COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter April & May 1998 Vol 5 No 3

Contents of this page:

Editorial: New Police Guidelines presume guilt The new Police statement on ‘Adult Sexual Investigation Policy’ is alarming. Although it supposed to be about the investigation of an allegation, there is a presumption of guilt from the outset.

Doubts Cast on Validity of Recovered Memory Therapy Press release from the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Courts: Peter Ellis was called before the parole board this month

13 year old girl made up story of intruder

Robert Sims may sue for false rape complaint

Staff member of residential children’s school found not guilty

Baker not guilty of rape

Police prosecuted wrong man

Judge Elliott will not have third trial

Man found not guilty of assaulting teenage girl

Naval Officer not guilty of sexual harassment

Former Navy rating also acquitted of sexual harassment charges

Justice Minister to hand secret papers to Ombudsman

Father and daughter sue health care professionals (UK)

Parents of dead patient sue therapists (USA)

Senior soldier cleared of indecency charges (USA)

Patient and parents sue therapist (USA)

Update on Wenatchee (USA)

Judge rejects multiple personality defence (USA)

Media: Claims that woman’s gang rape allegations are false

Australian politician Mrs Franca Arena supported allegations that judges and other prominent Australians indulged in satanic abuses and ritualistic murders.

Princess Diana’s body-guard recovered memories of fatal crash may be false (UK)

Snowden finally out of prison after 12 years, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction (USA)

Literature: Questionable validity of ‘dissociative amnesia’ in trauma victims

Case study: false allegations of abuse created in a single interview

Why bogus therapies seem to work

Features: Newsletters from overseas

COSA Canterbury: Chairwoman’s Report


New Police Guidelines presume guilt

COSA has just received the new Police statement on ‘Adult Sexual Investigation Policy’ (Policy Pointers, Ten-One, 6 Feb 1998, 159: 11-15). This document provided the policy and principles for the practice and procedure for the investigation of adult (aged 17 years or older) sexual assault. While most of the actual procedures outlined may be useful and necessary, this document is alarming. Although it supposed to be about the investigation of an allegation, there is a presumption of guilt from the outset. It would be thought that prior to a trial and conviction, offences are alleged not proven. However thus document does not talk about complainants and defendants, but about victims and offenders. It presumes without question that the alleged offence has taken place. The rights of the ‘victim’ are emphasised but those of the ‘offender’ appear sorely lacking.

The document states that "the police have four main functions in sexual assault examinations:

  1. To ensure the safety of the victim;
  2. To investigate and, when evidence is available, consider prosecution;
  3. To co-ordinate the support for the victim, and to keep the victim informed of the progress of the investigation as far as possible; and
  4. To identify those responsible for offending and ensure they are held accountable".

The policy includes a section about providing the victim with a support person.

Nowhere does it advice taking a neutral and objective approach to an allegation: for example, suggesting that evidence is sought that may either refute or confirm the allegation.

Neither does it suggest that given the accused might be innocent, they might also need to be treated with support and compassion.

At the DSAC Rape conference in March 1996, it was reported that only about a quarter of charges of rape made to the police result in convictions. Certainly some of these will be because there is insufficient evidence to proceed even though the offence has occurred, but many of these are due to the charges being false in the first place. Over the past few years, the COSA newsletter has been documenting cases of false complaints that have come to our notice – and we only get to hear about some of these. Individual police stations are becoming increasingly aware of the problem of false complaints, yet the national policy (as demonstrated by their current policy statement) still reflects the attitude that allegations are presumed to be true and that the accused is presumed to be guilty.

Newsletters to be two-monthly

Despite this, as outlined in our last Editorial, it does seem that the problem of false allegations is abating, and the number of new cases contacting us each month has reduced by two thirds. In particular, the huge flood of cases we heard in the early 1990s involving sexual abuse memories recovered during therapy has dried to a trickle. In this regard, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has released a hard-hitting Press release, reproduced below.

On a personal level, producing a newsletter every month makes demands on my time which I can ill-afford. COSA has therefore decided that unless there is pressing news requiring urgent dissemination, newsletters will be published about once every two months. Given the volume of material that we pack into our publications, we do not believe that our readers will be missing out in any way!

Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Doubts Cast on Validity of Recovered Memory Therapy

Press release from the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Embargoed until Wednesday 1st April 1998

A comprehensive review of the literature on recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse has concluded that when ‘memories’ are recovered after long periods of amnesia, particularly when questionable techniques were used to recover them, there is a high probability that the memories are false.

Published in the April 1998 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, the review article by Professor Sydney Brandon and colleagues presents the conclusions of an overview of recovered memories and the techniques used to illicit (sic) them. This follows last year’s publication of consensus recommendations for good practice (Royal College of Psychiatrists Working Group on Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse, 1997).

A recovered memory, in the context of this paper, is the emergence of an apparent recollection of childhood sexual abuse of which the individual had no previous knowledge. A false memory is the recollection of an event which did not occur, but which the individual subsequently strongly believes.

