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Letters to Editors by Gordon Waugh 1996

To the Otago Daily Times, 22 January 1996

COUNSELLING CONFIDENTIALITY

The comments attributed to Toni Allwood of Rape Crisis, and others, (26 Dec 95) regarding the confidentiality of counselling notes and files in rape and sexual abuse cases, are cause for grave concern.

Penalties for rape and sexual abuse are severe. Genuine cases occur far too often, and no-one decries good and sound counselling for real victims. But in the current climate of sexual abuse hysteria, largely created and promoted by Rape Crisis and its fellow abuse counsellors, false allegations abound.

Accusations, in and of themselves, do not indicate or prove guilt. Accused men have a fundamental entitlement to employ every piece of evidence to help defend themselves. Counselling notes are part of such evidence. A first principle of our justice system is "if in doubt, acquit". For counsellors to seek confidentiality akin to that afforded doctors and priests is hubristic nonsense. If the complainant is telling the truth, no reason exists to hide counselling notes from the defence.

Of course confidentiality is "of paramount importance" to counsellors, as only in this way can they avoid opening their methods and belief-systems to public and scientific scrutiny.

G. Waugh, Auckland

The Sunday Star-Times, 21 February 1996

THE SEX ABUSE INDUSTRY

The First Hand Documentary "MEMORIES" (TV1 10.10pm 19 Feb) was a crisp and accurate demonstration of why the sex abuse counselling "profession" is unscientific, unethical, unsafe and ineffective. Its belief-systems are transparent in the clear light of science and reality.

The documentary had insufficient time to also show the extent of the problems created by counsellors, nor discuss the millions of dollars paid to thousands of clients and hundreds of counsellors, by ACC. A follow-up to expose these issues would be valuable.

To restore commonsense and balance to sex abuse issues, some of the positive actions which must now be taken are:

a. Re-enact the rule about corroborative evidence,

b. Introduce a statute of limitation on sex abuse cases,

c. Ensure counsellors are trained using only scientific material,

d. Amend the ACC scheme to preclude sex abuse claims which are

unsupported by valid evidence.

A public enquiry is needed to investigate the Sex Abuse Industry, rectify the many thousands of injustices, release those wrongly-convicted, compensate those wrongly convicted and falsely accused, recoup ACC compensation and counselling fees where valid corroboration of the alleged acts does not exist, and establish rules to prevent a re-occurrence of this type of social disaster.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Herald, 1 March 1996

GRAVE JEOPARDY

A.G. Harmsworth (March 1st) struck his nail accurately and well. Double jeopardy seems to be on the increase. An alarming High Court decision last month awarded half of a dead mans estate to a woman who claimed he had sexually abused her over 20 years ago. Her "memories" of the alleged abuse had been "enlarged as a result of counselling". Justice Morris upheld her claim for exemplary damages and ordered the man’s widow and family to pay her half of the value of the estate.

In a sworn affidavit, the man absolutely denied her allegations. There was no corroborative evidence. The Police decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him. He died in August 1994. The man had no way to defend himself from beyond the grave. In reaching his decision, Justice Morris effectively convicted and sentenced him without a trial. Those now punished are not the alleged offender.

A profoundly disturbing and unwelcome precedent has been set. No-one is safe from these rapacious tactics. The rule about corroborative evidence must be re-enacted and courts must admit only that evidence derived from scientific, ethical, safe and effective methods of counselling.

G. Waugh

This was sent to about 35 Newspapers around the country. At least four published it.

AN OPEN LETTER TO SEX ABUSE COUNSELLORS

As a father falsely accused of sexual abuse by daughters exposed to counselling, I have crossed the Rubicon to challenge you. Far too many genuine cases of sexual abuse occur, but my concern here is your involvement in the far-too-frequent false claims of sexual abuse. These are often based on "recovered" or "enhanced" memories, claimed to be decades old. False allegations are made by adult daughters against their parents, they are made in child custody cases, and by vindictive teenagers seeking revenge against adults. Many are made with money as a motive. Some are used to attempt extortion. Even death no longer protects people from your depredations. It is time for you to review the foundations of your work and face reality with open-minded honesty.

Your industrial Platoon includes doctors in DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care), a few psychiatrists, some psychologists, social workers in DSW and CYPS, Rape Crisis members, Sex Abuse Counsellors, the Counsellors Approval Committee, your various controlling bodies, and of course, ACC. As well, there is the myriad of fringe "therapists". [For ease of reading, I shall refer to you as "counsellors".]

