DSAC – Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care

Protester with sign: Doctors for Sexual Abuse Creation

“Doctors for Sexual Abuse Creation” – Dad’s Army leader General Justice, protesting outside the 1999 DSAC Behind Closed Doors conference.

DSAC was renamed Medical Sexual Assault Clinicians Aotearoa, or MEDSAC, in 2017.

Articles published in MENZ Issues:

Dads Army Pickets Violence Conference A group of male protesters, ranging from pre-schoolers to pensioners, greeted social service workers attending the recent DSAC ‘Behind Closed Doors’ domestic violence conference.

Turning the Light on Domestic Violence Behind Closed Doors Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC), the main NZ promoters of the now discredited Recovered Memory Therapy, are hitching their wagon to the domestic violence gravy train. On 25th and 26th June DSAC presented a seminar at AIT on the North Shore…..

How DSAC Deals With Opposition – Honorary Foundation Member Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith expelled for raising concerns about false allegations.

News Flash! Family Violence Causes Sexual Abuse In the past decade, DSAC has imported overseas "experts" to spread the gospel of "repressed/recovered memories" and similar nonsense about sexual abuse. It now claims to be conservative and to warn about the unreliability of such memories. Another explanation had to be found. Violence, and the associated profit, neatly fits the bill.

Contents of this page:

  • Fuelling hysteria: ISPCAN Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care were the organisers of a controversial Auckland conference in September 1998 for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. A series of postings on the internet were made about this conference and its participants by COSA supporter Brian Robinson.
  • DSAC’s Choir of Experts I’ve just been given a list of overseas "experts" that have been sponsored to New Zealand by DSAC over the past few years. The choir of experts that were invited to the IPSCAN congress en masse, have dribbled across here one by one over recent years.
  • Commentary on the IPSCAN conference by John P Brown PhD. " I would like to offer my sympathy to the citizens of New Zealand as a coven of American child abuse experts descends upon their fair islands to attend the Congress of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect."
  • A City Possessed – excerpts from Lynley Hood’s book record DSAC’s contribution to the hysteria surrounding the Christchurch Creche case.

Fuelling hysteria: ISPCAN

Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care were the organisers of a controversial Auckland conference in September 1998 for the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. A series of postings on the internet were made about this conference and its participants by a COSA supporter.

Anatomically correct dolls

Picture: Otahuhu Social Welfare interviewer Kate Casey on rarely-seen video using anatomically correct dolls with a 7-year-old boy, around the time of the DSAC conference. Note that the naked “daddy doll” the boy is holding has pubic hair and a disproportionately large, erect penis.

Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998

Next week, the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect are holding a congress in Auckland New Zealand.

I have studied the programme, and I view with alarm the type of speakers who will be involved in this congress. The congress, because of the subject matter, will undoubtably receive extensive media publicity. The bias of the congress will almost definitely be difficult to determine by commentators who are dazzled by overseas "expertise"

A number of the speakers have been personally involved in the very worst of the so called "child abuse" fiascos.

People like Karen Zelas, who bears extensive responsibility for the plight of Peter Ellis (Christchurch Creche case);

People like Kee MacFarlane, who bears extensive responsibility for the first day care scandal ~ the McMartin preschool in 1983.

People like Lucy Berliner, who has only just been making excited commentary about the recent Wenatchee Sex Abuse scandal, saying there was "no witch hunt".

People like John Read, Miriam Saphira, Morgan Libeau in New Zealand, and international speakers including Astrid Heger, Ross Cheit, John Conte, Kathleen Faller, and Linda Williams.

Where are the voices of caution, to balance these views? Those voices that will not deny the realities of the horror of abuse, but voices that will sound the warnings of the epidemic of false accusations that have recently hit the English speaking world?

Who will speak up for the Peter Ellis‘s of this world at this conference?

Brian Robinson

Karen Zelas

I have in a previous post noted my concerns about the bias that appears to be inherent in the congress of the ‘International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’ that is being held in Auckland New Zealand next week.

There are speaker after speaker who could be classified as the very worst of the "child savers" . One private correspondent (from America) has suggested to me, tongue in cheek, that the best thing that could happen for this congress, would be if somebody leaked information to a terrorist group that Clinton was on the same plane as that which may be bringing all these overseas "experts" to New Zealand.

Psychiatrist Karen Zelas

But we are not short of our own demons.

What, I fear, will be the publicity that will result from the rantings of a person like Karen Zelas?

Publicity tells us that Zelas will be giving a breakfast session. The following is a quote from congress publicity:

Dr Karen Zelas, Psychiatrist, Christchurch, New Zealand. "Trial by Expert or Expert on Trial?" Dr Karen Zelas is a leading psychiatrist in New Zealand. She is a past President of the Royal Australasian College of Psychiatrists and has played a significant role as a member of several government and medical committees.

[Edit by JohnP. Footnote 53 of this Masters Thesis:What is the “evidence” in the “expert witness” debates? gives some background information:

Zelas distributed her unpublished paper ‘Trial by Expert’, or ‘Expert on Trial’? at the breakfast sessions she ran for doctors. These sessions were set up to familiarize the participants with what was required of an expert witness in ‘child abuse and family matters in general’ (Zelas, Unpublished:1).]

Dr Zelas will share the experience of 20 years as an expert witness. After outlining the New Zealand legal framework in which the expert functions, she will focus on a number of topics, such as working with the legal profession – including ‘How to get the best out of your expert witness’; aspects of professional accountability and the relationship between opposing experts; dealing with the media; and summarising with a set of guidelines for the expert witness in child abuse and family matters in general.

I wonder how much time Zelas will talk about her direct responsibility for the unjust incarceration of Peter Ellis?

I wonder how much time Zelas will devote to her view that virtually any behaviour exhibited by a child was consistent with sexual abuse?

From ‘North and South‘ Magazine by David McLoughlin published August 1996:

"… there was considerable evidence that the children loved not just the Christchurch Creche but particularly the outrageous Ellis, the darling of many staff, parents and children alike. To explain this further incongruity, the police, supported by Christchurch psychiatrist Karen Zelas and the Social Welfare staff who interviewed the children, came up with a theory – similar to that used in many American creche cases – that Ellis so terrorised all those children, by threatening for example, to kill their parents if they revealed the abuse, that the children remained silent until the evidence was coaxed out of them during videotaped interviews conducted by the Social Welfare staff."

"This was a case it seemed the defence could not win whatever argument it put up. Ellis was confronted with the view of Karen Zelas, a veteran expert witness in numerous abuse cases, that virtually any behaviour exhibited by a child was consistent with sexual abuse."

McLoughlin also notes Zelas’s role in previous sexual abuse scares in Christchurch.

Will Zelas at the congress proudly tell of her role in the so called Ward 24 case regarding highly suspect interviews of children at Christchurch Hospital?

The mis-diagnosis of "abused" children at the Glenelg Children’s Health Camp?

The Spence family affair which concerned highly questionable claims that a father abused his children?

This congress has all the potential for a media hysteria. It invites so called "experts" to talk about their role in forensic psychiatry.

New Zealand, and our children may have been much better served by inviting Dr Margaret Hagen to give a lecture on the same topic. Margaret Hagen is the author of ‘Whores of the Court: The fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice’ published in 1997.

We would have been much better served with a little bit of such modern perspective, rather than glorifying one of these actual so-called "whores" who has done so much damage to people such as Peter Ellis.

Brian Robinson

Kee MacFarlane – the McMartin Day Care case.

From ‘Victims of Memory’ by Mark Pendergrast, published 1996 :

In August 1983, in Los Angeles, Judy Johnson, diagnosed later as a paranoid schizophrenic, noticed that her two year old’s bottom was red and decided that he had been sexually abused. She called the police. Although the boy could not speak in complete sentences, uttering only the occasional single word, the police assumed that the mother was correct. They did not question the diagnosis of sexual abuse, but at first it wasn’t clear who sodomised the boy. Perhaps it had been somebody in the park. Soon however, after repeatedly questioning the child, the mother and police became more certain. It was 25 year old Ray Buckey, one of his day-care teachers at the McMartin Preschool.

