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The Sex Abuse Counselling Empire Strikes Back

Filed under: General,Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 11:18 am Sun 29th August 2010

Felicity, my family and I feature prominently in the Sunday Star-Times today.

On the bottom of front page: “Academic with links to sex abusers silent on role in drafting ACC rules
Special Investigation, section C: “Conflicting interests?

The central message of these two stories; that Felicity was influential in the recent changes to ACC payments for sex-abuse counselling; is a fabrication, and will no doubt be corrected by ACC in due course. All the old dirt about Centrepoint is just that.
[Edit Aug 2013: Here is Felicity Goodyear-Smith‘s response to this attack.]

We first became aware of this rumour at the beginning of 2009, when we learned of an email circulating among AUT counsellors.

In August last year it was published on the web by the Luddite Journal website (run by “journalist” Sandra Dickson), under the title: Should COSA psych out abuse survivors?

On July 16th this year, it was further promoted by psycotherapist Kyle MacDonald on his own site, and another site called The Swamp Report – Information about changes to ACC’s Sensitive Claims Guidelines, where it was titled: Ideology of denial.

Last week, I was informed it was being publicised by “Maggie”, on Radio Live talkback:

Listen to Maggie

Falsely connecting ACC’s attempts to properly apply the law with the promotion and encouragement of pedophilia has proved to be a successful tactic, however. ACC counsellors obviously have friends in very high places!

A letter to the editor of the Dominion Post by Gordon Waugh on 23rd August sums up the situation succinctly:

ACC has shamefully surrendered to the rants of a petulant sex-abuse industry and backed down over changes to the way claims are handled.

The legislation is clear. Cover for sexual abuse depends on a sexual crime having been committed and a consequent mental injury. Evidence of that crime is the starting point for claims. Mental injury must be correctly diagnosed. Those fundamental criteria are being conveniently ignored. In the absence of evidence of the claimed crime, every counsellor who submits a sex abuse claim to ACC commits the offence of using a document to gain financial advantage.

Counsellors are unable to detect sexual crimes. Most cannot diagnose mental injury. But based on their amateurish beliefs, assumptions and claims of competence, ACC accepted more than 120,000 sex abuse claims in the past 20 years. That must stop.

ACC must stick to its legislative guns and ensure all sex-abuse claims are based on testable evidence of the claimed abuse and correct diagnosis of mental injury by genuine mental health professionals. Only then can appropriate treatment be provided.


  1. John,

    Please know you and Felicity have my support. You have always been honest about your past and it is the past-the long ago!

    It must be very hard and unfair on your family to have this attack by those who’s sole interest appears to be their wallets (I.E. The abuse industry)

    I note that this attack is personal not focusing on the merit of Felicity’s position but plain muck raking.

    My thoughts, prayers and support to your family.



    Comment by Scrap_The_CSa — Sun 29th August 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  2. My, my, somebody has been busy digging up ammunition for this attack! People whose income suffered through last year’s ACC changes were angry and needed a scapegoat. Now that they are secure in much of their income again, they hit out. It must be stressful for you and your family, John, to be in the glare of such malevolent publicity. You and Felicity have my support, and hopefully your shoulders are broad enough for you both to handle the load.

    But to me there are positive aspects. Firstly, the adage “any publicity is good publicity” will apply to some extent. Secondly, some important information is included albeit hidden among the vindictive personal attacks that were clearly the aim of the articles. Third, the sex abuse industry people are clearly resorting to personal attacks and insinuations rather than being able to discuss the issues rationally or scientifically; the people who matter will see that. Fourth, it’s important that the issues are discussed, placed before the people for consideration, otherwise there will be little opportunity for public opinion to move from the current fashion based far too much on false propaganda from the sex abuse industry.

    For me, “Sensitive Claims” coverage through ACC was always an anomaly. You will not find ACC covering you for mental injury caused by a burglary or an assault that wasn’t physically injurious. You won’t find ACC covering you for mental injury due to childhood physical abuse, abandonment, alienation or the unfortunate experience of being subjected to Family Court processes. Indeed, you won’t find ACC covering you for anything except sexual abuse if it occurred before the introduction of the ACC scheme. A Wellington journalist at the time called the inclusion of cover for sexual abuse a “feminist coup” (or something equivalent, from memory). In my opinion, either all mental trauma should be covered by ACC or sexual abuse mental trauma should be treated through the health system.