The Regiments arraigned against you are the formidable mass of scientific knowledge and research about memory, the impeccable credentials and policy statements of august and knowledgeable bodies, the undeniably realistic acquittal and appeal decisions from superior and lower courts, the increasing number of counsellors being convicted of malpractice overseas, the growing number of your former clients now retracting their allegations of abuse, the organisations formed to restore balance and commonsense to this vexed field, and last, but certainly not least, the thousands of angry and devastated families you have helped to create.

Your belief-systems and theories about Repressed Memories, Multiple Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociation, Satanic Ritual Abuse and etc are transparent in the clear light of empirical science. The methods you use, such as deep relaxation, trance work, hypnotic states, dream analysis, journal writing, guided imagery, body work, age regression and so on, are tricks which prey on the fears of vulnerable clients.

Much of the literature, studies and statistics you quote, and the training you get, is fatally flawed and demonstrably wrong. Your belief that sexual abuse creates definitive psychiatric or psychological conditions is baseless. Without valid external corroboration, you cannot justifiably distinguish between an historical truth and a believed-in confabulation. Your refusal to accept accountability for the results of your work speaks volumes about your lack of balance or professionalism.

You have allowed assumption and belief to replace fact and reason. Too much of your work is unscientific, unethical, unsafe and ineffective. It is now time for you to take stock. You can no longer lay claim to the cloak of superior or esoteric knowledge.

The army marching inexorably against you can be stayed by fair, balanced and scientifically sound discussion. You must recognise that the social climate which allowed you free reign has changed. You must now act positively to protect yourselves, and try to re-gain the confidence of the public and those who have been genuinely abused. The honest and open-minded amongst you must demand that your controlling bodies provide scientifically-based training, introduce an inviolate code of recognised ethical, safe and effective practices, and establish a sound regime of qualification. You must cease uncritical acceptance of the stories your clients tell, and seek corroboration to differentiate between reality and fantasy.

Reflect upon your sand foundations. Compare them to bedrock science and reality. The Platoon of your beliefs is engulfed by Regiments of fact. But this not a war of absolutes, nor is it a demand for surrender. It is a serious and unavoidable challenge to mend your ways, in the interests of public safety. You have been shown to be wrong. You had "The Courage to Heal", now show that you have "The Courage to Face Facts". A chair awaits you at the truce table.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Press, 1 April 1996 and Sunday News, 2 April 1996

MISINFORMATION

Torture statistics long enough and they’ll confess! Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) last week held a conference in Wellington entitled "Rape: Ten Years Progress ?". Representatives of Rape Crisis attended. Both DSAC and Rape Crisis spread misinformation about sexual abuse.

The conference heard and believed the false claims that one in five women have been raped or suffered attempted rape, that "only about ten percent" of "victims" are believed to report their cases to the police, but only about one percent were ever convicted. The simplest of arithmetic shows that a NZ population of about 3.6 million has about 1.8 million females. One fifth is 360,000 "victims".

As the "1 in 5" have supposedly been clearly identified, and represent "about 10 %", the full complement is 3.6 million raped women. Add this to the 1.2 million "victims" which result from the equally false claim that "one in three girls, and perhaps as many boys, will be sexually abused by the age of 18" and misinformation on a grand scale abounds.

DSAC is again bringing its profession into disrepute by believing such tortured numerology. It needs to re-visit scientific methodology and eschew uncritical acceptance.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Sunday Star-Times, 2 April 1996

Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) held a conference in Wellington (28 – 30 March), entitled "Rape: Ten Years Progress?". Members of Rape Crisis and other elements of the Sex Abuse Industry also attended.

There were profoundly disturbing, but interlocking themes. Complainants ("victims") must be uncritically believed. About 45% of rape cases are not taken to prosecution, but the accused ("offenders") are still believed to be guilty. Some 50% of those charged are acquitted, but the presumption of guilt prevails. There is little or no acknowledgement of the prevalence of false allegations. The flamboyant and outrageous claim was made that one in five women have been raped or suffered attempted rape. They want law changes in favour of the complainant to go even further.

That these themes are being pursued should cause the public and politicians the gravest of concerns. The pendulum has swung off its pivot.

The misinformation and political correctness expounded by DSAC, Rape Crisis, and the rest of the Sex Abuse Industry has to be stopped. These groups must be made accountable and be compelled to base their work on scientific, ethical, safe and effective methods. A public enquiry into their work is vital.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Western Leader, 14 April 1996

The Henderson Police are aware that false allegations of rape do occur, (Western Leader, Apr 6), and are to be congratulated on their pragmatic approach to a difficult problem. TVNZ’s 60 Minutes (Mar 31) gave a graphic demonstration of a false rape allegation. However, the public is constantly bombarded by horrendous "statistics" about the victimisation of women and children.

