COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter August 1996 Volume 3 No 7
Contents of this page:
Editorial: No, maybe, or yes? In the summing up in a New Plymouth rape trial on 2 July 1996, High Court judge Justice Morris said "If every man stopped the first time a woman said "no", the world would be a much less exciting place to live".
Update on the Sexual Abuse Counselling Course COSA has had concerns about the Mental Health Training Service "Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling" course, and wrote regarding this to the Hon Jennifer Shipley, Minister of Health. A reply has been received from the Associate Minister of Health, the Hon Katherine O’Reagan. She claimed that the issues raised "such as ‘satanic ritual abuse’ and ‘recovered memory’… make up a small % of what is a very comprehensive general course" which are "presented as issues for participants to consider, among a range of theories".
Courts: Canterbury man acquitted A 39 year old was found not guilty of raping his daughter when she was aged 13 years. The girl was admitted to psychiatric care last November.
Family destroyed by false allegations (Australia).
George Franklin freed After 6 years behind bars, the first man to be convicted in a repressed memory murder case was recently released. (USA).
Girl makes false kidnap allegation (Brazil).
Literature: How thinking goes wrong Michael Shermer.
Victim-orientated Law Reforms: advantages and pitfalls Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith.
Taking Sides Bettina Arndt.
$700 SRHA Payments to Sex-abuse Doctors Horrifies COSA The Southern Regional Health Authority has cut the funding of a Christchurch 24-hour medical service to victims of sexual abuse. The centre has been collecting a whopping $700 per consultation from the RHA, and understandably, the Police and CYPS may not be able to pay such a fee to have their clients undergo a medical examination. I find it remarkable that the RHA is still prepared to pay such a sum for any patient. DSAC spokesperson Linda Gray claims that the purpose of the clinic is not just about gathering forensic evidence or establishing whether abuse had happened, but more importantly "ensuring the patient was in good health and did not need more medical attention". This is a function which can be performed equally well in a GP’s surgery or at a hospital.
The Eros of parenthood (USA).
Features: Newsletters received by COSA
No, maybe, or yes?
In the summing up in a New Plymouth rape trial on 2 July 1996, High Court judge Justice Morris said "If every man stopped the first time a woman said "no", the world would be a much less exciting place to live".
The jury took 45 minutes to find the 21 year old accused process worker not guilty of rape and unlawful sexual connection.
The judge’s comment sparked an intense media reaction, mostly highly critical of the judge. The story was covered by major newspapers, radio networks, and television, with even the rape complainant tearfully expressing her outrage. The Wellington Women’s Lawyers Association described his comments as "disgraceful and offensive", Rape Crisis were harshly critical, the Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum condemned his colleague’s statement as "inappropriate" (NZ Herald, 5 Jun 1996). There were suggestions that Judge Morris should be sacked.
In establishing the context of his statement, Judge Morris told Sir Thomas that he had been explaining to the jury that a consent reluctantly given is still a consent.
There were a few champions of Judge Morris, particularly Mr Peter Williams, QC, who found the judge’s comments "refreshing". He felt that the comments were merely describing the "sexual wooings" of the younger generation,, and that this kind of behaviour was acceptable if done "with romance" and not violence, and when the woman eventually said "yes". Columnist Frank Haden also spoke out in Justice Morris’ support.
Judge Morris’ remark about women saying "no" was certainly ill-considered. However, it raises the issue that there is often miscommunication between men and women regarding consent to sexual intercourse. Clearly if a woman says "no", the man should stop, but sometimes the situation is not simple, and contradictory verbal and nonverbal messages are being given.
Society constantly tells women through media and advertising that they should maintain an appearance which is sexually attractive to men, but they are not supposed to engage in sexual activity outside of monogamous marriage. A woman who initiates sex might be called an "easy lay" or a "slut". Presented with opposing messages of sexual allurement and rejection, it is not surprising that many men are confused as to what constitutes consent. A woman may be feeling pressured into sex, whereas a man may interpret her holding back or lack of active initiation as modesty, and believe that she is really wanting sexual activity. In a survey of 610 American female college students, 39% said they had said no to sex when they meant yes, 69% said they had said no when they meant maybe, and nearly one third of sexually experienced women said they had engaged in token resistance on occasion.