    However, ACC’s changes last year were foolish. It’s important that somebody is available to assist distressed children and adults after sexual abuse experiences, and people providing that assistance need to be looked after. ACC essentially withdrew a longstanding service that the community had come to rely upon. Many people who took the difficult step of opening up about difficult and embarrassing experiences to a counsellor then abandoned their quest at the prospect or experience of being questioned by some other stranger whom they did not choose and whom they would not see again, and knowing that even in the unlikely event they were considered eligible they would not have the choice to receive treatment from the counsellor they first saw. Counsellors bailed out, both because they were being exploited (e.g. they would not be paid for their initial session and extensive report if the client was then deemed not to have a diagnosed mental injury), and because they considered it unacceptable to be involved in a process they could see was bad for the clients.

    The latest development, that ACC will automatically fund up to 16 sessions of counselling before any mental injury and further coverage is determined, is more humane although it seems unnecessarily generous; 10 sessions would probably have been enough. In my opinion, it would have been better for government to transfer the treatment completely to the health system. The extra money it provided for the purpose may even have offset some of the industrial trouble it now faces from health unions.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sun 29th August 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  3. I commend the posts above, but the Star Times pieces were written as questions for thought, in other words – possibly biassed and possibly not well researched and possibly not meeting journalistic standards for balance and fairness. When these issues are considered, then I believe that the article is quite acceptable in the challenges that it makes. The internet version states that Felicity refused to be interviewed, so perhaps she left herself somewhat open to any form of comment. (I must say that I was impressed by the investigative journalism in other articles in the same paper. The general lack of investigative journalism in NZ is a sad comment on NZ readers. Also that NZers would allow newspaper ownership to pass to overseas owners, unfortunately reflects their low valuation of democracy in NZ. Another example is the public’s lack of offense at the “Bill Wilson silent explosion” of judicial management in NZ!!!! So NZers, don’t just supermarket shop smarter, vote smarter!!!???)

    In my opinion, a balanced analysis of these issues should include a statement listing the extent of conflict of interests, on the issues covered. This is standard in medical research papers and i assume that Felicity regularly supplies such statements? This article lacks statements of conflict of interest from the people interviewed for the article. Most of them would have a high degree of dependence for their personal finances, on the issues covered in the article. At a guess, Felicity’s degree of dependance is relatively small and I assume would be publicly available, with a little research effort. The author of this article has given no thought to these issues and to me appears sweetly naive, more a nice friend than an investigative newspaper reporter!

    Given that the articles accused Felicity of acting under influence of conflict of interest and then failed to consider similar issues for other contributors, left the article looking as though it lacked substance. There is room for another complete article on this issue alone. This article would end up looking very much like Felicity’s book!!!!!! Perhaps the reporter hadn’t read the book, or hadn’t been able to understand it?

    The article demeans itself by calling the DSM4 controversial, without describing the controversy and who sees it as controversial. Mental health treatment is not a mature science, so controversy should be seen as healthy and essential for its development. The reissues of DSM and ICD are made after years of well informed and publicly accessible debate, so I believe that the public can have considerable faith in it(but not complete faith).

    The DSM is used for control of spending and this will always create arguments at the cutoff points, as in any form of treatment restriction. Funders almost always demand to have some form of control. The reporter didn’t include issues about where the costs should fall and whether those parties are willing to pickup the tab? Also, the quality and quantity of treatment required is still open to much debate (as Hans says above). Is a private counsellor required, or could these people just go to self funded mutual help groups, as men victims of some Government destructive forces are required to do?

    Neither is familycaught judging a mature science and similarly it would need informed public comment, to move forward into the future constructively. The public certainly need to judge the familycaught smarter!

    Most forms of health treatment are expensive and consumers always try to argue that someone else should pay for it. NZ has had decades of poor funding for mental health treatment and practically criminal efforts were made by DHBs to divert money allocated for mental health into other more sexy areas of health treatment. These same issues have bedeviled treatment for sex attack victims. Mental health consumers lacked political clout as they were viewed by many as having no visible injury, so just snap out of it. We could say the same to murder victims, but then we would be visibly stupid!

    At a personal level, the degree of approbrium is far out of balance to the degree and age of the crimes. Again, this doesn’t aid the credibility of the article, alas.

    Good on the Star Times for opening up this debate and I hope that this leads to better quality articles coming out in the future. NZ badly needs policy issue debates to be followed through to safe and useful conclusions, not just stopped where the real work needs to begin!

