Letters to Editors by Gordon Waugh 1999
To Metro Magazine, 6 January 1999
In her letter to Metro, (Nov 98), COSA’s President compared Ministry of Justice national statistics on sexual crime with the exaggerations of Rape Crisis. Leonie Myers (Metro, January) asks "Why is it that COSA do not apply the same standard of proof to their own membership that they would when assessing allegations of sexual abuse ?"
"What proof," she asks, "do they have that 50 per cent (or 95 per cent for that matter) of their members are not in fact guilty of sexual abuse." Ms Myers appears to have confused Ministry figures with COSA membership. She should become better informed as to the nature, objectives, composition and methodology of COSA.
No claim about the number of innocent COSA members has ever been made. Our standards of proof are the time-honoured, gold-standard evidential tests.
Many of our members are professionals and individuals genuinely concerned about the disastrous and costly epidemic of false allegations of sexual abuse. They have never been accused of sexual abuse and their innocence needs no test. Other COSA members were accused.
There is no substitute for the truth. Guilt is not proven simply because allegations were made. When the evidence shows the allegations are impossible, improbable, unreasonable, uncorroborated and untenable, they are unlikely to be true.
Gordon Waugh, Whenuapai Village
COSA Executive (Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Inc)
To The Dominion, 8 February 1999
Your article "Critic of false sex-abuse claims to step down" (Dominion, Feb 2) has rather misled those in the Sex Abuse Industry into a false sense of security ! COSA is not "in danger of folding".
Dr Goodyear-Smith’s work in COSA has been instrumental in drawing attention to sex abuse counselling malpractice, and has brought about a much needed sense of reality and healthy scepticism. That she is not standing for re-election as President does NOT signal the closure of COSA. Her imminent departure provides a natural organisational review point.
While several of the key problems have been addressed, our members, and many others amongst the 70,000 accused in ACC claims, continue to need support. Some counsellors are still taught about and believe in the silliness of "repressed memory" and its derivatives. Regulation, accountability and licensing of counsellors remains an imperative. Re-instating the time-honoured need for corroboration in sexual cases is equally vital.
COSA’s message, and that of Dr Goodyear-Smith, is unchanged. We will continue to expose sex abuse counselling malpractice and seek common sense legislative changes.
Gordon Waugh, Auckland, COSA Liaison Officer
To the Herald, 3 March 1999
Sunday Star-Times, 15 March 1999
The public has a justifiable expectation that decisions by doctors in general and the Medical Association in particular, will be based on good judgement, contemporary science and professionalism. The NZMA has recently introduced guidelines for sexually abused patients, developed by Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC).
Unbelievably, and despite the knowledge and experience of the rest of the world, the guidelines state "While it remains controversial, clinical experience and research support the concept of repression of memory".
NZMA should have run a mile from "controversial" theories. Although some practitioners have hypothesised that memories of sexual abuse can be "repressed" and years or decades later be "recovered" in pristine condition, the burden of proof lies with them to show credible evidence of the phenomenon. Research over several decades has failed to produce any such evidence. The Royal College of Psychiatrists and many others have thoroughly debunked the theory.
"Recovered memory therapy" and its derivatives are dangerous experimental techniques which have been shown to be unscientific, unethical, unsafe and ineffective. Other countries know this. The NZMA owes the public a clear explanation of why it has endorsed this hazardous practice.
G. Waugh, Whenuapai
To the Herald, 3 May 1999
Last year, Rape Crisis informed the nation of huge numbers of incest cases. Previously, they told of incredible numbers of rapes. They introduced "date rape" and now "partner rape". Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, which they could not provide.
Police, genuine statistics and common sense debunked their incest claims. Simple arithmetic demolished the rest. Without credible evidence, it is naÃƒÂ¯ve to claim that "1 in 3 sexual assaults are committed by partners or former partners" or that "no-one is immune from partner rape".