The paper distinguishes different types of memory, namely episodic, autobiographical and implicit. Numerous studies in children and adults have found that psychologically traumatic events often result in an inability to forget, rather than a complete expulsion from awareness. Amnesia for prolonged recurrent abuse is rare. Adult patients suffering from amnesia are well aware of the gap in their memory. It has not been possible to demonstrate any clear link between clinical accounts of trauma and the neurobiology of memory.

Memory changes over time and is subject to error and distortion.

A growing body of research indicates that memory is fallible and vulnerable to suggestion; and that suggestibility and confabulation increase with the length of time between the events and later attempts to recall it.

The authors conclude that individual autobiographical memory is unreliable, and that people are often unable to remember considerable parts of their past experiences. Expectations and beliefs can colour people’s recollections, and gaps in memory will be filled to create a "life story" which they find satisfying.

Confidence in one’s memory does not correlate with the accuracy of the memory. No autobiographical memory can be relied on without some external corroboration, but the frequent denial, even by proven abusers, and the secrecy surrounding child abuse often make such corroboration difficult to obtain.

Memory enhancement techniques questioned

Therapists may use a number of techniques, some of which are regularly employed in orthodox therapy but are questionable when used as ‘memory recovery’ procedures. These include:

Check Lists: there is no evidence that any check lists, syndromes, symptoms or signs indicate with any degree of reliability that an individual has been sexually abused in the remote past.

Drug-induced abreaction: it is inappropriate to use repeated abreaction to ‘trawl’ for traumatic events. There is considerable anecdotal clinical evidence that in repeated session patients will eventually generate material which is a product of fantasy. Even in a single session of abreaction great caution is required.

Hypnosis: this technique has been shown to be unreliable as a means of eliciting memories of past events, and such ‘memories’ are no longer admitted as legal testimony.

Age regression: there is no evidence for the efficacy of this technique, nor can it be shown that the subject’s ‘memories’ actually do regress to the target age.

Dream interpretation: there is no evidence that dreams are a ‘royal road’ to historical accuracy; and interpretations usually reflect the training and personal convictions of the therapist.

Imagistic and ‘feelings’ work and art therapy: although many of these techniques are applications of accepted clinical practice, they can be powerfully suggestive and induce trance-like states. The beliefs of the therapist are the determining factor in how a patient’s production are shaped.

Survivors’ groups: whilst these can be supportive, the practice of mixing those who clearly remember abuse with those who are suspected by the therapist of having repressed their memories has been strongly criticised because of the risk of suggestion and contagion among group members.

The authors conclude that memory enhancement techniques do not actually enhance memory, and that there is evidence that they can be powerful and dangerous methods of persuasion. Many of the memories ‘recovered’ by these measures refer to events in the early months and years of life, which fall within the period of infantile amnesia, and must be regarded as implausible for that reason. The evidence suggests that all the techniques outlined above can create entirely new and false memories, not only experimentally but also in clinical practice.

Can repeated, severe childhood abuse be forgotten?

There is no evidence that memories can be ‘blocked out’ by the mind, either by repression or by dissociation. Given the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, even if only a small proportion of memories are repressed and only some of them subsequently recovered, there should be a significant number of corroborated cases recovered through psychotherapy in the literature. In fact, there is none.

Distortion of memory may occur in any therapeutic situation, and psychiatrists need to be aware of the techniques employed by other members of their teams, such as community psychiatric nurses, psychologists and social workers.

The review paper ends with a series of guidelines to help psychiatrists to avoid the pitfalls of memory recovery. The issue of false or recovered memories should not, the authors emphasise, be allowed to confuse the recognition and treatment of sexually abused children. However, it is also essential to minimise the risk of creating false memories of abuse which will cause the patient and family further suffering.

More research is needed into the reported associations between childhood sexual abuse and later adult psychopathology. The authors conclude that at present there is no specific post-sexual abuse syndrome.

(The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 17 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PG Telephone 0171 235 2351, Fax 0171 245 1231)


New Zealand

Update on Peter Ellis

Having served almost half his 10-year sentence, Ellis was called before the parole board this month. Showing remarkable strength and courage, Ellis chose not to attend his first parole hearing. Prisoners released on parole have to abide by conditions such as living in certain areas, attending counselling, and not contacting victims. Ellis said that he did not want freedom on the basis he was guilty of sexually abusing children. The parole board have since decided that his case be adjourned for 12 months. A petition to overturn Ellis’s convictions is before the Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys. His lawyer, Mrs Ablett-Kerr said Ellis had maintained his innocence since he was first accused. "He continues to maintain his innocence and, whilst he is most anxious to regain his freedom and to return to his family and friends, he cannot accept that freedom if it is granted on the basis that he is a guilty man."