Without further investigation or observation of the day-care centre, on September 9 the local California police sent a letter to 200 McMartin parents, warning of "possible criminal acts" such as "oral sex, fondling of genitals, buttocks or chest area, and sodomy, possibly committed under the pretence of taking the child’s temperature" …

…. by the beginning of November there was a full scale panic among the parents … Parents began to take their supposedly traumatised children to the Children’s Institute International (CII), where Kee MacFarlane and other experts in child sexual abuse interviewed them, using leading questions, coercive techniques, and "anatomically correct" dolls. Eventually, over 350 children submitted to the CII "therapy"

Suggestions_of_Abuse cover

From ‘Suggestions of Abuse’ Michael Yapko published 1994

"the necessity of having to recover every detail of every abusive memory may actually lead to greater confabulation and greater traumatisation, as in the questioning of the now infamous McMartin preschool case, … "

From ‘Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the making of a Modern American Witch Hunt’ Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedecker published 1995,

"To put the children at ease, the women [therapists] dressed, clownlike, in mismatched clothes and multicoloured stockings, and sat on the floor with the youngsters. They talked in gentle high pitched voices, and encouraged discussion about genitals and sexual behaviour that young children hardly knew words for. And they used a new diagnostic device: "anatomically correct" dolls, which came with breasts, vaginas, penises, anuses, and pubic hair. The children were introduced to MacFarlane’s collection of hand puppets …. The session became a scene of naked dolls with genitals touching, poking and threatening each other. Cloth penises were being inserted into mouths. "Did that happen" Ooh, that must have been yucky," MacFarlane said. "It didn’t happen," corrected Tanya; "I’m just playing." There was talk of being spirited from the school to molester’s homes, though whether they were people’s houses or doll houses was unclear. After prompting from MacFarlane, Tanya named Peggy Buckey as a witness to abuse"

"I haven’t seen anyone playing Naked Movie Star" insists Keith, an eight year old, during his interview with Kee MacFarlane. In response, MacFarlane scolds" "Are you going to be stupid, or are you going to be smart and help us? You must be dumb." Trying to please her, Keith answers her demand to describe Ray Buckey’s ejaculate by noting that it was yellow, smelled like "poo", and tasted like "barf" and a "rotten snail". Minutes later he has forgotten all these details."

From ‘Wounded Innocents; the Real Victims of the War against Child Abuse’ by Richard Wexler published 1990:

The children were sent to the Child Sexual Abuse Centre at the Children’s Institute International (CII) for what ‘Nightline’ called sophisticated play therapy" that would allow the children to "share their secrets"

"The director, Kee MacFarlane, would dress up in a clown costume, sit on the floor with the children, talk to them through puppets, and make statements like "we can pretend". …. And the children quickly learn what is expected of them. Instead of open ended questions, MacFarlane and other employees would ask if particular people did particular things. A simple nod yes then would be enough. "No" answers were rejected, with questions repeated over and over.. "Yes" answers were rewarded with high praise and statements that "your parents will be so proud of you"

"Particularly since the verdict in the case came down in early 1990, MacFarlane has tried to justify her techniques as necessary in order to provide a supportive environment to help children disclose alleged abuse, and to provide therapy for children."

From ‘Spectral Evidence’ by Moira Johnston published 1997:

" … Kee MacFarlane, whose suggestive interviewing of children in the notorious McMartin case had been widely condemned, continued to be invited to talk and given a place of honour, – considered a slap in the face to damaged families, Freyd (from FMSF) felt."

From ‘Whores of the Court’ by Margaret Hagen published 1997

"When the McMartins of the famous day care abuse case were finally vindicated, they sued Kee MacFarlane, the child psychological specialist who interviewed the children, as well as the corporate entity for which she worked. The California court ruled that they could not sue Ms. MacFarlane – or Children’s Institute International – for their role in the raising of bizarre allegations like hot air balloon molestation and tunnelling trips to graveyards to dig up graves and hack up corpses because she was just doing her job under the shield of immunity. Immunity applied because her investigations arose directly out of the initial reports of abuse."

Extraordinary. If the initial cause is just, then any evil in it’s service is justified?

Brian Robinson

Lucy Berliner

Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998

To continue with my concerns about the background of many speakers at the congress of the ‘International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’ that is being held in Auckland New Zealand next week.

My concerns are mainly associated with the lack of balance in the speaking programme ~ and the possibility that the congress may as a result feed a new round of hysteria, in much the same way that visiting American "experts" fed hysteria in the counselling community especially, sometime before Peter Ellis suffered his wrongful conviction.

Have we not got enough nutters amongst our own social workers, without importing such people as Lucy Berliner?

I mainly associate this woman, with the plight of a family who are personal friends, and with whom I spent time on vacation some months ago. Lucy Berliner, known "affectionately" within this household as "Lucy Hitler" had direct involvement in trying to substantiate charges of abuse against the father.

Judgement was made most eloquently by one daughter aged about 9 at the time, referring to Berliner: "She’s so stupid". You’re a bright young lady, K. 😉

But here in New Zealand professionals with PhD’s actually are prepared to pay her travel costs from Seattle to Auckland so that she can talk on ‘Community Notification of Sex Offenders: Neighbours helping Neighbours’

A little net search and it doesn’t take too long to find others who have a similar concern as me about this woman. Just in the last week, there have been letters to the editor of the Seattle Times:

Posted at 09:03 p.m. PDT; Saturday, August 29, 1998

Letters to the editor Wenatchee sex-abuse trials :

Title : One chilling aspect is how closely Wenatchee trial parallels the occurrences in Salem

Editor, The Times:

Lucy Berliner notes the civil-suit verdict (that upheld actions of) the Wenatchee officials (in their investigations into child-abuse charges) and then smugly concludes, "there was no witch hunt."

Berliner doesn’t know her history very well ("There was no witch hunt in Wenatchee sex probe," commentary, Aug. 13).

One of the most chilling aspects of the Wenatchee proceedings has been how closely they have paralleled the occurrences in Salem more than 300 years ago.

Just as in Salem, we have accusations so extreme that any rational person would be highly sceptical and demand the most stringent evidence. Psychological pressures from the "witch finders" are used against both the accusing children and the accused: "Confess or it will be the worse for you."

The attitudes and actions of the authorities have also been disturbingly similar. The disgraceful conduct of the Mike Lowry and Gary Locke administrations mirror those of the General Court of Massachusetts. Berliner’s article could almost have been written by Cotton Mather.

U.S. philosopher George Santayana once said: "Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it."

The Wenatchee tragedy could possibly have been avoided if those in authority had heeded the lessons of 1692.

Berliner closes by saying: "It should also be of some comfort to citizens that there are numerous efforts under way to ensure good practice in Washington." Now, I’m really scared!

Jonathan A. Hayes, Seattle

Second Letter about Wenatchee:

Title : No Physical Evidence

Editor, The Times:

It was very interesting reading what Lucy Berliner wrote about the horrors perpetrated against innocent people in Wenatchee.

She said, "What counts today is that investigations are properly conducted and lead to just outcomes."

Berliner knows that there is absolutely no physical evidence that any sex ring ever existed, except in the minds of Bob Perez, Tim Abbey, Gary Riesen and the law and justice community in the Wenatchee valley.

No physical evidence of children being sexually molested or abused. No slides. Nada.

No physical evidence of orgies occurring in churches. No video tapes. No DNA samples.

No physical evidence of any type of deviant behaviour.

For medical professionals to keep insisting that these wild orgies occurred and that little boys and girls had to endure hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of instances of anal and vaginal intercourse is astonishing.

Berliner intimates that there were problems in the Wenatchee investigations.

Well . . . Duh!

Nobody in the Wenatchee office of CPS (Child Protective Services) or Perez himself, read, studied, or used the Harborview Medical Centre’s method of interviewing or examining children for sex abuse.

Perez and CPS workers testified under oath at the hearing in Wenatchee in March at being ignorant about Harborview’s method.

