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COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter January / February 1997 Vol 4 No 1

Contents of this page:

Editorial: False charges and over-turned convictions Alan Collier was wrongfully charged and convicted of rape because of police policy to always believe a complainant and not treat her allegation with scepticism and critical appraisal of the evidence. In Collier’s case the police failed to conduct an impartial investigation. This task was taken on by his three friends at great personal cost. In fact there was overwhelming evidence that Collier could not have committed this crime.

ACC spend "huge but unknown" amount on sex abuse counselling In the last 2 to 3 years, the number of sexual abuse counsellors registered as ACC providers has risen from 300 to about 1000. Although initial claims may allocate 15 hours’ counselling, counsellors can apply for continuing these sessions and claims for over 200 hours are not unheard of. At $56 per hour, it is clear that someone specialising in "sexual abuse" counselling could earn over $100,000 per year from ACC.

Courts: Alan Collier falsely accused of rape, released on Appeal In June 1996 Alan Collier, a 45 year old former Northern Districts representative cricketer, was found guilty of raping a young woman in Paeroa 16 years ago, in 1980. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and ordered to pay $5000 reparation.

Stepfather cleared of sex offences

Woman blames her crimes on 2 of her other personalities

Girl falsely accuses her father of murder

An issue of consent

And another issue of consent

Young woman falsely accused of sexually abusing children

Court finds complainant suffering from false memory syndrome (UK).

Orkney Island follow-up (UK).

Fathers claim doctor falsely accused them of sexually abusing their children (Ireland).

No paedophile ring found in Welsh foster-care homes (UK).

Family members found not guilty of organised sex ring with their children (Germany).

The Bobby Finje case (USA).

The Grant Snowden case (USA)

District attorney wrongly prosecuted 5 men of sexually abusing children in Bronx day-care centers, (USA).

Bienvenue case (USA)

Robert Kelly – Little Rascals Day Care Center case, (USA).

Media:Young women and men equally likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence

Is Princess Di a sex abuse survivor? (UK).

‘Remind me one more time..’ "The recovered-memory bandwagon needs to be trundled sharply out of the courts…" (UK).

‘One in 5 women sexually abused in childhood, study finds’ (Australia).

6 year old girl accused of "offensive touching" (USA).

Literature:Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse: a concise history of the phenomenon, and the key psychological concepts to understanding the disputes concerning such claims.

Ethical issues in the search for repressed memories

A nation of victims: the decay of the American character book by Charles Sykes (1992).

Manufacturing victims: what the psychology industry is doing to people book by Tana Dineen,. (1996).

Talk of the devil: repressed memory and the ritual abuse witch-hunt book by Richard Guilliatt, (1996).

Policy Statement on the evaluation and treatment of adults with the possibility of recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse National Association of Social Workers, (USA).

Consciousness Explained book by philosopher Daniel Dennett, (1991).

"I didn’t tell for 33 years": an incest survivor tells her story Diana Russell.

Features:Peter and Pauline Lynch Case history.

Letter to the Editor it was stated that "COSA calls for some equity of sentencing…. making a false complaint is a serious crime and should be punished accordingly. I do not share this view.

Family shattered by ‘recovered memory’ accusations

Newsletters received by COSA

Coming events:Professor Bruce Perry. 3 one-day workshops on "Assessment and treatment of maltreated children: a neuro-developmental approach". Sponsored by DSAC.

Christine Courtois. 3 one-day seminars on "Delayed memory controversy: guidelines for practice". Also sponsored by DSAC, Courtois has been a strong promoter of recovered memories in the past.


Editorial:

False charges and over-turned convictions

Last month saw Alan Collier’s conviction for rape overturned by the Appeal Court (see Court Column). Collier was wrongfully charged and convicted of rape because of police policy to always believe a complainant and not treat her allegation with scepticism and critical appraisal of the evidence. In Collier’s case the police failed to conduct an impartial investigation. This task was taken on by his three friends at great personal cost. In fact there was overwhelming evidence that Collier could not have committed this crime.

This is not an isolated case. In November, a Tauranga man was acquitted of all charges of sexual offences after a band of supporters fought for his release from prison and retrial. Another man found guilty of abusing his son was released after 14 months in prison when the Appeal Court overturned his conviction. Earlier in 1996 Hamilton law student Nick Wills had rape charges dropped after his family, friends, and lawyer obtained the evidence to demonstrate his innocence.

COSA has documentation of many other similar cases, where the police fail to investigate because of their policy of believing the complainant. Sadly, some defendants do not have the personal, family and financial resources required to obtain the evidence and present it to the courts in time. Tragic injustices have occurred because of this.

Certainly rape and sexual abuse continue to happen in our society, but innocent people are also having their lives devastated by the rising tide of false allegations.

In the year ending June 1996, Hamilton police charged 30 people with making a false statement, and the Te Awamutu police charged 17 (Waikato Times, 12 Nov 1996). Head of Hamilton CIB, Detective Chief Inspector Rex Miller, acknowledged that false rape complaints are often alleged when a woman has sex with someone other than her husband or boy friend, and then panics when she thinks she is found out and claims that she was forced to do it, to appease the offended partner.

False allegations are not only confined to sexual allegations. The most common false complaints are people claiming their cars have been stolen, or they have been burgled, and they are often associated with insurance rip-offs. Sentences for making a false statement range from conviction and discharge and community service to a fine up to $3000 or imprisonment for up to 3 months.

The not-guilty verdicts and overturned convictions described this month follow a trend in the English-speaking world (Ireland, Britain, Europe, North America and Australasia) for a number of charges of horrendous sexual abuse to eventually be found to be completely fabricated. The court column this month documents a few of the most highly publicised international cases in this regard. They have in common people falsely accused through the uncritical belief of the police and mental health professionals in their guilt, and over-zealous suggestive investigative and therapy practices manufacturing and sustaining false accusations. Each case represents whole families whose lives have been devastated by these avoidable tragedies.

ACC spend "huge but unknown" amount on sex abuse counselling

In the last 2 to 3 years, the number of sexual abuse counsellors registered as ACC providers has risen from 300 to about 1000. The cost of sexual abuse claims has risen correspondingly, with the corporation expressing concern that the cost reduction achieved through the removal of lump sum compensation is being eroded by the escalating counselling fees being paid out (Dominion, 22 Jan 1997).

Although initial claims may allocate 15 hours’ counselling, counsellors can apply for continuing these sessions and claims for over 200 hours are not unheard of. At $56 per hour, it is clear that someone specialising in "sexual abuse" counselling could earn over $100,000 per year from ACC.