Girls in our society are taught how to say "no" but not how to say to say "yes" – clear communication requires both.
Update on the Sexual Abuse Counselling Course
The June Editorial (COSA Jun 1996 3 (5): 1-2), discussed concerns about the Mental Health Training Service "Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling" course, and COSA’s complaint regarding this to the Hon Jennifer Shipley, Minister of Health.
Two months later, we have just received a reply from the Associate Minister of Health, the Hon Katherine O’Reagan.
She states that she has received information (presumably from the manager of the Mental Health Training Service, Dr Steve Miller) that the course is "professionally designed, delivered, accredited and monitored" She says that "sexual abuse is a very controversial issue and that there are a number of views and approaches to practice", with which I entirely agree. However the September 1995 course certainly did not provide a balanced over-view.
The material I examined presented only one perspective. As COSA members will be well aware, there is a huge body of literature, both scientific and clinical, which addresses issues of the malleability of memory, the effects of "memory recovery techniques" in inadvertently creating false memories and other relevant knowledge and concerns about sexual abuse counselling. None of this material was presented to the students, either in their written material or in the guest lecturer talks. My objection to the course was therefore not just the nature of the content presented, but more alarmingly, what was omitted from the teaching.
Ms O’Reagan claimed that the issues raised "such as ‘satanic ritual abuse’ and ‘recovered memory’… make up a small % of what is a very comprehensive general course" which are "presented as issues for participants to consider, among a range of theories". I cannot agree with this. The course ran for 12 days (1 day per week for 12 weeks). As well as the 2 presenters, there were 9 key speakers. One of these was specifically on satanic ritual abuse; another on Dissociation and Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and a third also covered MPD as well as other psychiatric diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The provided readings likewise presented one very polarised perspective, and most of these in fact dealt with the very issues about which I expressed concerns in my original complaint.
It was emphasised that this course has been approved by the NZ Qualifications Authority. I think that the fact that this course has been accepted by the NZQA serves to seriously undermine the credibility of that institution.
Ms O’Reagan also says that Dr Miller has "received only positive feedback from participants". I am not surprised by this. I was alerted to the course and its contents by a course participant (who was very anxious that his or her identity was kept confidential). This student had tried to express some very mild concerns about some of the course content and met with very strong disapproval from the course presenters. The student understood that someone who asked questions or challenged the course material may well be considered not be a suitable person to be a sexual abuse counsellor. This student is very concerned not to be labelled as part of the "backlash" and was afraid that his or her future career might be jeopardised if he or she spoke out openly or made any complaint about the course.
Dr Miller is quoted by the NZPA as saying "Dr Goodyear-Smith appeared to be a disgruntled person ventilating her personal agenda. We won’t be changing the course because of a complaint from one person who doesn’t have a global view. If several people raised concerns, then it would merit being looked at." In fact the original complaint came from the student who attended the course. There have now been at least 15 other people (both affected families and concerned professionals) who have raised similar concerns with him.
In response to my comment about the use of tax-payers’ money, Ms O’Reagan pointed out that about half of the course participants are private fee paying students, and that the Mental Health Training Service runs other courses as well, which I acknowledge. However I also understand that the Service gets about $300,000 in taxpayer funds a year (Paulette Crowley, Sunday News, 28 Jul 1996).
Following our complaints, Dr Miller has changed the name of the course to "Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling Theory – approaches to practice". He also says that the course has been reviewed and updated. However, as he did not acknowledge any significant existing deficiencies, I find it hard to accept that the problems I outlined will have been redressed. I would be very interested to review a copy of the current course material.
I believe that the course material taught to counsellors in the September 1995 course had the potential to result in their causing serious iatrogenic damage to their future clients. As about 200 people have completed this course since 1992, the numbers of clients they may have subsequently treated is significant (I am not suggesting that all clients treated by these counsellors will have suffered iatrogenesis).
Despite Dr Miller and Ms O’Reagan’s responses that there is no cause for concern, I maintain my stand that this course, and others like it, can result in terrible and avoidable harm to NZ families. COSA’s protest about this sort of training will therefore continue.