The police inquiry into the case has been proceeding, although information is slow to come. In a written reply to Labour justice spokesman Phil Goff’s questions to Parliament last November, the key police officer involved in the Peter Ellis case Colin Eade said that he left the Police because of stress arising from the case. He admits that he had sexual relationships ‘with two single mothers who had children at the Civic Crèche’, one of whom ‘had been part of the prosecution case’ but that this was after the inquiry was over. He did not mention the sexual relationship that he apparently had with one of the chief child investigators in the case.

NZ First MP Rana Waitai, formerly Gisborne police superintendent, chairs the justice and law reform select committee. Several months ago this committee requested information from the police about the conduct of Colin Eade in regard to this case.

Police Commissioner Peter Doone agreed to hold an inquiry into investigations that led to Ellis’s conviction. As part of this inquiry, 4 people, including Chief Inspector John Crookston and Ellis supporter Winston Wealleans, visited the former Christchurch civic crèche. Mr Waitai is now asking asked what has happened to the information resulting from the inquiry, which the committee has still not received.

(The Press, 18 Mar 1888, Detective ‘quit over Ellis case’ by Elinore Wellwood; The Press 17 Mar 1998. Police Revisit Former Chch Civic Create by Elinore Wellwood; The Press 26 Mar 1998 P8, Waitai rebukes police over Ellis inquiry; Dominion (Wellington) 12 Mar 1998. Ellis seeks parole; AAP Newsfeed 13 Mar 1998 Parole Not Wanted; The Press 21 Mar 1998 Parole denied for Ellis; The Press 13 Mar 1998 Ellis Snubs Parole Board by Elinore Wellwood)

Stop Press: Ellis case to be reheard by Court of Appeal

On the advice of Justice Minister Doug Graham, the Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys has rejected Ellis’s application for a free pardon but has agreed for the case to be referred back to the Court of Appeal for further consideration. Ellis’ lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, is ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the hearing. Referral back to the Court of Appeal is highly unusual (it ha only ever happened 6 or 7 times in NZ history). "You can’t get back to the Court of Appeal unless there are serious concerns about the verdict, " Mrs Ablett-Kerr said. She could not disclose details but confirmed the court would have different information before it this time. The hearing date is not set but could be about June and is likely to take about a week.

(The Dominion (Wellington) 28 Mar 1998 Ellis case referred to Appeal Court by Tina-Marie Morrison)

13 year old girl made up story of intruder

A 13 year old South Auckland girl claimed that she was indecently assaulted by an intruder in her home. The investigating police have said that she made up the story, and were still deciding whether to take any action against her for making a false complaint.

(The Press, Christchurch (7 Mar 1998), Girl ‘made up story of indecent assault’)

Robert Sims may sue for false rape complaint

In February this year we reported the case of Robert Sims, a 58 year old man who spent 17 months of a 9 year sentence in jail until his release on Appeal. The Appeal was on the basis of medical evidence indicating that he has been impotent since a back injury and could not have committed the alleged rape of a 30 year old intellectually handicapped woman. The Appeal Court who have ordered Mr Sims’ immediate release from prison and a retrial. However the Crown have decided not to proceed with a retrial.

Mr Sims is now looking at suing the girl’s family for defamation. The case has already cost him $200,000.

(Sunday Star-Times 15 Mar 1998, False rape case victim will sue, by Simon Jones)

Staff member of residential children’s school found not guilty

A staff member of a Christchurch children’s residential school has been acquitted on charges of indecently assaulting a 13 year old boy in his care. The boy had claimed abuse and another boy said he saw it happen.

Christchurch District Court judge Colin Doherty stopped the trial after 3 days, because the complainant had admitted lying about one of the 3 incidents, while the witness maintained that he had seen that incident. This made the testimony of both boys incredibly unreliable. The defendant and his school have permanent name suppression.

(Press (20 Feb 1998, Man acquitted in abuse case)

Baker not guilty of rape

A 24 year old baker was accused of having sex with a sleeping woman. He denied having sex with her at all and the issue rested on whether her allegations were fact or fantasy (ie that she had imagined the sex). The jury found him innocent.

(Press (27 Feb 1998). Woman ‘raped while sleeping’; (28 Feb 1998) Man cleared of rape)

Police prosecuted wrong man

Allan Taylor, aged 31, was acquitted of kidnapping and sexual assault charges in the Tauranga District Court after the court learnt that the victim had identified another man at the identity parade as her assailant. Police had interviewed this other man, yet had persisted with the charges against Taylor.

(NZ Herald 26 Feb 1998). Wrong man)

Judge Elliott not to have third trial

The Solicitor-General, John McGrath, has decided that Judge Ross Elliott, who has had 2 hung juries on indecency charges, will not have to face a third trial. Elliott is still a judge, but he has said privately that he will retire.