The real victim is the truth about the prevalence of domestic violence and female victimisation – a truth maimed almost beyond recognition by the irresponsible use of statistics by groups with political agendas.

DSAC claims one in five women raped (360,000). Rape Crisis adds 1.2M for those sexually abused by age 18. An Auckland sex abuse counsellor, Kim McGregor, stated "hundreds of thousands of children in NZ have been sexually abused" and "there could be 476,000 women who were sexually violated by age 14". Serious under-reporting minimises these figures, so we are told. What a load of old cobblers!

False allegations and "statistics" are directed against the integrity of a system upon which the whole of society relies. Although the debate on such issues is polarised, the cure is education, credible information, corroboration of allegations and critical examination of statistics.

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Sunday Star-Times 16 April 1996

DATE RAPE

Rape Awareness Week has come and gone. Rape Crisis has again shown the specious thinking underlying is beliefs about rape through its "Date Rape" theme.

Rape Crisis has merged the issues of recent and historical claims of rape, and foist upon us the new hysteria of "Date Rape". Recent rape can usually be forensically examined and a high probability of validity exists. Historical claims extending back years are totally different and have a high probability of being false.

"Date Rape" turns on the issue of consent. Women who have willingly indulged in sex with their dates sometimes regret it and later cry rape, claiming that consent was not given. Such claims also have a high probability of being false. The claim by Rape Crisis and others that "false allegations of rape are very, very rare" is irresponsible.

As only women apparently have rights, it is, they say, a man’s responsibility to ensure he obtains consent to sexual activity. Rape Crisis should issue books of "Consent Forms" to all men, to be signed by women at each stage of the proceedings. Oh what fun!

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Northern News, 22 April 1996

HARD FACTS

Ms Heather Silich of the Mid North Women’s Support (a branch of Rape Crisis) trotted out some "hard facts on date rape" in your Apr 4 edition. Hard facts are derived from prospective studies using the accepted scientific method, not from under the gooseberry bush. Ms Silich said that "over 50 per cent of teenage rapes are by a date".

But her boss, (Rape Crisis National Spokesperson Toni Allwood) does not support her. She was reported in the Press (Chch, Apr 12) as saying "there had been little research done on the extent of date rape in NZ. There’s nothing to substantiate that figure [over 50% ] in NZ". She further said "despite anecdotal evidence that date rape occurred here, no major survey had been done to back it up."

Ms Silich parrots another silly figure – "less than 10 per cent of rape victims report the crime to police". Now how does she know that? Psychic, perhaps? Come on Ms Silich, 91% of how many? 50% of how many? 10% of how many? Where is the corroboration, the evidence, the prospective study, the fact?

Gordon Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Northern News, 30 May 1996

TIN TACKS

Sadly, sexual abuse is endemic in our society. The best chance we have of decreasing its incidence lies in balanced education grounded on credible scientific knowledge and valid, reliable information. Open-minded discussion wouldn’t go astray either, so let’s get down to tin tacks.

The public is constantly bombarded with horrifying "statistics" about the victimisation and sexual abuse of women and children. "Date Rape" is the latest victim-category invented to further inflate this tortured numerology. Ms Silich (May 28) has contributed to that barrage, but the topic is far too serious to allow her sophistry to go unchallenged.

Her new statement that "to date there has been little NZ research on date rape" gives the lie to her earlier certainty that "over 50% of teenage rapes are by a date". Beliefs and opinions are poor substitutes for knowledge and reality.

The social climate which allowed her type of amateurism to grow virtually unchecked has now changed for the better, and she should recognise and acknowledge this. Those of us with real knowledge will ensure the public is better informed, and will return balance and common sense to this topic. Dissemination of false "statistics" is destructive and does nothing to help cure the problem.

Gordon Waugh

Whenuapai

To the Sunday Star-Times, 13 June 1996

The Mental Health Training Service at Greenlane Hospital runs a course for Sex Abuse Counsellors. Its core topics are feminist theory, repressed memories, multiple personality disorder, dissociation, ritual abuse, "symptoms" of sexual abuse, and the most bizarre belief-systems imaginable. This course is government-funded and has accreditation from the NZ Qualifications Authority.

Incredibly, students are taught by a psychologist that "perpetrators of ritual abuse are invariably very respected members of the community, usually part of institutions such as business, church or clubs." Babies, they say, are born solely to be sacrificed by [satanic] cult members. Other tutors preach similar nonsense on their topics. The course content and reading material do not stand even a simple test of common sense, let alone scientific scrutiny. The damage done to countless families by hundreds of counsellors trained in this sort of trash is a social outrage.

