COSA [North] Casualties Of Sexual Allegations News & Views April – May 2000 Vol 2 Issue 2
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Blending Science and Law When the Evidence Act was amended about 1985 to remove the need for corroboration in sexual cases, the mandatory judge’s warning on the dangers of convicting on the basis of uncorroborated evidence was also removed. Later Amendments allowed expert witnesses to give their opinions, but failed to introduce a counter-balancing test to ensure that those opinions had scientific support.
Teachers Falsely Accused & Acquitted
A Ridiculous Case in Christchurch In the circumstances of this case, it is difficult to believe that the Detective conducted an objective examination of the complaints, or had reasonable cause to arrest and charge the man. He wasted the Court’s time and squandered taxpayer funds.
The Price Of Safety At All Costs While not questioning the need to educate our children in personal safety skills, we argue that a policy of absolute safety (complete freedom from danger or risk) is neither feasible nor desirable. Specifically, separating a child from a parent on the basis of hearsay evidence of child maltreatment without corroborating evidence could well be creating a situation for a child that is more harmful for him or her than the risks warrant.
Daubert and Expert Evidence in Sexual Abuse Matters a paper by Dr. Yolande Lucire, mentioned in the Editorial.
The Death Of Psychotherapy: From Freud to Alien Abductions new book by Donald A. Eisner.
‘Research’ on Satanic Ritual Abuse in UK Psychotherapist Valerie Sinason is "completely convinced" Satanic abuse does occur.
Another Unscientific ‘Study’ – Dr Bernice Andrews on Recovered Memories, UK.
Recent Letters to Editors:
Dr John Read "We can expect continued attacks from Ellis supporters on any professionals involved in child protection work and on those, like myself and the Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, who seek a balanced approach to any inquiry, placing as much emphasis on the needs of New Zealand’s children as it does on the rights of convicted sex offenders."
Swift responses from Ms Kay Stead and Gordon Waugh.
COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices
Blending Science and Law
There has been much recent comment on an apparent lack of values in our society. Commentators ask whether "values" should be taught in schools or at home. Whose values? What values? "Values" is such a short word, but it has disastrous consequences if misunderstood or misapplied. Values are subjective and emotive. They rely on assumptions, beliefs and opinions. In my opinion, we should concern ourselves more with objectivity, concepts and principles, honesty, integrity, facts, science and ethical practices.
A case in point is the Evidence Act and its Amendments, as applied to sexual cases. The Act was amended about 1985 to remove the need for corroboration in sexual cases. The mandatory judge’s warning on the dangers of convicting on the basis of uncorroborated evidence was also removed.
Later Amendments allowed expert witnesses to give their opinions, but failed to introduce a counter-balancing test to ensure that those opinions had scientific support. The changes may have been well-intentioned, but recent history has shown them to be badly flawed. The consequences have reverberated throughout society.
Those Amendments removed a vital protection and put defendants in greater jeopardy. They ignored a fundamental principle: If one is willing to make allegations, one must also provide credible evidence to support them. That the law allows conviction in sexual cases without credible corroborative evidence is a serious error in critical thinking. It invites dishonesty and mistakes.
Penalties for sexual crimes are severe, up to 20 years imprisonment for rape. Convicted murderers get a life sentence, which in practice means 10 or 12 years.
Murder cases are generally festooned with corroborative evidence and few people charged with murder are acquitted.
Conversely, sexual crimes are the only major ones in which corroboration is not required. Over the past ten or more years, only about 48% of those charged with rape get convicted. A primary reason is absence of credible corroboration. Some cases do have incriminating forensic or other evidence, but too many are based on "Her word against His".
Many cases are based on historical claims, often dating back 20 or more years. There is no applicable statute of limitation. In general, there is no corroborative evidence, or any reasonable way in which a man can defend himself. Seldom is any physical or forensic evidence produced. Important exculpatory evidence may have been lost. Witnesses may have died. Documents may have been destroyed.
What passes for "memory" has become important in such cases. It is equally important in cases where complainants are young children. The issue with memories is "corroboration" and there is a disquieting misunderstanding of what constitutes corroboration and what is deserved when making accusations of criminality. All of the major professional bodies in the medical, psychological and psychiatric fields have stated that external corroboration is needed to differentiate between true and false memories.
External corroboration was missing in the Peter Ellis case. The misunderstandings in this case were that the children’s testimony was historically correct, and opinions of the so-called "experts" were valid and taken as a form of corroboration.