(NZ Herald (1 Mar 1998) Accused judge likely to quit)

Man found not guilty of assaulting teenage girl

A 14 year old girl stayed with a couple and their children on a number of occasions, and acted as their baby-sitter at times. She accused the man of the family of having sexually assaulted her on 3 occasions she stayed there. The first was after she had been drinking excessively and had been helped to bed after being sick. She claimed that he had come and assaulted her in the middle of the night, but had to admit that her memory of events that night were very fragmentary. She also returned to the house regularly after the first 2 alleged incidents, and had shown no distress at the time the assaults were supposed to have happened.

A Christchurch district Court jury found him not guilty of all counts.

(Press (21 Feb 1998) Teen alleges sex assaults; (25 Feb 1998) Man found not guilty of sexual assault)

Naval Officer not guilty of sexual harassment

A former naval rating has made claims of sexual harassment against a number of officers. An officer has been found not guilty of the charges in a court martial at the Devonport Naval Base. She had accused him of touching her buttocks in a bar while their ship was in an overseas port. The officer denied that the assault happened, and said he had not even talked to the woman. Colonel Ernie Gartrell, who defended the officer, says that it should never have gone to court, and he questioned whether pending allegations against other defendants should go ahead.

The woman has since left the navy and it has been suggested that her actions are due to her resentment and bitterness towards the Navy because she had been homesick and having a difficult time, and the Navy would not let her post of when she wanted to. A witness, Sub-Lieutenant Kelvin Wishart, told the court marshal that she had said she would get the Navy for this. Her sexual harassment allegations, which she had not previously reported, then followed.

(NZ Herald 6 Mar 1998 Rating did not report hassling; 10 Mar Ex-rating ‘out to get Navy’; 11 Mar Defence tilts at Navy justice; 12 Mar Sex hearing endorsed)

Former Navy rating also acquitted of sexual harassment charges

Auckland timber worker Peter Monk was the eighth in line to be wrongly accused of sexual harassment by a former female rating, presumably the same one who made the allegation in the case reported above. Six of those had already been found not guilty or had had charges dismissed.

Monk had left the Navy in 1996, but in December 1997 he was rung and told that he was back in the Navy and was to face disciplinary charges. The woman concerned alleged that he had asked for oral sex while miming undoing his trousers. The court marshal acquitted him and his forced resumption of Navy service automatically ended.

Monk is seeking compensation for his loss of wages from his civilian job plus possible payment for mental anguish.

The complainant’s name is still suppressed.

(NZ Herald, 21 Mar 1998)

Justice Minister to hand secret papers to Ombudsman

As reported in earlier COSA newsletters, David Dougherty was acquitted of rape and abduction in a second trial, after having spent over 3 years in prison. DNA testing indicated semen on the 11 year old complainant’s underpants which could not have come from him.

Dougherty was denied compensation by Justice Minister Doug Graham. One of the grounds Graham gave was that even if Dougherty had not raped the girl, he might have been party to the offence. The suggestion that 2 men might have been involved has never been suggested by either the complainant or the police. Graham has refused to release the ministry briefing papers he used in this case.

Following a complaint from the Sunday Star-Times, the Chief Ombudsman Sir Brian Ellwood is conducting a formal investigation and has requested that Graham hands over a copy of the secret papers.

(Sunday Star-Times, 11 Jan 1998, Minister asked to hand over papers, by Donna Chisholm)


Father and daughter sue health care professionals

Katrina Fairlie aged 28, was admitted to the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth, UK as a psychiatric patient. She was suffering from abdominal pain believed to be psychosomatic. While under the influence of drugs and receiving psychotherapy, she told doctors that she had ‘flashbacks’ of her father and 17 other men, including two MPs, raping her, and that her father had killed a six-year-old with an iron bar. Her father, Jim Fairlie, 58, a former deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, was confronted by angry family members who initially believed that the allegations must be true. Later, when he talked with Kay his wife, she said that she and the children had reluctantly believed the accusations when they were told them by psychiatrists and social workers, but that his outrage and distress when confronted had made them realise he was innocent.

The allegations were reported to the police, who established there was no evidence. Many of the supposed events could clearly never have happened.

Six months later Katrina withdrew the allegations and wrote begging forgiveness, saying she had undergone " recovered-memory therapy" which led her to make false accusations. It was only after she was transferred to a private psychiatric hospital in London, The Priory, that she started to improve. She now has her own flat and part-time job, and is friends with her father again. The two of them are now suing Perth and Kinross Healthcare Trust and the area social work department.

(The Times 9 Mar 1998, Father and daughter sue over false memory by Gillian Harris; The Herald (Glasgow) 2 Mar 1998, Fighting professional arrogance)


Parents of dead patient sue therapists

In 1985 Nancy Anneatra, from Minnesota, severed all contact and communication with her parents after confronting them with sexual abuse memories which came up during psychotherapy which used hypnosis and age regression to unlock her so-called repressed memories.

Nancy had no further contact with her parents until her death from cancer in 1995.