The Minister of Health must immediately halt this course and hold a public enquiry into how this disgraceful course ever got public funding or NZQA accreditation. Those who obtained its Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling must be stopped from practicing. Those who are accountable for this course must be fired and should apologise to the public.

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Sunday Star-Times, 17 July 1996

POLITICAL COURAGE

North & South (August edition) carried an excellent article about the Christchurch Creche case and the manifestly wrongful conviction of Peter Ellis. We all now know the immense social damage caused by false allegations of sexual abuse, and how these are created by the misguided, poorly trained and over-zealous "counsellors" who detect sexual abuse despite reason or common sense.

The Mental Health Training Service at Greenlane Hospital, using taxpayer funds, trains Sex Abuse Counsellors in the witchcraft of radical feminist theory, repressed memories, multiple personality disorder, dissociation, ritual abuse and similar nonsense. Other training institutions include such material on their courses. A result is that individuals, families and the community are being seriously damaged.

With the help of ACC funds, Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) has brought proponents of this junk-science to NZ for seminars and workshops. ACC has paid out many millions of dollars to thousands of alleged victims of sexual abuse.

There are many other aspects to this woeful performance. A compelling case exists for a public enquiry into these matters. Who amongst our politicians has the courage to investigate, rein in, and control the Sex Abuse Industry?

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Sunday Star-Times, 26 July 1996

It’s official!

The moon is made of green cheese. The Government supports wholesale destruction of families by the Sex Abuse Industry. It has given official sanction to the junk-science taught to trainee sex abuse counsellors on the publicly-funded, NZQA-accredited course conducted by the Mental Health Training Service at Greenlane Hospital.

The MHTS course teaches students an extensive list of the "indicators" and "symptoms" of childhood sexual abuse. It teaches about satanic ritual abuse, in which children are ritualistically impregnated and the babies are murdered and cannibalised. It teaches how to recover memories which the client may not even have.

I expressed my grave concerns about this course to the Minister of Health on 18 June. Her Associate Minister, the Hon Katherine O’Regan replied on 17 July. Her response was chilling. She wrote "I am satisfied that this course is professionally designed, delivered, accredited and monitored." Perhaps abduction by UFO’s will get official sanction soon.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Sunday News, 30 July 1996

NO EXCUSES

Perhaps Dr Miller of the Mental Health Training Service at Greenlane Hospital has read too many Stephen King novels. His comments (Sunday News, July 28) about the taxpayer funded Sex Abuse Counselling course he runs, are humbug.

In defence of the course, he said "It’s an introductory course that basically makes people aware of the different theories and methodologies." "There was academic freedom to explore any valid subject." Moreover, "We will indicate when something is highly controversial and when something seems suspect."

Put in clear perspective, there is no place on an introductory to course for highly controversial or suspect material. A 12 day course spread over 12 weeks barely has time to cover the rudiments, let alone exercise "academic freedom".

None of the core topics of the course (radical feminist theory, repressed memories, satanic ritual abuse, the "indicators" of sexual abuse etc) are valid, so why teach them at all?

Simply put, there is no excuse for teaching junk-science when factual, credible information exists. When will the Minister of Health and the Auckland CHE put a stop to this wasteful, disgraceful and unprofessional nonsense?

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Sunday Star-Times, 6 August 1996

Unlike S. Lelievre (Aug 4), I applaud your editorial stance on the Peter Ellis case. The "madness" he asks about permeates our society.

A reasoned view of the Ellis case suggests that had the jury been exposed to the full range of evidence, progression of the children’s stories from ordinary events to impossible, excruciating torture, would have been obvious. Prosecution credibility and objectivity fell on their own swords because they ignored commonsense and reason, not because of Christianity or "standard liberal tactics".

Little children were subjected to hours of repeated interviews over extended periods by misguided, zealous and poorly-trained sex abuse counsellors, who took their belief-systems to extremes to find abuse where none existed. The children are victims of COUNSELLING abuse, not sexual abuse. Uncorroborated and imaginative "evidence" by frightened children is the very essence of past witch trials.

That police, judge and prosecution got caught up in the iatrogenic fantasies of little children and counsellor-speak, is the madness. "Christian leanings" would have served justice better. Society in general, and the children and Ellis in particular, would benefit from Mr Lelievre channelling his religious passion to help undo the madness.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Press, 8 August 1996

How quaint of DSAC to complain of the SRHA funding cuts for its purpose-built sex abuse clinic (Press, Aug 3). DSAC claims special expertise in sex abuse, yet shares a political agenda and methodology similar to that of the rest of the Sex Abuse Industry.