A Merhten’s gesture, as portrayed so well by Evans’ duck-shooting cartoon (May 3) is an appropriate response to Rape Crisis and its silly rape awareness week.
G. Waugh, Whenuapai
To the Herald, 16 June 1999
ACC figures say it declined 20,429 of the 61,219 compensation claims for alleged sexual abuse since 1992. In that period, the courts convicted fewer than 6,000 for sex crimes. New legislation expands opportunities for compensation.
No-one gave ACC or its 1,000 or so counsellors the right, privilege or authority to decide who committed sexual crimes – the courts do that. However, Prime Minister Shipley avers "Counsellors are registered professionals trained to identify and treat cases of sexual abuse." By declining 33 per cent of claims, ACC appears even more skilled than its counsellors.
ACC also admits to heavy reliance on its counsellors and its difficulty in separating the effects sexual abuse from those of other trauma and events in a claimant’s life. But counsellors wrongly identified 20,429 alleged cases. Evidence suggests that many of the other 40,790 alleged cases were also incorrectly identified. That heavily underscores the incompetence of counsellors and ACC.
With expanded new opportunities for compensation, it must be made a condition precedent that credible evidence of genuine abuse be submitted. Treatment of genuine victims must be done only by properly qualified and experienced medical and mental health professionals.
Gordon Waugh, Whenuapai
To the Shore News, 18 June 1999
The Emperor’s New Clothes
"The tragedy of the last 25 years is that the feminist movement was allowed to say anything it liked, to throw about false figures and misinformation, to accuse men of all sorts of bad behaviour and to try to destroy marriage and family life." (Erin Pizzey)
DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care) was responsible for importing much of the last decade’s nonsense about sexual abuse. Their imported "experts" spread foolish theories about recovered memories, multiple personality disorder and satanic ritual abuse, to name a few. The sexual abuse fad spawned beliefs that hundreds of thousands of children had been abused, that incest and rape were daily events, and that all children and women were at risk from all men. Empirical science revealed such theories and beliefs to be humbug. DSAC’s sexual abuse emperor had no clothes.
DSAC has a new emperor and will present on 25 and 26 June, at AIT’s Akorangi Drive venue, a seminar on domestic violence. The seminar will "challenge myths and present data", teach participants to "identify the signs and symptoms", and spread even more misinformation.
One would hope that supposedly well-educated, caring professionals would avoid making the same fatal mistake twice and recognise the new emperor is stark naked. Perhaps the attraction of the millions of dollars being poured into the domestic violence fiasco, and the illusion of power it creates, is irresistible to them.
Gordon Waugh, Whenuapai
To the Sunday Star-Times, 28 June 1999
It’s a bit rich for the NZ Association of Counsellors President, Susan Webb, to criticise fundraising efforts by Presbyterian Support to place social workers in schools to avert a possible Columbine School massacre. She reckons it "represents a cynical attempt to manipulate the public by playing on fear to increase funding."
Scare-mongering over the possibility of future massacres is no different to the past decade’s scare-mongering about sexual abuse. Many NZAC members are ACC-approved sex abuse counsellors. They court money through ACC’s annual payment of $6 – 9 million dollars to sex abuse counsellors. Their cynical manipulation and misinformation has left generations of women and children living in fear of sexual abuse.
Prime Minister Shipley avers that "[ACC’s] Counsellors are registered professionals trained to identify and treat cases of sexual abuse", but since 1992, counsellors wrongly "identified" a massive 20,429 of the 61,219 cases alleged sexual abuse handled by ACC. Evidence strongly suggests many of the other 40,790 alleged cases were also incorrectly identified. That abysmal record heavily underscores the incompetence of counsellors.
Webb’s implied claim to special knowledge of how to prevent massacres is humbug. Common sense and the close involvement of parents and teachers would serve us much better.