Canterbury man acquitted
A 39 year old Canterbury man was found not guilty in July by a District Court jury of raping his daughter last year, then aged 13 years. The girl was admitted to psychiatric care last November suffering from hearing voices, visual hallucinations, self-mutilation, and disordered eating behaviour. She had a history of disturbance, including stealing, stock-piling food, feelings of worthlessness and problems at school since she was aged 10.
After some in-patient care, she made allegations of sexual abuse by her father, initially claiming only touching but later alleging full rape on about 4 or 5 occasions. During her testimony in court, the girl showed considerable confusion and contradiction with regard to dates and details, especially with respect to the time and context the first rape was claimed to have occurred.
Her father completely denied the allegations, and the jury took 1 ½ hours to acquit him.
Young woman guilty of false rape claim
Rochelle Saville, an 18 year old unemployed Hamilton woman, has pleaded guilty to making a false statement of rape to the police on 29 June 1996. The police spent 70 hours investigating the complaint and when they spoke to the girl again on 3 July she admitted the story was not true.
She was remanded at large awaiting sentence.
(Waikato Times, 9 July 1996)
And another young woman guilty of false rape claim
20 year old unemployed Wellington woman Paula Williamson admitted that she had made a false claim of rape in July last year. She had gone to the police-station reporting that she had been raped. 12 officers were assigned to investigate and Williamson had a medical examination.
The investigation subsequently revealed that the allegation was false. Williamson had met the young man accused in a bar and had gone home with him. She had later become annoyed at advances he had made.
District Court Judge Craig Thompson ordered her to pay $455.27 (the cost of the medical examination and some of the police expenses).
(NZ Herald, 5 June 1996)
Man not guilty of indecency
An Ingelewood man was found not guilty of performing an indecent act in front of a young boy in a new Plymouth public toilet. The man went into the toilets to relieve himself and did not realise he had been followed into the paraplegic cubicle by a 6 year old boy until the boy’s father and grandfather began banging on the door and yelling.
The boy complained that he saw the man expose himself and move his hand in a way that might be considered consistent with masturbation, but is also consistent with urination.
Family destroyed by false allegations
In 1993 a NSW girl, then aged about 16 years, began seeing a psychologist for anorexia and sexual problems involving her boy-friend. After 30 therapy sessions she had recovered memories of having been subjected to chronic sexual abuse since the age of 5 by her grandmother, mother and father and made allegations to the police in April 1994. After interviews with welfare workers and the police her 11 and 13 year old sisters and 14 year old brother also made various charges of sexual abuse, which the son and youngest daughter later withdrew. Amongst other claims, the 13 year old claimed that her parents had performed an illegal abortion on her and her mother had extracted blood from her breast with a hypodermic needle, but later retracted these claims. The children were taken into care in Dec 1994. Two nieces also made allegations which were not corroborated by medical evidence.
In a 51 day pre-jury-trail committal hearing, the magistrate Mr Derek Price threw out nearly 70 charges of sexual abuse against the 74 year old grand-mother and the parents. He claimed the evidence lacked credibility and involved inconsistencies.
The family solicitor has demanded an inquiry into the handling of the case by police and social services, which he says has destroyed a once happy family.
(Janet Yeomans, The Australian, 22 June 1996)
Recovered memory proven wrong
In 1979 a young marine corporal, Cpl Kevin Green, went out to buy a cheese burger, and returned to find his pregnant wife Diana unconscious. She had suffered a severe beating and her baby was still-born. She could not remember what had happened and had permanent hearing loss in one ear and a speech impediment from her injuries. Green told the police that he had seen a man leaving their home in a van.
Some time later, Diana was reading a magazine when she recovered a memory of her husband having attacked her because she had refused to have sex with him. She went to the police. Kevin denied the accusation, but he was arrested and charged with attacking his wife and killing his stillborn daughter. A jury found him guilty and in 1980 he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. He also received a dishonourable discharge from the Marine Corps.
16 years later he was still in prison when a California crime lab updated its computer database with 1000s of DNA fingerprints from old files. The computer hit a match between Green’s case and Gerald Parker, a convicted rapist scheduled for release in about 2 weeks. New DNA tests lead to Parker being charged with the death of Green’s child as well as other unsolved rape and murder cases.
