COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter January / February 1998 Vol 5 No 1

Contents of this page:

Editorial: Secret witnesses sanctioned by the law A law which allows secret witnesses to give evidence is a dangerous development, and clearly contravenes a basic principle of justice – the right of the accused to be able to look their accuser in the eye.

Dr Goodyear-Smith’s ousting from DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care). In my view, expelling or suspending members without any reason given; denying them an opportunity to be heard and removing their rights for review and appeal are not regulations becoming of a professional body. These actions of censorship, secrecy and suppression are counter to the principles of transparency and open exchange of information which should be guiding standards for organisations such as DSAC, a society dedicated to education, empowerment and healing.

Courts: Hung jury for Judge Elliott

Governor-General refers case to Appeal court

Sexual harassment allegations take 5 years to clear

Hung jury for doctor on indecency charges

Update on Peter Ellis

British family suing therapist

Teacher accused on basis of recovered memories finally acquitted (Canada)

Allegations against Canadian teacher

Wenatchee case update

DNA tests overturn US conviction (USA)

Media: Government criteria for compensation for wrongful conviction

ACC Appeal Authority rules in favour of multiple claims

Schools suspend ‘sex offenders’

Father seeks compensation for wrongful imprisonment

"It’s a real fear that men have" Warwick Roger.

DNA tests prove about 25% of criminal suspects are wrongly accused

Russia undergoing a resurgence in mysticism, fortune-telling and counselling

Social worker fabricates parental abuse reports

Literature: Psychology Astray: fallacies in studies of "repressed memory" and childhood trauma.

Trauma & memory: clinical & legal controversies

Recollections of trauma: scientific research and clinical practice proceedings of NATO Advanced Study Institute.

Jurors’ reactions to satanic ritual abuse allegations

Effects of introductory style on children’s abilities to describe experiences of sexual abuse

Remembering words not presented in lists: can we avoid creating false memories?

Theories of false memories in children & adults

Long-term survival of children’s false memories: a review.

Special issue of Current directions in Psychological Science devoted to false memories.

Accommodate to child sexual abuse? Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.

A Mother’s story: the Civic Crèche Child Sex trial

Feminism, Fanaticism and False Memories

Features: Making submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Committee

Newsletters received by COSA

New Year Greetings To COSA Members!


Secret witnesses sanctioned by the law

On the 10 December 1997 Parliament quietly passed a law which has serious potential implications for people falsely accused of sexual crimes. The Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Amendment Bill was introduced to counter a recent Appeal Court ruling that the identity of a witness in a High Court trial should not have been kept secret (NZ Herald, 11 Dec 1997, courts not allowed to hear secret witnesses). In this case, there was evidence presented that witnesses were being intimidated by gang members and other criminals.

While this is a serious state of affairs, it is a very rare event within our criminal hearings. It could have been dealt with by improving the witness protection programme already in place. Instead we have passed a law which enables people to make anonymous allegations and testify in court without the defendant knowing their identity. A law which allows secret witnesses to give evidence is a dangerous development, and clearly contravenes a basic principle of justice – the right of the accused to be able to look their accuser in the eye. Now that anonymity is sanctioned, it will be easy for someone making a sexual allegation to claim that they are frightened that the accused might threaten or harm them if their identity is revealed. It will be extremely difficult for someone to defend himself against an anonymous complainant or witness.

I find it disturbing that such a law could enter our books so silently and rapidly, with hardly a ripple of protest or debate to be heard.

My ousting from DSAC

Another recent event also involves the issue of secrecy – of allegations made and actions decided without the accused party having any access to the information or right of reply. This instance involved my ousting from the DSAC organisation (an action, I must admit, which did not unduly surprise me).

When Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) was set up in 1988, I was made an honorary foundation member in recognition of my pioneering work in the field. However DSAC’s support of the ideology of always believing women and children who make allegations; their denial in regard to the rising number of false allegations; and their sponsoring of visiting speakers to NZ who are proponents of recovered memories, represent clear divergence from my perspective.