To the Herald, 14 October 1999
The United States, UK, Australia and Canada experienced a fad of convicting scores of people accused of mass sexual abuse of children, particularly at Day Care Centres. To name a few, Little Rascals Day Care, Mr Bubbles, Wenatchee, Wee Care Nursery School, and the McMartin Pre-school cases. Peter Ellis’ case is no different.
In the light of current knowledge of the intrusive, suggestive and misguided investigation techniques used to excavate prosecution evidence from young children, such convictions could not now be made. Almost all those convictions have now been overturned on appeal. Other appeals are pending. For the same reasons, Ellis’ conviction was always unsafe.
The Appeal Court’s unanimous rejection of Ellis’ second appeal has ignored that knowledge, experience and precedent. A Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate these matters is now essential.
A Commission’s Terms of Reference must be wide-ranging to include a very public scrutiny of the training, examination, methods and licencing of counsellors, the Ellis case, examination of the 76,000 recent ACC claims for sexual abuse, and ways to minimise false allegations and wrongful convictions.
To the Herald, 19 October 1999
Brian Rudman’s article (Oct 19) on the need for a commission of inquiry into the Peter Ellis case is a courageous, accurate and timely reflection of the deep concern held by most of the public. Terms of Reference for a commission should extend beyond the Ellis case to examine the entire Sex Abuse Industry.
The more than 76,000 sexual abuse claims recently handled by ACC need examination. Most claims are supported only by counsellors’ opinions, not genuine evidence. They have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars and done incalculable damage to our community.
ACC’s rejection of a massive 33% of claims since 1992 admits that counselling methods and practices are horribly awry and that counsellors get it wrong far too often.
A commission must examine methods used by counsellors to unilaterally decide that such vast numbers of men are criminals, why counselling is unregulated and unlicenced, why counselling training is not open to public scrutiny and why the men they accuse have no rights of challenge or defence. I fully support the call for an inquiry into these and related matters. Let’s have one.
Gordon Waugh, Whenuapai
To the Sunday Star-Times, 8 November 1999
I applaud Jerome Williamson’s stand and his loyalty towards his father, because a man’s character and integrity are indeed his most treasured possessions.
If there had been any doubts in his father’s mind, they could only have been because Justice Williamson found that the very law he served restricted him in dealing justly and correctly with the case before him, on account of a poorly considered amendment to the Evidence Act 1908 in 1986.
The Evidence Act amendments allowed uncorroborated evidence to be presented in Court in sexual cases. Judges were no longer required to warn the juries of the danger of convicting on uncorroborated evidence. Had the law not been changed, I feel confident that Justice Williamson would have acted differently in the Ellis case.
As a lawyer, Jerome Williamson should dig deep into his law books in an endeavour to return "justice" to an even keel, by revisiting the Amendment to this Act. Then perhaps judges will be able to hand down judgements knowing them to be just and correct.
To the Wanganui Chronicle, 3 December 1999
I applaud the article by Laurel Stowell (Dec 3) calling for more information and education on sexual abuse. The best way to minimise sexual abuse is to use credible, reliable information to educate those who are likely to abuse, and those who might be abused. However, the misinformation given by Margot London has destroyed much of the value of Ms Stowell’s piece.
The belief that "one in three girls and perhaps as many boys have been sexually abused" and it’s companion theory that sexually abused people exhibit permanent adverse psychological and behavioural symptoms, have been closely examined by credible empirical research.
Three significant facts arose. Sexual abuse happens much less often than claimed by advocacy groups. There are no sets of symptoms specific or exclusive to sexual abuse. In the very few cases where serious psychological damage does occur, its effects are idiosyncratic and unpredictable.
Even ACC has finally had to acknowledge those facts and change its processes to accept many thousands fewer claims for treatment and compensation.
The "current estimates" and theories being touted by Ms London and her colleagues, and their "myth-busting, common sense model" are themselves myths. They are wrong, amateurish and misleading. Educate people. But please use genuine and reliable information.