Perhaps if Perez and his gang studied and practiced Harborview’s method, the problems with the sex-ring investigations would have never occurred.

Bob Kinkade, East Wenatchee

Astrid Heger

Wednesday 2nd Sept.

And today I awake to news that the publicity machine is already rolling.

Brian Edwards is interviewing Astrid Hegar this coming Saturday morning.

Heger is deeply implicated in the first day care fiasco: the infamous McMartin Day Care case of 1983 to 1990.

Heger, as did Kee MacFarlane (refer previous post), worked for Children’s’ Institute International (CII), which was responsible for the interviewing of about 350 children.

Satans_Silence.jpg (9417 bytes)

From ‘Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the making of a Modern American Witchhunt’ by Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedecker published 1995

"Medical exams would also be provided by Astrid Heger, the institute’s on-call paediatrician. Heger had little experience evaluating sexually abused children, but she planned to examine the McMartin children under the tutelage of colleague Bruce Woodling. Woodling was the doctor who had used "new techniques" to examine the Kniffen boys and the McCuan girls in Kern County."

"[Woodling] had trained Astrid Heger, who examined hundreds of the McMartin children, and had helped her make diagnoses that almost all had been abused"

"..an article of faith was embraced by investigators who developed ritual abuse cases: that children never lie about sex abuse. Over and over, early investigators and theoreticians made this point. CII’s Dr Heger told the McMartin jury that "children cannot be led to disclose having been sexually abused if it didn’t happen" – a claim that echoed Roland Summit’s observation that "it has become a maxim among child sexual abuse intervention counsellors and investigators that children never fabricate the kinds of explicit sexual manipulations they divulge in complaints and interrogations."

Most damning was Heger’s willingness to completely accept extremely controversial theories of Woodling in the use of a colposcope to make determinations of sexual abuse. Continuing from ‘Satan’s Silence’:

"During the first year after she began seeing McMartin children, Heger had no one to compare her findings with but Woodling, since his office and CII were the only places in California – probably in the entire country – that were using colposcopes to check for abuse. On the basis of these exams, Heger concluded that four-fifths of the students had been sexually assaulted."

There is some thought that Heger was motivated by the growing consciousness and concern for the problem of abuse. A just cause, and concern, but I will repeat the words of Margaret Hagen from ‘Whores of the Court’: "Extraordinary. If the initial cause is just, then any evil in it’s service is justified?"

Returning to ‘Satan’s Silence’:

"…consciousness of the problem (of child sexual abuse) had waned for generations. Now it was suddenly reviving, and American physicians like Heger and Woodling were passionately conscious of their power either to stifle this new awareness or to nurture it. But in many cases the doctors were only dimly aware of how the allegations presented to them had been produced in the first place. In the ritual abuse cases, it was not the children who first offered the abuse "histories" – it was adults speaking for them."

Coercive interviewing? Heger was a master:

"Heger examines a girl who repeatedly denies being abused. Heger tells the child: "I don’t want to hear any more ‘no’s. No, no! Detective Dog and we are going to figure this out. Every little boy and girl in the whole school got touched like that …and some of them were hurt. And some were afraid to tell… And they were afraid to tell because they thought…. Ray might come and hurt their parents or hurt them…. I think there is something to tell me about touching."

But unrepentant:

"It did not occur to Heger that her style might be coercive. Indeed she was convinced that it was therapeutic and caring. In a 1986 CII videotape, … she reminds her fellow doctors that they seldom will find sexual abuse unless they are willing to entertain the possibility that it had occurred."

Heger’s expertise came directly from McMartin. The biggest botchup investigation that spawned many other similar copycat fiascos, such as the Christchurch Creche, from which Peter Ellis is still suffering an unjust imprisonment. So, did she slide into the background in shame and embarrassment? Not at all:

"Heger’s career, too, took off dramatically. Before she examined the McMartin children, she had never testified as a child sex-abuse expert; afterward, she was deluged by requests to testify in court for prosecutors and to make media appearances. She also began travelling throughout California, the United States, and Canada to address sex-abuse congresses, give professional trainings, deliver lectures, and to participate in committee reviews. In 1985, she became Director of the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic at the Los Angeles County – University of Southern California Medical Centre."

There is evidence that Heger knew she made grave errors, but at no time since McMartin has she acted with integrity and honesty and any degree of morality and admitted this.

"She managed to emerge … with her professional reputation almost unscathed. As a member of several ..committees in the late 1980’s ..she had ample time to reverse herself before her older work was discredited. Even before the first McMartin trial started, in 1987, she was already testifying in criminal cases for the defence, where she would tell juries that the four millimetre measure for hymens was forensically meaningless."

"Nevertheless, at the McMartin trial, Heger continued to insist that the findings she had first made on the children were correct. During the first days of the case, for instance she had identified a scar on one boy’s anus. Now three years later, she again, called it a scar – but another physician witness identified it as only shadows caused by hairs. Her seeming desperation to save face led to absurdities: once she looked at a slide and saw massive trauma, yet in an earlier report she had indicated nothing out of the ordinary. At no time did she do the logical thing: simply admit that the findings she had made in McMartin were based on theories she now knew were wrong."

And New Zealand invites this woman to a congress as an expert in the field! She is accorded celebrity status and being interviewed by Brian Edwards. New Zealand would be better served by denying her a visa.

Now is the time for Brian Edwards to recall a little of his challenging interviewing techniques of the 1970’s. I sincerely hope that he doesn’t sacrifice truth and honesty, for the sake of pleasant Saturday morning radio commentary.

Peter Ellis’s fate has been determined by the influence of such American expertise. Let’s please trust our own judgements for once. We have been brave enough to thumb our noses at the Americans for their demands that we embrace their nuclear strategy. Heger and Co, are just as dangerous as any atomic weapon.

In dedication to Peter Ellis …. there are those that care.

Brian Robinson

Linda Williams

Let’s add another name from the list of speakers for closer scrutiny.

Linda Williams is the author of:

  • ‘Adult Memories of Childhood Abuse: Preliminary Findings from a Longitudinal Study’ ‘APSAC Adviser’ Summer, Number 5:19-20 (1992)
  • ‘Recall of Childhood Trauma: A Prospective Study of Women’s memories of Child Sexual Abuse’ Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology’, 1994, vol 62, No 6, p 1167-1176
  • ‘Recovered Memories of Abuse in Women with Documented Child Victimisation Histories’, Journal of Traumatic Stress 8 (1995): 649-73

Linda Williams has been invited to the Auckland Congress to talk on ‘Memories of Sexual Abuse: Wave Three of a Longitudinal Study’

I think that Linda Williams is an excellent choice of speaker. She is a person doing research on a very important topic.

But the congress organisers have completely ignored the fact that the conclusions that Linda Williams makes in her work are extremely controversial. Her research methodology has been criticised by other professionals.

Why have these critics not been invited to this same congress? Or is the truth too dangerous, or too politically incorrect?

Linda Williams studies are associated with beliefs that it is possible to repress memories of childhood sexual abuse that has occurred over many years, and for these same memories to be "recovered" with the help of a therapist.

The issue is raised in the book ‘Spectral Evidence’ Moira Johnston published 1997.

Moira Johnston deals with the case of Holly Ramona who accused her father of sexual molestation.

Were these accusations based on Holly’s extraordinary suggestibility when she was exposed to her counsellor Marche Isabella and had grasped at the suggestion of childhood sexual abuse in her hunger to understand her symptoms?

Or had she really been sexually abused over a twelve year period, from the age of five to sixteen, and had been able to forget the whole experience?

"The two (Pope and Hudson) decided to examine every serious study on repression in the literature. "It was a revelation to find how thin the actual literature was," says Pope. After a global search, they found only four – four! – studies. And these four were quoted so often as hard evidence by the recovered memory movement that their very names had become a shorthand for "See, here’s proof"

Williams was one of these authors. But was there proof?

"Pope and Hudson found that, upon "a critical scientific analysis, the literature fell apart." All four studies, they felt, suffered from flaws in methodology: they lacked proper corroboration of the alleged abuse or of the amnesia that followed it. "There was no acceptable evidence that you could have a series of terrible traumas and simply forget about them."