My attempts to carry out a professional public debate with them on my concerns have been unsucccessful. Over the past few years, DSAC have conducted a very active campaign to prevent my debating the issues, to have my speaking engagements cancelled, to stop editors from publishing my work. They made written objection to the Post-Graduate Medical Foundation when I was awarded the Glaxo Foundation Fellowship. A DSAC member has even attempted (unsuccessfully) to have my medical registration revoked.

DSAC had certain rules regarding the expulsion of its members. Under the existing rules, ordinary and honorary members could be suspended or expelled if "in the opinion of the Executive Committee" they have been "guilty of conduct contrary to the interests of the Society or to have ceased to take an interest in the objects of the Society or to have been disobedient to its rules or guilty of an unprofessional act or public misdemeanour". Such members were to be given at least 7 days’ written notice of the alleged infringement or conduct and also "an adequate opportunity of being heard by the Executive Committee".

At the DSAC AGM in October 1996, a new rule was proposed: that Associate or Honorary membership be rescinded or suspended by a 75% majority of the Executive Committee with "no reason needed to be given for such rescission or suspension" and no "rights of review or appeal" by the affected member.

I attended the AGM to support the existing rule and object to the proposed change for the following reasons:

  1. Adequate provision already existed for suspension or expulsion of any member who broke DSAC’s rules or was guilty of professional or public misdemeanour;
  2. Should the Executive Committee believe that a member has transgressed in some way, it is in everyone’s best interest that that transgression is expressed openly;
  3. It is normal for professional bodies to accord its members the right to be heard: to state their case and express possible sources of misinformation;
  4. Democratic institutions usually offer their members the opportunity for decisions involving them to be reviewed or appealed.

In my view, expelling or suspending members without any reason given; denying them an opportunity to be heard and removing their rights for review and appeal are not regulations becoming of a professional body. These actions of censorship, secrecy and suppression are counter to the principles of transparency and open exchange of information which should be guiding standards for organisations such as DSAC, a society dedicated to education, empowerment and healing.

Furthermore, the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 Section 6 (k) (2) states: "the rules of the society may contain any other provisions which are not inconsistent with this Act or with law". The proposed amendment appeared to contravene the rule of natural justice and fairness and legal advice is that it is likely to be ruled illegal by the courts.

However, mine was the sole objection and the amended rule was voted in.

Over a year later (5 Nov 1997), I received the following letter:

"Dear Dr Goodyear-Smith

This is to inform you that at its recent meeting the DSAC executive voted to rescind your honorary membership of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care. This is effective immediately.

Yours sincerely

Dr Selina Green, President, Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care."

Under their existing rules, of course, DSAC do not have to give any reason for such action. However, when asked by a newspaper reporter about the issue, Dr Green is quoted as saying that ‘Dr Goodyear-Smith’s philosophies implied that sexual abuse might not be harmful to children, but the group believed it was’. This implies, of course, that I consider it acceptable to sexually abuse children. I wish to emphasise (as I have said on countless occasions in the past) that I do not condone sexual activity between adults and children in any way. However, because both international and NZ research indicates that a significant number of children who are sexually abused do not suffer any psychological consequences from this event, it is important that psychological treatment focuses on dealing with specific problems if and when they occur, rather than providing ‘sexual abuse counselling’ for everyone who has had the misfortune to have such an experience in childhood. In other words, ‘IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT’.

I appreciate that DSAC do not agree with my views, and may indeed believe that they have valid reasons to evict me from their professional organisation. What I find particularly alarming, however, is their denial of my right to be heard and make a reply. I wonder why the Executive Committee felt they had to take the extraordinary step of changing their constittution, so that they could avoid discussing their concerns with me in person at their meeting.

I believe in the freedom of speech and the right to open debate. DSAC’s covert acts of censorship are not actions I expect from a democratic professional body.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith


New Zealand

Hung jury for Judge Elliott

A Wellington jury could not agree as to whether or not District Court judge Ross Elliot was guilty of 2 indecency charges. He is likely to face a new trial this year.