Her parents, Thomas and Delores Sawyer, denied the allegations and in 1996 they sued their daughters mental health care professionals for malpractice and negligence in causing their daughter to develop " false memories" and in leading her to falsely believe she had multiple personalities. Judge Eric Wahl dismissed their suit on several grounds, including his concern that this would set a precedent for fraudulent malpractice claims.

A Court of Appeals has reversed that decision and ordered a trial. Defendants include Berit Midelfort, a psychiatrist who began treating Anneatra in 1987; Celia Lausted, a therapist who began as the woman’s counsellor in 1984; and their insurance companies.

(Telegraph Herald (18 Mar 1998). Court revives ‘ false memory’ suit, Associated Press, A7.)

Senior US Soldier cleared of indecency charges

Sergeant Major Gene McKinney has been acquitted on 18 counts including indecent assaults and adultery, although he was found guilty on one charge of obstruction of justice. A 29 year old veteran black man, McKinney was formerly the US Army’s highest-ranking enlisted soldier.

He has always denied the charges made by 6 military women against him, and his lawyers argued that he was a scapegoat for the Army’s difficulties in integrating women into the service.

(Sunday Star-Times, 15 Mar 1998, Soldier cleared of indecencies)

Patient and parents sue therapist

In 1992 Stephanie Brigham went to psychotherapist Paul Pickett for treatment of anxiety and insomnia. She now says that within two years Pickett rewrote her past. The therapy produced memories that she had been sexually abused by her mother and father. Pickett told her she was the victim of a "Manson family" upbringing. She is now convinced that the memoire are false, and is suing Pickett. She says she made the allegations against her parents at Pickett’s urging, and under his threat of having her daughter taken away from her. The therapy cost her thousand of dollars and she had to go on welfare to pay for it.

Brigham spent up to 7 hours a day in Pickett’s office. The rationale was to make her separate from her family and friends. She became totally dependent on him. He told her that she "had to had to fall in love with him as part of the reparenting process."

The Department of Social Services investigated Brigham’s allegations that her parents, Andy and Janice Brigham, had sexually abused her as a child. In 1995, DSS concluded the allegations were unfounded, according to a letter they wrote to the Brighams.

Stephanie Brigham also is suing Syracuse University for referring her to Pickett in 1992 when she was a student there, and for allowing him, as an adjunct professor, to bring her before his class as a demonstration.

The validity of recovered memories is still being claimed by some professionals. Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, an Indiana University psychiatry professor and a former president of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, is quoted as claiming that 38 studies have shown that repressed memory of trauma does exist.

(Post-Standard Syracuse (19 Mar 1998). Lawsuit claims memories of abuse planted a Syracuse woman says a psychotherapist brainwashed her into believing she was a child victim of sexual abuse, by John O’Brien)

Update on Wenatchee

In 1994 and 1995, investigators in Wenatchee, Washington, claimed they had discovered a network of adults, including the pastor and members of a Pentecostal church, who were running child sex rings. After some defendants were acquitted, they stopped talking about ‘sex rings’ but prosecutions continued. Forty three people were to be arrested and charged with sexual assault of 60 children.

The case was driven by police Detective Bob Perez, lead investigator for the cases, who manipulated the child complainants with bribes and threats in gross violation of guidelines for interviewing witnesses. Prosecutor Gary Riesen accepted the children’s statements presented by Perez at face value, with no attempt to get corroboration. The children received extensive sexual abuse counselling both before and after the trials for events which it is now clear, had never happened.

There were huge inconsistencies in the trials. In some, testimony of certain children was disallowed or discredited, yet in other cases, identical accusations from the same children were accepted and led to convictions. Judges refused many defense requests for expert witnesses who would have testified on such issues as accepted ways to question children and verification of medical evidence. Prosecutors received as much public money as they needed ($141,000) for extra expense, whereas the lawyer contracted to supply public defenders had to use his personal credit card to pay the bills.

Many of the convictions have been overturned, but 17 people still remain in prison. As many as 30 of the children remain separated from their families, in foster care or mental institutions.

Devereaux: Robert and Maxine Devereaux were highly regarded foster parents who sheltered more than 300 girls over the years, many of them troubled children no one else could handle. When they divorced in 1991, he continued to take in foster daughters. This annoyed some of the CPS workers. They considered it improper and troublesome for a single man to care for girls.

When one of Devereaux’s 15-year-old foster daughters got into trouble and landed in detention, Perez went alone to see the girl who was angry at Devereaux for forbidding her to see a boy. Perez came away with her accusing Devereaux of sexual abuse. When DSHS social worker Glassen visited the girl a day later, the girl tearfully told him that Perez pressured her make the accusation. Glassen was soon arrested (charged with obstructing justice) and fired. His superior, Juana Vasquez also was critical of the allegations. She was fired in October 1995 ‘for failing to assist investigators’. She has recently been awarded $1.57 million for wrongful dismissal but sadly is now fighting an inoperable brain tumour.

Everretts: The case of wrongful conviction of a near-retarded couple Harold and Idella Everett, found guilty of raping their children, is currently being considered by Court of Appeals Superior Court Judge Wallis Friel.