ACC does not require any corroboration that a client has suffered sexual abuse other than the counsellor saying it has happened. Unlike other ACC claims, the date when the alleged event was supposed to happen does not matter, as long as the claimant was resident in NZ at the time. This means that a very large number of "sensitive claims" are for alleged abuse claimed to have happened decades ago.

COSA knows of many instances where a claim that a client has suffered an episode of "sexual abuse" in the past allows for generous state-paid funding where otherwise a client would have to pay her own counselling fees. Although the funding is supposed to pay only for the psychological effects resulting from the abuse, ACC Sensitive Claims Unit Manager Lynda Angus expresses concern that some counsellors are "working with people on a much wider range of personal problems than sexual abuse" (ACC News Jan 1997, 17, p4). ACC has no knowledge of what type of therapy it is paying for, and no evidence that the treatments funded are either effective or safe.

Because sexual abuse allegations are considered "sensitive claims", ACC spokesman Alan Seay admits that they are not identifying and costing them as sexual abuse cases, and therefore "We don’t really know what it costs but we do know that it is a huge amount of money". In other words, despite having the latest in computer technology, ACC does not have a clue how it is spending tax-payers’ money.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Courts

New Zealand

Man falsely accused of rape released on Appeal

In June 1996 Alan Collier, a 45 year old former Northern Districts representative cricketer, was found guilty of raping a young woman in Paeroa 16 years ago, in 1980. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and ordered to pay $5000 reparation.

The complainant claimed that she had lived in the flat behind Collier; that he had dragged her into his flat one afternoon at 4 pm; that he had brutally raped her and then she had crawled out of his house through the back yard on her hands and knees to her own flat. She also stated that she had made a complaint to the police the next day, accompanied by acquaintances, but the police had ignored her complaint.

When arrested and charged in Dec 1995, Collier denied that he even knew the complainant, let alone raped her, and he was adamant the charges would be thrown out. However the police believed the complainant, and did not seek evidence which might demonstrate his innocence. During his trial, former police officer Brian Dunn told the court that he could not recall the complainant making her complaint in 1980. 2 people she claimed had accompanied her to the police station at that time also denied any knowledge of the rape. Their testimony was ignored.

When he was convicted, his wife Ms Mary Wano, and 2 friends Mike Cotter and Gary Deal Rue set about to find evidence to show that he could not be guilty. They found that:

  • police officers with whom the woman and her mother claimed to have laid the rape complaint denied all knowledge of the matter;
  • rent records showed that the complainant had moved from her flat several weeks before the alleged rape;
  • Ministry of Works and Development records showed Collier was at work at the time of the alleged rape;
  • a 1.8m high corrugated iron fence would have blocked her alleged escape route;
  • she claimed her rapist was a 40 year old man, but Collier would have been 28 at the time;
  • she was a known drug user.

In Dec 1996 Hamilton lawyer Warren Scotter presented this evidence to the Court of Appeal. Crown prosecutor Mary-Jane Thomas said that the actual date of the rape was not an important issue. However, the Court of Appeal ruled a miscarriage of justice and overturned the conviction. Collier was released from prison and will not be retried.

He is considering applying for compensation. It cost his 3 friends $20,000 and a huge amount of time and effort to obtain the necessary information, evidence that should have been sought by the police at the time the charges were laid.

Dr Fiona Cram of the Auckland University psychology department (NZ Herald 6 Jan 1997, pA9) could offer no explanation as to why the woman (inexplicably awarded name suppression, a privilege not granted to Collier) would lay a false complaint.

The possibilities are either that she deliberately and knowingly lied; or that she has come to sincerely believe in an event that did not happen. There is a large body of psychological literature explaining how the latter can occur. Research demonstrates the malleability of memory and how people can revisit their past and unwittingly create sincerely believed in but completely inaccurate or false memories.

An added factor in this case is that the complainant apparently took a drug overdose, was found in a ditch comatosed and was taken to hospital at a time soon after the alleged rape. The effect of this could mean that her memories about this period are particularly likely to be distorted or wrong.

We also have no information about whether she has ever been in counselling for this alleged rape and has "enhanced" her memories during therapy. What is particularly alarming is the fact that the complainant is now a trained psychologist, presumably seeing clients herself. She may even be registered with ACC as an approved provider for sexual abuse counselling.

It is possible that the complainant was raped by someone else and this is a case of mistaken identity; it is also possible that the entire event is a fabrication. In the absence of independent corroborative evidence, we can never know.

(Paeroa Gazette, 11 Dec 1996; Waikato Times, 19 Dec 1996; Evening Post, 19 Dec 1996; NZ Herald, 20 & 21 Dec 1996)

Stepfather cleared of sex offences

A jury in the New Plymouth High Court found a Taranaki man not guilty of sexually violating his 11 year old step-daughter earlier this year.

One of the girl’s step-sisters testified that her father was a caring and easy-going man and she had never felt uncomfortable around him.

Another step-sister told the court that the complainant had said that if her step-father ever told her off, she could make a sexual abuse allegation against him. She testified:

"She said she could go to school and tell the teachers that Dad had touched her and that he would go to prison. I said ‘No, you couldn’t do that; that would be wrong’, and she said yes she could, because they would believe her".

After being confronted in court with evidence that her story could not be true, the girl admitted she had been lying, then started crying and said she was confused.

(Taranaki Daily News, 29 & 30 Nov 1996)

Woman blames her crimes on 2 of her other personalities

A 39-year-old West Auckland woman (who has temporary name suppression) has pleaded not guilty to 23 charges of defrauding her church of $13,850 while she was parish treasurer and has also denied four charges of defrauding $20,172 from a trust while she was employed as the trust’s accountant.

While she does not dispute that she committed the crimes, her lawyer Mr David Smith claims that at the time of offending (between 21 Nov 1991 to 21 Feb 1994) she was insane because she was suffering from multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder) and it was 2 of her alter personalities who were responsible for the fraud. An 11-year-old girl took the parish funds, while a grown woman with a different personality to her own was in charge of the trust funds.

A psychiatrist, Dr Prame Fernandez, called as a defence witness, said she had assessed the accused, who presented characteristics of dissociative identity disorder. In her report, read to the court, Dr Fernandez said the woman had been sexually abused by her father at the age of 4. She had also been physically abused as a young child by a nanny who locked her in wardrobes and made her have cold baths.

As a result of more than two years of therapy the woman had come to know 31 separate personalities existed alongside her own, each with its own distinct characteristics and histories, Dr Fernandez said. The defence is claiming that the woman is not legally responsible for what 2 of her other personalities have done.

Leanne Moore, "Other personalities" to blame for thefts, (NZ Herald, 19 Dec 1996)

Girl falsely accuses her father of murder

The Balclutha police took 18 year old Nancy Finch seriously when she reported that she had seen her father stab her sister Lisa to death 10 years ago. However investigation subsequently revealed that Finch never had a sister called Lisa, and there had been no suspicious family deaths.

