COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter April 1997 Vol. 4 No. 3

Contents of this page:

Editorial: Victim impact reports Victim impact reports are not subject to critical review. They are not usually open to challenge but are presented to the courts as if established fact. In one case I know of, the counsellor claimed that his client has developed post-traumatic stress disorder, has become obsessive, depressed, questioned her own sanity, required hospitalisation for a suicide attempt, developed an eating disorder, become anxious and fearful and not been able to sleep well since being sexually abused by the defendant less than 6 months previously. The counsellor failed to mention in his report that his client has a very long history of severe mental illness. The counsellor in question has only being seeing her since the alleged assault and is treating her specifically for sexual abuse, his weekly sessions being paid for by ACC.

Courts: Convicted multiple personality fraud will appeal

False allegation of mutilation, Satanism and sexual assault

Woman charged with making false claim

Another woman charged with making false claim

Murderer claims his other personality did it

Vigilante action against alleged sex offender

Munchausen by Proxy

Man convicted in repressed memory case wins retrial (Canada)

Satanic ritual allegations (Egypt)

Therapist sued for creating 120 personalities in patient (USA)

Media: Assignment documentary "Recovered memories", TV1

CYPS fail to inform mother of sex abuse investigation

Counsellor specialises in alien abductions (UK)

Geraldo Rivera admits Satanist claims were false (USA)

Literature: This newsletter outlines special issues of the Psychological Bulletin; Journal of Psychohistory; and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition.

Child Abuse Reporting

Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood (David Fergusson)

From a passing thought to a false memory in 2 minutes: confusing real and illusory events.

Betrayal trauma: the logic of forgetting childhood abuse

Different types of childhood abuse and memory

The analysis of hysteria second edition: understanding conversion and dissociation

The Psychology of Confession Evidence

Dissociation, repression and reality testing in the counter-transference; the controversy over memory and false memory in the psychoanalytic treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Counselors and the backlash: "Rape hype" and the "False-Memory Syndrome"

Features: Arthur and Alice – Case history

Newsletters received by COSA

Assessment and treatment of maltreated children: a neuro-developmental approach, one-day workshop with Professor Bruce Perry.

News from the South COSA Branch report: at our last (COSA Canty) meeting we were very fortunate to be visited by Barrister Mervin Glue


Victim impact reports

Over the past decade, victim impact reports have been routinely used to influence and direct sentencing in criminal convictions. Once someone has been convicted, they are remanded for a period before sentencing, and one of the things that then is obtained for the judge is a victim impact report. In the case of sexual assault allegations, this may be prepared by the complainant’s therapist or counsellor. There is usually a desire on behalf of the victim and her (his) therapist for the offender to receive the maximum penalty. Typically these reports will emphases the emotional and mental health problems being experienced by the victim; there is also a tendency to attribute all these problems to the offence incident, even though there is seldom evidence to support this claim. This is particularly true in the case of delayed reporting of sexual abuse. In 1995 over one third of all sex offence convictions were for events alleged to have occurred more than 5 years prior to the complaint.

There is no way to know if problems suffered as an adult (depression, eating disorders etc) have been specifically caused by an episode of sexual abuse as a child. Current research indicates that it is impossible to extract the effects of abuse from many other possible factors such as family conflict or emotional neglect. The correlation between sexual abuse and specific problems is not strong enough to be predictive. That means that when someone has been abused, it cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty whether he or she will exhibit any given symptoms, or in fact any symptoms at all.

It is also not possible to estimate with any degree of accuracy that an adult presenting with a particular symptom or constellation of symptoms would have suffered sexual abuse as a child. If there is not a strong correlation from a cause to a known symptom, one certainly cannot work backwards and assume that a specific symptom indicates that a particular experience has occurred.

At least one NZ judge is recognising the dangers of such reports. Earlier this month Justice Robertson of the Auckland High Court, in regard to a crime not involving sexual assault, expressed doubts as the accuracy of reports which describe the impact of the offence. He is quoted as saying "unfortunately, those victim impact reports are peppered with unsubstantiated innuendo and permeated by factual errors. It means very close scrutiny has to be made of their value" (North Harbour News, 6 Mar 1997, p3).