Doggetts: Carol and Mark Doggett, found guilty of rape and molestation and imprisoned in 1995, had their convictions overturned in December 1997 and are awaiting a retrial. At their recent bail hearing, it was fully expected that they would be released on bail, but Superior Court Judge Jack Burchard decided that a new (1996) law made it unclear as to whether or not bail could be granted, and the Doggerts have to remain in prison. In ordering new trials for the couple, the court harshly questioned interrogation techniques used by Perez and CPS caseworkers to gather evidence in the case. Their children insist that their parents never abused them.

Rodriguez: Manuel Hidalgo Rodriguez is 36-year-old migrant farm worker speaks broken English. He was found guilty of rape and child molestation in 1995. The allegations were based solely on the testimony of Donna, who told her foster father, police Detective Perez, that she had been repeatedly raped by a man named Manuel. There had been 2 different men around Donna’s home named Manuel, and initially Donna said it was the ‘first’ Manuel, an earlier boy-friend of her sister’s. Then Donna’s 12-year-old sister, Melinda, claimed that she had been molested too, but she accused Manuel Hidalgo. She said the attacks started when she was s aged 6, (1988), which was actually 3 years before Hidalgo moved to Wenatchee. However, Hidalgo was still charged. Then one week before his trial, Donna was questioned again and this time, she said it was Hidalgo who abused her and more charges were added. Poor legal representation and biased rulings by the judge hampered his case. The jury could not decide on 5 out of 6 count but found him guilty of one count of molesting Donna. Ten months after Hidalgo’s trial, Melinda admitted she had lied, saying Perez forced her. Hidalgo is still in prison awaiting an appeal to be conducted by New York appeals attorney, Robert Rosenthal. Wenatchee citizens have raised the money for him to take the case.

As well as Glassen and Vasquez, others who questioned the validity of the allegations also paid dearly:

  • Connie and Mario Fry were placed under police surveillance after speaking up for the rights of the accused, although they had committed no crime.
  • County Commissioner Earl Marcellus criticised the investigations and was then himself falsely accused of harbouring a runaway.
  • A month after Pastor Roby Roberson criticised Perez and CPS, he and his wife, Connie, were charged with sexually abusing children. The couple spent nearly 150 days in jail but were cleared of all charges.

Perez and therapist Andrews face a civil trial in Seattle next month.

In 1994 public defender Kathryn Lyon took time off her job to investigate the prosecution of so many people in Wenatchee. What she found appalled her. After years of interviews and reading all the documents available pertaining to the case Lyon has recently published a 470 page book ‘Witch Hunt’ (Avon Press), which outlines the injustices and violation of civil rights of children and families.

(Seattle Post -Intelligencer (23 Feb 1998) The Power To Harm; (20 Mar 1998) Wenatchee Tangle Rests In Judge’s Hands: He’s Off To A Quiet Place To Figure It All Out by Andrew Schneider; (21 Mar 1998) Release From Prison Denied: Judge Feels Limited By Law Despite New Trial Order In Wenatchee by Andrew Schneider; ‘lies, lies, and more lies’ says jailed man by Andrew Schneider and Mike Barber;, Social Worker Cries Foul, Pays Dearly Unwillingness to compromise costs her a job by Mike Barber and Andrew Schneider; ‘Non-believers’ risked everything for justice a few united to help the accused by Mike Barber and Andrew Schneider; Seattle Times Company (18 Mar 1998). Governor Should Head Off Abuses Of Commitment Law by Richard Warner)

Judge rejects multiple personality defence

Sandra Chupka, aged 48, pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and 99 counts of uttering a forged instrument. She was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Chupka tried to have her sentence reduced on the grounds that she suffered from multiple personality (or dissociative identity) disorder, and that the crimes had been committed by Laverne, one of her 4 or 5 other personalities. Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe denied her request to have her sentence reduced.

(Tampa Tribune (24 Mar 1994) Multiple personality plea fails to cut sentence)


New Zealand

Claims that woman’s gang rape allegations are false

Four high profile racing figures have come forward to deny the allegation made by an Invecargill woman that she was gang-raped at the Ascot Park Hotel in February.

(Mail, 8 Mar 1998).


Australian politician supported allegations that judges and other prominent Australians indulged in satanic abuses and ritualistic murders

In December 1996 COSA newsletter reported that Former Australian Supreme Court judge Justice David Yeldham committed suicide by gassing himself in his car after he was accused of being a paedophile. The allegation was made by upper house MP Franca Arena. Mrs Arena evoked parliamentary privilege in accusing the former judge and hence was not required to produce any evidence to support her claims. Justice Yeldham strongly denied her claims and had issued a statement through his solicitors to that effect on the day of his death.

