COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter December 1996 Volume 3 No 11
Contents of this page:
Editorial: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Update In last month’s newsletter I published my concerns about the psychotherapeutic treatment called EMDR. The article was sent to the person who developed EMDR, Dr Francine Shapiro, who was concerned about some of the issues I raised, and we have been carrying out a discussion about this during this last month.
False rape charges Last week the New Plymouth District Court heard that a man was locked up overnight after his de facto partner, 28 year old Shona Perfect, made a false complaint of rape. She later admitted to the police that she had made up the accusations to "get back" at her partner.
Courts: Alleged Satanic attack a fraud Another case of false allegation which has just surfaced is the accusation made by Palmerston North Detective Brent Garner last month.
Man makes false rape complaint Following police inquiries, James Leggett admitted that he had punched a "poofter". He had made the accusation to pre-empt possible assault charges by the man.
Female violence against male In a tragic demonstration that not all domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against their women partners, a young Brazilian man had his penis cut off with a kitchen knife by his 17 year old girl-friend.
Accused judge suicides Former Australian Supreme Court judge Justice David Yeldham gassed himself in his car after he was accused of being a paedophile by MP Franca Arena.
Mr Bubbles case "vivid imagination" In 1988 allegations of sexual assault were made by children as young as 3 at the Seabeach Kindergarten. (Australia).
Million dollar settlement for falsely accused man Tom Rutherford’s three daughters all believed at one point that one of them was abused. They were counselled by the wife of a fellow Assembly of God minister. One daughter accused her father of multiple rapes and came to believe that she had been impregnated twice.(USA).
Media: Increase in violent offending by women Sociologist Greg Newbold says that violent offending by women has nearly trebled in the last decade, but society and the justice system are excusing and ignoring the problem.
The war against boys Following on from the punishing of 6 year old Jonathan Prevette for kissing a classmate, a 3 year old Worcester boy has suffered a similar fate. "He’s a toucher", said his teacher. "We’re not going to put up with it". (USA).
Literature: Abduction: human encounters with aliens John Mack is a Harvard Professor of Psychiatry who has investigated over 80 cases of people claiming they have been abducted by aliens. Mack assists these men, women and children to recover forgotten memories under hypnosis.
Professing Feminism: cautionary tales from the strange world of women’s studies Book by Daphne Patai, & Noretta Koertge.
Journal of Memory & Language This is a special issue on research into false memories.
The Proper Use of EMDR by Francine Shapiro "As the originator of EMDR, I have been dismayed to learn that a number of untrained clinicians have begun to use the method improperly."
Shaping of New Zealand Boys Inaugural seminar of Manukau Technical Institute Men’s Studies Course, presented by Professor David Ferguson.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail Villagers: (enter yelling) A witch! A witch! We’ve found a witch! Burn her! Burn her!
COSA Canterbury Inc: News From The South
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Update
In last month’s newsletter I published my concerns about the psychotherapeutic treatment called EMDR. An overseas COSA member asked my permission to post the article on the electronic discussion group called witchhnt, which I was happy to grant. The article was then sent from witchhnt to the person who developed EMDR, Dr Francine Shapiro. Dr Shapiro was concerned about some of the issues I raised, and we have been carrying out a discussion about this during this last month. Throughout her book she emphasises the important of her technique only being used by clinicians trained through her Institute, and she has very kindly prepared an article for the COSA newsletter (see pages 5-6 here) to help disseminate the standards of practice she uses in her trainings and textbook.
Dr Shapiro agrees with me that it is often impossible to know whether a specific image or "memory" is true or false, and that the focus of therapy should be on the present symptomatology or distress. She writes "Images can arise in (or before) any type of therapy. It is important to make sure clinical caution is used. The goal of EMDR is not memory retrieval and any clinician who offers this as a goal is providing incorrect information. Likewise, I believe that memory retrieval should not be offered as the goal in ANY form of therapy". – in other words, EMDR should not be used as a "memory recovery technique".
While she is adamant that EMDR is quite different from hypnosis, she agrees that "any therapy relationship is subject to demand characteristics. Positions of authority and attendant possibilities of undue influence are ubiquitously problematic" – in other words, the suggestions and expectations which therapists and clients bring to therapy sessions from the current culture and their life experiences, will influence their interpretation of images and thoughts, and the position of authority and power the therapist holds with a vulnerable client makes the therapist particularly influential in this regard.
