San Jose Mercury News, JULY 24, 1988
THE PARENTS’ AGONY, THE ARMY’S COVER-UP, THE PROSECUTION’S FAILURE
Were children really being sexually abused at the Presidio?
The Army didn’t want to believe it.
The prosecution didn’t think they could make a jury believe it.
But the parents believe it.
ARMY OF THE NIGHT
By Linda Goldston
Even before Joyce Tobin arrived at the Day Care Center on Nov. 14, 1986, she suspected that something was wrong. Her neighbor Karen Thomas had just called to say that Joyce’s 3yearold son had begged to go home with her when she picked up her own youngster at the Child Development Center that morning. Joyce’s son had said he didn’t want to stay for day care after his preschool class ended.
When Thomas said she couldn’t take him with her, the Tobin boy turned to his preschool teacher and asked if he could stay with her. But she had no choice. Joyce Tobin was at the dentist across town and had arranged for her son to be taken from his preschool class at the CDC to hourly care until she could pick him up. Until the boy started preschool two months earlier, he had been left at center once or twice a month for two years. It was only the second time he had been left in hourly care since September both times while his mother had medical appointments
The preschool and hourly care programs were both run by the US. Army at the Presidio of San Francisco, a sprawling compound of turn of the century wood and brick buildings, headquarters of the Sixth Army, the place that motorists glimpse through the pines on their way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
On that day that changed her life and the lives of her family, Joyce Tobin arrived at the Presidio day care center at 2:30 p.m. Her son appeared to be napping with several other children, and the teacher, Gary Hambright, was sitting at a table in the room.
When Joyce asked how her son had been that day, Hambright said the boy had been upset and had not eaten his lunch. He called the child a “darling little boy” and suggested that she bring him to the day care center every other day so that the boy could “get used to him.” A lot of 3 and 4yearolds had trouble coming to his daycare room, Hambright told her. He suggested they were intimidated by the older children in the class
That night, while watching television with his older brother, the 3-year-old started playing with his penis, pulling it forward with both hands and letting go. “Mr. Gary do it,” he said and kept at it. His brother ran for their mother, who was talking to a neighbor in the front doorway. Trying to keep her voice calm, Joyce asked her son what he was talking about.
The child’s reply was terse and grim. “He touched my penis with his hand, and he bit my penis.” The boy made a chomping sound with his mouth. Asked if “Mr. Gary” had done anything else, the boy said, “He put a pencil in my hole in my bottom. He do that, he do that to me. He hurt me and I cry and I cry.”
Joyce Tobin was unsure what to think. “It seemed too impossible and horrible to be true,” she said later. “I also thought how awful it would be to accuse someone of this if it were not true.” She watched her young son bite his nails and turn his head away. He seemed nervous and upset.
When her husband, Capt. Mike Tobin, came home, the couple decided to observe their son over the weekend. They agreed they would not question him, but would wait to see if he said anything more. At bedtime, Joyce, who had trained as a nurse, examined the boy’s anus; it seemed a little red.
That night, the boy came to their bedroom crying. He said he was scared. He said he wanted to sleep with them…