Arena continued to claim that many prominent Australians were part of a paedophile ring and she accused Justice Wood, who conducted the Royal Commission, of protecting them. she threatened to name those she claimed were involved but in October last year, when she became unwell just as she was going to table her evidence in Parliament (see COSA newsletter, Dec 12997). Instead, one of her supporters, Ms Kate Wentworth blurted out the name of a senior judge she claimed was mentioned in the final paedophile report by Justice James Wood, the Royal Commissioner. When told that she was not to raise names, she replied: "I already have." The name was then ordered suppressed from publication.

Arena now says that "not telling the truth" when she told reporters on several occasions last year that she would name politicians and judges as paedophiles, saying that she was just trying to scare people off. It has eventuated that the ‘proof’ Arena has submitted for her claims rests on a young woman’s allegation of being anally raped by a Judge B. The young woman claimed she and others witnessed in Chatswood bushland Judge B murder another judge with an axe so he could succeed him as a leading world Satanist, that Judge B was involved in breeding babies in a Melbourne castle for ritual sexual abuse, and that people were crucified at the castle and their body parts abused in Satanic worship. Arena claims this is a representative sample" of the information she says demonstrates a ‘cover-up’. This allegation, as unlikely as it is, had actually been investigated by the Police Integrity Commissioner, Judge Paul Urquhart, and the Police Commissioner, Mr Ryan, who had fully refuted it.

(Sydney Morning Herald (19 Mar 1998). Arena admits never intending to name names, by David Humphries)


Body-guard recovered memories of fatal crash may be false

Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the only survivor of the horrific crash in which the Princess of Wales, Dodi Fayed and the car driver died. He suffered severe head injuries and was unable to recall any of the vital moments preceding the accident. This is to be expected following the injuries he sustained.

However he has been under considerable pressure, especially from his employer Mohamed Al Fayed (Dodi’s father) to remember what happened. Al Fayed is trying to find someone to blame for the crash (which in fact was caused by a drunken driver). He is even suggesting that the couple may have been killed to keep them from getting married, although there is absolutely no evidence to support such a conspiracy. Al. Fayed has not even produced any evidence that Diana was planning to marry Dodi Fayed.

After 6 months of amnesia. Rees-Jones is supposedly recovering his memory with the help of a psychiatrist (paid for by Al. Fayed). What he is remembering is in total support of Al. Feyed’s theories. Now he claims to remember hearing Princess Diana calling out for Dodi as she lay dying. He also recalled blinding flashes, presumably from cameras, from in front of the speeding Mercedes. Rees-Jones also said that chauffeur Henri Paul did not appear to have been drinking. Yet blood tests later showed Paul was definitely intoxicated.

The validity of these memories is in question. "Even in a normal situation, memories start to fade pretty quickly after an eyewitness event. And as they fade, they become more and more vulnerable to post-event suggestion," said Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology and law at the University of Washington, and world expert in memory. "This [the Rees Jones recollection] isn’t a normal situation; it’s worse." Loftus explains that "First of all, his injuries were so bad, he suffered anterograde and retrograde amnesia [meaning that Rees Jones lost his memory of time and events that occurred before and after the accident]. After such severe amnesia, when memories do return, they tend to come as islands of recovery and generally are not memories of the moment of the trauma.

To this, add two powerful influences that could make many of the bodyguard’s recovered memories suspect: The possibility of post-event suggestion by his psychiatrist and others, and tremendous pressure on Rees Jones to remember all-important details.

Such suggestion could include repeated questioning by police and other authorities, hearing or reading others’ accounts or theories about the event or succumbing to the human inclination to fill memory gaps with supposition."

In reality is that while Al. Freyed and the world might want the only person who survived the crash to remember and solve all mysteries, we can never really know what happened on the night of 31 August when Henri Paul, Dodi al Fayed and Princess Diana died.

(The Northern Echo, (3 Mar 1998). When Memories Come Flooding Back, by Beezy Marsh; The Guardian London (3 Mar 1998) When the past is out of reach; Doctor at large by Luisa Dillner; Fort Worth Star-Telegram (4 Mar 1998) The emerging memories of Trevor Rees-Jones by Bill Thompson; The Plain Dealer (6 Mar 1998) . Story Of Di’s Bodyguard Is Doubtful by Stephanie Salter)


Snowden finally out of prison

After 12 years in prison, Grant Snowden has finally been released. As we reported last month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction, noting with a special degree of disbelief that his accusers had all been toddlers (the oldest six years) and remembering supposed events that took place two years before that. The Appeal Court ordered the state of Florida to release Snowden or grant him a speedy retrial. The state did neither, but petitioned the appeal court to reconsider.

That request has not yet been answered, but in the meantime, US Magistrate Judge William Turnoff has decided that he is entitled to be released on bail. Given the nature of the ‘evidence’ relied upon in Snowden’s trial, it seems unlikely that the prosecution will be able to pursue a retrial.