ACC has over 800 "approved" sex abuse counsellors. Hundreds of others exist. Your fair city has many of them. GP’s, hospitals, and these counsellors can surely handle the genuine and alleged cases which arise. DSAC’s stance suggests either these people are incompetent, or that an exceptional incidence of sexual abuse prevails, which only it can handle.

The reasoning of DSAC, SAST and Safecare, in support of the 24-hour service in a "private, fully equipped setting", is riddled with logical errors and reeks of self-interest. The assumption by these groups that some prior right or compelling need exists for them to see "victims" is transparent. An inability by police or CYPS to pay the exorbitant $700 consultation fee is a condemnation of DSAC, not a justification. The comment "Nothing short of discrimination against the victims of crime" guilds the lily rather too much. I applaud the sensible SRHA action.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Herald, 5 September 1996

NEGLIGENT SILENCE

The Mental Health Training Service (MHTS) declined an invitation to answer serious criticisms of its badly flawed Sex Abuse Counsellor training course, made in the article "Sex training full of nonsense" (NZ Herald, Sep3). I wrote on June 18 to the MHTS Manager expressing my grave concerns about this course. He has not replied. I wrote also to the CEO of Auckland Healthcare Ltd on Aug 13, again expressing my concerns. He has not replied.

The matters raised in the article provide compelling reasons why MHTS and the Auckland CHE should publicly acknowledge the flaws in its training course material. They have an unavoidable accountability to address these shortcomings by completely restructuring the course contents to include only material which can easily withstand public and professional scrutiny.

The 200 or so course graduates have been badly misled and may have unwittingly damaged innocent people by practicing the methods taught. To restore some measure of public confidence, MHTS must make amendments to the course visible to the public, and recall its graduates for full retraining at MHTS expense. On matters of this gravity, silence is negligence.

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Taranaki Daily News, 9 September 1996

The unfortunate letter by Lorraine Jans (Daily News, Aug 17) demonstrates my point so clearly – beware the Sex Abuse Industry. Her statements are compelling illustrations of the sophistry underlying Rape Crisis and DSAC attempts at social engineering.

"NZ research is scarce" she says, but her figures are "supported by well-documented statistics"! 5 x 2,500 = 12,500 new cases from 1992-96, excluding other agencies. Claims about sexual abuse from "industry" sources include one in nine males, one in three girls and perhaps as many boys, one in five women, hundreds of thousands of children, [there could be] 476,000 women……. ad infinitum. "Most victims never disclose" is deceitful. Beliefs and opinions are poor substitutes for knowledge and reality.

In the years 1992 – 95, a national total of 575 convictions for rape were made (annual average 144) representing 48% of those indicted (Ministry of Justice, Spier P, Nov 95). DSAC’s Christchurch clinic charged SHRA some $700 per consultation (Chch Press, Aug 3).

Clarity of thought, common sense, integrity and scientific credibility have exposed the tragedy of false allegations and the mendacity of false statistics created by this noxious "industry". It is time to replace its numerology and mythology with honest, rational discussion.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Taranaki Daily News, 11 September 1996

THE SECOND BARREL

Lorraine Jans of Rape Crisis (Daily News, Aug 17) extolled the virtues of DSAC’s rape conference held in Wellington (Mar 28 – 30).

"Believe the Victim", they emphasised. Using Kangaroo Court tactics, DSAC shuns the unbiassed terminology of "complainant and accused". Only credible evidence and a fair trial, or a confession, can determine whether "victim" and "offender" exist.

"False allegations might happen, but are very rare", they guessed. Police note increasing numbers of false allegations, and Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Inc (COSA) deals with them almost daily. Too few women are charged for making them.

"Most victims never disclose", they chanted. It is impossible to know that a complainant ("victim") exists, unless a complaint is disclosed. Given the astronomical numbers of supposed "victims" in the extravagant statistics used by DSAC and Rape Crisis, one can only speculate how many "most" might represent.

DSAC claims a mere 250 of NZ’s 11,880 or so doctors as its members (2%). Importing visiting speakers to teach psycho-babble about repressed memories, satanic ritual abuse and similar themes shows it has forsaken science for myth, to the detriment of vulnerable patients and society at large. "Well trained and sensitive to the needs of the victim" guilds the lily rather too much. Its members should pause to reflect on the meaning of the Oath they took.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Herald, 13 September 1996,

Yet another "expert" on sexual abuse has been imported by Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) to disseminate nonsense about sexual abuse (Herald, Aug 13). This time, it was the turn of Associate Professor Bessel van der Kolk to spread his brand of chimera and sophistry.

"The body remembers the abuse even if the mind has forgotten it" was his theme song.