We are both in complete agreement with respect to the following statements:
- The current state of knowledge is that if a client has no conscious knowledge of having been sexually abused as a child, there is no adult psychological symptomotology which indicates that this must have happened.
- Images of childhood sexual abuse which emerge during EMDR about which the client had no previous conscious knowledge may well be symbolic rather than historically accurate.
- In the absence of external corroboration, there is no way for either clinicians or their clients to know whether a newly remembered trauma really happened or not, no matter how real it seems to the client and how convinced s/he becomes that it is a true memory.
Dr Shapiro has developed a form of therapy which she believes (and early studies appear to support) is effective in treating symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. She has put into place a number of cautions and safe-guards to prevent the misuse of her therapy by counsellors and therapists, and her primary goal is "to prevent harm–not cause it".
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been able to have this dialogue with her and thank her for her contribution to our newsletter.
False rape charges
Last week the New Plymouth District Court heard that a man was locked up overnight by the police after his de facto partner, 28 year old Shona Perfect, made a false complaint of rape. The man was charged with five counts of rape and one of indecent assault, and the police conducted an investigation. Perfect later admitted to the police that she had made up the accusations to "get back" at her partner. Judge Harding sentenced her to six months’ supervision and ordered her to undergo relationship counselling.
False rape allegations have very serious consequences for the accused. If the case had go to court and the man convicted, he would have faced a prison sentence. If acquitted, it is likely that some would have still believed him guilty. Even in the current situation, it is possible that some people and agencies will claim that he really was guilty, but that he pressured his partner to recant. Once a rape allegation has been made, there is a presumption of guilt and the accused’s life is never the same again.
A number of similar false rape charges documented in COSA’s newsletter in the past year or so have also attracted non-custodial sentences (see also court column this issue). In the Nick Wills case, the young woman making the allegations was even given permanent name suppression.
COSA calls for some equity of sentencing. The courts need to give a very clear message that making a false complaint is a serious crime and should be punished accordingly. A few months counselling and supervision ordered in this and similar cases by the courts does not equate with the potential damage suffered by the falsely accused.
The other issue raised in this case is the police’s response to the allegations. Detective Sergeant Garth Bryan, the officer in charge of the case, is reported as saying (Daily News, New Plymouth, 9 Nov 1996) "We have a policy of believing every complaint made to us". This police policy greatly concerns COSA. Such a response is a presumption of guilt. We contend that the police should treat all rape allegations seriously, but should neither believe nor disbelieve. Rather they should say: "Here is an allegation. Maybe it is true, maybe not. What is the evidence?"
This is the final newsletter for 1996. It is lovely to have the warmer weather and we at COSA wish everyone a summertime of relaxation and reflection. Please note the wind-up social function on the 8th December (notice on page 9) to which all our members, advisers and supporters are invited. Hope to see you there.
The January and February 1997 newsletters will be combined.
Alleged Satanic attack a fraud
Another case of false allegation which has just surfaced is the accusation made by Palmerston North Detective Brent Garner last month.
In early October, Garner reported that he was receiving threats to his family and himself, and his wife and two children were moved out of the family home to a secret location as a safety precaution. The man believed to be stalking the detective was said to be acting out a satanic fantasy and his threats included letters in which he referred to himself as an "agent of evil". Then on the 18 October the police found the 32 year old detective outside his burnt home, covered with petrol, bound with criss-cross wounds on his back. Garner alleged that he had been attacked by a masked intruder who left him tied up and set fire to the house, but he [Garner] had managed to escape by rolling through a window before the house was gutted by fire. Badly traumatised, Garner was heralded as "a particularly brave and courageous officer".
The case sparked intense media attention and a major police inquiry involving 50 police with investigations being made as far a field as Israel. Speculations about the role of Satanism in the case caused national concern about the possible involvement of ‘Satanic cults".
Police psychologist Ian Miller built up a profile of Garner’s attacker, which included him being an arrogant loner who considered himself superior to others and was interested in the occult and Satanism.