Elliott pleaded not guilty indecently assaulting a boy aged 10 to 12 between 1970 to 1972, while Elliott was baby-sitting the boy. The complainant, now 38, first laid charges with the police in Sep 1996.

Elliott has been suspended on normal pay ($156,000 a year) after his arrest in Dec 1996.

(Evening Post (Wellington), 4 Dec 1997, Elliott Jury Fails To Agree – Judge To Face New Trial)

Governor-General refers case to Appeal court

In Jul 1996 58 year old North shore man Robert Syms was convicted of allegedly raping a 30 year old intellectually handicapped woman in Feb 1995. He was sentenced to 9 years jail, of which he has already served 17 months. However his defence lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, had failed to tell the jury about a past back accident which had rendered Mr Syms impotent (and hence unable to perform the alleged rape). On the grounds of this evidence, the Governor General referred case to the Appeal court who have ordered Mr Syms immediate release from prison and a new trial to be held later this year.

(NZ Herald 13 Dec 1997, impotency wins man rape hearing; and 20 Dec 1997, Impotent man wins new trial)

Sexual harassment allegations take 5 years to clear

Ann Yates, a former employee of petrol station owner-operator Thomas Morss, made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission that he had sexually harassed her in 1992. The allegation was made following Yates’ failure to return to work after Morss told her he was investigating thefts from the till which occurred during her working shift. The Complaints Review Tribunal heard the case and dismissed her claims because they found the accounts inconsistent and unreliable. However the Human Rights Commission appealed the Tribunal’s decision on Yates behalf. The appeal application sat in the Rotorua High Court for the next 2 years without being acted on. Finally Morss’ lawyer threatened to have the appeal struck out on the grounds of prejudice and delay. In response, the Commission withdrew the appeal. It has taken 5 years and over $20,000 for Morss to be free of this sexual harassment allegation.

(Star-Times, 21 Dec 1997, Relief, anger as sex cloud lifts)

Hung jury for doctor on indecency charges

A Christchurch District Court hearing could not reach a verdict on whether a doctor had committed an indecent assault on a young female patient. The doctor’s name is suppressed. The teenage girl claimed that on 30 August 195 the doctor told her that he was making a film about the dangers of drug-taking. She aid that he gave her a pill that he said was sugar, and then indecently touched her when she became dizzy. The doctor utterly denies the charges and provided alibi evidence for the day of the alleged assault.

The jury found the doctor guilty of other charges of which he was accused. These involved fraud with respect to general medical benefit claims.

(Dominion, 2 Dec 1997, doctor found guilty on fraud charges)

Update on Peter Ellis

There is a media lull in this case, after the flurry of attention late in 1997. Two actions are currently underway. One is a petition to the Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys under the Crimes Act. This was delivered in December 1997, and a response may take six months or so.

The second is a police inquiry into certain aspects of the investigation. To date, the call for a general Commission of Inquiry has not been successful, but may well follow should the two actions underway highlight the injustices of this case.


British family suing therapist

Tania and Adrian Hunter, a North-East family, are suing a therapist whom they claim falsely planted memories of abuse, in their daughter, Anna, that her father had sexually abused her. Anna, now 28, was suffering from an eating disorder at the time. She has since retracted the claims.

(Northern Echo, Newcastle, U.K, 13 Jan 1998, Doctor Stands By Criticised Therapies, by Beezy Marsh)


Teacher accused on basis of recovered memories finally acquitted

In 1992 Michael Kliman a vice-principal in a Vancouver school, was arrested and charged with sexually assault of 2 sixth-grade students 17 years earlier. He was suspended without pay from his job.

He had a preliminary hearing in 1993, and in January 1994 he was found guilty in a jury trial. He appealed and was released on $25,000 bail.

His first appeal hearing in 1995 was aborted after one of the complainants remembered that the daughter of one of the judges was her childhood friend. A 2nd appal hearing 6 months later ordered a new trial. This was held in October 1996, and resulted in a hung jury. His 3rd trial was held in Dec 1997. Kliman elected to be tried by judge alone. His lawyer had now obtained the complainants’ medical and counselling records. This showed that when the women first made sexual abuse allegations during therapy, they named other alleged perpetrators but not Kliman. One of the women only named him after repeated suggestions by a police officer that she might have been a victim. Vancouver therapist Maureen McEvoy, said to specialise in repressed memory syndrome, had treated both women in the case.