Ellis was convicted by the imaginations of children, a large quantity of psycho-babble by the so-called "experts" and community hysteria created by misinformation. He was also convicted because the Evidence Act had its teeth pulled in 1985.
A significant deficiency in our justice system is the lack of scientific means to test the credibility of expert testimony. Federal Courts in the USA use the "Daubert" test to decide whether the reasoning and methodology underlying a theory lies within the framework of valid scientific knowledge, and whether it is reliable. Principal matters usually examined are:
- whether the theory has been tested,
- whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication,
- whether the theory or technique has a known or potential error rate, and,
- whether the theory has attained general acceptance with the relevant scientific community.
Dr Yolande Lucire, a highly-qualified and well-respected forensic and medico-legal Psychiatrist in Australia, in her recent paper "Daubert and Expert Evidence in Sexual Abuse Matters", wrote:
Scientific method includes putting up a proposition couched in the negative, a null hypothesis, and testing it to see if it can be knocked down. Examples of the null hypothesis are that the prisoner is not guilty and that the unicorn does not exist.
In junk-science, the null hypothesis is replaced by a positive assertion, one which cannot be proved to be untrue even if it is untrue. One can never prove that a unicorn does not exist, as it might always be just out of sight, so a proposition asserting that a unicorn exists is not a suitable one for a scientific investigation. The presumption of innocence is a null hypothesis, a hallmark of good law as well as good science.
Many of the theories behind sexual abuse fail these scientific tests. We have heard so many times that a woman or child "behaves this way because she was sexually abused." The proposition that sexual abuse causes particular behavioural abnormalities has been exhaustively tested and found to be groundless. No credible scientific research supports the notion that sexual abuse causes specific or exclusive psychological or psychiatric effects. Wonder of wonders, even ACC now agrees with that! There may well be an association between abuse and behaviour, but not a causality.
In the Ellis case and many others, particularly in ACC sexual abuse claims and child custody disputes, conclusions based on behaviour are almost obligatory. Counsellors claim to have identified over 900 "indicators" of sexual abuse.
But unless all these "signs of abuse" pass scientific scrutiny, they are no more than witch-marks and have absolutely no place in our public systems. It is dishonest to claim that proof of abuse lies in the behaviour of the complainant.
The matter of excavating "evidence" from young children has been a contentious issue, but credible research has shown that young children are often highly suggestible and malleable, especially if they are subjected to parental influence. Kim Hill interviewed Prof Stephen Lindsay (a Canadian) on National Radio (Tuesday Mar 21). He outlined his research on this topic, concluding that children, especially those under 5, are often incapable of discriminating between what they actually experienced and what they imagined.
The methods used by interviewers handling the Christchurch Civic Creche children were manifestly suggestive. The use of "anatomically correct" dolls was outrageous. Fantasy and imagination were taken as fact. Metaphors became reality. The children’s stories were not tested, just believed. Expert opinion using Roland Summit’s Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) should have been tested. CSAAS is a hypothesis incapable of being falsified, an example of scientific nonsense.
Deficiencies in the law – our law – allowed Peter Ellis and others to be convicted. To the detriment of many in our community, the sections of our Evidence Act dealing with sexual crimes have been diluted and contaminated by junk-science and the cult of "victimhood".
I put it to you that had the rule of corroboration and provision for scientific testing been in place in 1993, Peter Ellis, and many men since, would not have been charged or convicted.
Flow-on effects from scientific tests and the rule of corroboration would be that the Court, Prosecution and Police systems would be more impartial and cost-effective. ACC would not have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars based on junk-science and pop-psychology. Fewer people would be able to make false allegations. Tens of thousands of families would not have been devastated by false allegations arising from counselling.
Our community and personal values would be refined and our sense of discrimination sharpened. And the so-called "experts" who helped convict Peter Ellis and others, would not be tolerated by a wiser and better-educated public.
Although Justice Minister Phil Goff has called for judges to take a tougher stance on sentencing, it would be more helpful to focus on getting the law right in the first place. Judges are working within the parameters set by Government, and in sexual cases, their hands are literally tied by an unbalanced Evidence Act.
In the area of alleged sexual crime, the Government would better serve our sense of values, our confidence and the public good, by returning to our justice system the essential tool of corroboration, introducing the Daubert tests and a 5- or 7-year statute of limitation, and banning "expert" witnesses from courtrooms.