Victim impact reports are not subject to critical review. They are not usually open to challenge but are presented to the courts as if established fact, and this is alarming enough. Even more concerning, however, is that at times these reports are prepared even before the accused has stood trial! I know of at least two instances where the counsellor for the complainant has prepared a detailed Victim Impact Report prior even to a pre-trial hearing. This means that the counsellors involved have effectively already conducted the trial and found the accused guilty. Nowhere in these reports does the word "alleged" occur; they state that their client is the victim; that the accused is the perpetrator and that their clients’ serious and various mental health problems are all due to the alleged assault. In one case I know of, the counsellor claims that his client has developed post-traumatic stress disorder, has become obsessive, depressed, questioned her own sanity, required hospitalisation for a suicide attempt, developed an eating disorder, become anxious and fearful and not been able to sleep well since being sexually abused by the defendant less than 6 months previously. The counsellor fails to mention in his report that his client has a very long history of severe mental illness. She has a past diagnosis of schizophrenia and has required long-term medication and had frequent hospital admissions for her mental illness over the years. The counsellor in question has only being seeing her since the alleged assault and is treating her specifically for sexual abuse, his weekly sessions being paid for by ACC.

Clearly this patient’s mental health problems pre-date the alleged events by some decades. Either the counsellor knows her history and has chosen to not mention it in his report; or he has failed to obtain an adequate history of his client. Both of these scenarios are equally disturbing. It also raised concerns that treatment of pre-existing mental illness may be neglected in favour of sexual abuse counselling.

There is something very worrying about a justice system which commissions a victim impact report before a trial, and hence before it has been established that there is a victim and a perpetrator. This puts a lie to any possible claim that the accused is innocent until proven guilty!

Felicity Goodyear-Smith


New Zealand

Convicted multiple personality fraud will appeal

The 39 year old Auckland woman who stole $34,000 from a trust and a church but claimed she was not responsible because only some of her 32 known personalities committed the fraud (see COSA newsletters Jan/Feb 1997 4 (1) p3 & Mar 1997 4 (2) p2) has been sentenced to 6 months’ periodic detention and 1 year of supervision, during which time she is to receive counselling for her multiple personality disorder. She is also to repay $20,000 to the trust, taken when she had been employed as their accountant.

She is appealing her sentence and still has name suppression.

Interestingly, in a parallel case in the USA, the former treasurer of the Episcopal Church was found guilty of embezzling $2.2 million from her church. In her defence, she similarly claimed that she was not responsible for her behaviour because some of her alter personalities took the money. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

(NZ Herald, 15 Mar 1997; News Sentinel, 12 Jul 1996)

False allegation of mutilation, Satanism and sexual assault

It was reported on National Radio News (3 Mar 1997) that a 14 year old Greymouth girl had been held by two offenders and had pagan or satanic symbols carved into her back and shoulder with a razor blade, then ink rubbed into the wound. She had lost consciousness and when she came to, she was raped and assaulted by one of the men. The police were interviewing two men, aged 15 and 18, in connection with the crime.

It was subsequently reported (Christchurch Press, 5 Mar 1997) that the girl had admitted the allegations were false. She had made up the story as an excuse to her parents because she was late home and they had reported her missing. The satanic symbols were actually an attempt to tattoo a swastika on her back, to which she had agreed. Because of her age, she was not charged with making a false complaint, but was referred to CYPS for counselling and monitoring.

Woman charged with making false claim

A 20 year old woman has been charged with falsely claiming to have witnessed a rape and murder, which she claimed had happened 2 years ago near Napier.

(NZ Herald, 22 Feb 1997)

Another woman charged with making false claim

A 37 year old Christchurch woman claimed that she had been attacked and raped by 2 men in the street. She has now been charged with making a false complaint and wasting police time.

(Christchurch Press, 19 Jan 1997)

Murderer claims his other personality did it

35 year old Mangere labourer Hayden Poulter has been accused of murdering Natacha Hogan and 2 other prostitutes. Poulter has allegedly admitted that killed the women, but claims that a second personality, called "Hell", had taken him over and done it, and that Satan was telling him to "kill all the filthy bitches"..