And they were particularly surprised by the Herman study:

"Just six years before the study, she (Herman) had described forty female incest victims, every one of whom had clear and lasting memories of the abuse. She had written of the "incest secret" But "repression" did not even appear in her index!

And they concluded:

"Thus present clinical evidence is insufficient to permit the conclusion that individuals can repress memories of childhood sexual abuse."

From ‘Lost Daughters: Recovered Memory Therapy and the People it Hurts’ Reinder Van Til published 1997

"Blume, for example has said that it "is not unlikely that more than half of all women are survivors of childhood sexual trauma." And some Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT) proponents further claim that as many as 70 percent of those who have been abused have no conscious awareness of their childhood abuse.

In response to critics who question such numbers, many proponents of RMT cite a study conducted by Linda Meyer Williams of 129 women who had documented histories of sex abuse. Williams interviewed the women seventeen years after they had received hospital treatment for sexual assault in childhood. Of the 129 interviewed, 38 percent said that they did not remember the instance of abuse that they had reported at the time of their initial treatment. RMT proponents view this as compelling evidence that repression does occur in cases of childhood sexual abuse.

But scholars have been quick to point out that such a conclusion cannot be safely drawn from the data. For one thing, Williams asked the respondents only about the one specific instance of abuse for which they had received treatment seventeen years earlier. Many of the women had simply forgotten that particular incident, although they had no trouble remembering a general pattern of abuse during childhood and so could not really be said to have repressed the memory as such.

Only 12 percent of the women in the study said that they could not remember any abuse in childhood. Of that number several were younger than five at the time of the treatment; most memory experts agree that most people have no reliable memories of things that happened to them before the age of five.

Furthermore, Williams interviewed her subjects only once. When Donna Della Femina conducted a similar study, she interviewed her subjects twice and found that of those who said in the first interview that they had no memory of the previously documented abuse 100 percent acknowledged in the second interview that they had actually not forgotten it but simply had not wanted to talk about it for some reason – they wanted to forget it and get on with their lives, they wanted to avoid hurting their parents, or the like.

Other authors have discussed Williams work more fully. And have pointed out the scientific deficiencies. For further reading, the following refer to Williams’ work, for example:

  • ‘Victims of Memory’ by Mark Pendergrast, published 1996;
  • ‘Whores of the Court’ by Margaret Hagen, published 1997;
  • ‘Second Thoughts’ by Dr Paul Simpson, published 1996;
  • ‘Searching for Memory’ by Daniel Schacter, published 1996;
  • ‘Return of the Furies’ by Wakefield and Underwager, pub 1994.

These are serious issues.

The issue of Linda Williams presence at the Congress at Auckland, is not that she does not deserve to be there, but simply that she represents one side of an extremely controversial issue.

Why are the conference organisers wanting to silence her critics?

Why have they not given at least equal speaking time to other experts who may have different views?

I smell a rat with everything to do with the forthcoming conference.

Will the local New Zealand press be so sceptical, or will they take the bait offered to them by the organisers, and fuel an unnecessary hysteria?

Dedicating this post, once again to Peter Ellis, who remains tonight behind bars in Rolleston Prison … convicted of unspeakable crimes that he is completely innocent of.

Brian Robinson

Kathleen Faller

It’s like a choir, these group of "experts" being invited to New Zealand. In previous posts, I’ve referred to MacFarlane and Berliner. In August 1997 these two were together providing a training course on ‘Child Forensic Interviewing’, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Based on their experience, who knows what harm they were responsible for in providing such training?

But worse is to come. With them sharing centre stage was Kathleen Faller. She has also been invited to New Zealand, where she is giving a lecture on ‘Forensic Interviewing of Children Who May have been Abused’

We need such expertise in New Zealand, like we need a hole in the head. We have too many already of interviewers with her sort of expertise. One perhaps needs to look no further than the interviewers who did their forensic interviews with the children in the Christchurch Creche case.

One case involving Faller perhaps illustrates the point.

In November last year, a father, Larry Champney, a 36-year-old engineer, attempted to sue Faller.

He alleged her clinic emotionally abused his (now 9-year-old) daughter in 1992 by repeatedly trying to get her to say something bad about her father. He now has custody of the child.

Faller was successful in the court case, but the details of the case bring her no credit.

Faller supervised the interviewer, Jane Mildred, and wrote the final report that said the sexual-abuse allegation against Champney appeared to be true.

According to a transcript of the videotaped interview, anatomical dolls were used, a drawing of a nude girl and questions such as these to ask about abuse:

"Did daddy do something he shouldn’t to you?" "Did he touch you with his butt like this?"

The child, who answered mostly "no" or "don’t know" to the questions, at one point pushed away a male doll.

"We can’t just get rid of Daddy by pushing him away like that," her mother said. "Daddy keeps coming back."

Mildred then instructed the girl to remove a female doll’s clothes and "show me where the baby is hurt, what Daddy did."

The girl pushed her finger into the doll’s vagina.

"They called it an interview; it looked more like an interrogation on the tapes," said Champney, who obtained the videotapes after filing his lawsuit. "They were badgering her to no end, sticking naked dolls in her face, telling her that no matter what happened, the ‘big man judge’ was going to send her back to Dad’s house all alone and Mommy wouldn’t be there."

Champney said that after his daughter’s birth, his wife began displaying bizarre, paranoid behaviour — accusing him of having illicit affairs and incestuous relationships with relatives and, finally, of sexually abusing their daughter.

But investigators couldn’t verify sexual abuse and turned to Faller’s clinic for help. The clinic’s multidisciplinary team decided Champney likely was a child molester.

In her report, Faller wrote:

that the child "can describe and demonstrate explicit sexual acts," that the mother’s personality "does not indicate the mother is overprotective" (The mother readily admitted she was so concerned about sexual abuse that she sniffed her daughter’s genital area each day for signs of semen!) and that Champney "appears to be a suspicious person." (perhaps he had a good right to be suspicious of Faller!).

She also wrote

that the child’s "presentation and description of sexual abuse was consistent with a true allegation."

Champney’s lawyer, Demosthenes Lorandos, made the following comment:

"Faller and her people are part of the industry of false validations that hurts every child who has really been abused and devastates families."

The Detroit Free Press wrote before the unfortunate verdict, which spelled success for Faller:

"This case could have far-reaching implications in the field of child abuse interviews and investigations. Both Faller and her methods are on trial. The outcome will help focus the methods and training used with child abuse investigators, perhaps with more focus on the well-being of the child, and not on the perceptions and internal psychological mechanisms of the adults involved"

An opportunity was lost.

Incompetent interviewing techniques are not the only speciality displayed by Faller. She is also a true believer in satanic ritual abuse.

When most of the rest of the world began to view the first day care fiasco (the McMartin Day Care 1983-1990) as a terrible mistake, there continued to be people like Faller who clung to the belief that ritual abuse occurred there.

Faller agreed with authors of hysteria (Bass and Davis, ‘Courage to Heal’) that the McMartin case must be taken seriously since "tunnels" were found under the school. These tunnels have been relegated to urban legend status by all except the true believers, who consider that those who do not believe such fantastic tales are part of the "backlash"

Faller showed her true colours in an article she wrote in the Spring, 1994 APSAC Adviser (of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), in which she repeated the claims of Bass and Davis.

Reports of tunnels at McMartin were curiously never made public. But they were made available to true believers. Debbie Nathan (Co-author of ‘Satan’s Silence’) would write in 1994 that :

"Currently, McGauley and Stickel are distributing Stickel’s report on the dig only to members of the child protection coterie who have made their careers promoting the existence of satanic ritual abuse — such as Coulborn Faller and Summit. The report is not available to the public. McGauley and Roland Summit have said it cannot be released unless someone (a publisher, for instance) pays substantial amounts of money for it. This position contradicts the normal practice in California among archaeologists, which is to archive their reports for peer review and public use.

