COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter May 1995 Volume 2 No 4
Contents of this page:
Editorial: COSA now Incorporated
Media: Assignment, Rob Harley – stories of 3 families whose daughters attended Gleneg Health Clinic, Christchurch, in 1987.
Literature: End Ritual Abuse Newsletter ERA runs a weekly support group for "Satanic ritual abuse survivors". One of these women describes the process of how she recovered memories of being satanically abused through her therapy and came to discover she had multiple personalities inside her. One of them has disclosed scenes of ritual abuse involving "chanting, robes, darkness, candles, evil people looking at her, alters and being sexually abused."
Features: Correspondence from a prisoner convicted on the basis of recovered memories.
Coming Events First International Forum: A critical look at the functioning of Child Protection Services, Zeist, the Netherlands
Well, we are finally incorporated and on the way to obtaining funding for our activities. The bulk of this newsletter contains our objects and rules, and all current COSA members will also receive an invitation to our inaugural AGM. As our membership extends the length of the country and even beyond, I appreciate that it will be impossible for most of you to attend, but I hope many of our local members will be able to come, and I look forward to seeing you all then.
We are also in the process of inviting professionals to join our Advisory Board, and are drafting a booklet about COSA to be disseminated throughout the country at venues such as libraries and Citizen Advice Centres.
Our strength is in our members – thank you all for your past support and please encourage others to join us. We are keeping our membership fee at $15 (or $25 for professionals) because we are aware that many of our members are in grave financial hardship. This does not cover the full costs of distributing our newsletters, however, let alone start to fund any of the other projects we are embarking on, so any additional contributions would be gratefully received!
Several of our members have inquired about subscribing on behalf of other people, whom they would like to receive newsletters. You are welcome to do this: we will send an initial newsletter to these people explaining the situation, and telling them to let us know if they would like to be removed from our mailing list.
We also send free copies to key people in politics and the media. These are clearly read by at least some of the recipients. In a recent National Radio interview, Kim Hill asked me why I appeared to publish all cases involving sexual abuse dealt with by our courts, with the implication that all allegations are actually false.
In fact, the cases I report represent only a small fraction of all those dealt with, many of which are clearly genuine. Where I suspect false allegations are where I see certain patterns of accusations, such as those claimed to have happened in the distant past and based solely on "recovered memories", for which the probability that they occurred has to be very low. Custody disputes are similarly another area of concern. The cases I report in the COSA newsletter are largely ones where there is no corroborative evidence and it seems unlikely that guilt could have been established beyond reasonable doubt. Many are historical accusations dating back 20, 30 or 40 years, and hence are extremely difficult to defend.
I am currently in the process of sending out surveys to all families where a family member has made allegations of sexual abuse on the basis of recovered memories. This is a modified version of a survey used by FMSF in America, and a similar one is being distributed in Britain. Please let me know if I have missed you off my list, or if you know of other families in this situation who might agree to be surveyed. If you have received a survey and do not wish to complete it, or believe it is not applicable to you, I would be grateful if you would return it in the stamped envelope provided. Many completed questionnaires have already been returned, and the response rate is looking very pleasing to date. Thanks to all concerned.
Rules of Casualties of Sexual Allegations Incorporated
The Association shall be called "Casualties of Sexual Allegations Incorporated" hereinafter called COSA.
Along with the problem of genuine sexual abuse, Western society is currently afflicted by a parallel problem of false allegations and their adverse social effects. The latter is largely created by misguided investigative and therapeutic practices. COSA is an action group formed in response to the increasing problem of false allegations and to uphold the principles of science and justice. COSA acknowledges that sexual abuse does occur in our society, and this abhorrent practice is in no way accepted or condoned by COSA.
COSA’s purpose is to foster and promote sound and reliable scientific knowledge concerning sexual abuse, to provide support for people involved in false allegations, and promote changes that will minimise the creation of wrongful accusations.
To achieve its purpose COSA has the following objects.