(Satan drove man to kill: letter, NZ Herald, 14 Mar 1997)

Vigilante action against alleged sex offender

24 year old Robert Reay stabbed another man 8 times with a pocket knife, puncturing his lung and nicking the side of his heart. Reay had been told that his victim had made sexual advances to the daughter of one of his close friends. Reay went to the accused man’s house, accompanied by another man. When his victim opened the door, Ray immediately set upon him with a knife. The man was luckily resuscitated by a neighbour who found him, otherwise he could well have died.

Reay was sentenced to 3 years’ jail for his vigilante stabbing.

(NZ Herald, 8 Mar 1997)

Munchausen by Proxy

A woman kept bringing her 2 children to see her GP with a variety of symptoms. The boy was complaining of tummy pain and discomfort in his knee which lead to an investigative operation. The consultant he was seen by doubted the genuineness of his symptoms and felt that they were being produced to please his mother.

The girl was said to have suffered a fit or loss of consciousness; a recurrent dislocated kneecap (never actually witnessed by anyone but the mother) for which she underwent an operation; and abdominal pain. The GP became concerned about the family, believing that the changing symptoms; requests for referrals and unnecessary investigations and operations (often requested by the mother) were a reflection of ‘Munchausen by Proxy’. He referred the case to the Social Services Department.

Some months later the GP heard from the Medical Council Disciplinary Committee that the mother had made a complaint that he had ‘made improper advances’ towards her and had sexually assaulted her. Th GP denied the allegations and on investigation, the complaint was dismissed.

An expert called to give evidence on the case described the large body of literature which suggests that in some cases, a woman ‘falls in love’ with the doctor and abuses her children or claims they are ill in order to have more contact with him. Once rejected, this can well lead to false allegations of sexual abuse.

(Journal of the MDU, Jan 1997, 20)


Man convicted in repressed memory case wins retrial

Two years ago Charles Ryman, a 55 year old Calgary man, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for sexually assaulting three of his daughters (Donna Rannelli, 30, Carol Nyaradi, 27, Karen Ryman, 24) and his great-niece Shawna Fedkiw, 25, and great-nephew Kevin Fedkiw, 27.

He won an Appeal and in February he was acquitted in a retrial. Justice Patrick Sullivan said that the complaints’ testimony was unreliable. He expressed concerns about repressed memory regarding the alleged incidents between 1978 and 1986 – particularly relating to the daughters who first brought the charges forward in 1993. The criminal proceedings have split the Ryman family, with the mother, one daughter and her family on one side and the 3 other daughters and their families on the other.

(Slade, D (28 Feb 1997). Ryman not guilty in sex assault case, Calgary Herald, B3)


Satanic ritual allegations

76 Egyptian youngsters were detained on accusations that they were involved in devil worshipping, but after a month. all but four were released from jail. Nobody was formally charged with a crime, but police had accused the youths of involvement in what they termed "satanic rituals" and parties where sex, drugs and heavy metal music dominated.

It is being suggested that the accusations are an excuse to round up people who are pro-western and modern, and that the relatively small number of westernised youths and their families in Egypt are easy targets in a conservative society filled with misgivings about the invasion of western culture.

(Voice of America, 21 Feb 1997)


Therapist sued for creating 120 personalities in patient

Winsconsin woman Nadean Cool consulted psychiatrist Kenneth Olson, medical director at the St. Elizabeth Hospital psychiatry unit in Appleton in 1986. She was having trouble dealing with a traumatic event which had happened to a member of her family and feeling guilty that she had not prevented it. Over the next 6 years (until she moved to Montana in 1992) Cool received $300,000 worth of treatment at the unit. It is also alleged that Olson claimed for group therapy sessions from his insurance company because he was treating a number of personalities during one session.

Under his treatment, which included hypnosis and age regression, Olson diagnosed Cool as suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, and one of her personalities included an alter ego called ‘Satan’. His treatment included an exorcism for demonic possession. Olson performed this in a secluded room in the hospital in 1989. He recited the Catholic Rite of Exorcism after taping paper over the room’s windows and turning off the video camera which normally recorded proceedings occurring in the room. His preparations included buying and bringing along a fire extinguisher. He claimed that Cool had told him that she might spontaneously combust during the exorcism. During the ritual she was strapped spread-eagled to her bed with wrist and ankle restraints. A nurse heard her screams during the 5 hour session. Cool says she begged for him to stop but he continued sprinkling holy water and shouting for Satan to come out, saying that it was Satan inside her who was telling him to stop.