Amazing. Their interest was more associated with cash, than in any considerations of child abuse!

Faller and her associates became increasingly obviously responsible for unnecessary hysteria, as the 1990’s progressed.

By 1995, in ‘Satan’s Silence’ authors Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedecker were able to write:

"Instead of squarely owning up to it’s history of sordid involvement in fomenting ritual abuse panic, the child protection profession remains officially silent. This is primarily because many of its leading figures were so involved in bolstering ritual-abuse theory and prosecutions that to correct themselves would damage their reputations, and worse, threaten their own self image."

"To realise how much power these leaders wield, and how much they stand to lose by admitting their mistakes, one only has to look at the board of the country’s most influential child protection professional association, the American Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC)"

And who are these people? At the time Nathan and Snedecker wrote their book, they included: President : Linda Meyer Williams (refer previous post)! Editor : Susan Kelley (responsible for the day care scandal that saw innocents Violet Amirault aged 61, and her daughter and son imprisoned), Executive: Katherine Coulbourne Faller, Harry Elias (husband of Kee MacFarlane!) and a few other similarly controversial people.

Faller helped to investigate a day care ritual abuse case herself: in Michigan in 1984, in which a defendant was convicted. In 1995, she was on the advisory board of ‘Believe the Children’

We do not need such people as Faller anywhere near our shores.

We have enough experts in our own country guilty with their own responsibility for the unjust prosecution and conviction of day care workers. Peter Ellis is in prison because of their efforts.

The last thing New Zealand needs now, is a choir of such "experts" singing each others praises. These people need to learn quickly that they should be hanging their head in shame for what they have done to innocents like Peter Ellis.

Their cause may be very just (preventing the abuse of children), but such a just cause is no excuse to achieve such aims with unadulterated evil.

Brian Robinson

Kathleen Faller sued for coercive interviewing (more)

Linda Morgan aka Morgan Libeau

Morgan Libeau teaching girls to be violent

In my last post I provided reasons for concerns about Kathleen Faller, who is lecturing on ‘Forensic Interviewing of Children Who May have been Abused’. In the post I stated that we needed such expertise in New Zealand, like we need a hole in the head. We already have too many of our own interviewers with her sort of expertise … such as those guilty of doing the interviewing of the children in the Christchurch Creche case.

And I have now discovered that even one of these (interviewers in the Creche case) is actually going to provide a lecture, although she has changed her name.

The programme lists Morgan Libeau as a speaker on the topic ‘Court Education for Child Witnesses’.

Libeau was known as Linda Morgan prior to and during the court case in which Peter Ellis was unjustly convicted.

She was a specialist interviewer of some of the children from the Creche, and appeared as a Crown witness under the name of Linda Morgan.

During the interviews she was referred to by the children as Morgan. She introduced herself as Morgan, not Linda or Ms/Miss/Mrs Morgan. Parents also referred to her as Morgan, like, Morgan was her first name.

She is a self acknowledged lesbian and incest survivor.

Of course there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, and the woman deserves sympathy for being an incest survivor. But many people, including myself, are concerned about the over representation of these types of people in counselling roles, especially in roles where they are making determinations of sexual abuse.

Codes of ethics of some psychology/therapy professions prevent people from practicing in areas where they have unresolved issues. We are not to know whether Libeau/Morgan has resolved the issues associated with her own troubled past or not, but I have a suspicion that some like her may be in counselling roles to deal with their own internal traumas. The open question is whether or not she was an objective interviewer or not? There is certainly no way that the unfortunate Peter Ellis, who suffered as a result of the types of interviews done, is able to have assurance that Libeau/Morgan acted truly impartially.

And what is Libeau/Morgan going to tell the participants at the congress?

Is she prepared to admit her participation in the injustice that was done to Peter Ellis?

Is she proud of her interviewing techniques?

What does ‘Court Education for Child Witnesses’ mean? If she is drawing on her experience for what she has done to Peter Ellis, it may possibly mean coaching young impressionable and frightened children to tell the court what the interviewers want the child to say.

Linda Morgan cannot hide from her responsibilities in her participation in the lynch mob that "hung" Peter Ellis, simply by changing her name to Morgan Libeau.

And for ISPCAN to consider her a worthy speaker, shows the organisation, and the organisers in their true colours, of people out on a full scale witch hunt.

Peter Ellis needs justice … and not to hear that his tormentors are gathering in a mutual admiration society of self justification.

Brian Robinson

Jon Conte

In this post, I focus on Jon Conte.

Conte has had his trip paid for to New Zealand so that he can speak on ‘Managing Memory in Psychotherapy’

Jon Conte’s pedigree takes us back to early radical feminism. Reference:

Furies.jpg (10246 bytes)

‘Return of the Furies: An investigation onto Recovered Memory Therapy’ by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager published 1994

"The radical feminist perspective maintaining that sexual abuse is inherent in a patriarchal society where males connect sexuality and violence was first articulated then (early 80’s) ref Conte 1982.

Conte J.R. 1982, ‘Sexual Abuse of Children: Enduring Issues for Social Work’ Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality 1 (1,2), 1-19

It would not be long before he became linked to groups firmly believing in ritual abuse. David Corwin, a psychiatrist with the dubious distinction of having worked under Roland Summit, and also with the dubious distinction of having done therapy with the McMartin children, was instrumental in setting up a group of like minded colleagues who would work under the banner of APSAC (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children).

Reference: ‘Satan’s Silence : Ritual Abuse and the making of a Modern American Witch Hunt’ by Debbie Nathan and Michael Snedecker published 1995

"From it’s inception, APSAC’s leadership roster was a veritable directory of ritual abuse architects. Kee MacFarlane was an at-large director, Roland Summit was on the board. So were David Finkelhor, Ann Burgess, and Bruce Woodling. Second Vice President was David Corwin. President was Jon Conte, the Chicago social worker who earlier had called a ritual-abuse conference, whom ‘Believe the Children’ listed in it’s directory of helpful resources, and who rejected the possibility that children making the charges were prompted by adults."

"Soon APSAC was publishing the quarterly ‘Journal of Interpersonal Violence’ with CONTE as editor. It became the country’s leading forum for child sex-abuse research, and it’s masthead of consultants and board members was packed with ritual abuse proponents: most notably, Burgess, Finkelhor, and MacFarlane. APSAC also began a quarterly newsletter, ‘The Adviser’, which published articles by these writers and other ritual abuse theoreticians."

Moving on from Ritual Abuse, Conte was soon to become embroiled in the next "Controversy du Jour", the issue of whether mass repression of traumatic memories (specifically of sexual abuse memories), has any validity.

A lot was at stake. Therapists practicing recovered memory therapy were being accused of being responsible for scores of false accusations of abuse. While in 1998, it is easier to see that these therapists were practicing with techniques that were flawed (that has become self evident as a stream of these women are beginning to retract their accusations), in the early 1990’s the idea of repression excited people like Conte.

Making_Monsters.jpg (10729 bytes)

Reference: ‘Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria’ by Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters published 1994

"In a paper titled ‘Self Reported Amnesia for Abuse in Adults Molested as Children’ (Journal of Traumatic Stress 6(1):21-31); researchers John Briere and Jon Conte more directly attempt to prove the existence of repression. The pair located 450 therapy patients who identified themselves as abuse victims and asked them whether there had ever been a time before their 18th birthday when they "could not remember" their abuse. Answering this Yes or No question, 59% of the subjects reported that they had experienced such a time. From this result the two researchers concluded: "Amnesia for Abuse … appears to be a common phenomenon among clinical sexual abuse survivors"

As to how their empirical conclusions should be applied to the clinical setting, Briere and Conte write that "it is likely that some significant portion of psychotherapy clients who deny a history of childhood victimisation are, nevertheless, suffering from sexual abuse trauma…. Thus the clinician who has some reason to believe that his or her client was molested as a child … may well be advised to continue to entertain that hypothesis during treatment, even in the absence of specific abuse memories."