A summary of Dr Lucire’s presentation is here: Daubert Ruling and the ‘True Believers’
Items Of Interest
Teachers Falsely Accused & Acquitted
The NZ Herald reported (Mar 20) that allegations of supplying drink and selling drugs to students – and having sex with them – had been made against a male teacher in South Taranaki. He was suspended and faced a hearing before the School Board. The two adults making the allegations did not have children at the school, and apparently had a grudge against him and has said they wanted to "run him out town." A Radio News report (Mar 22) said the teacher had now been cleared of all allegations.
False Allegations Against Teachers.
Many allegations of sexual offences have been made about school teachers in New Zealand. A few were found to be true, but a lot of them were false. If we are serious about debating "values" and perhaps teaching them in schools, we could do ourselves a favour by starting with HONESTY. We don’t have this problem on our own, as shown in the following article from the USA.
"False accusations against teachers soar" By Scott Bowles USA TODAY Tuesday, March 21 In Chicago, a 9-year-old elementary school girl pays fellow students $1 bribes to accuse a substitute teacher of sexual abuse.
In Florida, a social studies teacher is accused by a high school boy of molesting him during a field trip. The teacher is suspended from his job without pay for the duration of an 11-month investigation.
And in Maryland, seven sixth-graders tell police that a gym teacher fondled girls and stared at their breasts in the school locker room.
In each incident, police say, the children made up the stories to punish their teachers for disciplining or flunking them. Each time, the teacher was yanked from the classroom until exonerated by police. Educators say these and other cases underscore a troubling trend in American schools.
"A few years ago, we got one or two calls a week from a teacher saying a student was making a false claim against him," says Karl Pence, president of the Maryland State Teachers Association. "Now we get one or two a day."
"Beyond ruining teachers’ reputations and calling the credibility of children into question, you have a more widespread impact," Pence says. "Teachers are getting more and more afraid to interact with kids. You can’t put a hand on a student’s shoulder for fear it will be deemed inappropriate contact."
Police in Montgomery County, Md., say they discovered an elaborate plot by seven children to have their gym teacher drummed out of Roberto Clemente Middle School in suburban Washington, D.C.
The children — six girls and a boy — were charged with filing false reports after telling authorities that their gym teacher, Ronald Heller, fondled the girls in the school locker room.
After a month-long investigation, the children recanted. Prosecutors took the unusual step of filing the misdemeanor charges against the children, all 10- and 11-year-olds.
State’s Attorney Douglas Gansler says his office wants not only to punish the children involved, but also to send a message to others. "We have got to do something about the ‘cry wolf’ syndrome. I don’t think most kids understand the severity of what they’re doing,"
Some schools are addressing the issue before a problem arises. The student handbook for schools in Lawrence County, Ind., warns that children who falsely accuse teachers and administrators of misconduct face suspension and expulsion.
In Buffalo, a videotape called "Falsely Accused" is made available to teachers. The presentation warns them not to be in a classroom alone with a single student.
A Ridiculous Case in Christchurch
About five years ago, one of our colleagues in Christchurch was accused of sexually abusing two of his nieces some 30 years ago. Of course, the two nieces had had counselling! The "evidence" against him and the circumstances they described were preposterous and patently false. Nevertheless, the Detective investigating the allegations pursued the case with all the relentless zeal of a modern-day witch-sniffer. Only recently did he charge the man.
In the circumstances of the case, it is difficult to believe that the Detective conducted an objective examination of the complaints, or had reasonable cause to arrest and charge the man. The man finally appeared in court in March and was acquitted on all charges.
In this case, the Detective did not enhance the standing of the police. He wasted the Court’s time and squandered taxpayer funds. More to the point, the man he charged, and his family, have been devastated, humiliated, financially crippled and to all intents and purposes, tortured. We trust the Detective’s superiors will review his actions in this case.
The Price Of Safety At All Costs
Nuance No. 1, December 1999 16 (7) Goodyear-Smith & Laidlaw (Felicity A Goodyear-Smith, MB ChB, MGP, FRNZCGP & Tannis M Laidlaw, PhD)
In our desire to protect children and prevent their coming to harm, our social, educational and justice systems have progressively developed policies aimed at keeping children safe at all times. While not questioning the need to educate our children in personal safety skills, we argue that a policy of absolute safety (complete freedom from danger or risk) is neither feasible nor desirable. Specifically, separating a child from a parent on the basis of hearsay evidence of child maltreatment without corroborating evidence could well be creating a situation for a child that is more harmful for him or her than the risks warrant.