To provide education about sexual abuse issues by:
- disseminating information about true and false allegations of sexual abuse, especially to professionals working in the field, those involved in false allegations, the media, politicians, and the public at large;
- ensuring professional procedures are implemented which provide safeguards against the dissemination of misinformation, and redress this when it occurs;
- documenting cases and collecting and collating demographic data regarding false allegations.
To support those people involved in false allegations of sexual abuse by:
- providing a forum for them to communicate and share their experiences;
- helping establish reliable methods to discriminate between true and false claims, and determine the psychological and other reasons they are made;
- directing those involved to appropriate and available health, legal and other services and resources;
- fostering opportunities to reconcile families and relationships and to repair the damage caused by false allegations of sexual abuse.
To promote changes which help prevent the creation of false allegations by:
- improving public awareness about the nature and prevalence of false allegations of sexual abuse, the conditions and practices causing and sustaining them, and the steps that affected individuals can take to bring truth and well being back into their lives;
- opposing the use of any programmes or procedures which have not been demonstrated to be effective and safe, unless the clients concerned give their informed consent to the use of experimental and speculative practices;
- ensuring mechanisms are established which allow professionals working in the field to be held accountable for any misinformation they impart, or iatrogenic practices they inflict upon their clients;
- challenging those aspects of statutory law and precedents which are contrary to the principles of natural justice, and which are affecting the ability of the judicial system to reach true and proper outcomes;
- challenging those aspects of law enforcement policies and practices that result in inhumane treatment and unnecessary suffering by all affected individuals;
- calling for judicial review of all convictions made in the absence of corroborative evidence;
- promoting competent scientific, medical and psychological research in sexual abuse issues including those conditions which lead to false allegations, and disseminating these results to relevant professionals and the general public;
- acknowledging that the natural parents and families of children are their preferable caregivers, and supporting programmes and protocols which, whenever possible, maximise children’s care and safety without their removal from parent or family.
Application for membership
Membership is open to all persons or corporate bodies who agree with the objects of COSA. Application for membership shall be submitted to the secretary on the membership application form together with the annual subscription fee. Applicants will become members when a duly submitted application has been confirmed by the executive committee and their name and details have been entered into the register of members.
Members shall be entitled to attend and speak at any Special General Meeting and each Annual General Meeting of COSA.
Entitlement to vote
Only financial members of COSA shall vote. Each member shall have only one vote on any question presented to the membership at a Special General or Annual General meeting. Voting at all meetings shall be by show of hands, except that a ballot may be called for on any question if 20% or more of the members present at any meeting require one and provided that members may also vote by proxy authorised in writing, by way of postal vote or any other electronic means which clearly communicates their view on an issue.
Termination of membership
Members may terminate their membership by giving notice in writing to the secretary. Membership of any person or corporate body may for disciplinary reasons be terminated or temporarily suspended. When a question of the need for such discipline arises, the affected individual or a representative of the affected corporate body shall be invited to present a case to a meeting of the Executive Committee, and may be accompanied by one supporter during such presentation. Members of the Executive Committee shall have the power to question the affected person and their supporter to determine the facts relevant to the matter under consideration. At the same meeting, the Executive Committee shall decide the question of termination, suspension or continuation of membership by a 75% majority vote. Such decision shall be final.
The President shall give written notice of such decision to the individual or corporate body within seven days of the decision being made. The Secretary shall annotate the Register of Members to reflect such terminations or suspensions.
5. Meetings of members
Annual General Meetings
The Annual General Meeting of COSA will be held at a time and place decided by the Executive Committee. The members shall be notified of the Annual General Meeting by notice in the newsletter sent to each member or by a special notice sent to each member. 14 days clear notice must be given prior to the meeting and must state the agenda and give notice of all motions that will be put to the meeting. Members shall not pass a resolution at either an Annual General or Special General Meeting on any issue which has not been notified as above.
Special General Meetings
Special General Meetings may be called by resolution of the Executive Committee or by the secretary when petitioned to do so by written application signed by not less than 20 members or 20% of the membership. Notice to members of a special General meeting shall be the same as that for an Annual General Meeting.