The police were also assisted by a woman who claimed to act as a liaison between them and groups involved in Satanism. Known as Talisman (a name she uses to protect her identity), she has studied anthropology and lectured at Massey University. She claims that because of her knowledge of these groups, she can "understand the motivations of what [a Satanist] would do, and therefore what their movements are likely to be, what their personality and lifestyle profiles are likely to be", although she could not reveal such details "for security reasons". She said there are about a dozen satanic groups in NZ, who "tend to recruit members nation-wide", but that although the attacker might think he’s a Satanist but "he’s had no contact with any of the official organisations". COSA has concerns that the use and media coverage of such information, from an anonymous source and hence not open to challenge, may serve to whip up public hysteria about the operation of satanic cults in our society.
Father John Moss, national chaplain to those within the catholic Church charismatic renewal, said that Satanism was widespread in NZ, and that Satan worshippers were actively recruiting young people in the community. In some cases people might be led in by their family members, but Satanists also would typically "target teenagers hanging around shopping malls or at the beach, first inviting them to parties, then making drink, drugs and sex available before revealing their true colours and inviting further participation, often under the guise of offering power". He said that he had personal experience of people coming to his church to escape from these cults, and was currently harbouring 2 or 3 such people.
On 23 November Detective Brent Garner was arrested on a series of charges, including forgery, arson, and false pretences. He has been released on bail.
It now appears that there was never an assailant, and that the entire story was concocted and stage-acted by Garner himself.
(Daily News,21 & 26 Oct 1996; NZ Herald, 22 Oct 1996; Sunday Star-Times, 24 Nov 1996)
Man makes false rape complaint
20 year old James Leggett told the police he had been raped after they found him in a park with blood on his hands. Following police inquiries, Leggett admitted that he had punched a "poofter" who had followed him to his car after Leggett had rebuffed him. He had made the accusation to pre-empt possible assault charges by the man.
Judge Simpson of the Wellington District Court sentenced Leggett to 6 months’ supervision; ordered him to attend alcohol abuse counselling and repay $20 per week for the estimated $2855 in costs.
(NZ Herald 6 Nov 1996)
Female violence against male
In a tragic demonstration that not all domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against their women partners, a young Brazilian man had his penis cut off with a kitchen knife by his 17 year old girl-friend, apparently because she believed that he was cheating on her. The man was able to call the motel’s desk where the couple were staying. She was detained by the police and he was flown to Sao Paulo, where doctors were trying to reattach his penis.
(NZ Herald 7 Nov 1996)
Accused judge suicides
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.
(Taranaki Daily News, 6 Nov 1996)
Mr Bubbles case "vivid imagination"
In 1988 allegations of sexual assault were made by children as young as 3 at the Seabeach Kindergarten. Allegations included the children being taken by the kindergarten owners Dawn and Tony Deren and 2 staff members, and being assaulted in a bubble bath. Charges were withdrawn after a magistrate ruled that the children’s evidence could not be accepted.
In August this year Royal Commissioner James Wood said that the allegations by the children might have been the product of vivid imagination. The Derens did not have a swimming pool or a functioning spa, and some of the allegations involved "utterly bizarre" and extremely improbable events such as the children being cut, having blood let and other events which are highly unlikely to have gone undetected.
(Daily Telegraph, 16 Aug 1996, p16)
Million dollar settlement for falsely accused man
Tom Rutherford, whose case is detailed in the second edition of Mark Pendergrast’s Victims of Memory, has just won a million dollar settlement – with no gag order, except for his local paper. Here is the material on the case from Mark’s book (page 477):
"All too many Christian counsellors have taken such books to heart, and it is usually good Christian families that are being blown apart as a result. In 1995, I met Tom Rutherford, an Assemblies of God minister in Springfield, Missouri. His three daughters all believed at one point that one of them was abused. They were counselled by the wife of a fellow Assembly of God minister. One daughter accused her father of multiple rapes and came to believe that she had been impregnated twice. Rutherford lost his job as well as his children.
No one bothered to ascertain that Rutherford had had a vasectomy when his daughter was four, making it impossible for him to have impregnated anyone. A subsequent medical exam revealed the daughter to be a virgin. Fortunately, all of his daughters have realized that the "memories" were illusory, and they are back with their family. The Rutherford family is represented by veteran lawyer Sidney L. Willens, who has successfully prosecuted lawsuits against therapists for over a decade."
Mark now adds: "Since I wrote that, the Rutherfords (with Sid Willens’ advice and consent) hired lawyer Steve Garner, who negotiated the million dollar settlement."
