COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter April 1995 Volume 2 No 3
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Indoctrination of sexual abuse workers In the past ten years, a quiet stream of "experts" have flowed into New Zealand from the United States, teaching and enforcing some misguided principles and practices. Workers who attend workshops on topics such as recovered memories and satanic abuse are unlikely to challenge the material presented when these speakers are presented as reputable specialists holding mainstream scientifically-validated views, especially when the organisers of these seminars are groups or institutions with some authority in NZ.
Memories triggered by events – Crown psychiatrist Karen Zelas
Woman realises her satanic ritual memories are false – Simone Doublett
Father found not guilty of sexual assault in spite of alarming CYPS Specialist Services Interview
Media: Christchurch Creche case
Features: Correspondence from 64-year-old prisoner
This should be the final COSA newsletter in this format as we are in the final stages (at last!) of becoming an incorporated society. After much input from COSA members, the draft rules have been rewritten, and a groups of signatories in Auckland and Christchurch should be signing up shortly. Many thanks to all those who have contributed. The COSA Inc purpose and objects will be presented in the next newsletter.
Indoctrination of sexual abuse workers
The last month has seen considerable media activity regarding false sexual allegations, especially concerning the Christchurch Creche case. Public opinion is certainly mounting in a call for a public inquiry into some of the practices which have been operating in sexual abuse investigation and treatment.
Many professionals working in the field still insist that false allegations rarely if ever happen. When men are acquitted of sexual crimes by the High Court, they are said to have "got off on a technicality". When accusers recant (for example, the young girl in the Creche case and the psychology student subsequently charged with ACC fraud) it is said that they "retreat into denial" out of fear. When men charged on the basis of recovered memories are found innocent by the courts, it is said that the "accusers really always remembered the abuse" (despite evidence to the contrary in the form of counselling notes and initial statements to the police).
I have talked with psychologists and psychotherapists in the past month who believe that satanic ritual abuse is widespread in NZ. The fact that despite extensive investigations, no corroborative evidence has ever been obtained to support these claims has no effect on their beliefs. This just confirms that satanic cult members are extremely organised and fiendishly clever at covering their tracks.
In the past ten years, a quiet stream of "experts" have flowed into New Zealand from the United States, teaching and enforcing some misguided principles and practices. Workers who attend workshops on topics such as recovered memories and satanic abuse are unlikely to challenge the material presented when these speakers are presented as reputable specialists holding mainstream scientifically-validated views, especially when the organisers of these seminars are groups or institutions with some authority in NZ.
I was a guest on a radio talkback show recently, when a woman therapist rang to say how she attended a satanic ritual workshop in Christchurch in 1991. She fully believed everything she was told and for some time afterwards was all "fired up" to diagnose and treat this sort of abuse. She now feels uncomfortable at how gullible she was, but at the time it would have been extremely difficult to challenge the authority of her teachers and the response of her peers.
There is little public awareness oft this ongoing process of indoctrination of our sexual abuse workers. This month "trauma memory recovery" expert Judith Herman was quietly brought here by DSAC and ran seminars throughout the country. The public is however starting to realise that something is seriously wrong, and sooner or later we must get the independent inquiry we seek.
Religious group member denies indecency counts
A 60 year old senior member of a religious organisation denies assaulting a girl 20 years ago. He is accused of indecently assaulting her when she stayed at his home between 1973 and 1977, then aged between 7 and 12 years.
The Press, 1 Mar 1995
Memories triggered by events – psychiatrist
Crown psychiatrist Karen Zelas claimed that victims use "dissociation and denial" to protect themselves. She stated that denial of memories of a traumatic event may effect the process of memory retrieval until such time as the person feels secure enough to do so or is triggered by later events.
The Press, 1 Mar 1995
Man acquitted on six charges of incest based on recovered memories
A Christchurch High Court jury found a man innocent of all 6 charges of sexual abuse alleged by his daughter. She had recovered memories of the events, which were supposed to have occurred in 1967 and 1977, during psychotherapy in adulthood.
Woman realises her satanic ritual memories are false
In 1991 Simone Doublett, a 17 year old school girl, attended psychologist Lynne Haye for counselling following a "near-breakdown" which she now believes was trggered by the death of her brother from leukaemia. After several visits Simone began to insinuate that there had been something sexual between her and her father. By May 1992 the allegations had extended to being abused by a satanic cult. Simone also developed multiple personality disorder during the course of her therapy. Dr Haye believed that Simone had the "indicators" of satanc abuse and beleived the memories she was recovering in therapy were about real events in Simone’s past.
Following an ACC assessment in 1992, Simone received $10,000 lump sum compensation and had $4000 worth of counselling paid for by ACC over the next couple of years.
Simone herself fully believed in her own "memories" at the time. However she later realised that they were in fact confabulations and never really happened at all. In August 1993 she wrote to ACC saying that her claims had been false. She also wrote to her counsellor. Dr Haye believed Simone’s story that the allegations were false, but her 2 supervisors did not. One of them described her withdrawl of the allegations as a predictable form of denial.