Another fad, almost certain to be introduced to New Zealand following his visit, is EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming. It is hypnotic and it is dangerous in the hands of counsellors who believe in the sham of recovered memories, body memories, guided imagery, and the like. EMDR will bring forth yet another wave of false allegations of abuse created by counsellors, and in its wake, even more personal and social devastation.

It is high time that the NZ Medical Association followed the lead given by the American Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association and other reputable bodies, and produced a dispassionate policy statement compelling the Sex Abuse Industry, and DSAC in particular, to employ only those methods proven to be scientific, ethical, safe and effective.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Press, 18 September 1996

Your correspondent G.C. Jellyman (Sep 14), a Christian counsellor, questions my motives. They are simple and direct: justice, reason, logic, commonsense, honesty, integrity, ethics, compassion. They are called "Principles". The Sex Abuse Industry has chosen to ignore these and has caused immense but avoidable damage to families, individuals and the community.

When a counsellor diagnoses incest or other sexual abuse based on a client’s uncorroborated recovered memories or improbable stories, he/she exercises a self-proclaimed right to impose a lifetime sentence on the accused. In our judicial system, protection of innocence has a greater value to the community than punishment of guilt. Guilt or innocence is established from an evidential base, not the beliefs of counsellors or the confabulations of their vulnerable clients.

The core of the problem is irrational belief-systems. Proof of that lies in the contents of the Greenlane course, and similar training elsewhere.

The Sex Abuse Industry has failed to show its "high standards of training and ethics." Given the devastating consequences of false allegations of sexual abuse, is it too much to ask that it grounds its work in testable science and ethical principles?

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Western Leader, 19 September 1996

CONE OF SILENCE

The letter by D. Wardley (Sep 17) rings alarm bells. Dr Greg Newbold and I co-authored an article about a shockingly flawed training course for Sex Abuse Counsellors run by the Mental Health Training Service (MHTS) at Greenlane Hospital. The article had national exposure. MHTS declined an invitation to answer our criticisms.

My expressions of concern to MHTS on June 18 went unanswered. I wrote on August 13 to the CEO of Auckland Healthcare Ltd. No acknowledgement of receipt. No answers to my concerns. A fax on Sep 11 had the same treatment. Silence over matters of such gravity is irresponsible, negligent and arrogant.

The Auckland CHE and MHTS have an unavoidable accountability to acknowledge the flaws in its course, restructure it to include only material which can easily withstand public and professional scrutiny, and more importantly, make such amendments publicly visible. Just as faulty motor vehicles are recalled and repaired, the 200 or so graduates of this appalling course must be retrained.

There is no excuse for MHTS and the CHE to show contempt for public concern of this nature. It takes little courage to stand up and say "We were wrong. We’ll fix it."

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Taranaki Daily News, 14 October 1996

Lorraine Jans and 18 of Taranaki’s ACC-approved counsellors vociferously complain about ACC asking for more client information (Daily News, Oct 10). "Violating sexual abuse victims’ rights – appalled and angry -we’re absolutely up in arms about it – it’s collusion against our clients – further traumatise victims – ACC is not prepared to trust [our] professional judgement". What a load of emotive claptrap!

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

ACC pays millions of dollars annually to "approved" counsellors, at $56.25 per hour. They need only work 1,778 hours, or 44 weeks, for an income of $100,000, with no accountability for the results of their work. Those 18 counsellors have an annual capacity approaching 622,000 hours of counselling. A vested interest to maintain their income exists, and they will find abuse to support it.

When a client claims a sexual crime has been committed, she should be willing to give evidence against the accused, and give information to ACC. When a counsellor makes a true or false "diagnosis" of sexual abuse, he/she gives a life-time sentence to the accused person. Given the consequences of a false allegation, counsellors have no choice but to accept accountability for their integrity, their ethics, and accuracy of their assessment reports. In this light, ACC’s stance is amply justified.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Taranaki Daily News, 28 October 1996

Your correspondents Cameron and Allison (October 24) ask what society wants for sexual abuse "victims" and their counsellors.

We want genuine victims to be treated competently, compassionately and fairly. We want counsellors to help confused, unhappy, troubled clients to achieve a sense of balance and begin to lead happier, contented, more productive lives, instead of persuading them they are "victims". We want their clients to accept responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming others for their present condition. We want honesty and open-minded discussion on these most serious social issues.

We want counsellors working with real professionals to determine whether a client’s presenting condition is due to historical sexual abuse, pre-existing trauma or psychological conditions, fabrication, or a mixture of these, before considering compensation. We want false claims of sexual abuse eliminated.