"It doesn’t take a social scientist to see that the survey question Briere and Conte used to draw their far reaching conclusion is flawed at it’s premise. The question ("During the period between when the first forced sexual experience happened and your 18th birthday was there ever a time when you could not remember the forced sexual experience?") turns on the "could not". Patients are not only asked to remember a time when they did not remember something, but to have known whether, during that time, they could or could not have remembered the event if they had tried. Asking patients to remember a time when they couldn’t remember something is a logical quandary. The question borders on the ridiculous, for it assumes the subject would have knowledge of the status of a memory during a period when that memory by the subject’s own admission never came into consciousness. Ofshe and Watters go on to discuss other obvious problems with the study. But Ofshe and Watters are not the only critics of Briere and Conte.

Paul Simpson was himself a credulous recovered memory therapist. He has since had second thoughts, and in the words of memory researcher Elizabeth Loftus has "pioneered in reconciling families devastated by the False Memory Crisis" Dr Paul Simpson refers to the same flawed study of Briere and Conte:

Reference ‘Second Thoughts: Understanding the False Memory Crisis and how it could affect you’ by Dr Paul Simpson published 1996

"What are the problems of this study? (Of Briere and Conte). First the question is confusing – it means different things to different people. Second like the previous study, it is purely anecdotal, with no independent confirmation of the described abuse. Most importantly, the study uses a classic form of circular reasoning. A subject was identified as being a victim of abuse because she had hypnotic images of abuse. But how do we know that such images are real? Because she is a victim of abuse.

This is the same technique used for space alien abductions "We know that this person was abducted by aliens because he repressed the trauma. He repressed the trauma because aliens forced it from his mind." or "She was tortured by the satanic cult, and they hypnotised her into forgetting all the trauma. We know this is true because she now has recovered memories of them doing these things"

What we know from this study is that 60% of people responding to a poorly worded questionnaire claim they were abused because they have had traumatic hypnotic images. It is just as likely an indicator of the extent of false memories as it is evidence for repression."

So where does this controversy lead us here in New Zealand, on the eve of a congress in which both Briere and Conte have been invited?

Somewhat concerned that the organisers appear to want to deliberately present their own bias on significant controversy.

They bring Conte to New Zealand. A man with impeccable credentials as supporting pioneering radical feminists. A man gullible enough to have got caught up in belief of satanic ritual abuse, cults and the like (for which no evidence has ever been found). And finally a man whose "research" has been trashed by his peers… research that speaks more for presenting answers to a political agenda, than it does for scientific discovery.

As with one or two other controversial speakers, I have little concern for Conte’s invitation to speak, by itself. . But the bias of the congress shows when Conte’s co-author is a key note speaker. They bring both of them out, to sing the same tune.

Why have they not thought to have invited just one of them, and for some balance perhaps one of their critics : people like Ofshe and Watters, or Dr Paul Simpson?

The conclusion that I come to, is that the conference organisers have their own agenda:

  • an agenda of reinforcing beliefs of the truth of recovered memories,
  • an agenda of thumbing their noses at the unnecessary family devastation that they have caused where false accusations have been made by family members, and
  • an agenda of protecting their positions in their profession, and of saving face, and avoiding embarrassment.

This congress in Auckland should be exposed for what it is: A sham of scientific thought. And acting against it’s own agenda of protecting children from sexual abuse.

Brian Robinson

Ross Chiet

In this post, I wish to express my concerns about one speaker: Professor Ross Cheit. Cheit has been invited to the congress to speak on ‘The Backlash Against Child Sexual Abuse’

My concerns about him being chosen as a speaker is different than with some others. I believe that he has a personal story to tell that is important to the raging controversies surrounding issues of memory and abuse. In a large congress like the one at Auckland, there is a place for Cheit to tell his story.

But why the interest in Cheit, especially with the congress already bringing people like Williams, Briere, and Conte to give their views on memory, repression, and what they consider the links to sexual abuse?

It is because there is almost no evidence for repression being a mechanism for the "loss of memory", even though such a theory has been used to validate hundreds, if not thousands of cases of so called recovered memories of sexual abuse. Cheit provides those who cling to such theories some hope that they have not simply been gullible:

Reference ‘The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute’ by Frederick Crews published 1995

"Once we have recognised that a memory can disappear because of factors other than repression, even the best anecdotal evidence for that mechanism loses it’s punch. Consider for example, the closely watched case of Ross Cheit, A Brown University professor who has recently proved beyond question that his suddenly recalled 1968 molestation by a music camp administrator was real." ( Crews provides a couple of references here for a sympathetic account of Cheit’s experience)

"But had that abuse been repressed in the first place? In a phone conversation with me on September 7, 1994, Cheit declared that while he takes no position on the existence of repression, he is inclined to doubt that he abruptly and completely consigned his experience to oblivion. What Cheit does firmly believe is that this forgotten ordeal, and not any others that he may have remembered or some further unspecified factor, is responsible for anguish that he experienced many years later as an adult. But that belief is only a supposition. The possibility – indeed, the likelihood – that Cheit lost track of the incident at issue through an ordinary process of atrophy renders the example of his restored memory useless as a proof of repression.

Useless, that is, from the standpoint of logic. For another purpose, that of inducing popular belief in the theory of repression, anecdotes can be powerfully effective. The very idea of repression and its unravelling is an embryonic romance about a hidden mystery, an arduous journey, and a gratifying neat denouement that can ascribe our otherwise drab shortcomings and pains to deep necessity. When that romance is fleshed out by a gifted storyteller who also bears impressive credentials as an expert on the mind, most readers in our culture will be disinclined to put up intellectual resistance."

The case of Ross Cheit has been considered by others. Pendergrast mentions that three well publicised cases are often cited as anecdotal evidence of massive repression, with Cheit being one of the three. (The other two were the 1958 Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, and Frank Fitzpatrick):

Reference ‘Victims of Memory: Sex Abuse Accusations and Shattered Lives’ by Mark Pendergrast published 1995

"Thirty nine year old Brown University public policy professor Ross Cheit says he woke from a 1992 dream feeling a "powerful presence" in the room, which he identified as William Farmer, an administrator of the San Francisco Boys’ Chorus summer camp, which Cheit had attended in the late 1960’s. Later that day, he recalled repeated molestation by Farmer. After some investigation, Cheit confronted Farmer by telephone, taping the conversation, and the former camp administrator admitted molesting him"

"As convincing as these cases may sound, they do not prove the existence of massively repressed memories."

"From my discussions with Ross Cheit, I am convinced that he did indeed recall incidents of sexual abuse after the passage of many years, but it is unclear to me how frequently he was molested. Cheit believes the incidents occurred nightly during the month of August in 1968, when Bill Farmer was the camp administrator. He also thinks that another incident occurred the previous year, when Farmer visited the camp briefly."

"Cheit’s memories were not particularly traumatic when they came back to him. Mostly he was embarrassed and experienced a "visceral uneasiness" He had genuinely liked Farmer, and their sexual encounters were not altogether unpleasant for him"

"Curiously, Cheit had always recalled another sexual incident at the camp in which a black counsellor kissed him on the lips. He was repulsed and got away quickly. Cheit does not know why he forgot about his experience with Farmer and always remembered this kiss. "I find it puzzling, that’s for sure," he told me

I would guess that Cheit always remembered the kiss because he found it revolting and therefore memorable. His sexual initiation with Farmer, on the other hand, was not particularly upsetting. "I didn’t dread it," he told me "I wasn’t thinking, "Oh, my God, he’s going to come in again" There was some feeling of apprehension about it, but it was more tied up with guilt and confusion about sex.

Despite recalling his sexual abuse years after it occurred, Ross Cheit does not know whether to call his memory "repressed" or not, nor does he necessarily believe the kind of massive repression reported by other Survivors in which years of abuse were supposedly siphoned off from consciousness.

"Cheit clearly believes that the long forgotten molestation was at least partly responsible for his life problems. He had entered therapy a few months before recalling the abuse, although he insists that his therapist never suggested the possibility of sexual abuse. "I was very unsettled, more than ever before in my life. I felt somehow adrift, as if some anchor in my life had been raised. I had doubts about my marriage, my job, everything"

I am left wondering what the real motive was for the organisers of the congress to invite Cheit. As an individual speaker, there is much that he can offer. He has a personal story that puts a face to many tragic tales of abuse.