ACC initally had her pay back her compensation via a small weekly sum. However in late 1994 she suddenly was charged with fraud. On 14 March 1995 she was found guilty by the Christchurch High Court and ordered to pay back $11,355 at $20 a week and do 120 hours of community service. The court found that total responsibility for the fraud lay with the defendant. Judge Mahon said that he did not believe that it was possible for Simone to ever have believed that the incidents hd happened.
Simone said that she first came to believe she was a victim when she began reading books on ritual abuse. Although she does not accuse her counsellor of implanting her false memories, she says that Dr Haye supported her in her claims and never challenged her beliefs, even when the allegations got more and more complex, dreadful and bizarre.
Simone now has a B Sc in psychology and is one of 8 students attending the University of Canterbury’s clincial psychology diploma programme. The Pyschologists Board has said it will not register her once she has finished her 3 year course. This decision has apparently been made on the basis of information on the case obtained by the Board through the media. The Board had not interviewed Simone. She has decided to complete her studies and fight the Board’s decision.
Father found not guilty of sexual assault
A 31 year old man was acquitted by a Dunedin jury of 2 charges of molesting one of his daughters. The child, now aged 7, had given evidence alleging she was made to perform oral sex on her father and that he had indecently assaulted her. The accusations had arisen when it appeared that he was about to obtain custody of his 2 daughters.
Despite his acquittal, he has yet to gain access to his children, and it seems likely that his daughter has come to sincerely believe that he did abuse her.
Otago Daily News, Aug 1994.
(Editor: Examination of transcripts of the interviews by the Children and Young Persons Service is very revealing. There is clear evidence of the child’s exposure to sexual abuse material and to prior coaching before the interview (for example, she talks about "a bad touch" and "my yucky problem"). There are leading questions, statements by the child suggesting that nothing actually happened which are not taken up by the interviewer (for example, when confronted by an adult male "anatomically correct" doll, she volunteers "diddles don’t have hair around them"), and numerous occasions where the child says "no", "I don’t know" or "I don’t remember" in response to suggestive questioning.
Most alarming of all is the CYPS Specialist Services Report of assessments performed on the child and her younger sister. Each child attended 3 play sessions, often reluctantly. Part of their play included drawing and these drawings are interpreted in the joint report by a Child Psychotherapist and a Family therapist. They qualify their interpretations as being "according to the literature" but no references to this literature are given. A few of these intepretations are documented below:
A 4 year old girl drawing a person with no arms – "arms are symbolic of the power to act in the world… suggests powerless";
A house, toilet, tree and person "drawn at the bottom of the page is consistent with generalised insecurity";
A yellow wall "indicates hostile attitudes associated with her home";
Lack of a chimney on her house "difficulty dealing with males";
Cloud and wind on the left of the picture and the sun shining brightly on the right "may be interpreted as pressure and anxiety mainly in the past, that things are improving and hope for a brighter future";
Drawing only one tree "suggests she may suffer social isolation from her peers".}
Ruling ends 5-year "satanic abuse" battle
A Scottish court has ruled that 8 children taken from their parents 5 years ago during an allegation of alleged satanic abuse should be returned to their parents.
The ruling marked the end of a long battle by the parents after the youngsters (aged between 7 months and 11 years) were collected by social workers – some taken away screaming in dawn raids – in Ayrshire in 1990. Apparently at least 2 of the children have no memory of their parents.
Lord Hope, Scotland’s most senior judge, said evidence showed that they should never have been removed from their families in what he describes as "a tragedy of immense proportions".
Social workers said that the children had described sexual and psychological abuse by devil worshippers who included their parents and community workers. The court has ruled that these social workers had been inadequately trained and had asked leading questions.
The Press, 1 Mar 1995
Christchurch Creche case
Aspects of this case have been featuring prominently in the media throughout the past month. The 13 former staff members dismissed from their jobs by the Council when the Creche was closed in 1992, have been awarded more than $1 million in compensation for wrongful dismissal by the Employment Court. The bulk of the payout will go to the 4 women who were arrested on child abuse charges in 1992 and later had their charges dismissed.
An in-depth look at their allegations of mishandling by police, social welfare and other professionals was screened on TV3’s 20/20 on 20 March.
There is now an ever-increasing ground-swell calling for an inquiry into the handling of the case. Particularly in question are the interview procedures used in this and other sexual abuse investigations. Radio-talk back shows throughout the country have been running hot on the issue, with nearly all callers believing that the evidence could not have proved Ellis guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Editorials in a number of daily metropolitan newspapers, Sunday papers and other publications are supporting the call from Ellis’ lawyer, Graham Panckhurst QC, and defence psychiatrist Keith LePage for an independent inquiry. COSA, FACADE, and Tony Greig, a former police officer on Christchurch’s sexual abuse team are also calling for an investigation into Social Welfare’s interviewing techniques. Sociology professor Mike Hill has given a detailed account in the press and on air of the factors leading up to the Creche case. He had identified the preceding facts so clearly that he was expecting a case such as this to emerge somewhere in NZ at that time.