Olson believed that Cool had 126 personalities, including children, a duck and angels who talked to God, and that she had been raped by 60 or 70 men and had sex with animals in order to become the bride of Satan. He also believed that she had knifed her own babies in the heart and used them as a cult sacrifice, passing them around to be eaten by other cult members.

She became progressively more unwell as his treatment progressed, with frequent hospital admissions and suicide attempts. She suffered terrible nightmares and continual "flashbacks" of her terrifying "memories".

During one hypnosis session, Cool said that she came out of trance to find herself lying on the floor with Olson’s lips on hers. He told her that her heart had stopped, and he was trying to resuscitate her. His medical notes read "At the point of accepting Christ, Johanna and Serena (two more of Cool’s reputed personalities) stopped breathing, they had to be resuscitated mouth to mouth."

However, after she stopped therapy with Olson, Cool concluded that she did not have multiple personalities nor had she ever been part of a satanic cult. She has sued her former psychiatrist for being negligent in diagnosing her as suffering from multiple personality disorder, implanting false memories through hypnosis and continuing to treat her after he recognized that his treatment was responsible for her deteriorating condition. Her two adult children and her husband also sued Olson for damages for their pain and suffering, loss of wages and medical expenses.

Five weeks into the trial, Olson settled out of court with a $2.4 million payment to Cool.

Olson had been sued by a former patient before. In 1995 an Outagamie County jury decided that he was negligent in the case of an Appleton woman whom he diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. The jury determined that he was 65% negligent while the patient was 35% negligent, and awarded total damages of $204,000.

(‘Doctor accused of bogus therapy, bills’ by Meg Jones of the Milwalkee Journal Sentinel, 4 Feb 1997; ‘Patient cites satanic references’ by Chris Nelson Special to the Journal Sentinel, 8 Feb 1997; ‘Exorcism was doctor’s idea, patient testifies’ by Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel, 12 Feb 1997; ‘Doctor sought help from patient’, by Meg Jones of the Journal Sentine1, 13 Feb 1997; ‘Patient testifies on hypnosis’ by Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel, 14 Feb 1997; ‘Doctor accused of planting false memories settles suit for $2.4 million’, Associated Press, 3 Mar 1997)


New Zealand

Assignment documentary "Recovered memories"

TV1, 7.30 pm, 13 March 1997

To some extent this documentary presented both sides of the "recovered memory" debate, leaving viewers to make up their own minds, although the scientific perspective clearly held together much more than the viewpoints of the clinicians who work with "survivors". The case of COSA treasurer and secretary Gordon and Colleen Waugh was presented, and Barbara Milne, the psychologist who had supported their daughters’ allegations was interviewed.

Others interviewed included FMSF founder, Pamela Freyd; American hypnosis expert Prof Steven Lynn; Auckland University memory expert Dr Michael Corballis and NZ psychotherapist and multiple personality expert Ondra Williams.

COSA was however disappointed that the point was not made that the problem of memories being recovered during psychotherapy has been prevalent in NZ as well as in the USA; that while the Auckland COSA support group was shown it was not explained who they were, and that the interview with COSA president Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith was not used at all. Viewers of this programme who had suffered from false allegations based on recovered memories would not have learnt that COSA exists to assist them.

CYPS fail to inform mother of sex abuse investigation

A 5 year old Nelson girl apparently told other children during a school outing that her father had sexually abused her. Her parents were separated and she lived with her mother. One of the children’s mothers informed CYPS who went to the school and interviewed the girl. CYPS did not inform either of the child’s parents that they were conducting an investigation, and the mother only found out about it when she was told by her daughter. The mother was rightfully angry that she had not been told.

When she as finally informed by CYPS the following week, apparently they initially told her that they were satisfied her daughter had not been abused, but later that day the service informed her that it still suspected she had been abused.