Education about safety balanced with and tempered by education about exploring possibilities and taking calculated risks enhances a child’s physical and psychological well-being and development. Children should learn skills to deal with risk, to be able to weigh up a situation, estimate the chance of bad consequences and develop appropriate strategies. Parents and educators need to address the positive values of the various risks that occur in the lives of our children.
Children are our greatest investment, our hope for the future. The best thing we can do for our society is to nurture the well-being and development of our children. Strong and functioning families are the key to raising healthy children who can reach their potential, by providing a place of love and learning. Families connect us with our past, give us our sense of who we are, and hold our hopes for the future. They fulfil our need for identity, intimacy, relatedness and development.
As a society we must ensure that our children are looked after. We want the best for our children, and do not want them hurt or injured. With this in mind, our social, educational and justice systems have progressively developed policies to protect children and prevent them coming to harm. Today we have a wide range of agencies, facilities and resources whose primary function is to keep children safe from harm.
You can download a PDF version of this paper from here:
Nuance Journal Online http://www.nuancejournal.com.au/ This Journal is father-friendly, serious, refereed and does not push a PC feminist line.
Daubert and Expert Evidence in Sexual Abuse Matters
a paper by Dr. Yolande Lucire, PhD MBBS DPM FRANZCP
Dr Lucire’s recent paper is mentioned in the Editorial. The paper is a substantive, expert and precise work of 13 pages, plus two pages of references. She presented a shortened version at a plenary session of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences in Sydney on 9 February 2000. Her paper is scheduled for publication in the Journal of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences later in 2000.
Dr Yolande Lucire PhD MBBS DPM FRANZCP
FORENSIC & MEDICO-LEGAL PSYCHIATRY
2a Kendall Street, Bondi Junction, Telephone: (02) 9386 9311
NSW 2022, Australia. Fax: (02) 9389 0993
DX 12035 Bondi Junction. Mobile: 0411 158 246
Email: [email protected]
The Death Of Psychotherapy: From Freud to Alien Abductions
New book by Donald A. Eisner, with a foreword by Tana Dineen.
Psychologist-attorney Eisner puts psychotherapy on trial by critically examining its effectiveness through the lens of the scientific method.
From psychoanalysis to cognitive-behaviour therapy as well as the 500 or so other psychotherapies, there is not a single experimental study that supports the effectiveness of psychotherapy over a placebo or religious healing.
Using both case examples and clinical research, this book challenges the conclusion that there is empirical support for the notion that psychotherapy is effective. (ISBN 0-275-96413-2)
‘Research’ on Satanic Ritual Abuse in UK
(Paraphrased from The Express, February 10, 2000)
Children ‘born for sacrifice to Satan’ Children are being secretly reared in Britain for sacrifice by Satanists, says a Government-backed expert.
Psychotherapist Valerie Sinason, who has been paid [some 20,000 Pounds Sterling] by the Department of Health to study adult survivors of alleged organised ritual abuse, said she was "completely convinced" Satanic abuse does occur.
She claimed to have evidence about children whose births were not officially registered being reared for abuse and sacrifice.
The scientist, who edited a clinical textbook on Satanist abuse after the controversies in Rochdale, the Orkneys and Nottingham in the early 1990s, has claimed previously to have evidence of at least 100.murders.
Her study of cases from nearly 40 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts will claim that she has seen evidence of physical injuries in adult survivors, who tell of seeing people drugged and killed. She said that out of 76 patients she has seen at her London clinic, 46 claimed that they had witnessed the murder of children or adults.
The Department of Health stressed that it stood by the findings of its 1994 LaFontaine report which concluded there was organized abuse but that it was "not helpful or appropriate to call it Satanic". Scotland Yard is carrying out its own research project into ritual abuse.
[This "study" has drawn much adverse and stinging criticism, so much so that one commentator was moved to write: "Abuse? Studies such as this are such an abuse of the forensic method that even Mulder and Scully would be sceptical." – Ed.]
Another Unscientific "Study"
Dr Bernice Andrews on Recovered Memories, UK, February 2000.
"Recovered memories often true, researchers claim" British scientists said they have cast doubts on the prevalence of False Memory Syndrome and the idea recovered memories are often bogus ones induced by therapists. The theory that memories of events that never occurred can be constructed by suggestion during therapy has been used successfully as a defence by those accused of child abuse, to discredit children’s testimony.
Researchers at University College London said their study of data from 236 adults with recovered memories shows many are of true past events.