Kliman was acquitted by Justice Peter Fraser on 8 Jan 1998. The judge notes questionable value of repressed memory, but bases his findings on the complainants’ inconsistencies in their testimonies and on the fact that if the assaults had occurred, other teachers would have seen them.

The cost of these false allegations has been colossal. It caused him to lose his job over 5 years ago, and he had to liquidate all his savings and investments to defend himself in 3 trials (costing US $500,000). Bail conditions meant he could not attend his daughter’s sports events at her school; he was named in sensational newspaper articles and identified as a paedophile in the book, Sex Offenders in Canada.

Kliman is considering suing the therapist and police officer involved with the case.

(Vancouver Sun, 9 Jan 1998. Ex-Vice-Principal Acquitted on Charges of Sexually Assaulting Two Students: The Judge Said He Found Inconsistencies in the Alleged Victims’ Testimony, by Gerry Bellett; Vancouver Sun, 14 Jan 1998, ‘Recovered memory’ Inflicted on educator, by Paula Brook)

Allegations against Canadian teacher

In the early 1990s, boy reported that John Townsend, a Canadian primary school teacher, had grabbed his genitals in a tickling incident during an after-school tutoring session. He told his parents, the school authorities and a neighbour, but no-one had believed him. Three years later, he filed a complaint with the police. The jury did not believe his story and found Townsend innocent.

However, in a separate trial, Townsend had been found guilty of molesting a 9 year old boy in 1988 during a camping trip. Townsend said that the weather had turned cold, and he stuck his hand inside the boy’s sleeping bag to feel the temperature of his skin at his lower abdomen as a check for hypothermia. However, when the boy made his allegation, he said that he had woken to find Townsend fondling him.

It was suggested by the defence lawyer that both young men were talked into remembering events by Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators.

(Orlando Sentinel, 16 Oct 1997, Teacher Not Guilty Of Fondling; A Jury Acquitted Longtime Lake Teacher John Townsend In The Case Involving A Fourth-Grade Boy, by Frank Stanfield)


Wenatchee case update

New hearing have been ordered by the state Court of Appeals to decide whether convicted couple Harold and Idella Everett can withdrew their guilty pleas because one of the children later recanted her testimony. The Everetts were among 28 people arrested in 1994 and 1995 in a controversial police investigation of widespread child sexual abuse in the Wenatchee area. They entered Alford pleas, in which they did not admit wrongdoing but agreed that the state had enough evidence to convict them of sexually abusing children. Idella was sentenced to 4 years 8 months in prison, and her husband to 23 years 4 months.

The Everetts claim that the children were coerced into making false accusations by Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez. Perez and his wife later served as foster parents to 2 of the children. The recanting child (‘ME’) will also be required to testify to the court. She has been sequestered by the prosecution since she escaped from her foster home and made a videotaped statement regarding her treatment by Detective Robert Perez and his coercion of her testimony against her parents.

The convictions of the Doggetts (another couple convicted in the hysteria) have already been overturned and it is possible that this will lead to a reversal of all remaining Wenatchee convictions.

(Wenatchee World, 23 Dec 1997, Appeals Court Orders New Hearings In Sex-ring Case, by Michelle Partridge)

DNA tests overturn US conviction

Mark Bravo, a Californian psychiatric nurse, has spent three years in prison for a rape he did not commit. The deputy sheriff who arrested Bravo did not disclose that the victim had previously identified another man as her assailant. This other man, known as ‘Tony’, had committed a sexual offence at the hospital a fortnight before, of a similar nature to the one for which Bravo was convicted. Bravo’s accuser initially identified several people as her attacker, including Tony. Despite the fact that the same detective investigated both cases, the information about the complainant’s initial identification was not disclosed to either the district attorney or Bravo’s defence counsel.