(Nelson Mail, 27 Feb 1997)


Counsellor specialises in alien abductions

A British nurse, Eric Morris, has given up nursing to become an alien abduction counsellor. Mr Morris says that he gets about 20 letters a week from people who claim that they have been abducted by aliens. Women may feel compelled to have sex with aliens and they need counselling help to deal with their shame. One woman said she had given birth to an alien baby after being wooed on a flying saucer.

(The Press, 22 Feb 1997 ‘Abduction Counsellor Begins Career’)


Geraldo Rivera admits Satanist claims were false

In 1993 TV host Geraldo Rivera presented a special 2 hour prime time programme called "Satanic Cults and Children." He claimed that the were over 1 million Satanists in the USA, "linked in a highly organised, very secretive network" and engaging in "satanic ritual child abuse, child pornography and grisly satanic murders" in nearly every town in the US. He talked about butchered babies, dismembered corpses, cannibal cults and sex orgies. Throughout the country, there was a satanic panic, with journalists, preachers, police and psychologists contending that countless babies (from 5000 to 2,000,000 a year) were being slaughtered in secret satanic rituals.

Rivera has now publicly apologised about his mistaken "Believe The Children" attitude and his public stance of the 1980’s. In a programme called "Wrongly Accused & Convicted of Child Molest", which was shown recently on US TV, he said "I want to announce publicly that I was a firm believer of the "Believe The Children" movement of the 1980’s, that started with the McMartin trials in California, but NOW I am convinced that I was terribly wrong… and many innocent people were convicted and went to prison as a result …. AND I am equally positive "Repressed Memory Therapy Movement" is also a bunch of CRAP".

(O’Reilly D (8 Aug 1993), America’s magic cult of ignorance, San Jose Mercury News, Knight-Ridder News Service; Shale T (31 Oct 1988) Rivera’s ‘Devil Worship’ was TV at Its Worst, San Jose Mercury News, p11)


A number of psychological and other journals have recently run major articles about the "recovered memory" debate along with commentaries from the experts; or devoted entire issues to the topic. Some of these have been reviewed in previous COSA newsletters (for example Counselling Psychologist, Apr 1995; Journal of Memory & Language, Apr 1996; Psychology, Public Policy & the Law, Jun 1995; Psychiatric Annals, Dec 1995; Psychological Inquiry, 1996).

Next, this newsletter outlines special issues of the Psychological Bulletin; Journal of Psychohistory; and Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition.

Psychological Bulletin (1996). 119 (3)

Bowers K & Farvolden P,’ Revisiting a Century-old Freudian slip – from suggestion disavowed o the truth repressed’, 355-380;

Pennebaker J & Memon A, ‘Recovered memories in context: thoughts and elaborations on Bowers & Farvolden’, 381-385;

Bowers K & Farvolden P, ‘The search for the canonical experience: reply to Pennebaker & Memon’, 386-389.

These 3 papers discuss the possible effects of suggestion and therapist expectation on recovering sex abuse memories. They warn against the dangers of the seeking truth from the past by zealous therapists and clients, and state that whether or not abuse has occurred in the past, the major problem is to improve current adult functioning.

Journal of Psychohistory, Fall 1995, 23 (2)


Whitfield C, ‘How common is traumatic forgetting?’, 119-130

Blume S, ‘Ownership of truth’, 131-140

Strozier C ‘The new violence’, 191-201

All the authors of these papers appear to believe in the validity of recovered memories, and the Editor describes this issue as a resource "for refuting the current widely-repeated notion that no scientific evidence exists for the recovery or repressed memories." However, they fail to supply solid scientific data to support this claim.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition (1996), 811-813.

Freyd J & Gleaves D, "remembering" words not presented in lists: relevance to the current recovered/false memory controversy, 811-813.

Roediger H III & McDermott K, False perceptions of false memories, 814-816.

Roediger and McDermott (1995) had published research they conducted which found that subjects frequently falsely reported remembering a word which had never actually been present in a list they had studied. Freyd and Gleaves criticise their work, claiming that these findings should not be generalised to contest memories of abuse. Roediger and McDermott counter that Freyd J & Gleaves contest claims that they never made, and that in fact the experiment that the latter suggest to illuminate the debate would be an inappropriate generalisation and would not help clarify the debate.