    Failure to identify conflicts of interest and manage them, whether in Ministers of Justice, newspaper reporters, or counsellors, or supreme caught judges (why did they name the caught after a pizza?) is the single root cause of almost all of the huge wasted costs to taxpayers in the last 50 years. It might be about time that we got rid of the dead wood in the management of these institutions and bring in people who can do these jobs.

    Cheers, axe murderer.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 29th August 2010 @ 9:52 pm

  4. Thanks Scrap.

    I have to accept responsibility for the muck that sticks to me personally, but I do feel sad when it is used against my family.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Mon 30th August 2010 @ 11:18 am

  5. I’ve just read the articles JP gave links to.
    So let me see if I’ve got this correct.

    A bunch of folks including counselors are up in arms because they want health~care counseling provided at the taxpayers expense for folks who –

    A) Don’t wish to be classed as damaged as it’s ‘stigmatizing’
    B) Want to get counseling WITHOUT any corroborative evidence that a sex crime was ever committed.
    C) Want taxpayer funded counseling for sexual abuse cases whilst apparently ignoring getting such
    for mental injury due to childhood physical abuse, abandonment, parental alienation or the
    unfortunate experience of being subjected to Family Court processes.
    D) Have attacked the ACC as being in thrall to ‘Centrepoint thinking’ because they got some
    advice from an expert on the sexual abuse industry.

    Sheesh! It looks like certain counselors and their supporters are spitefully having a collective whine at the removal of political pork formerly available to them.
    Of course the more female victims of sexual abuse can be fabricated for them and the sisterhood at the misery of wimmin’s affears the more pork for them all.

    Sorry to hear you’ve gotten dragged into this mess John and Felicity and that the past gets dragged up.
    We’ve all done things that were illegal if only speeding in our cars.
    To keep dredging up and labeling folks as per their long ago (decades) actions is despicable.
    Case in point. When I was 11 for a vengeful prank my brother and I stole a school bully’s bicycle and dumped it in a nearby stream.
    I wouldn’t expect to be called a thief for life though.

    Comment by Skeptik — Mon 30th August 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  6. Special Investigation, section C: Conflicting interests?

    Is a gem of literature! pure soviet style article.
    Ain’t matter ACC will collapse under its own debt.
    A new government will come along find a huge whole. No one will be sacked or questioned. They will just raise the levies for the bikies and the life will go around around…

    Comment by tren (Christchurch) — Mon 30th August 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  7. Congratulations John for standing tall.
    You are a man who is admired by many, including myself, and have every right to the respect of the community.
    I know little of your past offences or the circumstances, just that you have accepted the punishment, and it is all in the past now for everyone concerned.
    Anybody who now rakes up your past becomes the offender, in my view.
    You have much to be proud of, stand tall John

    Comment by John Brett — Tue 31st August 2010 @ 6:54 pm

  8. This fairy story sure is spreading far and wide.

    I’m not going to link to the dozens anonymous comments that are being made on feminist sites, but here’s a few reactions from people with names.

    Blogger Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury writes:

    Her work has been described as a rapists charter and an apologist position that denies any real harm from sexual abuse.
    National take advice from fringe political miscreants

    Green MP Kevin Hague is calling for an investigation:

    Sunday’s revelations in the Sunday Star-Times about the role played by Felicity Goodyear-Smith are further cause for this investigation: we simply have to know whether ACC has been colonised by a sick culture
    Case for wider probe of ACC entitlement-cutting culture now even stronger

    Rosemary McLeod in the Press:

    But academic credentials aren’t everything: perception counts, too.
    Complexity in abuse viewpoint

    Stay tuned for more exciting developments!

    Comment by JohnPotter — Fri 3rd September 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  9. They are being fliushed out of hiding, I say.

    Comment by John Brett — Fri 3rd September 2010 @ 7:32 pm

  10. I think it was nice of the paper to put a picture of John and Felicity walking together and smiling because that does represent the life style they live IMO. Nice photo BTW of an outdoor couple.

    I find it funny that I’ve been reading ‘Absolute Power’ by Ian Wishart of the Investigate magazine which is about the Helen Clarke years and the way they would attack people who got in their way via the media and counting on media frenzy because they knew they couldn’t discredit them when our country put forward policies to protect the people from political bullying. And here it is happening before my very eyes.

    Comment by julie — Fri 3rd September 2010 @ 10:36 pm

  11. A week later…

    Tim Hume still hasn’t admitted he was wrong about Felicity being hire by ACC as an advisor to assist with recent changes to the Sexual Abuse Counselling Pathway.