(Karen Testa, Associated Press Writer)
Increase in violent offending by women
Sociologist Greg Newbold says that violent offending by women has nearly trebled in the last decade, but society and the justice system are excusing and ignoring the problem.
Statistics NZ figures show that between 1986 and 1995, violent offending by women increased 197%, and women were 14% of all violent offenders. 11 of the 71 homicides last year were committed by women.
Violent women were generally treated much more leniently by the courts, and seldom received jail sentences. They often offered excuses for their offending, such as being victims themselves or suffering hormonal or emotional problems.
Police headquarters planning and policy manager Gavin McFayden said that the police had noticed an increasing trend in female violence, but they did not consider it a priority to find out its causes or how to prevent it.
(Bain H, Violence by women ‘ignored’, Sunday Star-Times, 27 Oct 1996)
The war against boys
Following on from the punishing of 6 year old Jonathan Prevette for kissing a classmate, a 3 year old Worcester boy has suffered a similar fate. His pre-school teacher made him sit in the "time-out" chair because he had violated the behaviour code by hugging other children. "He’s a toucher", said his teacher. "We’re not going to put up with it".
Minnesota sex equity expert justifies these strong sexual harassment policies for young children because "serial killers tell interviewers they started sexually harassing at age 10 and got away with it".
(Christina Hoff Sommers, Boston Globe, 24 Oct 1996)
Abduction: human encounters with aliens
Mack, John E (1994). Simon & Schuster, Great Britain.
John Mack is a Harvard Professor of Psychiatry who has investigated over 80 cases of people claiming they have been abducted by aliens. Mack assists these men, women and children to recover forgotten memories under hypnosis and he is convinced that they are not fabricating these encounters but are relating authentic experiences. His patients give remarkably consistent stories of meeting with small grey beings with large eyes who immobilise them, transport them to spacecraft (UFOs) and probe them in a battery of tests in what appear to be sexual and reproductive experiments.
Reports of having body orifices probed, being sexually tortured and used for breeding purposes, including claims of multiple abortions of foetuses, are very reminiscent of the types of memories recovered by clients whose therapists believe in satanic ritual abuse.
Professing Feminism: cautionary tales from the strange world of women’s studies
Patai, Daphne & Koertge, Noretta (1994). Basic Books, New York.
This is another book in the same genre as those by Donna Lamboise, Rene Denefield, Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe and Christina Hoff Sommers (all reviewed in previous COSA newsletters), highlighting the intolerant and dangerous direction which mainstream feminism has taken.
Professing Feminism focuses on the development of Women’s Studies courses in the USA (but could apply equally to those here in NZ) and how these have become instruments of political activism and ideology at the price of academic scholarship, integrity and intellectual freedom.
Journal of Memory & Language. 1996 Apr Vol 35(2)
This is a special issue on research into false memories and includes the following papers:
- Roediger, Henry L. III: Memory illusions
- Hyman, Ira E. Jr.; Pentland, Joel: The role of mental imagery in the creation of false childhood memories.
- McDermott, Kathleen B: The persistence of false memories in list recall.
- Mitchell, Karen J.; Zaragoza, Maria S: Repeated exposure to suggestion and false memory: The role of contextual variability.
- Payne, David G.; Elie, Claude J.; Blackwell, Jason M.; Neuschatz, Jeffrey S: Memory illusions: Recalling, recognizing, and recollecting events that never occurred.
- Roediger, Henry L. III.; Jacoby, J. Derek.; McDermott, Kathleen B.: Misinformation effects in recall: Creating false memories through repeated retrieval.
- Schacter, Daniel L.; Verfaellie, Mieke.; Pradere, Dan.: The neuropsychology of memory illusions: False recall and recognition in amnesic patients.
The Proper Use of EMDR
Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Mental Research Institute and Executive Director, EMDR Institute, California , November 1996.
As the originator of EMDR, I have been dismayed to learn that a number of untrained clinicians have begun to use the method improperly. It is vital that clients make sure their clinicians have been trained in courses approved by the EMDR International Association. In addition, it is important that clients in any form of therapy take an active role in evaluating their treatment.