Child Abuse Reporting

Besharov, Douglas J & Laumann Lisa A (May/June 1996). Social Science & Modern Society, 33 (4), 40

Comprehensive article arguing that the problems of non-reporting and inappropriate reporting of child abuse are linked. While large numbers of endangered children still go unreported, 65% of reports are unsubstantiated, raising serious civil liberties concerns and overloading investigative agencies. To lessen both problems, there needs to be a shift away from simply seeking more reports, towards encouraging better reporting based on evidence that abuse has occurred.

Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood

I: prevalence of sexual abuse and factors associated with sexual abuse

Fegusson D; Lynskey M & Horwood J (1996). Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35 (10): 1355-1364.

This study is part of a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of over 1000 children born in Christchurch. At age 18, this group were interviewed regarding retrospective reports of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). 17.3% of the girls and 3.4% of the boys reported CSA before the age of 16. This involved attempted or actual intercourse in 5.6% of the girls and 1.4% of the boys. Just under a quarter of the accused perpetrators were family members (only 1.5% were natural parents; brothers or sister were 6.8%; step-parents 5.3% and other relatives 9.8%); boy friends, girl-friends or other acquaintances were nearly half of the sample, and strangers were named as perpetrators 28.8% of the time.

Those who reported CSA were most likely to come from families with high levels of marital conflict, impaired parenting and in families having parents with behaviour problems.

II: psychiatric outcomes of childhood sexual abuse

Fegusson D; Horwood J & Lynskey M (1996). ‘Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood II: psychiatric outcomes of childhood sexual abuse,’ Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35 (10): 1365-1374.

This paper deals with the same cohort as above and looked at the relationship between reports of CSA and concurrent psychiatric symptoms. It was found that those who alleged CSA had higher rates of major depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, substance abuse and suicidal behaviours.

From a passing thought to a false memory in 2 minutes: confusing real and illusory events

Read, D (1996). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 3 (1), 105-111.

Describes 2 experiments in which up to 80% of subjects confidently claim that they have read a word on a list which was never there. The significance of the results are discussed in terms of their relevance to the "memory-recovery" debate.

Betrayal trauma: the logic of forgetting childhood abuse

Freyd Jennifer (1996). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jennifer Freyd is a psychology professor, but also the daughter of Pamela Freyd, founder of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Pamela started the organisation after Jennifer recovered memories that her father Peter (Pam’s husband) had sexually abused her as a child.

While cloaked in apparent science, Betrayal trauma presents theories as to how and why people repress memories of childhood sexual abuse. This is at best premature, given that there is little scientific confirmation that this phenomenon even occurs.

She calls for accountability of abusers for their actions, but does not suggest that false accusers and the therapists who encourage them be held accountable for theirs.

Her arguments are political and emotional rather than scientific.

Different types of childhood abuse and memory

Melchert T & Parker R (1997). Child Abuse & Neglect, 21 (20, 125-135.

This paper describes 2 studies looking at remembering previously forgotten events from childhood. It is concluded that there is no significant relationship between a history of childhood abuse and either the quality of general childhood memory, or the number of subsequent memories of one’s childhood in general. This is counter to the theory often promoted by recovered memory supports that childhood trauma might cause poor memory or even amnesia for parts of childhood.

The analysis of hysteria second edition: understanding conversion and dissociation

Merskey Harold (1995). Royal College of Psychiatrists, London.

An excellent and comprehensive treatment of the range of phenomena covered under the heading ‘hysteria’, including conversion reactions, dissociation, socially contagious hysterical epidemics, and the current manifestations of "recovered memories" and multiple personality disorder.

The Psychology of Confession Evidence

Kasssin Saul (Mar 1997). American Psychologist, 52, (3).

This article discusses how the use of physical force by police to extract confessions has given way to more psychologically oriented techniques, such as "feigned sympathy and friendship, appeals to God and religion, the use of informants, the presentation of false evidence and other forms of trickery and deception", but that these methods are just as likely to lead to some people falsely confessing to crimes they did not commit. The methods used are either maximisation, which intimidates the suspect into confessing by "overstating the seriousness of the offence and the magnitude of the charges and even making false or exaggerated claims about the evidence" or minimisation, which lulls the suspect into a false sense of security by "offering sympathy, tolerance, face-saving excuses, and moral justification; by blaming the victim or an accomplice; and by underplaying the seriousness or magnitude of the charges."

