Date: July 17, 2015
“Life couldn’t have been better for John Stoll. His carpentry business was booming. He’d finally stopped battling with his ex. And on weekends, he got to hang out with his five-year-old son, Jed. Just the guys. Doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Yes, life was good for John Stoll. Until June 13, 1984. That was the night he was arrested.
On that night, when he was roused from his bed and carted off to jail, John’s attitude bordered on the cavalier. “Aren’t you worried?” His lawyer wondered. “Hell no, I ain’t worried,” John answered. “I didn’t do this. You can’t convict me of something I didn’t do.” It was more than two decades before John Stoll was free again. The three counts of molestation John faced that first day were only the beginning. In a matter of weeks, he would be buried under 97 counts of some of the most insidious charges a person could face. All sexual. All crimes against children.
WITCH HUNT is a documentary about punishment without crime. It’s John Stoll’s story, and the story of hundreds of other men and women who found themselves ensnared in a spiral of fear, ignorance and hysteria – an eerie echo of the tragic events that unfolded in Salem, Massachusetts more than 300 years ago. WITCH HUNT (narrated by Sean Penn) tell John’s story, but the focus goes far beyond one man. The film also travels through the lives of other men, women and children whose worlds were suddenly shattered by events that can only be described as surreal. The film examines the unraveling of one town’s justice system. In Bakersfield, California in the mid 1980s, it didn’t take much to be charged, arrested and convicted for the heinous crime of child molestation. All of those involved have a tale to tell, but John has a distinction that makes his story particularly compelling. He spent more years behind bars than any of the others- twenty long years.”