The controversy regarding "False Memory" is a painful one. Clearly, memory is fallible under the best of circumstances. Clients can be lead into mistakenly believing that an abuse has occurred. On the other hand, perpetrators can commit crimes during "black-out" periods (e.g., because of substance abuse) and have no memory of them. In the case described below, the woman who regained the memory of having been with her father in the car when he died called her mother for corroboration. She was told, "Yes dear, but I thought you didn’t want to talk about it since you never mentioned it." The obvious complexity of potential explanations for any image that arises in therapy highlights the need for clinical caution. Therefore, the following constitutes the standards of practice, regarding this issue, to guide both clients and clinicians in the proper use of EMDR. These cautions appear in my textbook Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures (1995: Guilford Press, pp.293-295):
"There is often no way of knowing whether a memory that emerges is true or not. Indeed, the very attempt at memory retrieval as a therapeutic goal may establish the belief in the client that a memory of abuse exists, that it should be revealed, and that there was indeed a perpetrator. Thus, this scenario could provide the perfect conditions for eliciting "false" or mistaken memories. When a memory is reported during EMDR, there is a possibility that
- the image is a symbolic representation,
- the event in question was only vicariously experienced (e.g., through identification with a character in a story),
- the image is the result of trickery (such as a perpetrator in disguise), or
- that it is valid.
The fallibility of even a "nondelayed" memory is illustrated by the following case. A client presented the intrusive thoughts and images of having been raped by Satan (Young, 1992). She was quite definite that the event had occurred because she had retained a clear image of it since childhood. When the memory was reprocessed, she noticed that the horns appeared to be made of plastic and recognized the voice of a friend of her father’s. She was then able to recognize that she had been tricked, and the real identity of the perpetrator became clear (although without appropriate corroboration it should not be accepted at face value). The important point here, however, is that the incident was so abusive that it might easily have been dissociated at the time it occurred and might only have emerged decades later during EMDR. If the friend had been better at disguise–perhaps using a full face mask, wearing a costume, and changing his voice–the memory would have emerged as an apparent rape by Satan. This obvious fallacy should underscore the point that perpetrators can also convince children that their parents are witnessing and approving of the abuse from a different part of the room. If a memory of an abuse incident that occurred under such a circumstance emerges during processing, there is no way to guarantee that EMDR will adequately disclose the trickery. Clinicians should be cognizant of the limitations and distortions of memory itself before advising clients about the accuracy of any memory that emerges during EMDR.
The issue of vicarious traumatization (Figley, 1995) is also significant here. In one case, a client asked for help with PTSD symptomatology that included flashbacks of having been killed at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. While two specific scenes had repeated themselves in nightmares and flashbacks for many years, the client had no idea of their genesis. In fact, he was not old enough even to have been in the Holocaust. The first scene, of standing in line to enter the concentration camp, was targeted for reprocessing, and the client reported a rapid reduction in SUD level after completing the sets. It was not until the second memory, of being gassed in a chamber, was treated that the client suddenly exclaimed after two sets, "It’s not me, it’s my uncle!" He then remembered all the stories he had been told as a child about his uncle dying in Auschwitz during the war. The impact of the vicarious traumatization was sufficient to cause the client’s pronounced symptomatology, although the actual trauma happened to someone else. It is vital for clinicians to remember that the genesis of a symptom may be masked by a representation or screen image that may never be penetrated. For instance, in this case the first "memory" was reprocessed without revealing the true cause.
Likewise, symptoms of sexual dysfunction or of difficulty with intimacy issues may be caused by vicarious traumatization or by traumatic events that have no relation to sexual abuse. For instance, sexual abuse was suspected in another client because she manifested many of the attendant symptomatology: panic reactions; problems with men; and fears of intimacy, betrayal, and abandonment. However, during EMDR she discovered that she had dissociated a memory of her father being killed while he was driving her to her birthday party. Her symptoms had nothing to do with sexual assault.
Remember that the use of EMDR involves a client-centered approach that attempts to follow rather than lead clients. The clinician should specifically refrain from asking for details or interpreting events. This will decrease the possibility of contaminating memories or creating false impressions. All clients should be instructed regarding the fallibility of memory in a way that does not denigrate their experience. Many true memories will surface for the first time, and clients should be supported in any appropriate action they choose to take as a result. Nevertheless, it is important that clients draw their own conclusions about these memories, using all possible sources of corroboration, and not be led by the clinician.