Judge Thomas Everitt in the Balclutha District Court has convicted her of making a false statement and ordered her to pay $300 to the police as reparation.

(NZ Herald, 10 Dec 1996)

An issue of consent

Grant Connelly, a NZ hockey representative, faced 3 charges of unlawful sexual connection and 2 of rape of a 16 year old girl in Sep 1995, when he was 22 years old.

Connelly admitted to having sexual intercourse with her at a party but claimed that she freely consented. She claimed that she had rebuffed his advances at the party, but other witnesses said that they saw her dancing with the defendant and kissing him during the evening. She apparently also told a friend after having intercourse with him: "It would have been all right but he got up and left soon after". She subsequently accused him of brutally raping her.

A Christchurch District Court jury cleared him of all charges in Dec 1996.

(Taranaki Daily News, 11 & 12 Dec 1996)

And another issue of consent

A Timaru District Court jury found a 29 year old man not guilty of 2 charges of rape and 2 of indecent assault. Again the issue was not whether sexual intercourse had taken place, but whether there was consent. It was explained to the jury by the defence that if a woman got herself into sexual activity with the accused and then once sober the next morning, regretted her actions, she had still consented at the time. The jury apparently agreed.

(Taranaki Daily News, 6 Dec 1996)

Young woman falsely accused of sexually abusing children

A 19 year old girl faced 3 charges of sexual violation and indecent assault against 2 children, aged 4 and 6, between Feb and May 1994. It was claimed that when she was 17 and living as a boarder in their mother’s house, she sexually assaulted the children on several occasions. The allegations had arisen during a time of stress between the girl and her landlady, culminating in her leaving the house and the mother making threats against her. The children have been receiving sexual abuse counselling.

Both children had 2 videotaped interviews 6 months apart, and gave evidence to the court via closed circuit TV. There were a number of discrepancies in their statements and the boy’s story changed markedly between the 2 CYPS interviews. Some of his accusations could be shown to be fabrications. For example, the boy initially said that on one occasion, when the accused was molesting his sister, his dog attacked the accused and drove her off, biting her. In fact, the dog was a fantasy and if this had been investigated, doubt would have been cast on other elements of the child’s story.

In Nov 1996 a Palmerston North District Court jury took 30 minutes to acquit her on all charges. Judge Tony Christiansen took the unusual step of announcing to the jury that he believed that their verdict was correct. If convicted, she could have faced up to 20 years in prison.

(Taranaki Daily News, 22 Nov 1996; Evening Star 30 Nov 1996)

England

Court finds complainant suffering from false memory syndrome

A judge in the Manchester High Court acquitted a 44 year old defendant after the prosecution offered no evidence following two psychological assessments of the complainant. Dr Bryan Tully and another psychologist examined the woman and saw counselling notes and a number of her diaries before concluding that she may be suffering from False Memory Syndrome. The man faced up to 12 years in prison if he had been found guilty.

The allegations started 14 months ago, when the 22 year old woman had memories of having indecently assaulted by her father between the ages of 6 and 13.. Her ‘memories’ only emerged after she began having counselling for problems she was experiencing at university. She told counsellors the memories of the assaults were partly triggered by a sexual abuse story-line in the soap opera Brookside and a rape scene in an episode of Cracker. She had also read a number of books including Courage to Heal.

Her father, an engineer, was arrested and prevented from living with his wife and two children while the case was investigated and brought to court. These restrictions have not yet been lifted despite the case being dropped. His 33 year old wife (step-mother of the complainant) said her nightmare is not over yet – until the social services decide that he is allowed to live with her and their children.

Roger Scotford, director of the British False Memory Society, said later that the case should never have got to court. "The case raises serious questions about the thoroughness of the police and crown prosecution investigation. This is a clear case of veiled ‘recovered memories’. The fact that the complainant had no prior recollection of the evidence before therapy was not spelt out in her statement to the police. At the time she was having counselling she was also watching TV programmes and reading books which were seriously affecting her mind. She saw one episode of Cracker called ‘And Men Should Weep’, shown in 1994, which contained a scene where a rape victim was pushed up against a wall. She claimed this reminded her of how she had been attacked. She was also reading an American book called Courage to Heal which tries to convince people that even if they have no recollection of abuse, they may still have been abused. If you recover a memory then you can’t act on it until you have got some form of corroboration, otherwise nobody knows if it is real or fantasy."

Prosecutor Richard Marks told the court that the Crown had "always been concerned about the case" because of the lack of supporting evidence for the woman’s allegations, but "because the girl undoubtedly firmly believes in the truth of the allegations she made, she would certainly come across as a convincing witness."

(‘False Memory’ Sex Case Dropped, Lisa Salmon, PA News, 29 Nov 96)

Orkney Island follow-up

In 1991 an 11 year old boy (Boy M) was woken at dawn in his home in the Orkney islands by a raid conducted by police and social workers who were on a mission to catch an alleged ring of ritual child-sex abusers. Their evidence was based on the imaginative statements made by an unstable teenager taken into care. Boy M and his brother were taken to the mainland but sent to different cities. He underwent 7 interviews and was sent to foster parents. He did not know what part of the country he was in and had no contact with his parents, who were being accused of terrible things Boy M knew they had never done to him.

Eventually public outcry and a £6 million inquiry under Lord Clyde resulted in all the seized Orkney island children being returned to their families, and the social workers and police criticised for their handling of the affair.

Each child received £10,000 compensation in March 1996 but Boy M, now aged 17, wants to also speak out publicly about the scandal. The law prescribes anonymity for children in sex abuse cases but Boy M is applying to have the law changed, so that he can speak out in his real name to clear his family’s reputation.

(Sunday Times (UK) 20 Oct 1996)

Ireland

Fathers claim doctor falsely accused them of sexually abusing their children

Five Irish fathers allege 62 year old Dr Moira Woods improperly accused them of incest in cases involving 17 children. Last month the Irish Medical Council ruled that claims that Dr Woods made false allegations of child abuse against parents will be probed in public.

One man’s children were returned to him by the courts, while another claims his daughter was abused in care, having been wrongly placed there by the Eastern Health Board. Vocal chairman Edward Hernon says he lost access to his 5 year old daughter for 3 years over alleged false claims of child abuse against him by Dr Woods.

The five fathers, 4 from Dublin and one from Tipperary, are expected to give sworn evidence before the tribunal, which will be chaired by psychiatrist Dr Patricia Casey. The hearing will have the same powers as the High Court and both sides will be represented by legal counsel.