Powers of chairperson
At any meeting of the Executive Committee or members, the President shall be the chairperson. If the President does not attend, the meeting shall elect a chairperson. The chairperson at any meeting of the members, executive committee, or subcommittee shall be entitled to an ordinary vote and in the event of a tie in the vote shall also have a casting vote.
A quorum at a meeting of members shall be 10 members.
Conduct of meetings
Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders detailed at the Appendix to these rules.
6. Officers and the Executive Committee
The officers of COSA and their duties are as follows:
President – spokesperson, chair person, manages or directs management of statistical data, supervise, direct and monitor Committee work.
Secretary – manages administrative correspondence, convenes meetings, keeps minutes of meetings, mails newsletter and other publication and material as required. The Secretary shall keep a Register of all members.
Treasurer – funds, funding applications, expenses, salaries and wages, annual financial statement.
Area contact co-ordinator – communicates with local contact people, monitors, supervises and co-ordinates their activities.
Editor – drafts and issues newsletter and other written material as might be required, manages information services. All written material shall be vetted by the President before distribution.
Representative of the Professional Advisory Board – if and when required, communicates with members of the Advisory Board, convenes any meetings of the Board and represents their views to the Executive Committee.
Any one officer may hold any two appointments.
Election of officers
The first President of COSA shall be elected at the inaugural general meeting of COSA. For the first term, the President shall then appoint the other members of the Executive Committee. The President shall invite a member of the Professional Advisory Board to join the Executive Committee.
Executive Committee Members shall hold office until they cease to hold membership or tender their resignation from office in writing to the President or Secretary, or until they are removed from office by a 75% majority resolution of members present at any Annual General meeting or a Special General Meeting summoned for that purpose.
In the event of a vacancy occurring, due to death, resignation, or extended leave of absence of any Executive Committee member the committee shall have the power to fill such vacancy, from within the membership, while it exists. The committee at all time shall have the power to co-opt.
7. Meetings of the Executive Committee
The day to day administration of the Society shall be conducted by the Executive Committee which shall meet at such times and in such manner as the Committee shall from time to time decide. The Committee’s functions shall include the following:
- Appoint members to the Professional Advisory Board
- Prepare and monitor progress on the COSA Annual Plan
- Receive and comment on the reports of committees
- Plan and hold Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings when required
- Any such other act that is consistent with the objects of COSA
At any Executive Committee meeting half the committee members shall form a quorum.
Each member of the executive shall have only one vote on any question presented to the Executive Committee provided that members may also vote by proxy authorised in writing, by way of postal vote or any other electronic means which clearly communicates their view on an issue.
8. Professional Advisory Board
COSA will establish a Professional Advisory Board to provide reliable and credible scientific and professional advice on legal, medical, psychological and related matters. Practitioners of appropriate professional standing shall be invited to join this Board. One Board member shall be invited to join the Executive Committee of COSA as the Professional Advisory Board representative.
The Executive Committee may from time to time resolve to form subcommittees for any special purpose. The purpose and terms of reference of any subcommittee will form part of the resolution and any activity outside that purpose and terms of reference shall not be attributable to COSA.
Subcommittees will have the same power as ordinary members unless the Executive Committee specifically provides otherwise. The Executive Committee may resolve to disband a subcommittee at any time and for any reason.
The Executive Committee may publish a magazine or other circular or publication to further the objects of COSA and may distribute it among members and also the public either free or at a price fixed by the Executive Committee. No statement, publication or communication shall be valid or attributable to COSA unless vetted or signed by the President. The President or other such member of COSA delegated by the President in writing for a specific purpose or purposes shall be the only spokespersons for COSA.
Control of funds and assets
The funds of COSA shall be lodged at a bank to an account in the name of COSA Incorporated. All payments from the account shall be made by cheque, signed by any two of President, Secretary or Treasurer. The Treasurer shall receive all monies, issue receipts, maintain accurate books of account, and prepare statements including Receipts and Payments, Income and Expenditure and Balance Sheets. The Treasurer shall present accurate accounts and statements to the Annual General Meeting for inspection and approval. An auditor may be appointed by the Executive Committee.