A laboratory experiment is described involving college students which shows how easy it is to induce innocent people not only to admit guilt, but also to adopt the false belief that they are guilty and even confabulate details to fit that newly created belief (at least in a low-stakes, non-criminal situation). In the research, the students given a computer task and warned not to touch the ALT key on the keyboard. 69% were persuaded to sign a confession stating they had pushed a forbidden key causing the computer to "crash", and 28% believed they were actually guilty. None actually had hit the key.

Dissociation, repression and reality testing in the counter-transference; the controversy over memory and false memory in the psychoanalytic treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Davies Jody Messler (1996). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6 (2), 189-218.

Argues that the mechanism for sexual abuse survivors to not remember child sexual abuse until the memories are recovered during therapy is dissociation rather than repression. Emphasises that therapists should validate their clients stories, and that it is the client’s subjective truth that is important.

Counselors and the backlash: "Rape hype" and the "False-Memory Syndrome"

Enns C (Mar/Apr 1996). Journal of Counseling & Development, 74, 358-367.

Provides counselors with arguments to counter claims that false memories might be implanted by their methods; concludes that this current point in time is a historically unique chance for feminists to influence public consciousness and social policy and encourages them to use it to promote their views on the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse and the need for therapy for the millions of "survivors".

Arthur and Alice – Case history

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

Arthur is now in his 40s. He married Alice in his early twenties and they had two daughters, Mary born in 1972 and Jane born 1974. The marriage did not last, and in 1983 Arthur and his wife separated. Alice became involved in counselling and astrology. For several years Arthur and Alice maintained a friendly relationship, and Mary and Jane regularly visited Arthur and stayed overnight.

Mary began to show signs of stress, and in 1988 and 1989, while still a school girl, she received counselling from three different counsellors, including specific therapy for substance abuse.

In 1990 Arthur became involved with a new woman, Helen, whom he later married. His relationship with Alice deteriorated from this time. During that year Mary was knocked off her bicycle. After the accident, she started to suffer from nightmares and depression, and her family doctor referred her for further counselling. In October that year she told her mother that she had been experiencing flashbacks of her father sexually abusing her.

In late 1991 her younger sister Jane heard these allegations for the first time. She became very frightened, also attended counselling and experienced a similar flashback. Both sisters went on to recover memories of their father having sexually abused them as children from 1981 until 1990. They claimed that they blocked it out from their memory each time it happened. They both described their first memory as being a penis coming towards them in the dark. They later made similar allegations of suffering acts of oral sex, intercourse and rape. Mary said that her memories first emerged as "feelings of anger and despair…I would thump things and cry" and only subsequently would detailed and visual memories develop. In 1992 Mary claimed that when she was having sex with her boyfriend, she had flashbacks to her father abusing her, and she said she could remember incidents from the age of seven until her 18th birthday. Jane said she could remember him inserting his finger in her vagina when she was a baby.

Both girls continued to recover more and more memories in the two years between 1991 and 1993. They both received $10,000 ACC lump sum compensation, and ACC also paid for several years’ counselling each. Both their counsellors clearly believed their clients and supported the women at an arranged meeting to confront their father. They gave him an option: either he was to confess to their allegations and attend the STOP treatment programme for sex offenders, or they would go to the police. Arthur told them that he could not "stop" something he had never started, and that they should go to the police.

In 1993 Arthur was arrested and charged with eight counts of sexually abusing his daughters. The case went to trial in the High Court in March 1994. The psychiatric expert witness for the prosecution told court that she believed the concept of recovered memory is valid, and said "the mind could block out traumatic events through defence mechanisms known as denial and dissociation". Alice said that she did not know about any of the abuse but had chosen to believe her daughters. A jury found Arthur not guilty on 3 charges, but could not decide on 5. The Crown decided against second trial. Arthur had gained his freedom, but has lost his daughters.