Clinicians must keep in mind that the emergence of a scene during an EMDR session does not mean that it is true in a literal sense–even though it may have been truly experienced by the person. For instance, a client may have been tricked by the perpetrator into thinking that a cult or large group was involved. This might have been done in order to increase the client’s fear and the likelihood of her future silence or to make any later revelations about such ritual abuse appear too fantastic to be true. As previously stated, perpetrators can also fool children into believing that their parents are present and approve of the abuse. Because of this ambiguity it is necessary to exercise clinical caution and to encourage the client who is determined to discover the truth to attempt to find corroborating evidence, including physical signs, witnesses, or hospital records. Whether there are corroborating data or not, the primary emphasis must be on client safety and appropriate support during the therapeutic process.
Remember that revelations of horrible abuse (whether true or not) can be extremely disturbing to the client; for the clinician to insist that the memories are true (or false) may only add to the client’s distress. A more appropriate stance for the clinician to take is that it may be impossible to know for certain that a specific memory is true and that the focus of therapy should be on the present symptomatology or distress. Clearly, focusing on the client’s internal reaction to the event or possible perpetrator is necessary whether or not the memory is accurate. Supporting clients through the experience and reprocessing of their targeted images remains crucial, whether the event is true, symbolic, or due to vicarious traumatization."
Dr Shapiro has also requested that the following telephone numbers be disseminated for referral purposes. She wishes to ensure that all clinicians who use EMDR are properly trained and meet the standards of practice, as outlined in this newsletter. These numbers can be used to check on the training of a clinician who uses EMDR, or for clients to report back if they believe these standards have not been met.
Contacts for further information on EMDR:
Australia/New Zealand: Gary Fulcher (61 2) 747 5611
USA/Global: EMDR Institute (1 408) 372 3900
Shaping of New Zealand Boys
Inaugural seminar of Manukau Technical Institute Men’s Studies Course, 7 Nov 1996. Presented by Professor David Ferguson, University of Christchurch
Professor Ferguson opened his address by expressing his ambivalence at there being a Men’s Studies. However, though he does not think it sensible to stratify gender studies into Men and Women’s separate studies, he acknowledged the need to compromise, there already being a grave imbalance of Women’s Studies courses and Departments in our educational institutions.
Many measurements demonstrate that NZ men are severely disadvantaged compared to women. For example, in 1993 their (age standardised) risk of death was one and a half times that of women, especially due to increased risk of suicide, cancer, heart disease and motor vehicle accidents. In the past 2 decades women’s disadvantages have been highlighted and men’s obscured, a distortion created by many assumptions which have misled rather than enlightened the debate.
Professor Ferguson has been involved in the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a cohort study of 1265 babies born in 1977 (all the children born in Christchurch over a 4 month period). This sample has been studied at birth, age 4 months, one year then annually until age 16, then again at age 18 (they are now aged 19).
This study has produced a huge amount of information about men and women growing up in NZ in the 1980s and 1990s, but Professor Ferguson’s talk was about educational achievements. He found that in all comparisons (performance in reading, written expression, maths, teachers’ rating of children and outcome measures such as achieving school leaving certificates etc) boys aged 8 to 18 years did worse than girls. While the 1988 Royal Commission Report on Social Policy called for specific actions to advantage girls over boys because the girls "did not get a fair chance to develop their abilities", this current data indicates that it is the boys rather than the girls who are disadvantaged.
Boys on average also demonstrate more attention problems and disruptive behaviours than girls in the classroom, and when gender differences are controlled for by some sophisticated statistical calculations, it appears that boys are as smart as girls but it is the behaviour problems which is impeding their school achievement.
There has a been a recent stereotype of boys to be portrayed as universally aggressive and antisocial, whereas girls are seen as prosocial and non-violent. This has led to slogans such as "violence is a male problem" and "girls and women are victims". However Prof Ferguson demonstrated clearly that 87% of girls and boys behaviour on a violent-nonviolent continuum overlap, and it is only at the extremes that more boys are seen as very antisocial and more girls as socially compliant. To describe violence as a male problem is misleading and statistically inept, as about 25% of those excessively disruptive students will be girls.
Very few risks to an individual are specific to gender (for example, pregnancy or prostate cancer). Being male or female usually only adds to or detracts from one’s risk (for example, in children from a given background, being a boy only increases the risk of developing antisocial behaviours). He emphasised that the problem should be addressed by looking at ways to reduce behaviours which are counter-productive to learning in both girls and boys.
Prof Ferguson also criticised the current vogue of not describing the achievements of students (or lack thereof) as success or failure. He believes that language should still contain evaluative words such as "success" – ‘if we do not evaluate, we cease to think’.