But the real reason, I suspect, for his inclusion in the programme, is that his story, in conjunction with the other invited speakers, lends credence to the position concerning repression of memories that the organisers want to promote.

Once again, I stress that the issue of repression of memory associated with traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, is an extremely controversial subject.

On one side there are people who claim, and would wish to promote the idea that sexual abuse is extremely widespread and that most of it has been forgotten, because it has been so traumatic.

On the other side of the controversy there are people who say that people have no memories of abuse, because nothing actually happened to them, and snot simply that abuse memories have been "repressed"

But this congress has shown it’s true colours by not even acknowledging that there is a controversy at all, let alone being prepared to accept critics of the view they want to promote.

Why have they not invited people like Pendergrast, or Crews to the congress to present and defend their concerns?

And if we are talking about repressed memories, has anybody on the organising committee considered inviting those who thought they had repressed memories of abuse, through the influence of therapy, and have come since to realise that their memories were indeed false? There are a growing number of these women, who are now speaking out, as retractors, suffering intensely in their own way for the pain that they have caused others, and the pain that they have to live with themselves, for their own actions. By 1993 a book about their experiences had been written:

Reference ‘True Stories of False Memories’ by Eleanor Goldstein and Kevin Farmer published 1993

In the book, the stories of women such as Lynn Gondolf, Melody Gavigan, and Laura Pasley, are told, as well as the stories of others who wish their names to remain anonymous. There have been many others since, both overseas, and here in New Zealand.

Cheit’s story, his anecdotal experience, is an important story. But if the subject of repressed memories is going to be fairly discussed, then so too is the anecdotal experiences of these retractors ~ for without such stories, our counselling profession, may easily be led to believe that such cases do not happen.

And their counselling practices could be simply encouraging unnecessary human misery and suffering, with the destruction of families.

Brian Robinson

DSAC Sheesh!

I’ve just been given a list of overseas "experts" that have been sponsored to New Zealand by DSAC over the past few years. The choir of experts that were invited to the congress en masse last week, have dribbled across here one by one over recent years.

The problem is not any particular person. The problem is more associated with the fact that DSAC have an obvious bias, associated with a topic that is within the field of psychology extremely controversial.

I am not unhappy that any one of these people have been invited. I would expect a group like DSAC to bring a range of speakers who can present all sides of controversy, so that participants in these series of seminars can make up their own minds.

But I am extremely unhappy that the list of people does not fairly represent, if it represents at all, other professionals who are critics of some of the theories and practices of people who are listed?

An international controversy is raging. That is concerned about practices that have led to terrible injustices for many men such as Peter Ellis.

And DSAC thumbs it’s nose at professionals who disagree with their official policies.

Is it any wonder, that counsellors in New Zealand, who are not being exposed sufficiently to professional and scientific developments overseas, are continuing to do harm to many of their clients, and to promote a rash of false accusations?

1989 Astrid Heger

1991 Astrid Heger

1991 Dick Sosbey

1992 Astrid Heger

1992 Dick Sosbey

1992 Lucy Berliner

1992 Ingrid van Beek

1993 Judith Myers-Avis

1993 Toni Cavanagh Johnson

1993 Jonathan Ross

1994 Roland Summit

1994 Jon Conte

1994 Michael O’Brien

1995 Judith Herman

1995 John Briere

1995 Astrid Heger

1995 Arno & Marianne Bentovin

1996 Toni Cavanagh Johnson

1996 Mary Koss

1996 Marlene Young

1996 William Fredrich

1996 Bessell van der Kolk

1996 Astrid Heger

1997 Bruce Perry

1997 Christine Courtois

1997 John Briere

1998 Constance Dalenberg

DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care) have admirable aims to help prevent sexual abuse, and to care for victims of sexual abuse.

But they show themselves in their true colours with this completely biased list of speakers. This list implies a complete lack of concern for the problem of false accusations of sexual abuse: As if they are saying that sexual abuse must be stamped out regardless of the possible consequences of many men being falsely accused.

The list is not the only thing symptomatic of an organisation rotten to the core. Last year, they orchestrated the removal of Felicity Goodyear-Smith as an honorary member of the organisation. A person with impeccable credentials, as a person who stands strongly against both sexual abuse, and against victimising innocent people in the goal of ending sexual abuse. (Refer current edition of the New Zealand Listener September 5-11 1998)

DSAC should be promoting the efforts of Felicity Goodyear-Smith, and not trying to discredit her. As well as their favourite speakers, they should be balancing the list with speakers such as Felicity, and international authorities on memory (such as Elizabeth Loftus), the head of organisations that speak for the falsely accused (such as Peter Freyd), people who have dealt with both the truly abused and the accused (such as Hollida Wakefield), people who have spoken up about psychiatric testimony (such as Margaret Hagen), retractors who have come to realise that their so called memories of sexual abuse were only a fantasy (such as Donna Anderson), and so on.

If DSAC continue to bring members of the same choir to New Zealand, all trained to sing the same tune, is it any wonder that our counsellors do not know any other tune as well?

And Peter Ellis sleeps in Rolleston Prison, for yet another night.

Brian Robinson.


The following message was received from John P. Brown Ph.D, for inclusion as commentary:

"I would like to offer my sympathy to the citizens of New Zealand as a coven of American child abuse experts descends upon their fair islands to attend the Congress of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

While the likes of Kee MacFarlane, Lucy Berliner, Astrid Heger, Ross Cheit, and Kathleen Faller may have no more scientific legitimacy than those experts who treat alien abduction or past life misfortunes, their contribution to countless American witch hunts – past, present and future – tells volumes about their ability to influence the hysterical and the gullible.

This clueless and unrepentant lot can only bring New Zealand more judicial embarrassment (eg., the Peter Ellis case) and more raids on the public treasury for manufactured victims.

I’d like to toss out another perspective for those who are willing to consider the possibility that the infamous "experts" care far more about their own fame and fortune – and the profitability of their various professional guilds – than about truth or the actual welfare of children or families. Consider for a moment the plight of the American tobacco industry currently being sued on all sides by parties seeking compensation for past damages. The parties seeking hundreds of billions of US dollars from the purveyors of tobacco products claim that the industry lied to them even as it knowingly addicted and harmed vulnerable people.

Picture a few years down the road when the public finds out the sorry truth about what these experts have done to impressionable children, innocent bystanders, venerable social institutions, and the misled taxpayers who were stuck with huge unjustified expenses.

Will there be even clearer cause to put an entire human service industry on trial and to demand an accounting for lying about unmistakable scientific evidence and causing tremendous harm?

There are indeed many responsible and conscientious professionals who help heal and prevent the effects of genuine child abuse. There are even those brave souls, like Dr. Felicity Goodyear-Smith, who struggle to counteract the terrible harm inflicted by irresponsible followers of the "experts" now descending on New Zealand.

Are any of them invited to speak at this meeting of witch hunters?

How many "responsible" professionals are part of the silent majority of professionals who indirectly profit from the manufacturing of victims (Do read Tana Dineen’s book, ‘Manufacturing Victims’) and deserve a seat at the defendant’s table in the future accounting?

The gathering of infamous American witch hunters deserves to be thoroughly exposed in the New Zealand press so that the citizens of New Zealand can avoid further miscarriages of justice, avoidable harm to children and families, and insults to the common sense of taxpayers.

Respectfully, John P. Brown, Jr., Ph.D. [email protected]

Excerpts on DSAC from A City Possessed by Lynley Hood

more about the book A City Possessed

Chapter 2.II • 65

Between the first Otago women’s mental health survey in 1985 and the second in 1989-90, the child sexual abuse awareness campaign gathered supporters and speed, and mainstream professions in medicine and the law struggled to get a grip on the steering wheel.