It’s believed Dr Woods wanted the case heard in private and she may yet appeal the Council ruling to the High Court. However, she is also anxious that her name be cleared and has already said she is confident that accusations against her will not be upheld. Dr Woods has had leave from both public and private practice since last January.

(Olivia Doyle, The Irish Star ‘Child abuse claims to be heard in public’, 3 Dec 96)

Wales

No paedophile ring found in Welsh foster-care homes

Clwyd was one of the first counties in Britain to initiate a massive retrospective investigation into suspected abuse in foster-care homes. An even bigger investigation was then mounted in neighbouring Cheshire and by the end of 1996 at least 100 care workers had been arrested in this county. Some 20 miles beyond Chester, Liverpool became the centre of a 3rd massive investigation. These investigations cost £10 million and although they were launched with the aim of uncovering evidence of organised sexual abuse in care homes, no such evidence was ever found. After the conviction of John Allen in 1995, Detective Superintendent Ackerly of the North Wales Police said: "We thought at first that there was a paedophile ring. Now we know that it was just two evil men."

Most made their complaints as adults, not as children or teenagers, and only did so in response to a police trawling for evidence. Allegations against their former carers were actively solicited by police officers and former residents of care homes came to know that successful civil actions for alleged past abuse could result in up to £100,000 compensation.

Evidence now indicates that although there were a few genuine cases, a disturbing number were fabricated but believed by both police officers and the courts. There are 7 care workers from the North-west in prison who still protest their innocence.

A tribunal has now been set up to inspect the evidence which has led to the convictions already obtained. It is to be hoped that it will examine with the utmost scepticism the principle for what one senior police officer has called ‘corroboration by quantity’.

(Webster R (20 Jan 1997). Care Goes On Trial, The Guardian, London)

Germany

Family members found not guilty of organised sex ring with their children

In the early 1990s, sexual allegations were made between 2 feuding lower middle class German families in the context of a custody dispute, instigated by a grandmother. A 4 year old girl underwent an interrogation with the use of highly suggestive questioning and anatomically exaggerated dolls. As the investigation continued, her story became more and more bizarre and involved more and more children and adults, including the accusing grandmother. The investigator, Ms. U, talked of a porno ring involving both families (despite their well known feud), and asked the children about videos.

No videos or photographs were ever found but Child Protection Service placed 16 children (aged 6 months to 10 years) into a shelter. 33 adults were accused, and 24 (parents, uncles, nephews, and the grandmother who eventually died in prison) arrested. The children were so confused by suggestive questioning that they also accused Ms. U, the state prosecutor, police men, staff in the shelter and a life guard of participating in the sexual abuse.

Medical examinations were normal and a court-appointed forensic expert stated there was no evidence of abuse of any of the 16 children.

Court proceedings started on 24 Nov 1994. On 20 Dec 1996 the first 7 adults to be tried were all found not guilty. On 23 Jan 1997 the next 5 to be tried were also found not guilty, and the judge clearly stated that some accused were actually proven innocent and that the children had been damaged by the interrogation process.

The proceedings for the remaining 13 charged are scheduled for the fall of 97. The acquitted parents are fighting to have their children returned to their homes.

America

The Bobby Finje case

In 1989 in Florida, 14 year old Bobby Finje held 2 after-school jobs, one of which was a day-care worker at a church where his father was an elder. A 3 year old girl told her mother that she was afraid of her baby-sitter, Bobby (she later explained that his boisterous games scared her). The psychologist she was taken to rapidly decided that she had been sexually abused, despite her continued denials. After being pressured to tell with assurances such as once she did, she would not have to keep answering the questions, the child eventually made an accusation..

Bobby was arrested. An insulin-dependent diabetic, the boy became ill and unsteady during 7 hours of questioning during which he had almost no food. Promised he could leave if he confessed, he made a sort of confession, but when immediately taken into custody, he reasserted his innocence.

Other children at the pre-school were interviewed, and made accusations that Bobby had eaten a new-born baby, raped them, and danced naked on the roof. The prosecution dropped one of the 3 child witnesses before the trial because she was telling stories about digging up graves and a woman turning into a witch.

The 14 year old boy was tried as an adult. He remained in custody for over 20 months until his 3½ month trial. The jury found him not guilty on all charges. The Finje family and everyone else had to wait over an hour after the jury returned because State Attorney Janet Reno had requested that the verdict not be read until she arrived. Her assistant John Hogan later told a journalist that they had lost because they had not put enough money into the case.

Bobby’s father Robert Finje Sr has moved his family back to their home country, the Netherlands, away from the America he loved, because of his lawyer’s warnings that Attorney Reno’s office was considering new charges.

Janet Reno is now the attorney general of the United States.

(Dorothy Rabinowitz, the Bobby Finje case, Wall Street Journal, 28 Oct 1996)

The Grant Snowden case

In 1984, South Miami police officer Grant Snowden was accused of sexually abusing a 3 year old boy who had been attending his wife’s baby-sitting service since his infancy. At that point in time, Snowden was a dedicated and much decorated police officer. He had seen some suspicious welts on the child’s face and warned the parents about them – the allegations were made shortly afterwards. He was investigated on charges of sexual battery and suspended from work. A psychologist later testified that the child’s father kept pressing his son to make allegations against Snowden, but no evidence was forthcoming and the charges were dropped.

A few weeks later state attorney Janet Reno reopened the case. Other children who had attended the day-care were investigated, and an 11 year girl recalled that she had been molested by the Snowdens at age 4. Known as experts in child sex abuse, a couple called Laurie and Joseph Braga were moved by Ms Reno into the state prosecutor’s office (Laurie actually had a doctorate in speech pathology, and Joseph had one in education). The Bragas used anatomical dolls and "let’s pretend" games, bribes, pleas and explicit sexual suggestions to obtain testimony from the child witnesses. Despite the testimony based on the Braga’s interrogation, the defence was able to show that the 11 year old girl had not been baby-sat by the Snowdens for the entire span of months when the attacked were supposed to have occurred. He was acquitted.

Reno then filed new charges against him, this time involving a 4 year old girl and her 18 month old brother. At his 2nd trial, in 1986, the complaining girl told how she had visited the prosecutors 13 times and got better and better at telling her story. She could not however identify Snowden in court. The state attorney’s office prevented the court hearing about Snowden’s previous acquittal or his record as a model police officer. They did however hear from children who had nothing to do with the case – including the 4 year old boy whose parents had stated the chain of accusations, and a 6 year old girl interviewed by the Bragas.