California Superior Court judge Robert Fitzgerald apologised to Green for wrongful conviction and ordered his immediate release. His ex-wife, now called Diana D’Aiello, was quoted as saying "Somebody else hurt me, here I’ve… 17 years.. believing it was Kevin. It’s just hard to handle".
George Franklin freed
After 6 years behind bars, the first man to be convicted in a repressed memory murder case was released. Franklin was convicted in 1990 on the testimony of his daughter Eileen that she had recovered the memory of him killing her 8 year old school friend Susan Nathan in 1969. He won an Appeal last year on the basis of important evidence being withheld from his first trial.
Franklin was scheduled for retrial in October but the prosecution case fell apart at a recent pre-trial hearing, including an admission from Eileen’s sister that Eileen had recovered the memories when she was undergoing hypnosis (which Eileen had denied).
(NZ Herald 4 Jul 1996)
Man finally wins custody after sexual abuse allegations
Edward Bielaska, a 33 year old man from Michigan, has been trying to get custody of his 2 daughters (now aged 8 and 7) since 1989 when their mother first accused him of sexually abusing the elder child (then aged 22 months).
Judge Daniel van Antwerp gave sole custody to the mother because of her claims that he had sexually abused them.
A Michigan Court of Appeals has now criticised the judge’s ruling which was made without any proof of abuse. The appeal judges also found fault with the social workers and therapists involved. It was recommended that full custody be awarded to the father.
Landmark decision: Court of Appeals rules against use of repressed memories as evidence
Seven judges of the Court of Appeals of Maryland have unanimously ruled that repressed memories are not acceptable as evidence in criminal and civil cases. The judges wrote that there is no definitive evidence of repression and they are "unconvinced that repression exists as a phenomenon separate and apart from the normal process of forgetting".
The decision involved allegations by two women, Jane Doe and Jane Roe, that when they were school girls between the years of 1967 and 1972 they were both subjected to repeated sexual, physical and psychological abuse by their school counsellor, Father A Joseph Maskell. Both plaintiffs claim to have repressed all memory of this abuse until beginning to "recover" memories in 1992. In 1994 they filed civil suits against Father Maskell and others responsible for their school including the Archdiocese and the Archbishop of Baltimore.
Because of a 3-year statute of limitations, someone who "forgot" and event and later "remembered" it would be time-barred from a legal course of action. It was therefore vital for the plaintiffs to convince the court that "repressing" a memory is different from just "forgetting" it.
(Court of Appeals of Maryland, Jane Doe et al. v A Joseph Maskell et al.; No 102 Sep Term 1995; Filed 29 Jul 1996)
Sons of convicted parents recant testimony
In April 1982, a weepy 6 year old, Brian Kniffen, was taken from his mother by US deputies. "Go with these people and do what they say", she said. "Then everything will be all right and we’ll be back home". Brian never did get back home.
In 1984 he testified in a Kern County court that his parents Brenda and Scott, and their friends Deborah and Alvin McCuan, had molested him in hotels, hung him from hooks in their homes and sodomised him repeatedly. Brian said that he believed the social workers and district attorneys when they promised he could go home if he said it had all happened.
On the testimony of Brian, his brother Brandon, and the McCuan’s 2 young daughters, the Kniffens and the McCuans were sentenced to 1,000 years imprisonment collectively. The boys were sent to foster homes – Brian had lived in 16 foster homes before he reached 13, when his grandparents finally gained custody of him after 7 years of fighting through the courts.
In 1993 both Brian and Brandon recanted their testimony. Brian had tried to do so earlier, when he was 15, but had been warned against it by a social worker. In July 1996, now aged 20 and 23, Brian and Brandon testified to Judge Jon Stebbe that none of the allegations had ever happened, but they had been coerced and badgered by social workers and district attorneys who would not take no for an answer.
Brian’s greatest wish is for his parents, whom he visits regularly in prison, to come home.
(Bakersfield Californian, 26 Jul 1996)
Girl makes false kidnap allegation
A 9 year old girl in Brazil started a manhunt by police when she faked her own kidnapping to avoid a science test. Pamela da Silva rang her aunt to say she had been kidnapped from the school toilets and was being held in a city 80 km away by 2 men who demanded $NZ58,945 ransom. She made at least 15 tearful calls home.