Prof Ferguson expressed dismay that the educationalists who had called for action in the 1970s because they believed that girls were being disadvantaged, where strangely silent now that evidence showed the politically incorrect result that in fact it is boys and men who are missing out. He called for the current monologue about gender issues to become an academic dialogue, and that the debate should be based on evidence rather than ideology. He identified the strain between scholarship and activism, and how the demands of feminist ideology have over-ridden the demands of rational evidence-based debate.
Whilst his address was not dealing with issues specifically related to sexual abuse and false allegations, I have covered it in depth because the topic addressed deals with many of the underpinnings which contribute to the generation of false allegations: the highjacking of academic evidence-based discourse by ideologically driven feminist activism, and the defining of women and girls as oppressed, disadvantaged and victimised; but boys and men as dominant, successful, powerful and violent.
Professor Ferguson’s perspective was very refreshing and encouraging.
Jo – 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.
Last year, Jo’s 14 year old daughter Fran was admitted to a psychiatric unit with an acute psychotic illness. Fran had been showing signs of mental disturbance since age 10, when she developed troubles at school, eating problems and stealing. In the course of her psychotherapy, Fran began to make sexual allegations against her father. Initially these involved only inappropriate touching, but later the allegations escalated until Fran described her father raping her 4 or 5 times the year before, when she was 13.
Jo was arrested and charged with rape. His eldest daughter Hazel also made some allegations of molestation against him, but subsequently retracted her accusations, saying they were untrue and she had only made them under pressure.
Jo’s wife did not believe the allegations, hence CYPS took all 4 of their children (including the younger 2 who had not made any sexual abuse allegations) into care because they believed she was unable to protect them.
Earlier this year Jo went to trial. Fran’s testimony was very confused and contradictory, and clearly inconsistent with the evidential facts available. The jury found him not guilty. But Jo’s troubles are far from over.
Jo went to the Family Court to regain access to his children. They continue to presume he is guilty despite the acquittal and prevent him being with his children.
"I am currently battling CYPS in the Family Court regarding my children. My wife now believes something has happened after talking to CYPS and the psychologist. Eldest daughter who recanted was seeing me since the trial with the 2 youngest under supervision. This access has now stopped because they believe her recanting is now a lie, even though eldest wants to see me. I’m not even allowed to write to her. Psychologist says I am hindering her healing by continuing to see her…
2nd daughter is still self-harming herself despite me saying to them you are treating and encouraging her in the lie they won’t listen to me..
I continue to struggle in keeping my own sanity in all this… sometimes I feel like running away and hiding… running out on everything… but then I come to my senses and say but I’m innocent, I’m going to fight this CYPS mania, this obsession with me…
They have turned my wife against me taken my kids off me. I have been found not guilty in a criminal court and still they are denying me…
What can I do… I feel so helpless, rejected, heartbroken…
Talk about complicated life… this is a nightmare… condemned because I maintain my innocence… The psychologist for CYPS/kids has the???? to say I’m at a choice point in my life where I can confess my guilt or continue to cause dysfunction and upset and the like. She says whilst I deny it the eldest daughter will continue to deny it (even though she’s retracted – they now believe she’s lying). They say the 2nd daughter will not accept it [that the abuse happened] whilst I deny it happened. She’s still doing things to herself ’cause they’re not treating her real problem.. they are treating a lie and I fear now she’s believing the lie. HOW can I win in this..??? How can I get them to see she has been lying. Condemned both ways and now CYPS/psychologist have ruined my marriage. They got my wife looking at all sorts of normal family fun and behaviour being suspect of abuse… because she missed the "cues" of me abusing the eldest two. Therein is a problem… she couldn’t see the "cues" because they weren’t there in the first place. Surely she’s been torn in two.. told she can’t care for kids unless they know whose side she’s on… so cruel.. so wrong…
I have done nothing wrong. It’s hell, and Hell and HELL! I hate it.. I have never felt so totally rejected and helpless as I do now. It’s so hard to watch the 2 youngest walk away from the access visit. My heart goes out to them… they are living amongst a lie and I can do nothing about it. Eldest daughter is not believed and her wishes being overridden by CYPS and psychologist because they know better".
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(RCA/Columbia Pictures 1975)
Villagers: (enter yelling) A witch! A witch! We’ve found a witch! Burn her! Burn her!