The 4 year old girl had repeatedly told her mother that Mr Snowden had done nothing to her. Nevertheless, she was interviewed by the Bragas. During the interview she said nothing about abuse or sex, but offered many unrelated comments, including the wish that she could stay at the Snowden’s house forever. Dr Braga told her that a lot of other children had talked to her about "a grownup doing something with their penis" and her parents would be proud if she could tell. The children told Brags "because I’m the yucky secrets doctor". In time, the child told some "yucky secrets" but did not talk about any sexual contact until Brags said "Did he put his penis – let me show you – here, or did he put his penis here?"

In March 1986 Snowden was convicted and sentenced to 5 life terms. All appeal has been denied. He has served 10½ years to date.

(Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Pursuit of Justice in Dade County, Wall Street Journal, 28 Oct 1996)

District attorney wrongly prosecuted 5 men of sexually abusing children in Bronx day-care centers

In 1984, the Rev Nathaniel Grady was accused of sexually abusing a half-dozen 3-year-olds during nap time from his church day-care center. 15 months later he was convicted of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse. At 47, this clergyman became a convict facing 45 years behind bars.

At Clinton state prison he and 4 other men shared their stories: in a series of high-profile trials instigated by Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola, all had been convicted of sexually abusing children in Bronx day-care centers. They spoke of disappearing documents and uncorroborated testimony, of biased judges and tainted jurors, of kindergarten kids and an overzealous district attorney.

After more than a dozen years of legal battles, all 5 have had their convictions overturned, an extraordinary judicial rebuke of Merola’s prosecutions. None was ever retried. All blamed Merola’s fevered efforts. None received even a simple apology. This year Grady, after 13 appeals and more than 10 years in prison, was the last to walk free.

Merola was a politician turned prosecutor, a two-term city councilman who became Bronx district attorney in 1973. Balding and brash, Merola had a reputation for incorruptibility and a taste for publicity.

In February 1984, his office targeted two unlikely child molesters –the Rev. Grady, who was married with two children, and 21-year-old Alberto Ramos, an aspiring teacher from a close-knit family. City officials quickly cleared Ramos of rape allegations.

The Grady investigation was dry for months, but on 1 Aug, a Bronx woman, accompanied by her 4-year-old daughter Tiffany, told the DA’s office her child was sexually abused at the city-funded PRACA Day Care Center. Tiffany said other children were abused, and blamed her teacher, "Albert".

Merola moved quickly. Three workers at that center — Albert Algarin, 21; Jesus Torres, 29, Franklin Beauchamp, 27 were indicted on charges of rape, sodomy and sex abuse and Merola’s office reopened the case against Alberto Ramos. The PRACA cases were troublesome. Tiffany’s mother was irate at center management over a bill for six weeks back tuition. No adults could corroborate the children’s ever-changing allegations.

Most odious was the Ramos case, where prosecutors either lost or deliberately withheld evidence that could have cleared the college student of raping a 5-year-old girl at the Concourse Day Care Center. They never revealed that the girl openly masturbated at the center, which could explain her vaginal irritation, or that she frequently watched adult films on cable television, which could explain her detailed statement to prosecutors. They never divulged that the girl, in a pre-trial interview, told investigators that Ramos had done nothing, and they never surrendered a sign-in book that contradicted the girl’s grandmother, who claimed she found the child crying at school after the alleged incident. The book showed the woman was never in the building that day.

At one point during Grady’s 13 week trial, one of his "victims" identified the trial judge as his molester. Grady brought in 26 character witnesses – a bishop, a lawyer, a sitting judge, the Yonkers police commissioner. Nothing helped. He was convicted in Jan 1986.

In all 5 cases, children were rewarded by prosecutors for giving the right testimony. "I’ve been accused of giving them candy," Merola acknowledged at the time. "I plead guilty. I give them candy, I stroke them, I kiss them." It worked. All 5 defendants were in Clinton prison by August 1986.

In the summer of 1986, at the entreaty of Franklin Beauchamp’s family, attorney Joel Rudin read the transcript from his trial. "It was appalling, frightening," Rudin says. "It was the product of a very ambitious prosecutor who saw a good story and jumped on a national bandwagon. The true victims were the defendants." Rudin’s appeal argued the Beauchamp indictment was so vague that it was "virtually impossible for a defendant to answer the charges and to prepare a defence."

In May 1989, the state’s highest court agreed. It unanimously overturned Beauchamp’s conviction, condemning the original indictment as "duplicitous." He was released from prison, and over the next 7 years, his 4 imprisoned friends followed him back to the Bronx.

"The greatest crime of all in a civilised society is an unjust conviction," read the July 1992 ruling that freed Ramos. "It is truly a scandal."

(Larry McShane, Associated Press, New York `Only The Strong Survive’ Pastor, 4 Others Wrongly Convicted Of Child Sexual Abuse Seek Redemption’, 29 Nov 96)

Bienvenue case

In 1983 Robert and Richard Bienvenue Jr, aged 9 and 7, lived with their father and stepmother. Robert’s school teacher phoned them that she had found a sexually explicit drawing he had made of a kangaroo. Robert says that even at that age he had some sexual knowledge based on Playboy magazines and cable TV movies he had seen.

He said his father, Richard Bienvenue Sr forced him to repeat over and over a story that he and his brother had been sexually abused during weekends when they visited their mother and stepfather. Richard now tells much the same story: his father talked to his brother for several hours and then in front of both boys, he repeated accusations against Elizondo and their mother.

"That’s what happened, isn’t it?" Richard said his father kept repeating. "I said, `No, no, no, it didn’t happen.’ But after awhile I just gave up and said `Yes.’ I knew it was what he wanted to hear."

After they repeated this story to the police, the boys’ mother Mary Ann and their step-father Joe Elizondo were arrested. The authorities took their one year old daughter Jodie and had her raised by adoptive parents.

In 1984 the boys testified that their mother, Elizondo and sometimes another man and two women forcing the boys to take off their clothes and commit sexual acts with the adults and with each other. Elizondo was found guilty and received a life sentence. His wife pleaded no contest and received a 35-year sentence. She said that she pleaded no contest because her lawyer advised her that she would probably only serve 3 years and would then be able to get her little daughter back. She was released on parole 7 years later in 1991. She later had to serve several more months after refusing to participate in therapy ordered as part of her parole. She testified that mental health workers insisted that she admit that she sexually assaulted her children. Because she denied ever doing that, she refused to admit it. At Elizondo’s hearing last year, she continued to claim that both she and her now ex-husband are innocent. She has never seen her daughter Jodie again.

Both boys dropped out of high school and left home as soon as they were 17. They are close to their mother now and are equally adamant that she never molested them. In 1990 the brothers started a letter-writing campaign to free Joe and Mary Ann Elizondo, although Mary Ann was paroled before a hearing on her case was ever scheduled.