(The Wall Street Journal, 27 Mar 1998, Out of Jail)


Questionable validity of ‘dissociative amnesia’ in trauma victims

Pope Harrison, Hudson James & Bodkin Alexander (1998), British Journal of Psychiatry, 172, 210-215

An excellent concise review of the available prospective studies to determine whether trauma can cause psychological amnesia (also known as repression or dissociative amnesia). They conclude that the evidence does not demonstrate that this can happen.

Commentary: Questionable validity of ‘dissociative amnesia’ in trauma victims

Brewin Chris (1998), British Journal of Psychiatry, 172, 216-217.

In response to the above paper, Brewin argues that ‘retrospective studies have often uncovered substantial corroborative evidence to support the reality of the events individuals claim to have remembered’ and he does not believe that the retrospective studies should be judged as not ‘scientific’. Retrospective studies are those which ask adults if they have repressed a memory of past sexual abuse and then later recovered it. Women in therapy have often answered ‘yes’ to this question. Pope et al. believe that the potential recall bias in such studies means the accuracy of such retrospective accounts is uncertain.

Case study: allegations of abuse created in a single interview

Bernet William (Jul 1997), Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 36 (7): 966-970.

This paper describes a case whereby a baby-sitter decided that a 5 year old girl in her care must have sexually abused by her father. She proceeded to interview the child, tape-recording their discussion. During the course of a single interview of little over an hour, the child came to make horrendous allegations against her parents.

The tape-recording is a study in how not to interview children. The baby-sitter asked her hundreds of questions, sometimes interrupting her reply in order to pose the next question. Many questions were repeated several times until the child answered ‘correctly’. Using these repetitive questions, the baby-sitter shaped the girl’s responses into allegations that her parents had penetrated her vagina and anus with a broom handle, that her father had inserted his penis into her mouth, anus and vagina; that her parents had had sex in front of her; that her father had killed animals an threatened to kill her if she told.

The baby-sitter notified the Child Protective Services and the child was interviewed several times by clinicians and police. While it was established that there was no substance to any of the allegations, the child continued to claim that these terrible things had happened to her.

Why bogus therapies seem to work

Beyerstein Barry (Sep /Oct 1997), Skeptical Inquirer, 29-34.

Beyerstein discusses 10 kinds of erors or biases which might convince honest and intellignet people that a therapy has cured them when it has not. These include: The disease may have run its natural course; Many diseases are cyclical (improvement due to cyclical variation); Spontaneous remission (rare but recorded evenets that diseaeses such as cancer can disappear without treatment); Placebo effect; Some allegedly cured symptoms are psychosomatic to start with; Symptomatic relief versus cure.

Newsletters received by COSA

FMS Support groups Canada Feb / Mar 1998 Vol 5 no 2 & 3

This issue includes a valuable 7 page summary of recent US cases involving the scientific and legal status of ‘recovered / repressed memory’ testimony.

The Retractor’s Voice Feb 1988, Issue 3

A newsletter for and by people who have made allegations on the basis of recovered memories which they have since retracted because they recognise that these were false memories. Includes testimony from retractors and advice on how to get on with their lives.

FMS Foundation Newsletter. Mar 1998 7 (2)

Includes an excellent article by Pope and Hudson (Garbage in, garbage out) which discusses the Tucson garbage Project of the 1980s. Students sorted the rubbish discarded by 624 households into over 200 categories, while trained personnel interviewed a random sample of 15 of the city’s households. One of the questions related to beer consumption. Over 865 of the households told interviewers that they had no beer at all in an average week, and no household (out of 60) claimed more than 8 cans per week. however, the average number of cans found in the rubbish of 54% of the households was 15 per week. What this study shows is that people regularly fail to disclose sensitive information to interviewers. This is relevant in assessing the prospective study by Linda Williams. She claims that because some of her subjects failed to report the index episode of abuse interviewers were looking for (although they were never specifically asked about this episode) they must have repressed their memory of it,. There are however far more parsimonious explanations – for example, they chose not to mention to the interviewer.

COSA Canterbury: Chairwoman’s Report

The Canterbury association is in good heart, guided so effectively during the last three years by Arthur (see March Newsletter) As Chairwoman, the emphasis will remain on supporting and helping, in practical terms, our growing membership and continuing the strong fellowship already established.

I have yet to Chair fully, a general meeting, but our committee comprising 11 enthusiastic members, have already targeted areas of concern that lead to the horrifying and destructive false allegations that have affected all our members. Specialisation of tasks, as far as possible into spheres of interest for committee members, lightens the load of work and also broadens the scope of our objectives. We have established the principles of sound management, good communication, hard work, trust, credibility and adherence to fact not fiction.

In a perfect world, applying these principles would negate the need for COSA. But the continued application of out-dated theories, or ignorance, or the vested interest of some members amongst counsellors, the Psychiatric Society, the Police, Churches, the Medical Profession, and the Judiciary, to name a few, makes our survival as an association essential. As a branch, in conjunction with our national organisation, we will continue to argue, to fight, for changes in bad legislation, bad practices.

Jane Allison

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