    He spins the story out even further this week, in another article titled: Sex-abuse cuts ‘all about costs’

    In it, he implies that the requirement for a DSM-IV diagnosis was introduced on Felicity’s recommendation.

    Wrong again Tim! The DSM-IV assessment was in use by ACC prior to 2004.


    There is a whole page of letters to the editor. Just to make it absolutely clear who it is on trial, the letters are grouped under two headlines: “In Defence of Felicity Goodyear-Smith” and “In Praise of Tim Hume”.

    Here are a few quotes from the supportive ones:

    Barrister Gary Gotlieb

    DSAC are a powerful and vociferous group and we should be greatful that Felicity Goodyear-Smith is prepared to give unbiased and professional expert evidence.

    Michael Edmonds

    Attacking her through hearsay and barbed comments from those with hidden agendas seems a poor way to help the public understand the issues…

    Dr Nikki Turner

    The dreadful vivid stories from Centrepoint have no relation to the personal life of Goodyear-Smith, they are clearly only written here to artificially create a connection.

    Gordon Waugh

    Although ACC recently began to correctly apply professional standards, it shamefully backed down in the face of a deluge of misinformation and deceit from a desperate sex abuse industry in free-fall.

    J Pfaff

    Her critics need to counter her logic with arguments, not innuendo and character assassination.

    Read all the letters here:
    image one
    image two
    image three
    image four

    Comment by JohnPotter — Sun 5th September 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  12. Even readers unaware of the issues would recognized that the letters supporting Felicity were much more reasonable, relevant and revealing. It’s a good thing that these issues have been brought out for discussion and made contentious. For so long now the sexual abuse industry has had an easy ride with compliant news media treating everything it said as gospel. Now, it has made silly claims, fabricating a conspiracy that does not exist in order to attack an inconvenient heretic. Methinks the sexual abuse industry will soon realise it shot itself in the foot.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sun 5th September 2010 @ 9:26 pm

  13. Hans, I think the sexual abuse industry is well aware of what it is doing. Anything for the “cause” … and what’s the “cause” ? To gain funding.

    Comment by golfa — Mon 6th September 2010 @ 10:38 am

  14. The article that Julie posted part of in this thread has been published in full by author Barbara Faithful here:
    Rape activism and the undermining of culture.

    Comment by JohnPotter — Wed 8th September 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  15. Finally, the facts from ACC

    Tim Hume’s disinformation campaign has finally been exposed for what it was.

    This letter from ACC was published in the Sunday Star Times this weekend (highlighting added).

    Your story ‘Academic with link to sex abusers silent on role in drafting ACC rules’ was misleading in some important respects. The article suggests that Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith was involved with the development of the ACC clinical pathway for sexual abuse claims. She was not. Dr Goodyear-Smith had no role in the development of the pathway. The report she and two other researchers produced five years ago was an inconclusive study which compared treatment rates provided to ACC sexual abuse clients by psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors. So it was not relevant to the development of the pathway.

    Yes, one of their recommendations was that there should be diagnosis before treatment, using an assessment tool called DSM-IV. Yes, that is what we’ve been doing. But we didn’t do so because it was in their report. Far from it. We did it because it was internationally seen as best practice, because the Courts in NZ had endorsed DSM-IV as an appropriate method and because no suitable alternative options have been put forward. Dr Goodyear-Smith had no part in any of that.

    Finally, the article also failed to mention the work that ACC is currently doing with the Sensitive Claims Advisory Group and others to ensure that, moving forward, we continue to provide the most appropriate services for our clients.

    Denise Cosgrove
    General Manager, claims management, ACC

    Comment by JohnPotter — Sun 12th September 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  16. Goodonya JP.
    I’m mightily glad to see Denis Cosgrove telling it how it is.
    I’m sick and tired of the sexual abuse hysteria generated by femiNZts and their money grubbing hangers on.
    I’ve known several men in NZ who’ve overcome psychological difficulties arising from having been sexually abused as children and as adults. NONE claimed a bean from ACC. In fact one told me he wouldn’t go anywhere near ACC sexual abuse counselors because he didn’t want to end up even more screwed up!
    Incidentally I’ll never forget the misandric cartoons plastered all over the walls of one such female counselor’s office I saw in NZ.
    It’s one of those chilling images that’s hard for me to shake.
    I WON’T be seeking counseling for that though.

    Comment by Skeptik — Sun 12th September 2010 @ 3:43 pm

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