11 months ago a state district judge ruled that Robert and Richard Bienvenue Jr., now 23 and 21 respectively, lied during the trial of Joe Elizondo a dozen years ago. The judge recommended that Elizondo be released or at least given a new trial.

However Assistant District Attorney Rodney Conerly of Jefferson County said he believes the 1983 and 1984 statements. "These are not the kinds of things that they could have been taught to say," he said, noting that the boys told virtually the same story on several different occasions. He said Elizondo shouldn’t be released because people who sexually abuse children usually commit the same type of crime over and over again. Therefore the case is now being reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In the meantime, Elizondo waits in prison.

(Richard Stewart, Houston Chronicle East Texas Bureau, 1996)

Robert Kelly – Little Rascals Day Care Center case

In 1992 Little Rascals Day Care Center worker Robert Kelly Jr was convicted in 1992 on 99 counts of sexual abuse involving 12 children. He was sentenced to 12 consecutive life prison terms. 7 people were originally charged in the case, which began in 1989. Day care cook Kathryn Dawn Wilson was also convicted of abuse. Kelly’s wife, Elizabeth, pleaded no contest, as did acquaintance Willard S. Privott. 3 other people (2 former day care workers and another woman) remain to be tried, but Assistant District Attorney Nancy Lamb has said those cases would be difficult because the children’s memories may have faded.

Kelly’s conviction was overturned last year by the state Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial. Kelly was released on bond. Wilson’s convictions also were overturned.

Lamb has now filed new charges against Kelly, alleging that in 1987 he molested a girl who is now 18 and living in Texas. The charges are expected to be tried early in 1997.

Despite the fact that the law requires any report of sexual abuse to be investigated immediately, the prosecution only felt compelled to go out and find this witness once Kelly had won his appeal. Lamb says that she intends to try Kelly on the new charges before deciding what action to take with the overturned convictions. Kelly has always adamantly denied all charges.

(Estes Thompson, Raleigh Observer News, 3 Dec 1996 Associated Press, Landmark Communications Inc)

Media

New Zealand

Young women and men equally likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study involves following a birth cohort of 1000 NZ men and women born in 1972-3. This sample population has been used to study a number of medical and social issues.

Director of the study Dr Phil Silva and colleagues have recently co-authored a paper summarising research on partner violence studied when the participants were 21. They found that women and men are equally likely to engage in violence against their partners, and this parallels results from overseas research. Many international studies have demonstrated that both women and men equally engage in physical violence in their intimate relationships, although men are likely to cause more injury than women.

Last year saw the publication of the Justice Department’s $1.5 million research project "Hitting Home: men speak about abuse of women partners", which defined domestic abuse as "abuse of women by male partners" and claimed an alarming prevalence of physical and psychological violence by men against women.

The Dunedin figures demonstrate that partners are mutually involved and that domestic violence is a relationship problem. Only when both men and women recognise and acknowledge the part they play in the conflict, will the problem be able to be redressed, and happier, mutually more trusting and co-operative relationships be established. Making men solely responsible for the problem gives women carte blanche to be as vicious or nasty as they like. This will only hasten the demise of their relationships and leave both parties angry and embittered.

Predictably, the National Collective of Independent Refuges slammed the research findings, claiming that the 17 page report was manipulating statistics and giving men excuses for violence.

(Evening Post, 11 Dec 1996)

Britain

Is Princess Di a sex abuse survivor?

Princess Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, blamed a distressing letter she had received for landing her in court on a drink-driving charge. Oban Sheriff Court found she was almost three times over the legal alcohol limit.

The letter was sent by authors Chris Hutchins and Dominic Midgley, who were researching a book about Diana. It said an expert on bulimia had said that no less than 90% of those suffering from it had been sexually abused when they were young, and when there was also self-mutilation, an action Princess Di freely admits to, the incidence of sexual abuse in childhood is even higher. The authors therefore asked her mother if she was aware of her daughter ever having been sexually abused as a child. This suggestion apparently caused her mother to drink a lot of alcohol and then drive her car while intoxicated.

(Padraic Flanagan, Press Association News 24 Nov 96)

Remind me one more time..’,

The Economist issue 18-01-97 Page 83

An excellent summary about the rise of recovered memories, especially in legal situations. Concludes: "The recovered-memory bandwagon needs to be trundled sharply out of the courts that have been unwise enough to let it in."

Australia

‘One in 5 women sexually abused in childhood, study finds’

Sweet M, (20 Jan 1997), Sydney Morning Herald.

This article reports about a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, involving a random sample of 710 Australian women. It claims that 1 in 5 suffered sexual abuse as a child but less than 10% of cases were reported to police or other authorities.

Overall, 35% of the surveyed women reported some sexual abuse or experience that was unwanted or distressing during childhood, with 20% reporting abuse involving genital contact. 2 % had suffered abuse involving either vaginal or anal intercourse. Only 8% of abusers were strangers, with 41% being family members including biological relatives and stepfathers or adoptive fathers. 75% said some form of coercion had been involved, with most being frightened into compliance.

Men were the perpetrators in 98% of cases and were on average 24 years older than the child at the time of the abuse. Girls who grew up without a biological father or step-father were at greatest risk.

In an editorial in the journal, Professor Sarah Romans, a NZ psychiatrist now at the University of London, said: "It is important the diversionary debate about false memory and recovered memory, fuelled by adversarial court cases, does not deflect practitioners from accepting what patients report. False reporting is probably much less frequent than false denial."

What is not reported is how the women’s retrospective allegations were all confirmed to be genuine episodes and how false memories were able to be excluded.

Australia

6 year old girl accused of "offensive touching"

Stephanie Martin, a 6 year old girl attending Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Delaware, gave primary teacher Laurie Wicks a ‘love pat’ on the bottom. The teacher talked to the principal, who talked to the school district’s superintendent, who called the Delaware Attorney General’s Office to ask whether the child violated a 4-year-old state law against "offensive touching". The Attorney General’s Office told school officials the incident qualified as offensive touching.

The law was designed to force school districts to involve law enforcement in cracking down on crime. Appoquinimink school officials said that in this case their hands were tied by the law.

The girl’s mother, Gerrie Martin, said her daughter has done nothing but cry since Monday. "She said she was giving her a love pat. It’s something she and I do. I never dreamt it would come to this. She said, ‘I was just saying hi to her.’ In her mind, she has no idea why she is in trouble."

Finally, after a further meeting between her mother and the superintendent of the Appoquinimink School District, Tony Marchio, it was decided to clear Stephanie and accept that her behaviour was not a criminal act.

(The Washington Times, 13 December 1996)

Literature

Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse: a concise history of the phenomenon, and the key psychological concepts to understanding the disputes concerning such claims

Tully B (1996). Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, 3, 73-79.