After many attempts at appeal, Bravo’s lawyer finally won the right to perform DNA tests. These showed that Bravo could not be the assailant, and the appeal court overturned his conviction.

(Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan 1998)


New Zealand

Government criteria for compensation for wrongful conviction

The NZ Herald has obtained information through application under the Official Information Act about the Government’s decision on how to assess compensation for people wrongly convicted of criminal offences. Apparently in November 1997, cabinet approved looking at the following criteria:

  1. whether the prosecution acted in good faith in bringing and continuing proceedings against the accused;
  2. whether it took proper steps to investigate matters suggesting the accused might not be guilty;
  3. whether it conducted its investigation in a reasonable and proper manner.

(NZ Herald, 9 Dec 1997, New test for verdict error compo)

ACC Appeal Authority rules in favour of multiple claims

A young woman, now aged 17, lodged claims with ACC that she was sexually abused in 1984, when aged 5, by a man, and from the age of 9 to 13, that she was abused by her step-mother’s ex-husband. She was awarded $6,000 and $10,000 respectively in compensation. On review, ACC increased the $6000 payment to $10,000.

The woman appealed, claiming that the more than 400 incidents she suffered (aged 9 to 13) should be considered as separate abuses, each eligible for compensation. The ACC Appeal Authority has accepted her case, and recommended that ACC compensates the victim with a maximum award on the basis of multiple claims.

(NZ Herald, 10 Jan 1998, Minimal payout for sex abuse overturned)

Schools suspend ‘sex offenders’

Five children aged either 5 or 6 years old, were suspended from school last year for sexual misconduct with other students. [It must be presumed that all 5 were boys, although this is not specified. It is alarming that children of this age are labelled as sex offenders, and suffer such severe penalty that it is likely that their identity as ‘sex offender’ will become entrenched. – Editor]

(NZ Herald, 2 Jan 1998. Young pupils barred over sex offences)

Father seeks compensation for wrongful imprisonment

A man named in the media as Michael Smith (not his real name) who spent 440 days in jail, falsely convicted of sexually abusing his son, is filing a compensation claim. After being released on appeal, the real offender was charged and convicted. Michael has also filed a civil claim against CYPS, the police, and the family therapist who counselled his son for more than a tear before he named his father as his abuser. Michael is seeking compensation not only for himself, but also for his family. His parents mortgaged their home to raise $50,000 towards the cost of his appeal.

During a snap debate on the issue in parliament in November 1997, the Justice Minister Doug Graham told Labour Justice spokesman Phil Goff that Michael did not qualify for compensation because his case did not involve a ‘free pardon’ or reference back to the Appeal court by the Governor-General.

(Sunday Star-Times, 30 Nov 1997)

‘It’s a real fear that men have.’

A hard-hitting editorial by Warwick Rogers about men fearing to have normal intimate contact with children for fear of false allegations of molestation.

(The Evening Post (Wellington) 1 Dec 1997. The real fear of the 90s man with children, by Warwick Roger)


DNA tests prove about 25% of criminal suspects are wrongly accused

In 1988, the FBI crime lab DNA analysis unit has examined samples from about 12,000 suspects. It has found that about 1 in 4 (3000) have not committed the crimes for which they are suspected. Many of those exonerated had already been charge by the police, often suspected of rape offences on the basis of a complainant’ visual identification.

(Sunday Star-Times, 7 Dec 1997, Saved by forensic science)

Russia undergoing a resurgence in mysticism, fortune-telling and counselling

Since the overthrow of communism, Russia’s strict emphasis on science has given way to a growing wave mediums, psychics, fortune-tellers and holy crazies. In St Petersburg, a 78 year old former kindergarten teacher Anna Krupenina, now known as Baba Nura, can pack auditoriums and even stadiums of followers. She promises to protect them from the evil eye and to bring peace to troubled homes.