Newsletters received by COSA

Canadian FMS Support Groups Newsletter Mar 1997, 4 (4)

This issue reports the large letter-writing campaign that their members have engaged in, to newspapers and to the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. Some of the key correspondence is reproduced in the newsletter.

FMS Foundation Newsletter Mar 1997 6 (3)

Includes part 1 of a 4-part series by Drs Harrison Pope & James Hudson on whether child sex abuse causes psychiatric disorders in adulthood; an article by Dr August Pipe Jr about the increasing use of ‘dissociation" claims to absolve people from responsibility for their actions as adults (eg "I didn’t do it, it was my alter, over whom I have no control"); and a short piece by Dr Harold Merskey reporting some preliminary research which indicates that recovered memory therapy may be encouraging clients to attempt suicide.

COSA offers a service to members of sending copies of FMSF newsletter at a cost of $30 per year (including postage).

NZ Skeptic Autumn 1997, 43

Excellent 7 page lead article by Frederick Crews (‘Demonology for an age of science’) addressing the parallels between beliefs held by Salem Puritan forefather William Hathorne and early Freudian analysis with the current "witch-hunt" which is breaking up families and sending innocent people to prison on an equally faulty basis.

Recent events

Professor Bruce Perry – 3 one-day workshops on "Assessment and treatment of maltreated children: a neuro-developmental approach"

Auckland 11 Mar; Wellington 14 Mar; Christchurch 17 Mar 1997.

At his workshops, Dr Perry presented evidence that when a child suffers prolonged abuse or neglect in childhood, there are neurological change in the structure of the brain. These can result in chronic anxiety, violent behaviour and learning problems. The research he presents seems largely sound and reliable, and his suggestions that children need a secure loving environment, especially in the first 3 years of life, eminently sensible.

There are however potential dangers that when particular signs and symptoms are seen in an older child or adult (such as an increased heart rate), that it can be presumed that these indicate early childhood trauma. There has been nothing discovered to date which can accurately predict which adults have been traumatised, based on their adult condition. For example, there are a large number of disorders or situations which might elevate heart-rate.

COSA Branch reports

News from the South

At our (COSA Canty) last meeting we were very fortunate to have as a visitor Mervin and Jenny Glue. Mervin Glue would have to be one of the most enlightened barristers I have met. He is extremely well known and respected in the Canterbury area and is well informed about repressed memory.

Mervin told us how restrictive it had become for lawyers to construct a proper and fair defence for their clients in sexual abuse trials. He also said how important it is for COSA not to become a platform for its members’ own personal agendas and that COSA must maintain its credibility so that it can help to make a difference. Thank you Mervin and Jenny Glue for coming to our meeting. I hope we can look forward to your continued support.

It is one of the biggest shocks to us all to find that the things we were taught as children, such as "tell the policeman all you know and they will help you" and "that you are innocent until proven guilty" doesn’t necessarily happen in sexual abuse investigations. Some of us who have been arrested found that if you tell the policeman all you know, it will be twisted and perverted against you and that you are automatically guilty and every possible barrier is put in your way when you try and defend yourself.

A worrying development is that in many cases both the police and Crown are not defining on complainant’s statements (relating to specific charges) the date and time the alleged offences occurred (it may be up to a 5 year period with no specific time specified). This is a complete reversal from normal investigative procedures. In cases such as murder, robbery etc there has to be a time the crime was committed. How is it now possible for someone accused of sexual abuse to defend themselves? Is this what our criminal justice system has become? We must have answers to these questions from our law makers. if this state of affairs is left to continue more and more people will begin to mistrust our justice system and true victims of sexual abuse will not be believed.



The date for the COSA AGM is tentatively set for Sunday afternoon 15 June. Full details will be sent with your next (May) newsletter.

This year the President’s and Financial Reports will be included with the June newsletter prior to the meeting. This means the business side of the meeting will be reduced to a minimum. Please let us know as soon as possible if there are any matters you would like us to include on the agenda.

We would like to encourage as many members as possible to show their support of COSA by attending our AGM. We are planning on having several exciting and stimulating guest speakers to entertain and inform you. Afternoon tea will follow. Hope to see you there.

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