Accident and trauma victims have always been required to provide proof of disability before obtaining ACC compensation. Many know how difficult that is. Some with life-threatening conditions have had little or no compensation, despite compelling supportive evidence. For no good reason, claimants alleging sexual abuse have been treated much more leniently, just for saying the magic words "sexual abuse" to a counsellor.

We want equitable treatment at costs we can afford. We want counsellors to work for society, not against it. We want counsellors who cannot do this to vacate their seats on the ACC gravy train.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Herald, 29 November 1996

While I respect Justice Thomas’ erudition and experience, and understand why Ngaire Garland of the Auckland Help Foundation echoed his views (Herald, Nov 29), they have fallen into the trap of believing in myths surrounding women making false rape allegations. Women make rape allegations. Some make false allegations.

Allegations of sexual crimes are easy to make but difficult to defend. "Reasonable opportunity" to make a complaint is a fair requirement. Complaints promptly made allow forensic evidence to be gathered, if it exists. Significant delays limit its value and accuracy. Incorrect analysis can lead to wrongful conviction.

Justice Thomas said "It is known that only a small proportion report the rape and proceed to trial". The DSAC Rape Conference in Wellington (March 28 – 30) claimed to produce statistics "which showed that most rapists never came before the courts". "Politically Correct" thinking of this nature has contributed to putting every man at risk from false allegations of sexual crimes.

It is impossible to know that a complaint exists unless, and until, it is reported. It is presumptuous to label a man a "rapist" until he has been convicted of that offence. Tampering with the "recent complaint rule" is not needed.

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

To the Sunday Star-Times, 10 December 1996

Sandra Coney writes much nonsense, but excelled herself with her absurd remarks about rape and Justice Thomas’ opinions (Star-Times, Dec 8). They appear to believe that making false allegations is an "enduring and pernicious myth".

Of course women make false allegations of rape, and when they do, they are rightly accused of "lying, scheming and manipulating". Remember Nick Wills and many others in similar predicaments?

The "recent complaint" rule is a fair one. Complaints promptly made allow forensic evidence to be gathered, if it exists. Significant delays can limit its value and accuracy. If the delay is weeks, months or years, how, in the absence of valid corroboration, can a woman expect to be believed? Like everyone else, she has to demonstrate her credibility.

In the 1986-95 decade, 52% of rape trials failed to convict the accused. Evidence was either unreliable, inadequate or false. The Chief Justice recently said of rape cases that an uneasy feeling remains that innocent men may have been convicted.

If rape allegations were investigated like other criminal cases, there would be many fewer rape trials. "Balanced objective analysis" would serve society better than Coney’s Claptrap or Thomas’ Tirade.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Listener, 10 December 1996

"Trial and Terror" (Listener, Nov 30) gave a very serious topic an emotive and superficial treatment. Balance and common sense is needed. The fundamental problem is "evidence".

Many changes favourable to the complainant in rape and sexual abuse cases have been introduced since 1985. It is now easier to make allegations of rape and other sexual abuse. That Police uncritically believe a complainant implies a presumption of guilt. In practice, the burden of proof has been reversed and now lies with the accused.

With all the changes in place, 52% of rape trials in the 1986-95 decade failed to convict the accused, indicating that the evidence given by some 1,183 women was inadequate, unconvincing or false, or the process was at fault. Too many trials turn on witness credibility instead of evidence.

While many allegations are genuine, a disturbingly high number are false. Police should say "Here is an allegation. What is the evidence for and against it?" and then conduct a thorough investigation before laying charges.

The Chief Justice, the Law Commission, Barrister Turkington and others acknowledge that problems exist. Given the consequences of rape convictions, it is vital they be corrected. That a man can be now be convicted without corroborative or forensic evidence has taken "reform" too far. To return balance and fairness to both parties and to the process, evidence law reform should move closer to the fundamental principles of justice, not fiddle with rules acknowledged to be unsatisfactory.

G. Waugh, Auckland

To the Herald, 16 December 1996

According to Deborah Coddington (Herald, Dec 14), stepfathers are often paedophiles and are monsters "preying on single mothers to get their children". Many stepfathers also happen to be fathers. Therefore fathers are often paedophiles.

Obviously Cinderella got it all wrong. Her wicked stepmother was actually her paedophile father in drag, preying on her step-sisters. They took Ugly Pills to ward off the evil menace of his sexual advances, and the medication apparently worked. He was "in denial". During counselling, they recovered their memories of abuse and later got ACC compensation. The once-wicked stepmother was exonerated.

Sadly, Ms Coddington is uninformed and misinformed, and has tried to mislead your readers. Her letter has done absolutely nothing to shed light on a complex and serious social problem. Her lack of trust in her "respectably married heterosexual friends" indicates the blackness of her world.

