It was the spring of 1987 at San Diego State. The Dean of the Political Science Department had provided us a memo on University letterhead, verifying that we were who we said we were—two students conducting a thesis—but even he didn’t know what we were up to.

We were somewhat delusional to think we could uncover the truth behind the McMartin Preschool case—a criminal trial steadily becoming the longest, costliest in United States history. It was the epitome of naiveté, but we were too green to see it.

At the History Department, explaining to a professor why we were leaving school, he couldn’t grasp it—yet he spoke four fateful words that stayed with us: “Keep up the passion.”

Thirty years later, looking back, the professor’s wisdom was invaluable. He knew that history is indebted to the impassioned, to those who refuse to let their emotions be contained. When injustices occur, when good people are wrongly persecuted, history expects earnest third-parties to document them, a way for inequities to one day be reconciled.

Back in 1987, as we examined the McMartin case and the community of Manhattan Beach that gave it life, we noticed an absence of blunt journalism; that a false narrative had spun tragically out of control.

For whatever reason—we still can’t explain our precise rationale—we decided to become that earnest third-party. We moved to Los Angeles to follow the case.

While the phenomena was happening (and it was a phenomena), there was nothing anyone could do to slow it down. It was an entity in and of itself, the perfect storm of anger and mistrust, which would need to run its course before society could comprehend how something so mindless could have occurred.

Today, decades later, we can finally set the record straight, to examine the facts objectively—but only because, back in 1987, we made that life-changing choice. We chose to engage when conventional wisdom warned us to stand down, following our instincts in the face of cynicism.