The title says it all – this is a very good summary of key historical, theoretical, research and legal milestones about this phenomenon.

Ethical issues in the search for repressed memories

Merskey Harold (1996). American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50 (30, 323-335.

This paper discusses the origins and present status of the concepts ‘repression’ and ‘dissociation’; documents the development of the recovered-memory movement and the objections made about this movement on the grounds that it may produce false memories. Merskey concludes that recovered memory therapy is unsound in principle and often harmful in practice.

A Nation of Victims: the decay of the American character

Sykes Charles (1992), St Martin’s Press, New York.

This book explores how the United States has evolved into a society of victims who absolve themselves from any personal responsibility for their behaviour by blaming others. While people’s expectations and belief in their entitlements has grown, there has been a corresponding claim to be the victim of misfortune or injustice. To be a member of an oppressed minority (female, black, poor, homosexual, unemployed, indigenous) has become an asset. Victim status is also claimed by those who suffer from co-dependency, ageism, ‘lookism’ (bias against the unattractive), obesity or having been psychologically scarred by toxic parents or child abuse.

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Manufacturing Victims: what the psychology industry is doing to people

Dineen Tana (1996). Robert Davies Publishing, Canada.

This hard-hitting, highly researched and well-referenced book chronicles how and why a psychological industry has developed in North America. Clinical practitioners (including psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and social workers) have created a huge growth industry for their own benefit: they are in the business of manufacturing victims and marketing treatments, causing untold damage to individuals, family and society in the process.

Talk of the Devil: repressed memory and the ritual abuse witch-hunt

Guilliatt Richard (1996). Text Publishing Company, Melbourne.

This book gives the Australian perspective on recovered memories of ritual abuse, and how public hysteria and zealous professionals have created a witch hunt which has destroyed families. It details some of the recent Australian high-profile cases.

Policy Statement on the evaluation and treatment of adults with the possibility of recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) , June 1996, USA

This includes sensible guidelines for social workers whose role should be "empathetic, neutral and non-judgemental". "Attitudes of enthusiastic belief or disbelief" may have an effect on the treatment process. Therapy should be forward-looking rather than examining past perceived trauma and its aim is to reduce or eliminate symptoms and help clients "function appropriately and comfortably in .. daily life."

Clinical social workers should inform clients who report a memory of sexual abuse that "it may be an accurate memory of an actual event, an altered of distorted memory of an actual event, or the recounting of an event that did not happen".

If all clinical social workers and other health professionals followed these guidelines, many of the tragedies dealt with by COSA might have been prevented.

Consciousness Explained

Dennett D (1991), Little, Brown & Co, Boston.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett suggests that there are "multiple drafts" of any possible memory, that at different places and times, different parts of the brain registers and discriminates different visual and other stimuli. Some soon die out, leaving no trace; others do leave traces which may be later incorporated into various memories. There is continuous editing by many processes throughout the brain: "contents arise, get revised, contribute to the interpretation of other contents or to the modulation of behavior (verbal and otherwise) and in the process leave their traces in memory., which then eventually decay or get incorporated into or overwritten by later contents, wholly or in part. ..At any point in time there will be multiple drafts of narrative fragments at various stages of editing in various parts of the brain". When this narrative stream is probed, there will be various narratives produced in response, depending on what is probed for, and if the probe is delayed too long, there may well be no narrative left at all.

"I didn’t tell for 33 years": an incest survivor tells her story

Russell Diana (fall 1995), Journal of Psychohistory, 23 (2), 149-190.

In this epic (42 page) case history of Bridget whose memories of incest first emerged in group meetings when she was 44, Russell claims her client’s accounts must be authentic because of the detail Bridget recounts; the extreme distress she manifests and her adult problems such as eating disorder, alcohol abuse and migraine headaches.

Peter and Pauline Lynch – Case History

Names and details of case histories are changed to avoid identification of those involved. Please contact the Editor if you would like to have your case presented.

Peter Lynch and his wife Pauline are New Zealand farmers. In 1992 the Newby family moved into a house adjacent to theirs. The couple had teenage sons and a daughter Shona, who was 13 when they first lived there. Shona was described by Pauline and others as a rather lonely girl, and Peter also felt a bit sorry for her because she was often excluded from her brothers’ activities. As they had done with other children, the Lynches invited her to join in activities on the farm. Shona accompanied Peter duck shooting on several occasions, and Pauline helped her with her pony.

Shona appeared to develop a crush on one of Peter’s farm employees, Sam Johnson. This was noticed by others, including Sam’s wife. Shona started telling stories about Sam, and in February 1993 Peter heard she was claiming that Sam was going to give up his job and move into a cottage, and Shona was to live there as his housekeeper. Peter confronted Shona and told her to stop seeing Sam. Shona became very angry and said to Peter: "I’m going to get you".

A week or two later, in March 1993, 14½ year old Shona went to the police alleging that Sam Johnson had had consensual sexual relationships with her from December 1992 until February 1993.

Eleven days later she went back to the police, claiming that Peter Lynch had had non-consensual sex with her on a number of occasions in 1992 from May onwards. Several of these were claims that he had forced her to engage in oral sex and other offences when they were together in a duck shooting mai mai (hide). She said he threatened to cut her throat and had a loaded gun with him so she could not stop him. She also gave this evidence to a Children and Young Person’s Service interviewer. Her initial complaint involved 7 alleged incidents.

Shona was no stranger to talking to the police about sexual allegations. Six months earlier, in September 1992, she had made a statement to the police that a friend of hers had disclosed incest to her. Shona said she was the first person her girlfriend had ever told that her father was sexually abusing her. She subsequently appeared as a witness in this man’s trial. All charges against him were dismissed.

The following month, on 21 April 1993, Sam was charged with a number of sexual offences. Sam denied ever having had a sexual relationship with Shona. His case went to trial in July 1994, and he was acquitted on all charges.

The police did not follow up the charges against Peter for over a year after Shona first made her allegations. They first interviewed him in April 1994. In May 1994 Shona made a further statement to the police, claiming that she now remembered the last incident that Peter had molested her, which she said had taken place on Christmas day 1992. In June 1994, Peter was arrested and charged with 10 counts of indecent assault of Shona from May to 25 December 1992. The number further escalated to 12 accusations.

Peter’s case came to trial in September the following year (1995). Peter denied that any of the offences had ever taken place. The jury could not decide on a verdict and this trial resulted in a hung jury.

His second trial took place in November that year. The number of accusations had now increased to 14 different charges. He had strong alibis for the Christmas day incident, having been with his father and with a European man who was staying with them at the time. The European friend came out to New Zealand for both trials to testify this. However despite this, the jury chose to believe the complainant rather than Peter, his father, and their European friend. They found Peter guilty on 8 counts, including the Christmas Day incident. In 1995 he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.