Rival healer Vitaly Efimenko of the Scientific Research Institute of Karma maps his clients’ ‘fields of energy’ which he then ‘realigns’. Neli Svetlichnaya, a former economist, advertises herself as a tarot-card reader and mystic, but says that what she really does is provide clients with a place to talk (ie acts as a counsellor). Her centre is called the National Russian Foundation for Family Renewal.

(The Wall Street Journal, 13 Jan 1998. Southern California could take cues from St. Petersburg the Russian city abounds in healers and Mystics; Advice from Baba Nura, by Neil King Jr.)

Social worker fabricates parental abuse reports

New Jersey couple Calvin and Lakia Smith separated in 1995 after 19 years of marriage. Their 15 year old daughter Courtney (2nd youngest of 4 children) was very upset, argumentative and started doing badly at school. She wanted to move out of home so she told her school counsellor that she was being hit at home. Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) social worker Margarita Feliciano was informed, but once moves were made to relocate her, Courtney had 2nd thoughts and recanted her allegations to Feliciano and the counsellor. She never heard from Feliciano again, nobody from DYFS visited the house, talked with her siblings, inspected their rooms or interviewed her parents.

However, at DYFS, Feliciano filed reports that she had visited the home, interviewed the parents, and referred the couple for counselling. Subsequent investigation shows that all these reports were fabrications. Feliciano also added the Smith’s names to a computerised DYFS "perpetrators’ list" as a confirmed abusers.

The couple later reunited. They discovered that they were on the register after they applied to be considered as foster parents.

(Philadelphia Newspapers, Jan 1998. False abuse charges tear at N.J. family, by Thomas Ginsberg)


Psychology Astray: fallacies in studies of "repressed memory" and childhood trauma

by Harrison Pope Jr, 1997., Upton Books, Florida.

This is a short, very easy-to-read book which clearly and succinctly assesses the evidence about "repressed memory" and about whether sexual abuse causes psychiatric problems in adults. Pope demonstrates the flawed thinking and methodology in much of the research material presented as ‘proof’ that memories can be repressed or that adult problems are caused by childhood trauma. He uses examples and stories which make complex issues easy for the layman to understand. Highly recommended.

Trauma & memory: clinical & legal controversies

edited by Paul Appelbaum, Lisa Uyehara & Mark Elin, 1997, Oxford University Press, New York.

This is a comprehensive textbook which examines the memory and trauma controversy from a number of perspectives – memory research, clinical aspects, legal and policy issues). It includes chapters from people who could be classified as being sceptical of ‘memory repression’ (eg Elizabeth Loftus; Stephen Ceci; Fred Frankel) and those who have argued in favour of repression theory (eg Judith Herman; Bessel van der Kolk; Colin Ross).

Recollections of trauma: scientific research and clinical practice, Proceedings of NATO Advanced Study Institute

edited by J Don Read & D Stephen Lindsay, 1997, Plenum Press, New York.

The proceedings of the 1996 NATO Congress on ‘recovered memories’. A summary of this conference can be found in the Editorial of the July 1996 COSA Newsletter (vol 3 issue 6). A comprehensive volume, but unfortunately out of most people’s reach at a predicted price of US $150.00!

Jurors‘ reactions to satanic ritual abuse allegations

Bottoms B, Diviak K & Davis S (1997), Child Abuse & Neglect, 21 (9): 845-859.

This study involved over 200 Psychology students at the University of Illinois who were provided with a one-page scenario about allegations of child sexual abuse occurring at a day care centre. In half of the cases, the abuse was said to have involved satanic rituals (including adults and children wearing black robes, chanting around a circle of candles). The jurors had to act as jurors, deciding on whether they believed the allegations or not. It was found that although the mock jurors were less likely to believe the satanic ritual details than the non-satanic allegations, they would still find the accused guilty when satanic elements were present. In other words, although they would believe the victim had been sexually abused even though they might not believe in the more bizarre aspects of her story. Religious and female students were more ‘pro-victim’ than non-religious and male students.

