The story of several families who have their lives destroyed when their hometown is whipped into a frenzy by allegations of child molestation.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jack Cummings ...
Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Jackie Cummings ...
Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Allen Grafton ...
Himself - Accuser
Ed Jagels ...
Himself - Kern County District Attorney (archive footage)
Brenda Kniffen ...
Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Scott Kniffen ...
Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Carla Modahl ...
Herself - Daughter of Jeffrey Modahl
Jeffrey Modahl ...
Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Victor Monge ...
Himself - Accuser
...
Himself - Narrator
Marcella Pitts ...
Herself - Accused of Child Molestation
Rick Pitts ...
Himself - Accused of Child Molestation
Kathleen Ridolfi ...
Herself - Northern California Innocence Project (as Kathleen 'Cookie' Ridolfi)
Ed Sampley ...
Himself - Accuser
Linda Starr ...
Herself - Northern California Innocence Project
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Storyline

Executive Producer Sean Penn presents "Witch Hunt," a gripping indictment of the American justice system told through the lens of one small town. Voters in Bakersfield, California elected a tough on crime district attorney into office for more than 25 years. During his tenure he convicted dozens of innocent working class moms and dads. They went to prison, some for decades, before being exonerated. He remains in office today. This story on a micro level mirrors what the US has experienced over the last eight years. When power is allowed to exist without oversight civil rights are in jeopardy. Written by Dana Nachman

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Some convictions are criminal

Genres:

Documentary | Crime

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Details

Official Sites:

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Language:

Release Date:

2 November 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

An American Witch Hunt  »

Company Credits

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Runtime:

(original)

Sound Mix:

(Dolby 5.1)|

Color:

| (HDCAM)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
title cards: There are more than 2 million people in American prisons today. This film is dedicated to the thousands of them who are actually innocent.
Narrator: [narration] The images of your life, picture them, on your refrigerator, in albums, frames. They capture every stage, change, celebration. Without them, how much do you remember? How much do you rely on these photos to remind you of the journey you've taken in life. Now imagine them gone. This is the first photo John Stoll has of is life. The ...
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Powerful, But Leaves Questions
8 August 2009 | by (Salem, Massachusetts, United States) – See all my reviews

There isn't enough money in the world to pay back the men and women who were (and were not) featured in this film as the victims of false accusations and imprisonment.

That being said, I do wish the documentary had at least asked some obvious questions. The DA's motive for arrests and convictions was clearly enough stated; get convictions seeming to clear the county of "bad guys" thereby furthering political careers.

But who was doing the arresting? Who was handing down orders to do so? Who decided which people would get arrested and charged? Who was coming up with the elaborate details of these false charges? These questions leave a lot to wonder about. And in a film where you (or at least I) believe what is being put forth, which is the truth of the accused, you want there to be no stone unturned. You don't want there to be any question for the doubter that if the "right" people had been asked the "right" questions, we might have a different result.

Ask the damn questions. Get answers from the people who still may even profit from the long ago verdicts. And if you can't, say so. At least say something about having tried.

Make no mistake - I think this movie does a fantastic job on shedding light on a very dark side of humanity. And It left me wanting to give the most heartfelt hug to ALL the victims (both the charged and the then-children).

Still, other questions include; What of the neighbors and surrounding community? What about family? What about friends or former friends? Why weren't any of them interviewed? What did they think originally? What do they think now in lieu of the reversals of convictions? The first person approach is powerful and poignant. But those prone to the sort of hysteria which prompted this sort of thing to gain ground in the first place will ask, with sword in hand, "why?"


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