The funds, property and assets of COSA shall be under the control of the Executive Committee who shall have full power to expend, rent, lease, furnish and deal with buildings land and other property of COSA as the executive may think fit without reference to a general meeting of members except in the case of the winding up of COSA.
In addition to the other powers vested in it the Executive Committee shall have power to apply for funding, or to borrow or raise money or to invest monies from time to time as it sees fit and without reference to the members.
COSA shall raise funds by annual subscription which may be set from time to time by the Executive Committee. Subscriptions shall be due and payable on 1 April annually. Members joining on or after 1 October in any year shall pay only two thirds of the full annual subscription.
The financial year for COSA shall be the calendar period between 1 April in any one year and 31 March of the following year.
Other powers relating to property
All legacies, endowments, donations or gifts of money or other real or personal property unless given to COSA for any specific object shall be dealt with by the Executive Committee as they think fit for the general purposes of COSA.
12. Provisions for winding up COSA
COSA’s affairs may be wound up voluntarily if at meeting of COSA the members pass by a simple majority to do so, providing that this winding up resolution is confirmed at a subsequent general meeting called for the purpose as required by section 24 of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. If upon the winding up or dissolution of COSA there remains after the satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities any property whatsoever this property shall not be distributed amongst its members but shall be given or transferred to some other organisation or body having objects within New Zealand similar to the objects of COSA, or for some other charitable purpose within New Zealand.
13. Common seal
The common seal of COSA shall be that adopted by the Executive Committee and shall be kept by the secretary. Whenever the common seal is required to be affixed to any deed, document or other instrument, the seal shall be affixed pursuant to a resolution of the Executive Committee and in the presence of the President and another member of the Executive Committee or at a general meeting of COSA. The President and another member of the Executive Committee shall sign every instrument to which the seal is affixed in their presence.
14. Alteration to Rules
These rules may be altered, added to, or rescinded or otherwise amended by a resolution passed by a 75% majority at a general meeting. Every such notice shall set forth the purport of such amendment.
Duplicate copies of every such alteration, addition, recission or amendment shall forthwith be delivered to the Registrar of Incorporated Societies in accordance with the provisions of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908.
COSA may seek to invite an eminent person to become its Patron. Nominations for patronage shall be actioned at an Annual or Special General Meeting.
16. Matters not provided for
In the event of any matter arising that is not covered in the written rules it shall be competent for the Executive to legislate therefor, pending confirmation or otherwise by the annual or special annual general meeting of COSA.
Dunedin man acquitted of indecent assault
A High Court jury acquitted a 36 year old man on all charges of indecent assault alleged to have been performed on his former defacto wife’s daughters, then aged between 5 and 8, and 3 and 6. The accusations began when the partner’s current boyfriend asked the girls, now aged 13 and 11, if the defendant had ever done anything sexual to them. The older girl said she had "forgotten about the incidents and only recalled them" when her sister began to make allegations during questioning.
Otago Times, Feb 1995
Assignment, Rob Harley, TV1, 28 April 1995
This documentary presented the stories of 3 families whose daughters attended Gleneg Health Clinic, Christchurch, in 1987, when they were about 8 years old. There had never been any suggestion that any of these girls had been sexually abused. All 3 were examined by the Camp doctor, Diane Espie, apparently without parental consent. She found that they had what she interpreted as enlarged vaginal openings and told them they had been sexually abused. Then followed interviews to reveal the offender. All 3 denied any molestation, but despite this, Espie reported they had been abused, probably by their fathers, and requested DSW to remove them from their homes.
In the case of Caroline Gibling, her hymenal diameter was said to be 6mm, and Espie believed that anything over 4mm indicated penetration. To put this in perspective, the average diameter of an adult index finger is 15 to 20mm, and a penis 25 to 30mm. Solely on this "evidence", despite Caroline’s repeated denials, she was put in fostercare and did not see her father again for the next 8 years. Now that she is 17, CYPS have no further jurisdiction over her, and she has reunited with her family.