(After Sir Bedimere gets the crowd to admit that they dressed her up as a witch, their only basis for accusing her is that one of them claims that she turned him into a newt. But because he "got better", they need some way of determining her guilt).
Bedimere: there are ways of telling if she’s a witch. What do you do with witches?
Villagers: Burn them!
Bedimere: And what do you burn, apart from witches?
Bedimere: Right! So why do witches burn?
Villagers: Because they’re made of wood?
Bedimere: Right! … Now, what else do you do with wood?
Villagers: Build bridges with it!
Bedimere: But do we not also build bridges from stone.. does wood float in water?
Bedimere: And what else floats in water?
King Arthur: (after more confused suggestions from the villagers) A duck!
Bedimere: Right! So, if she weighs the same as a duck, she’d float in water, and she must be made of wood, so…
Villagers: A witch! Burn her!
(They weigh the woman on a large scale with a duck in the other balancing basket, but inexplicably the scales do not tilt one way or the other. As the villagers drag the woman away, the witch looks at the camera and says with resignation "it was a fair court".)
Bedimere: (to King Arthur) Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?
This scene from the Monty Python film describes, in a general way, some of the confusions and irrationalities which can arise when scientific logic interacts with the law. The faultiness of the logic employed is obvious, but the scientifically educated judge/lawyer sways the crowd with a logical theory. Further convinced by the appearance and opinions of a scientific expert (King Arthur) they proceed to reach the same conclusion that they were previously inclined to make. The defendant is guilty.
(From Cutler, Jeffrey (1995). ‘Implications of strict scrutiny of scientific evidence: does Daubert deal a death blow toxic tort plaintiffs?’, Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation.)
Newsletters received by COSA
Canadian FMS Support Groups Newsletter 3 (10) Nov 1996
Includes 2 book reviews: one by FMSF founder Pamela Freyd’s daughter Jennifer Freyd (a Psychology Professor who accused her parents on the basis of recovered memories) entitled "Betrayal Trauma"); and the other by hypnosis and memory researcher Nick Spanos (who was tragically killed recently in a plane crash) called "Multiple Identities and False Memories: a sociocognitive perspective".
FMS Foundation Newsletter Vol 5 (10) 1 Nov 1996
Combined issue for November and December. Includes an analysis of the current state of knowledge regarding memories of trauma and the lack of scientific basis for claiming that sexual memories can be "repressed".
COSA offers a service to members of sending copies of FMSF newsletter at a cost of $30 per year (including postage).
AFMA Newsletter 3 (3) Sep 1996
Local information and news from Australia
New Zealand SKEPTIC, No 41, Spring 1996
Contains a number of papers presented at 1996 Skeptics conference (see COSA newsletter Sep 1996) and a reprint of Greg Newbold and Gordon Waugh’s exposÃ© of the Sexual Abuse Counselling Course run by the Mental Health Training Unit, Greenlane Hospital.
COSA Canterbury Inc: News From The South
For the past 18 months or so we have been holding informal meetings at our members’ homes. Our little band of people over this time has grown in number and strength. Our objectives have been support and action, and lately, more of the latter.
Approximately 4 months ago we asked Greg Newbold, lecturer in Sociology at University of Canterbury, to come to our meetings. His expertise and advice have been invaluable and now Greg is our Patron. Greg told us of his recent lecture visit to New Mexico. He told us of the reality of genuine cases of sexual abuse, and how that has been illustrated by the actions of the Bishop of New Mexico and fellow Ministers. Greg told of the public outrage in America over the action taken against a very small boy kissing an equally small girl at school. On his return Greg visited our prison and told the prisoners they must take responsibility for their actions. Greg’s own view is well supported by our members and it is indeed a scandal that Peter Ellis remains in prison. At our last meeting we all gave Greg a big vote of thanks for the work that he and Gordon did over bringing the issue of the Greenlane Sexual Abuse Counselling Course to public attention. It is this collective team work from both North and South that will continue to get results. There still is quite a number of organisations using pseudo-science.
When you are falsely accused of sexual abuse you need to know that there is immediate help for you locally; that there are other people who have been falsely accused and that they are fighting back. to know this will give you strength. To join COSA will make you strong.
Finally, I would like to thank our Canterbury members for their timeless support, and to wish all of COSA happy and happier new year.