and relatives.

Child therapist Kay McFarland hopes parents will overcome their reluctance to tell children about sex and sexual abuse …

Kay McFarland: "Our own fear of talking to kids about sex is, we -- we're afraid that they'll lose their innocence. What we don't realize is that they're so vulnerable to losing it from someone who will prey on their ignorance."

Barbara Campbell: Authorities hope the publicity about child sexual abuse will cause parents to take stricter measures to protect their children.

This is Barbara Campbell.

Bob Futz: The scenario was frighteningly familiar: a deranged man with a weapon shooting at random; but the location, a McDonald's restaurant in the suburbs, added a nightmarish quality, and the toll was devastating: 21 killed, 19 wounded.

The McDonald's massacre took place July 18th in San Ysidro, the border town near San Diego. James Huberty, who just the day before had tried to get an appointment at a mental-health clinic, left his wife saying he was going hunting for humans, and that's what he did. Walking into a McDonald's restaurant with a pistol, semi-automatic rifle and shotgun, he started killing men, women and children.

Ricardo Mario's store was in the same shopping complex …


Ricardo Mario: "There were a lot of rounds of fire going off, and then we could see from the canal that's in back of our store a lot of people were jumping off and running in the opposite direction of the fire; and then just all these police sirens and, you know, all these noises started going around the store."

Bob Futz: Inside the McDonald's, Huberty was listening to a portable radio, moving around the restaurant shooting people. Those who survived cowered on the floor, pretending to be dead. For an hour and ten minutes, the nightmare went on. Police Chief Bill Kolender says his men waited so long to shoot and kill Huberty, because they didn't know what was happening inside and did not want to endanger those who were still captive by going in too soon …

Bill Kolender: "We don't shoot when there's a possibility of hostages. We didn't know what had happened inside the McDonald's."

Bob Futz: McDonald's created a fund for the victims. The restaurant was closed, torn down, the land given to the City to make a park.

Bob Futz reporting.