When the police found her in a shopping mall a few hours later, Pamela told them the kidnappers had released her because they realised her parents were not wealthy. She later admitted it was a hoax.
NZ Skeptic Winter 1996 Number 40
Includes an excellent article by Michael Shermer ‘How thinking goes wrong’ on the ways pseudscience works and why people believe it.
Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1996 8 (2)
Includes an article by Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith "Victim-orientated Law Reforms: advantages and pitfalls" addressing the NZ law changes in the past 10 years and how this are contributing to miscarriage of justice on occasion; also an interesting paper examining the difficulties encountered in researching sexual contact between adults and children ("Problems of research into adult/child sexual interaction", Bullough V & B).
Bettina Arndt, 1995, Australia Random House
Includes chapter ‘Sex crimes, dollar signs’ (pages 69-78) outlining the huge rise in NSW Victim Compensation payouts (now running at over $50 million per year) and putting the case that some of these are opportunistic or fraudulent.
Increasing support for review of Ellis case
Following an excellent comprehensive summary of the sequence of events in the Christchurch Create case which lead to the conviction of Peter Ellis on 13 counts of sexual abuse of crèche children (North & South Aug 1996: ‘Second thoughts on the Christchurch Civic Crèche Case: has justice failed Peter Ellis?’, by David McLoughlin, 55-69), there has been a renewed call for this case to be the subject of a public inquiry.
McLoughlin’s carefully researched article demonstrated that the available evidence cannot prove Ellis’ guilt "beyond reasonable doubt" and it is overwhelmingly apparent that a miscarriage of justice has occurred in this instance.
A number of people have spoken out in support of a review, and Dunedin Queen’s Counsel Judith Ablett-Kerr has decided to take on the case with a possible appeal to the Privy Council in mind. She is also considering referring the matter to the Governor-General under 406 of the Crimes Act. A petition to the Governor-General allows more flexibility such as consideration of new evidence, new reports or changes in professional attitudes, whereas the Privy Council case relates purely to the evidence given in the High Court and Appeal Court hearings
(NZ Herald, 27 Jul 1996; Christchurch Star, 31 Jul 1996).
CYPS being sued for $11.4 million
According to Social Welfare figures released by Labour welfare spokeswoman Annette King, the Children and Young Person’s Service has 30 legal claims against it totalling $11.4 million. Most of the claims are people suing the service because welfare agencies failed to detect abuse they claim they suffered during childhood, or are employees’ personal grievances.
(The Press Christchurch 3 Aug 1996 Page 3).
$700 SRHA Payments to Sex-abuse Doctors Horrifies COSA
The Southern Regional Health Authority has cut the funding of a Christchurch 24-hour medical service to victims of sexual abuse ("SRHA Cuts Horrify Sex-abuse Doctors", The Press, Christchurch, 3 Aug 1996, p5). They will still fund patients referred to the centre by GPs, Paediatricians and other agencies with the exception of the Police and Children and Young Person’s Service (who apparently make up about half of the referrals). The centre has been collecting a whopping $700 per consultation from the RHA, and understandably, the Police and CYPS may not be able to pay such a fee to have their clients undergo a medical examination. I find it remarkable that the RHA is still prepared to pay such a sum for any patient.
DSAC spokesperson Linda Gray claims that the purpose of the clinic is not just about gathering forensic evidence or establishing whether abuse had happened, but more importantly "ensuring the patient was in good health and did not need more medical attention". This is a function which can be performed equally well in a GP’s surgery or at a hospital (where this sort of medical service is provided throughout the rest of NZ). It would be hoped that no GP would be charging $700 per consultation.
No-one would argue that alleged sexual abuse victims should receive competent and compassionate professional medical attention. In these days of limited medical budgets, however, such extravagant use of taxpayers’ funds inevitably means that another equally worthy group of patients must be missing out.
Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service on Paedophilia
The Royal Commission is calling for written submissions (by 9 Aug 1996) from members of the public and interested organisations and government departments on issues relating to child sexual abuse management in NSW. Topics include:
- Appropriate police training, investigative techniques, resources and anti-corruption measures;
- Most effective way Police and other services (including Departments of community Services; Juvenile Justice; Public Prosecutions; Health; School Education and Corrective Services) can work together on CSA cases in a modern, fair and effective way;
- Establishing procedures or registers to vet child workers and others involved with young persons;
- Changes to the prosecution process including video-taping interviews with children and use of videos as evidence; cross examination of victims; jury or judge only trials; training of professionals /magistracy /judiciary in relation to CSA cases;
- Support, counselling and rehabilitation of victims and offenders;
- Review of relevant legislation involving appropriateness of present offences; age of consent; current evidentiary rules/principles; protection of information and privacy principles;
- initiations for public education and awareness to encourage reporting of CSA cases.
The Eros of parenthood
The New Yorker 19 Feb 1996. ‘The Eros of parenthood’, Noelle Oxenhandler, 47-9
Discusses how the current climate of suspicion about sexual abuse is leading to parents feeling troubled, ashamed or fearful when they experience sensual pleasure from physical (nonsexual) contact with their children.
Newsletters received by COSA
FMS Foundation Newsletters 5 (6) June 96 and 5 (7) Jul 96
These newsletters summarise a number of recent US legal decisions. The July issue includes an article on clinical cautions with the use of hypnosis.
COSA offers a service of sending copies of FMSF newsletter to members at a cost of $30 per year (including postage).
AFMA Newsletter 3 (2) June 1996
Local news from the Australian False Memory Association.
Canadian FMS Support Groups Newsletters May 1996 and June 1996
Local Canadian FMS issues. The June issue includes the recent Canadian Psychiatric Association statement on adult recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.
British False Memory Society Newsletter Jul 1996 4 (1)
Includes an excellent review of the writings of Alice Miller by Tania Hunter. Miller is often highly recommended in the fields of psychology, social policy and women’s studies, and one of her basic premises is that mental ill health is due to repressed memories of maternal abuse, buried under memories of a loving mother and happy childhood. Also included is an article by E M Thompson "Does the unconscious mind really exist?" and a reprint of Dr Goodyear-Smith’s review of the recent NATO conference (COSA Editorial, Jul 1996, 3 (6) ).
DSAC Newsletter 29 June 1996
Includes reports from a number of participants of the DSAC conference on "Rape: 10 years progress?" including the DSAC President Ros Gellatly, and Police Officers Dayle Candy and Wendy Miller-Burgering.
Credonews No 14 June 1996
Documents evidence of a continuing social revolution in NZ which is replacing traditional Western God-centred and family ethics with socialist-based state intervention into private lives, assisted by a burgeoning government-funded "helping industry".
Become part of the solution
- COSA’s strength lies in our membership numbers. Please encourage as many friends, family, professionals and acquaintances you know to become members of COSA. These need not only be people directly involved in false allegations – many of our members are those who are concerned about the occurrences of these injustices in our society.
- Please send newspaper clippings about false allegations, rape acquittals etc in your region, plus any other relevant material you come across. The COSA newsletter can only be as good as the material we receive.
- Write letters to newspapers, magazines; ring up talk-back radio whenever pertinent issues surface in the media – keep the issues alive in the public arena.
- Attend political meetings and ask questions relating to issues which contribute to false allegations occurring. For example, do the candidates:
- Support the recent legislative changes which favour a complainant?
- Believe there should be a public inquiry into the Peter Ellis and other such cases?
- Agree that the policy of ACC uncritically accepting payment for uncorroborated sexual allegations on the recommendation of a counsellor should be reviewed?
Please notify COSA if you know of any recent or coming workshops, seminars and other relevant events.
Bessell van der Kolk
Seminar on trauma memory sponsored by DSAC
12 Sep 1996 Auckland Medical School
13 Sep 1996 Wellington Medical School
Professor van der Kolk recently persuaded a US judge that memory repression and recovery is accepted as a valid theory by American professionals (although note in our current Court column, this decision has been over-ridden by the US Court of Appeals).
We have decided to set up a branch structure which will allow for us to open regional branches as demand and resources allow. This will make us able to provide more local services, and also attract funding which is only available on a regional basis. We hope to have the branch infra-structure organised by October this year.