While this study may be presented as evidence that even when satanic ritual abuse allegations might not be true, the ‘core’ experience of sexual abuse is likely to be true, if fact this study does not indicate what is likely to be true or false. What it does indicate is the likelihood that jurors (or at least students acting as mock jurors) may discount elements of an allegation which are clearly implausible and fantastic, yet believe other aspects of a victim’s story.

Effects of introductory style on children’s abilities to describe experiences of sexual abuse

Sternberg K, Lamb M, Hershkowitz I, Yudilevitvch L, Orbach Y, Esplin P & Hovav M (1997), Child Abuse & Neglect, 21 (11): 1133-1146.

Compared interviews where rapport was established using open-ended questions or direct questions. al. children were asked the same open-ended question to start the substantive part of the interview. Those who were trained in the open-ended condition gave many more details about the issue in question. This has implication with respect to how forensic interviews are conducted.

Remembering words not presented in lists: can we avoid creating false memories?

Gallo D, Roberts M & Seamon J (1997), Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4 (2): 271-276.

Subjects in previous studies have been shown to create false memories if they are presented with words that they have not studied but are semantically related (critical lures) and asked if these are words they have studied. For example, people who have been asked to study words such as tired, bed, doze, snooze, slumber, awake, drowsy, may also claim they have studied the critical lure word sleep.

This study looked at whether forewarning subjects that they might be presented with these lures would prevent them from creating false memories. It was found that despite forewarning, some subjects still falsely recognised these lures.

Theories of false memories in children & adults

Reyna V & Lloyd F (1997), Learning & Individual Differences 9 (2): 95-123.

A review article of false-memory theories and effects. False memory effects range from:

  • Internal generation, through auto-suggestion; to
  • Eliciting through combination of internal processes &subtle external prompts; to
  • Directly suggested by external sources.

Long-term survival of children’s false memories: a review

Brainerd C & Poole D (1997), Learning & Individual Differences, 9 (2): 125-151.

The authors find that children’s spontaneous false-memory reports are likely to persist as long as true memories, but false-memory reports that have been implanted are not usually as persistent as true reports.

Special issue of Current directions in Psychological Science

(Jun 1997, Vol 6 issue 3) devoted to false memories:

  1. Payne D, Neuschatz J, Lampinen J & Lynn S. Compelling memory illusions: the qualitative characteristics of false memories, 56-60. A review of research concluding that false memories are sometimes "as real as real";
  2. Loftus E. memory for a past that never was, 60-65. Concludes that it is not difficult to implant false memories;
  3. Schacter D, false recognition and the brain, 65-70. Looks at research which examines how the brain creates false memories;
  4. Shobe K & Kihlstrom J, Is traumatic memory special?, 70-74. Contend that there is nothing special about memory of trauma compared to non-trauma;
  5. Bruck M & Ceci S, The suggestibility of young children, 75-79. Looks at issues relating to suggestibility and suggestive interviewing procedures associated with false memory;
  6. Lynn S, Lock T, Myers B & Payne D. Recalling the unrecallable: should hypnosis be used to recover memories in psychotherapy?, 79-83. While to authors acknowledge hypnosis as a useful psychotherapeutic tool, they conclude that hypnosis should not be used to assist recall of past trauma.

Accommodate to child sexual abuse?

Rowan J & Parsonson B (Dec 1997), New Zealand Law Journal, 434-438.

Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) has not been scientifically proven, and US courts are increasingly ruling it as inadmissible evidence. These writers conclude that law practitioners should guard against the introduction of evidence of CSAAS, or should refer to the scientific literature to rebut it should such evidence be allowed.

A Mother‘s story: the Civic Crèche Child Sex trial

by Joy Bander, 1997, Howling at the Moon Productions, Auckland.

Joy Bander (an assumed name) is the mother of one of the key children in the Christchurch Civic crèche case. His testimony is largely responsible for the incarnation of Peter Ellis. In this book, Bander describes how her 6 year old son progressively began to tell of sexual assault, torture and satanic ritual abuse by Peter Ellis and other crèche workers that he claimed had happened to him when he was aged 3 and 4 years old. The book concludes with Ellis’ trial and sentencing. Bander expresses her dissatisfaction that Ellis ‘got only ten years’, and that ‘it was a pity that the death penalty wasn’t in’.