Prominent child protection workers made overseas study trips. Top level conferences were held. Influential organisations were formed (the Family Violence Prevention Coordinating Committee in 1986, Christchurch’s Sexual Abuse Therapy and Rehabilitation Team in 1987, Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care in 1988). Reports on the problem mere published by the Accident Compensation Corporation and the National Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Child Abuse it 1986, by the Commission of Inquiry into Violence in 1987, by the Advisory Committee on the Investigation, Detection and Prosecution of Offences Against Children, the first Otago sexual abuse survey, the Mental Health Foundation and the Royal Commission on Social Policy in 1988 and by the Committee of Inquiry into Pornography in 1989.

Among the influential visitors who toured New Zealand during the late ’80s were: child witness expert Dr Gail Goodman in 1987; radical feminist anti-pornography campaigner Catharine MacKinnon in 1988; Astrid Heger — the paediatrician who misdiagnosed mass child sexual abuse in the McMartin preschool case in California — in 1989; Satanic ritual abuse expert Pamela Klein in 1990.

Influential books appeared: Russell’s The Secret Trauma in 1986; Saphira’s For Your Child’s Sake in 1987; Bass and Davis’s The Courage to Heal in 1988; the Family Violence Prevention Coordinating Committee booklet Reach Out in 1990. There were also children’s books: Katie’s Yukky Problem, Daniel and His Therapist and Megan’s Secret by Lynda Morgan in 1985; Hessell’s What’s Wrong with Bottoms, and Hayward and Carlyle’s Too Close for Comfort, in 1988; Saphira and McIntyre’s Look Back, Stride Forward in 1989. And there were sexual abuse prevention programmes for children: Keeping Ourselves Safe in 1988; Feeling Safe in 1990.

Old laws were changed, new laws were introduced and high-level initiatives were taken. In 1987, multidisciplinary Sexual Abuse Teams were established in South Auckland, Lower Hutt and Christchurch-In 1988, the Minister of Social Welfare increased funding for child abuse services by $20 million per year.

Feature articles in the Woman’s Weekly in October 1986 (‘RAPE: what victims should know about compensation‘) and in Broadsheet in November 1987 (‘ACCIDENT COMPENSATION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT‘), and a 1987 Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) leaflet, advised women that counselling and up to $10,000 in lump sum compensation was available to anyone who had been sexually assaulted after 1 April 1974, even if no one has been charged and no complaint had been laid.

While most developments in child sexual abuse detection and treat-ment impacted on women and children, the highly-influential 1988 Telethon impacted on the whole community. The event followed the tradition established by New Zealand’s first 24-hour Telethon in 1975, which captured the hearts, minds and wallets of the nation. Further Telethons were held annually, and later biennially. Each was a coun-try-wide festival of giving and togetherness. Each raised funds for a designated cause.

Not that the cause really mattered. To the organisers, Telethon was a hugely successful publicity stunt. Don Hutchings, organiser of the first eight telethons, told Metro, ‘We quite honestly got to the point where we sublimated the cause and promoted the festival … we could do Telethon for a three-legged dog.’

The cause for Telethon ’88 was not a three-legged dog, but it did turn into something of a Cerberus. The aim was ‘to reduce the level of violence in our communities’. The Telethon public relations officer turned to Mental Health Foundation publications for inspiration, and the ‘one in four’ sexual abuse claim leapt off the page and grabbed him by the lapels. As a result, in the month leading up to the festival, the nation was saturated with the ‘one in four’ claim in radio, television and print advertisements.

Two advertisements stood out. One featured a photograph of four babies. The headline read: ONE OF THESE CHILDREN WILL BE SCARRED FOR LIFE. The text began, ‘One in four girls will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Half of them by their own father’. The other advertisement featured a photograph of a frightened little girl in bed. Behind her, in the darkened doorway, was the ominous silhouette of a man. The headline read: IT’S NOT THE DARK SHE’S AFRAID OF The text began ‘Some children treasure Dad’s good night kiss while others live to dread it. Because some fathers don’t stop there.’

Interested parties in the fields of politics, justice, welfare, and health hailed the Telethon campaign as a long-overdue attempt to make the wider community ‘face cruel facts’. The wider community did not take kindly to the attempt (and given that incest convictions nation-wide for the previous year totalled 19, one can hardly blame them). A bewildered letter in the NZ Listener echoed the questions that ricocheted around the nation:

This is a terrible accusation against fathers. Would such an accusation result in mothers seeing their husbands as potential molesters of their own daughters and what would such suspicion do to their marriage? And how reliable is the evidence for fathers molesting their own daughters? What assumptions have been made to support this contention? The statistics are necessarily based on some sort of sampling technique. How big and how representative are the samples? Have reputable mathematical significance tests been applied to the results?

Several prominent individuals sprang to the defence of the ‘one in four’ figure. Member of Parliament, Marilyn Waring, said, ‘there is evidence to support the claims, including the leading world study on sexual abuse from the Kinsey Institute, which says that almost all men behave in a sexually offensive manner and those that don’t are non-conformists’. Despite the controversy, on Telethon Day the hype and hoopla prevailed: $5.5 million was raised.

When the party was over, the ‘one in four’ claim was subject to further analysis. Articles in the NZ Listener and Metro criticised the Mental Health Foundation for supplying exaggerated figures, the Telethon organisers for exaggerating them further, and the advertising agency for compounding the problem. Those who previewed the advertisements were criticised for allowing the hyperbole to pass un-checked. In response, the accused parties defended the ‘one in four’ claim, defended themselves, denied they were anti-family or anti-men and invoked the concepts of ‘denial’ and ‘backlash’ to explain the fuss.

Page 227

Less then three weeks later, two events occurred that together jerked the hands on the Doomsday Clock to midnight. One was the visit of Dr Astrid Heger to Christchurch. Heger was the paediatrician who, in 1983, had misdiagnosed child sexual abuse on a grand scale in the McMartin case in California. In 1989 she came to New Zealand to help set up Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC). In 1991 she returned on a DSAC-sponsored lecture tour. On 19 and 20 November 1991 she was in Christchurch, leading a training session for physicians and sexual abuse specialists.

The other defining event of 19 November 1991 was the introduction of the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Bill into Parliament. The purpose of the Bill was to replace the 1982 ACC Act in general, and to abolish the provision for lump sum compensation for ‘loss of enjoyment of life’ in particular. For those who hoped to benefit from the lump sum scheme, there was no time to lose.

On 20 November, Ms. Magnolia advised Gaye Davidson of her belief that Peter Ellis had abused her son.

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Throughout the creche investigation, Detective Eade advised concerned parents to have their children examined by a member of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC), even if the child had made no disclosure of abuse. During these examinations, the child’s ano-genital region was inspected, and swabs and blood samples were taken. The swabs — from the anus, throat and vagina (in girls) or urethra (in boys) — were tested for sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas and herpes. The blood samples were tested for syphilis and Aids.

Immediately after Ellis’s arrest, Rob Harrison arranged for his client to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including Aids. When Harrison advised Eade of the results on 4 May, he hoped the negative findings would quell the panic and spare children the ordeal of a medical examination. But in the months ahead Eade continued to recommend that former creche children have full medical examinations and STD tests.

These examinations caused the anxiety levels of already anxious parents to escalate. First, because the mere mention of the examination was an invitation to imagine the worst. Second, because the examination was embarrassing, uncomfortable, even painful, for the child. Third, because DSAC doctors always reported their findings in the most alarming manner possible.

The DSAC Manual for the Medical Management of Child Sexual Abuse was based on the work of Dr Astrid Heger, the paediatrician who misdiagnosed child sexual abuse on a massive scale in the McMartin preschool case in California. Doctors were told to avoid statements like ‘the examination was normal’ or ‘no evidence of sexual abuse exists’. Instead, the phrase ‘this examination is consistent with the allegation of sexual abuse’ was recommended. Consequently, every medical examination of a créche child, no matter what the outcome, allowed ritual abuse believers to put another tick against the item in Pamela Hudson’s checklist that read ‘Medical finding commensurate with sexual abuse.’

More about Peter Ellis and the Christchurch Creche case.

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