Whilst Espie acknowledges that the current literature now indicates that a hymenal size greater than 4mm does not indicate sexual abuse in an 8 year old, she offers no apology for the damage and heartache she has caused these families.
End Ritual Abuse Newsletter vol 2 no 1 March 1995
This 20 page newsletter, funded by a $1300 Lottery Board grant, is largely filled with emotional writings lifted from other publications.
ERA runs a weekly support group for "satanic ritual abuse survivors" two of whom share their "stories" with readers. One of these women describes the process of how she recovered memories of being satanically abused through her therapy and came to discover she had multiple personalities inside her. One of them has disclosed scenes of ritual abuse involving "chanting, robes, darkness, candles, evil people looking at her, alters and being sexually abused". She remembers "her hands and feet had crosses cut into them". She says holds onto a small brown teddybear and attends the survivors group to give her the strength "to face more terrifying memories" and stop herself from feeling "crazy and confused about my flashbacks and memories". She talks about herself in the plural and says "we all go to bed at night feeling scared".
This woman had to leave her full-time employment "because looking at myself is so emotionally and physically draining".
The therapy these women are undergoing does not seem to improve their functioning in any way as responsible adults in control of their lives. They appear to become increasingly distressed, disturbed and dependent as the therapy continues.
Correspondence from a prisoner
We have received communication from another prisoner convicted on the basis of recovered memories. His daughter, now 21, claims to have remembered incidents of abuse when she was 3 years old, and one when she was only 14 months. The original reason for her counselling was post-natal depression. The psychologist’s report stated that the daughter "was experiencing a florid psychosis at times" and described her behaviour as "disordered, erratic, confused, preoccupied with occult and abstract beliefs", and "might suffer hallucinations". The psychologist attributed this mental state to the sexual abuse "remembered in therapy" to have occurred 17 years earlier. The presence of an acute psychotic illness was apparently not considered to indicate that this daughter’s testimony might be unreliable.
Extract from a COSA member’s application to ACC for costs.
"As a result of inept counselling by ACC-funded health professionals, devastating emotional and financial damage was inflicted on me.
Despite 100s of persons "recovering" memories of abuse by aliens from outer space, despite investigations of 100s of cases of "memories" of satanic ritual abuse, not one of which could be substantiated, belief appears to be held for the authenticity of recovered memories by many ACC-registered sexual abuse therapists.
Four such therapists appeared for the Prosecution at my trial. One had deliberately shredded her notes. By trial time this daughter said she had always had the memories – fortunately we had her original statement to the police which stated "I first started having bad memories of my father in late 1989". This therapist avoided some questions saying she had no memory, yet testified that my daughter "had suffered childhood trauma consistent with sexual abuse". This daughter had twice suffered, at age 4 and 6, from Guillan Barr Syndrome (creeping paralysis), an extremely savage and painful sickness. The 1st time she was not expected to live, the 2nd not expected to walk unaided. Both times on life support, unable to breath. Anything more traumatic would be hard to imagine.
Another therapist refused to produce her notes.
None of the therapists were objective. None even attempted independently to verify the serious accuations.
The girl’s mother said at Depositions that one daughter had told her "your problems can only have been caused by sexual abuse as a child".
Many of the allegations were quite ludicrous, including detailed memories at age of 1, in their cots! How could ACC reinforce my daughters’ delusions by accepting their claims for compensation?
The jury threw out all 11 charges against me.
I now suffer from:
- Loss of the accusing daughters, and my relationship with their mother. Love has turned to hate.
- I was obliged to pay legal expenses over $125,000. Our average annual total family income for the previous 5 yrs was <$20,000, so this has caused much stress. I pay 12% on this borrowed money.
- I still suffer the nightmare of being arrested, processed by police, held in jail, threatened by another prisoner etc. I couldn’t beleive such things could be doen in NZ to an innocent person. I felt the only way out was my suicide. My likely sentence was 12 yrs if found guilty.
I am now seeking damages from ACC."
First International Forum: A critical look at the functioning of Child Protection Services, Zeist, the Netherlands, 28-30 June.
I will be attending this conference to present a paper – FGY-S