Feminism, Fanaticism and False Memories

MacDonald Sigrid, Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter, 1997

At 44 years old, MacDonald has been active in the women’s movement for 25 years. She has worked in women’s centres in 3 universities and headed task forces for the National Organisation for Women.

MacDonald tells of her experience as a collective member at a local university women’s centre when she tried to discuss the false memory issue with fellow workers. She writes that she has ‘never encountered a topic as contentious as that of recovered memories of sexual abuse.’ In this feminist publication, she says that ‘There should be no place in academia for such a rigid refusal to hear both sides of an argument… Certain segments of the women’s movement are currently suffering from the same righteousness that I had in my 20s. Regardless of the ultimate cost of sacrificing principles in favor of rhetoric, these feminists do not wish to confuse themselves with the facts.’

Submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Committee

Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights 1966 states in part that everyone charged with a criminal offence should be presumed innocent to proven guilty; has the right to tried without due delay, and is entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Article 23 of the Covenant deals with the entitlement of the family unit to protection by the state, and equality of the rights and responsibilities of spouses. Article 24 includes the rights of children to be cared for by their parents.

Where such rights have been contravened, citizens from any county in the world are able to submit their case for consideration by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. However such an application can only be made once all avenues of complaint have been exhausted in one’s own country.

A small number of COSA members meet this criterion – they have exhausted all domestic remedies with respect to applications to the Courts, the Ombudsman, and the Governor General. If you are in this situation and would like to make a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Centre, you may obtain submission forms, information and possible assistance in making your claim through our COSA secretary.

Newsletters received by COSA

British False Memory Society Newsletter, Dec 1997, 5 (1)

This issue reprints the Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘reported recovered memories of child sexual abuse’ recommendations for good practice. It also reprints part 2 of a review by Joshua Fox in the psychologist (the journal of the British Psychological Society) about the FMS debate.

AFMA Newsletter, Dec 1997, 4 (3).

Outlines the recent Royal College of Psychiatrists guidelines about ‘memory therapy’.

FMS False Memory Groups, Canada Nov / Dec 1997, 4 (12)

News and views from the FMS group in Canada.

FMS Foundation Newsletter Dec 1997 6 (11)

Details a number of successful malpractice suits against therapists in the US involved with recovered memory practices.

New Zealand Skeptic, Summer 1997, 46.

Includes a thoughtful article by David Novitz (Lecturer in Philosophy, Canterbury University) on ‘The ethics of scepticism’.

Safar (Society Against False Accusations of Rape)

Quarterly newsletter for the innocent man in prison, Fall 1997, 25.

Reviews and/or reprints some interesting articles and books about the prevalence and implications of wrongful convictions in the United States.

New Year Greetings To COSA Members!

Another new year has begun and so too our task to again work through this year giving hope and support to all those in need. Our work began in 1994 and over this period we have spoken to, corresponded with, and met many families. We have heard their stories at our monthly support group meetings, and we have walked together down a path none of us ever thought we would tread. The lessons learned have made life take on a different hue from that which we grew up believing it should be.

But it is not all doom and gloom. There are brighter days to come. Gordon and I have met some lovely people, whom we would never have met had our present situation not occurred. People as far away as Canada and America have visited and shared their stories with us. People who have made a difference to our lives.

Not surprising to note is the number of women – wives, partners, mothers and grandmothers – who have steadfastly stood by their men, who are the driving force behind our efforts, who are willing to stand tall and be counted. They will continue to do so until society returns to normal once again and until men no longer hesitate to demonstrate their love and caring for their children, grandchildren and young people who may need support and guidance.

This Christmas we received many cards from members throughout the country. They came from families whose men are at present in jail and also from those who have been there, from members who lost their families and would have spent a lonely holiday period. Yet they sent us kind wishes and encouragement for our endeavours.

We hope that 1998 will bring more success in all our endeavours, and tranquillity to our daily living.


Colleen Waugh COSA Secretary.

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