Peter mounted an appeal. His family and his community had always stood behind him and believed him innocent. He had numerous people prepared to be character witnesses in his defence, and a group of friends formed a committee to help fight his case. They put out regular newsletters; raised money and supported Peter, Pauline and their family throughout this time. They had a campaign to obtain CVs from his supporters, and received 256 letters.

One of the main troubles in Peter’s trials was the judges not allowing evidence regarding the complainant’s involvement in other sexual abuse allegations, which might have led to juries examining her credibility more critically. Some of the witnesses called by the prosecution in Peter’s trials had appeared in previous discredited trials with similar accusations, but the defence were not allowed to question them about these. Furthermore, even though the complainant’s own parents had said on record on at least two occasions that she was a compulsive liar and should not be believed, this was not allowed to be mentioned in the trials.

Peter’s appeal was heard in September 1996. 30 of his supporters travelled by mini-bus and private car all the way from their small town to the city where it was heard. The Appeal Court judges agreed he had grounds for a retrial and he was released from prison. Bail conditions severely restricted his movements and place of abode. He was not allowed to come within 5 kilometres of his family home (because that was adjacent to where the complainant lived) so he and his family had to find somewhere else to live.

The cost of Peter’s first two trials and his Appeal was $115,000. Peter and Pauline then had to put their property up for sale to finance the third trial which took place in December 1996. The jury found him not guilty on all charges.

Three and a half years after the accusations were first made, Peter is now back home living with his wife and family and trying to pick up the pieces of his life.

Correspondence

Letter to the Editor

In the December newsletter it was stated that "COSA calls for some equity of sentencing. The courts need to give a very clear message that making a false complaint is a serious crime and should be punished accordingly. A few months counselling and supervision ordered in this (the Nick Wills case) and similar cases by the courts does not equate with the potential damage suffered by the falsely accused."

While I understand the reasons for calling for such equity, I do not share this view IF the person who makes the false complaint has voluntarily admitted doing so. There are extreme social sanctions already that make it extremely difficult for those who have laid a false complaint to tell the truth.

Harsher penalties may make the public feel satisfied that "justice has been done" and that a "suitable" penalty has been applied. This will ignore the consequence that other people in the future who may otherwise have voluntarily told the truth will be less inclined to be so honest. Such a policy will be counterproductive for the falsely accused.

Those who have had contact with retractors will be aware that those people are likely in most cases to have already suffered and continue to suffer immensely. They have their own trauma in coming to terms with reality and fully realising the consequences of what they have done.

As a falsely accused man, who fully understands the psychological horror of my own situation, I have no wish to put any other human through any similar horror, whether they are an accuser or not. Retractors deserve our utmost love and support and understanding. This is not meant to imply that what they have done is not extremely serious.

Anonymous.

[COSA agrees that accusers who withdraw their allegations and those who make false allegations sincerely but wrongly believing they have been abused, should be treated with much more leniency than those who are shown to be deliberately making a false allegation for personal gain. - Ed]

Family shattered by ‘recovered memory’ accusations

"[Regarding] our traumatic experience of last year’s false accusations by [two of our daughters] against [my husband]. Words fail me – there is just no logical explanation or understanding of their actions, and the only outcome has been a full exoneration by the court of [my husband] at the pre-hearing trial, and a family now utterly devastated and broken – which to [us] is now irreparable. It seems it would take a miracle for us as parents and the seven other children to understand and forgive their horrendous conduct.

…We have both suffered the effects of a complete physical and emotional washout during these past months only now beginning to relate to some sort of "normal living" again. Our family have been absolutely tremendous throughout this whole nightmare. Our older grandchildren were informed of what was happening, and their response with beautiful letters and loving actions has made life worth living again."

Wife of accused.

Newsletters received by COSA

Canadian FMS Support Groups Newsletter Dec 1996 / Jan 1997 4 Vol 1 & 2

Book reviews and discussion of issues pertaining to the recovered memory problem afflicting Canadian families.

FMS Foundation Newsletter Jan 1997 6 (1)

Includes a 4 page summary of important FMS-related events in 1996 and a discussion by Dr Harrison Pope regarding the neurophysiological ‘evidence" claimed to support repression of traumatic memories.

AFMA Newsletter Dec 1996 3 (4)

Local information and news from Australia. Includes a personal case history from a 75 year old father whose daughter recovered memories of him raping her from the age of 4.

British False Memory Society Newsletter Dec 1996 4 (2)

Includes a report on the Ritual Abuse Information Network Support (RAINS) conference held in Warwick University in Sep 1996. This conference was based on the assumption that satanic ritual abuse and multiple personality disorder are real and common. Speakers included American clinical psychologist SRA fanatic Catherine Gould, and British psychotherapist Valerie Sinason. Sinason published a book in 1994 on how to treat SRA survivors, which included a chapter by Arno and Marianne Bentovim, SRA enthusiasts whom DSAC sponsored to NZ last year to teach our health professionals.

DSAC National Newsletter Dec 1996 31.

This issue includes a report of a DSAC members meeting with Auckland Crown Prosecutors. All agreed that even if there were no positive findings of an alleged victim on medical examination, the doctor should be encouraged to appear in court, "so that the jury are made aware of the significance of ‘normal’ findings" (ie that they are consistent with abuse).

Coming events

Professor Bruce Perry

3 one-day workshops on "Assessment and treatment of maltreated children: a neuro-developmental approach", Auckland 11 Mar; W ellington 14 Mar; Christchurch 17 Mar 1997.

Supported by DSAC, Dr Perry teaches how traumatic events in childhood cause brain changes and offers a model on how to treat traumatised children.

Christine Courtois

3 one-day seminars on "Delayed memory controversy: guidelines for practice", Auckland 15 May; Wellington 17 May; Christchurch 19 May 1997.

Also sponsored by DSAC, Courtois has been a strong promoter of recovered memories in the past. She has written that because sexual abuse memories are "so often hidden, dissociated or repressed", if a client has symptoms "suggestive of an abuse history the therapist must raise the issue with the client" and even if the abuse is denied, therapists who continue to have suspicions must "continue to explore its possibility and.. connect abuse with its associated symptoms". She supports the view that "memory can return in many forms, including dreams and nightmares, flashbacks" and that an integral part of the healing process is the client moving from denial and dissociation to believing that this remembered abuse really happened. She claims that "the work of therapy is to validate the reality of the original injury" and in the past has advocated the use of "exercises such as guided relaxation and imagery, hypnotic techniques including age regression, bibliotherapy, childhood pictures and other memorablia … to encourage recall.".

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