None of the authorities concerned are owning to any wrongdoing. The Police Complaints Authority have declined jurisdiction, as there are no specific complaints against any individual police officer but rather criticism of the general handling of complaints of sexual abuse involving young children. The Children and Young Person’s Service has praised the professionalism of their interviewers and the Minister of Social Welfare, Mr Gresham, is not supporting an inquiry. Paul East, Attorney General, has declined Ellis’ application for legal aid to appeal to the Privy Council. And of course, the parents of the children involved in the case do not want an inquiry.
Despite these hurdles, public and professional concerns that the case has been ineptly handled are mounting, and a full inquiry is seen as important so that the mistakes made in this case will not be repeated.
Senior legal counsel calls for law changes in sexual abuse cases
Addressing the Canterbury Royal Society, Nigel Hampton QC said that allegations based on recovered memories need to be tested against a new set of court rules. He believes that such evidence should only be admitted if the prosecution could establish that memory repression and the process of recovery through therapy had gained general acceptance in the field of pyschology and could be demonstrated to be scientifically valid and capable of empirical testing. With the current state of knowledge, post-counselling evidence should be subject to the same rules as post-hypnosis evidence.
He also called for the reintroduction of the corroboration rule, which requires a judge to warn a jury it is dangerous to convict without independent evidence from the complaints’ story.
Martin van Beynen, The Press, Christchurch, ‘Use of evidence questioned’, March 95.
Minister supports campaign for time limit on sex claims
Three senior Auckland lawyers – Peter Williams QC, Chris Reid and Chris Harder – are calling for a 10-year limit betweeen alleged offences and prosecution. They have had a favourable response from the Minister of Justice, Doug Graham, who said he will seriously consider their submissions.
Oliver Riddell, The Press, Christchurch, , 14 March 1995, 3.
NZ Men’s Rights Association formed
A group of Wellington men have formed a national organisation to protect the rights of the "ordinary decent-living bloke". They say they are fed up with the feminist warcry that "all men are rapists". They offer information and resources to men who have been wrongly accused in custody battles and other false allegations.
Lin Ferguson, Sunday News, ‘Feminists may meet their match’, 12 Mar 1995, 13.
More men claim to be sexual abuse survivors
A visiting American psychologist, Walter Bera, claims that large numbers of men claiming to be sexual abuse survivors have been coming forward in the past 5 or 6 years. Mr Bera claims that 1 in 2 victims are male (a third of them abused by women) and "they suffer even more" than abused females. Mr Bera is running a series of workshops in NZ on how to deal with male victims.
NZ Herald 31 March 1995 sect 1 p7. ‘New victims start to leave the shadows’, Rochell Lockley.
Correspondence from 64-year-old prisoner
"..Believe me at present I am desperately in need of someone to talk to about my helpless situation, as of today I have been in this prison 2 years. Ever since that 1st day they admitted me into here, I have been constantly fighting a campaign of my innocence. I only wish it was possible to take my case to the Privy Council, however that is a hopeless dream.. because I have neither the resources or the ability.
I think that accountability should be the standard that a good justice system should have! Surely the basic principle of British justice is an accused will be deemed innocent until guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt…
I was found guilty of systemastically molesting my daughters between the years 1960 to 65. The prosecution had to rely on recovered memories soley. Surely these factors should have raised the required reasonable doubt.. never mind the fairytale nature of my daughters’ disclosures.
..Not once have my daughters faced me with these allegations. Repeated efforts to talk face to face with them about these allegations have failed. I know with absolute certainty that no incidents of sexual abuse ever took place with my daughters and I, however my daughters are adamant in their beliefs ..and believe me it is impossible to shake them.
How did my daughters get these horrific ideas into their heads?
Both my ex-wife of 18 years and I have been put through hell by this lot. How come these counsellors can cause so much misery and enormous heart-break to families. I would like the chance to front up to these counsellors – but for some unknown reason – we are not allowed to meet them – or even know their names…
Surely something just has to be done, to prevent these sort of things from happening to innocent people. The very thought that members of my family had been allowed to receive large sums of money, for reasons of monetary gain, has shattered my world.
I appreciate that sexual abuse must not be condoned at all, but as an innocent father aged 64 presently serving a sentence of 12 years in prison, for something that’s not true…
For the past 18 years since my adult children’s mother and I separated after 27 years of marriage, my daughters have harboured deep hurt resentment and anger towards both parents…. Accusing me of being a disciplinary father… Since being in prison I have done a lot of soul searching, my situation has become deeply haunting for me. I must admit that as a father of 8 children, they only received a minimum amount of personal attention, affection, love – also a minimum time of nurturance. My daughters have since accused me of being a judgemental father.. they saw themselves as small and helpless..
My daughters are now believed to be also seeking revenge against their mother, she is a sickness beneficiary the result of 2 heart strokes.
I am not afraid of my name being printed, because I haven’t done anything wrong to my daughters. Thank goodness the Lord knows the truth about me. God bless you."
(name withheld by editor)