Open-minded discussion, sensible education and reliable information, plus a little trust in ordinary humanity, would make a better contribution to solving the sexual abuse problem.

G. Waugh, Whenuapai

The Editor NZ Herald [not for publication] 19 December 1996

Dear Mr Ellis,

I refer to the article on Page A13 of this morning’s Herald, headed "Viewers given number of ex-offender". I firmly reject the implications that "TVNZ recommended viewers ring the home phone number of a convicted sex offender for advice about sex abuse allegations." The number given was for COSA – Casualties of Sexual Allegations Inc. The heading used is entirely misleading.

Dr John Read and the Psychological Society complained to the Broadcasting Authority about the use of this number. The complaint was investigated and totally rejected. That should have been the focus of the article, not the marital circumstances of Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith. Their complaint is ridiculous, distasteful and unprincipled.

COSA is a bona fide Incorporated Society with Branches in Auckland and Canterbury. Dr. Goodyear-Smith is its President. We have a Professional Advisory Board, drawn from New Zealand and the USA, of the highest standing in academic, legal, psychiatric, sociological and psychological circles. Our services are widely used throughout the country. COSA has hundreds of members. Executive members voluntarily donate their time and energy to helping many hundreds of people who have been falsely accused of sexual abuse, and to educate the wider community on these and related matters. COSA’s stance is based on science, compassion and moderation.

As the focal point for our organisation, it is entirely appropriate for the number of our President to be used. My wife and I are also members of the COSA Executive, and our home phone number is listed around the world as a point of contact. Will you also report on my marital circumstances? Is Dr Read suggesting that his wife’s history, and the sharing of a telephone, impinge adversely on his professional performance?

Inescapably, false allegations of sexual abuse exist. They are almost everyday events, used as weapons for a variety of unsavoury purposes. The effects of false allegations of sexual abuse have directly or indirectly touched many thousands of people. Dr. Read and the Psychological Society simply do not want to admit that their unscientific beliefs about false allegations are wrong, and have therefore attempted to smear Dr. Goodyear-Smith. In so doing, they also attack COSA.

Dr Read’s reported comment "This decision confirms that there are no standards protecting viewers from being advised to ring the home phone number of a convicted sex offender and his wife" are unconscionable and offensive. The purpose of calling that number is to contact COSA. Equally, my own number could have been used.

The Broadcasting Authority was reported to have said "….it was concerned about the adequacy of providing the phone number of just one person. The name of an organisation or the numbers of several people might have been more appropriate." COSA has some 20 phone numbers to call, covering most of the country, and we would welcome an opportunity to publish them all. The name of our organisation was shown at the end of the TV Documentary.

The article is entirely unbalanced. The author has concentrated on Felicity’s marital circumstances, which are her own private affair, instead of emphasising that the complaint was without substance and had been rejected by the Authority. I appeal to your sense of balance and decency and ask that you apologise to Dr Goodyear-Smith.

Publishing an article giving support to the necessary and worthwhile work done by COSA would be of much more help to the many people afflicted by this dreadful problem of false allegations of sexual abuse. In these circumstances, I believe it is appropriate for COSA to have an opportunity to publish the other side of your report, as outlined above. I would welcome contact with one of your reporters to discuss these issues, or the author of this particular item, whose name was not given.

I have enclosed a Letter to the Editor about these matters, which I trust you will publish. It has been written exclusively for The Herald and the text contains 193 words.

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Waugh, Executive Treasurer

To the Herald, 19 December 1996

The Herald report (Dec 19) "Viewers given number of ex-offender" was a tawdry personal attack on Dr. Felicity Goodyear-Smith, the President of an organisation which has helped hundreds of people falsely accused of sexual abuse. TV viewers were not "given the phone number of a convicted sex offender for advice about sex abuse allegations" at the end of the "False Memories" Documentary. Misinformation of this type is unconscionable and offensive.

The number given was for Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Inc. (COSA).

COSA is an Incorporated Society with Branches in Auckland and Canterbury, and has hundreds of members. Its Professional Advisory Board has the highest standing in academic, legal, psychiatric, sociological and psychological circles. We have some 20 numbers, covering most of the country.

It is entirely appropriate that our President’s number was used. Sharing telephones occurs in most households. That she shares a telephone with her husband does not in any way diminish her professional abilities. He is not, and has never been, a member of COSA.

Dr John Read and the Psychological Society complained to the Broadcasting Authority about the use of this number. The complaint lacked substance and was totally rejected.

G. Waugh, COSA Executive

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