”What we’ve shown is that a substantial proportion of these memories have been corroborated,” said Dr. Bernice Andrews, who conducted the study.
[This "research" also came in for stinging criticism. What it amounts to is that Andrews used the results of interviews with therapists whose clients claimed to have "recovered" memories, to report hearsay of hearsay of claimed events. I understand she did not interview the clients, but took the word of the therapists as being "corroboration" of the alleged events. – Ed]
Recent Letters to Editors
Dr John Read, a senior lecturer in Auckland University’s Psychology Department wrote a Letter to the Editor to the NZ Herald, published on 11 February 2000, on the matter of the Peter Ellis case. He wrote:
Your correspondents Kay Stead and G. Waugh object to my comments about the Peter Ellis case.
Mr Waugh’s views, as a regular campaigner for those accused or convicted of child abuse, are predictably distorted. The claim that "most" convictions overseas "have now been overturned" is blatantly false. Ms Stead stoops to arguing that my call for increased funding for child protection services and child abuse police units is based on my being "professionally involved" in the area, implying that I would personally gain from increased funding. That is incorrect.
We can expect continued attacks from Ellis supporters on any professionals involved in child protection work and on those, like myself and the Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, who seek a balanced approach to any inquiry, placing as much emphasis on the needs of New Zealand’s children as it does on the rights of convicted sex offenders.
Research demonstrates that only a tiny minority of sexual abuse cases are reported to the police and even fewer reach the courtroom. I have written to the Government, asking that any inquiry includes a search for solutions to this very sad situation."
His outburst drew sharp ripostes, published in the Herald on 15 February:
Ms Kay Stead wrote:
Dr John Read’s angry dismissal of my concerns as those of "an Ellis supporter" only increases my anxiety about the impartiality of psychologist witnesses in this case.
A true scientist retains his scepticism and is always pleased to have his findings investigated because he cares more about scientific accuracy than about being "right".
Gordon Waugh wrote:
Dr John Read’s University position does not confer immunity from criticism. The appearance of objective and dispassionate justice and the need for strict adherence to that principle is of paramount importance to our society. Similar rigorous ethical standards apply to the academic world. When one of its members fails to comply, criticism will ensue.
Dr Read accused me of giving "blatantly false" information and also attacked another of his numerous critics, Kay Stead. Ad hominem attacks seek only to deflect debate on the core issues.
My information source on overseas cases, similar or identical to the Peter Ellis conviction, is impeccable – the findings of Appellate Courts in various countries. Dr Read is entitled to consider them to be "blatantly false".
I support the many men who have been FALSELY accused of sexual abuse, mainly through the intervention of counsellors and psychologists purveying beliefs and assumptions drawn from pseudo-research.
Dr Read’s "research" and opinions will undoubtedly be treated by Government, the public and his fellow academics with the respect they deserve.
COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices
Donations & Subscriptions.
Invoices for renewal of subscriptions are sent out with each Newsletter. Please pay subscriptions promptly.
We hold a public meeting in conjunction with the North Shore Men’s Centre at 7.30 pm on the second Monday of each month. Everyone is welcome. The venue is the Onepoto Community Rooms, Pearn Crescent, Northcote. If you want to attend but are unsure of the exact location, give them a call on 415 0049.
Important Website. (If you are reading this online then you are probably already here)
The Men’s Centre North Shore carries all the COSA material including all the old newsletters on its website. For those of you with computers, visit the site at: www.menz.org.nz/cosa. There is much material on other related topics as well.
Positive Partners Strong Families
This is a course on communication and conflict resolution for couples, run by two trained Facilitators. For information, contact Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith at the Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, PB 92019 Auckland.
E-mail: [email protected]
(more on Positive Partners Strong Families)
Contributions to the Newsletter.
Please keep an eye on your local newspapers for articles which clearly give misleading information on sexual abuse to the public. We would also like to receive items on court cases. When sending cuttings, please ensure you mark them with the name of the newspaper and the date of publication.
We would also like to received Letters to the Editor for publication, so put pen to paper! In the interests of ethics, credibility and privacy, only your Given Name and Town/City (eg John, Levin – or Mary, Bulls) will be published with your letter.
Annual General Meeting
The AGM for COSA North will be held at 2.00 pm on Saturday 15th April 2000. The Notice of Meeting, Proxy Voting Forms and other papers have been mailed out to all Financial Members. If you have any questions about the AGM, please contact our Secretary, Colleen.
Editor, Gordon Waugh