COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter January – February 1999 Vol 6 No 1
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Four out of five rape claims proved false. Police Detective Sherrill Birrell says that of the 11 rape complaints they dealt with last year, only two were proved. She says that the Orewa police are so sick of these cases that they are now laying charges of making false complaints. However the complainants generally get treated softly by the courts.While the police in some areas are now clearly becoming alert to the possibility of false complaints, the health professional literature in general still promotes the idea of ‘believe the complainant’. For example, DSAC Dr Ann Pearl writes in a recent NZ Doctor that it is uncommon for adolescents to tell about sexual abuse directly, and that the subject should be carefully raised by the clinician.
Commissioner for Children advocates removal of parent on first accusation of abuse He was planning to meet with members of CYPS to discuss this proposal. Roger McClay’s call contrasts sharply with psychiatrist Karen Zelas’ recent ‘about-turn’.
Man falsely accused of abusing his grand child
Boy admits he lied about mother’s abuse
Man innocent of raping young girl
Comforting a young girl leads to abuse allegations
Man sues retired judge for misuse of public office
Changes to ACC laws amended at the 11th hour
Man convicted of murdering his wife on basis of ‘recovered memory’ of alleged witness (Canada)
Parents sue vicar for false allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse of their daughter (UK)
Psychiatrist charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council (UK)
Civil case against psychologist settled out of court (USA)
Altar boys recover memories of abuse by priest (USA)
Souza update (USA)
Braun trial update (USA)
Another therapist faces gross negligence and unprofessional conduct charges (USA)
Teacher falsely accused by pupil (USA)
"Satanic ritual abuse" psychiatrist loses his licence to practice medicine (USA)
Landmark ‘Hungerford’ ruling (USA)
Doctor averts false allegation of father abusing his son
Newspaper therapist recommends ‘Courage to Heal’
Social workers divine parental abuse from students’ essays (Canada)
Offensive nursery rhymes banned (UK)
Correspondence Letter from retractor.
Nigel Hampton QC’s address to COSA (Canterbury) Meeting, October 1998.
Four out of five rape claims proved false
In the past few newsletter we reported the growing number of false rape claims made, especially by teenagers. Police in the Hibiscus Coast report that FOUR OUT OF FIVE RAPE COMPLAINTS made to them in the past year have proved false (North Harbour News, 30 Oct 1998, False rape complaints). Detective Sherrill Birrell says that of the 11 rape complaints they dealt with, only two were proved. She says that the Orewa police are so sick of these cases that they are now laying charges of making false complaints. However the complainants generally get treated softly by the courts – they may be made to pay $600 to cover medical examination costs but are often discharged without conviction.
Reasons for making the complaints include setting up ex-partners; explaining infidelity to their partners; or young girls making it up as a excuse for arriving home late after a party.
While the police in some areas are now clearly becoming alert to the possibility of false complaints, the health professional literature in general still promotes the idea of ‘believe the complainant’. For example, DSAC Dr Ann Pearl writes in a recent NZ Doctor (9 Dec 1998, Tread carefully to help sexually abused youths) that it is uncommon for adolescents to tell about sexual abuse directly, and that the subject should be carefully raised by the clinician. The doctor should ‘reassure, affirm and support’ any adolescent who does ‘disclose’, and then consider referral for sexual abuse counselling. She writes ‘It is not usually necessary to obtain a full history but the doctor should determine whether ‘the abuse is recent or historic and when it last occurred’, to determine if a forensic examination is called for. The doctor should also get information about the age and relationship of the abuser to the patient.
While of course some of this advice is pertinent when a teenager has been sexually abused, there is no discussion at all about the possibility that a ‘disclosure’ may sometimes be untrue, and that the accused is not an abuser. Soliciting a history of possible sexual abuse and then uncritically accepting without challenge everything that a teenage patient might claim has the potential of encouraging or supporting a false claim. Such action may be very damaging to the young person and his or her family.
DSAC doctors Ann Pearl, Christine Foley and Kristen Sorrensen still claim that false rape complaints are rare, and believe these are actually due to genuine victims retracting their allegations, for example for fear of retribution or under pressure from friends and family (Metro, Jan 1999, ‘Cry Wolf’ by Michelle Crawshaw). HELP Foundation’s clinical manager Kathryn McPhillips blames the police for the apparent rise in false claims, saying that the police are not honouring their policy which states ‘a complaint must be considered genuine unless proven otherwise’ and are quick to claim an allegation is false as the most expeditious way of closing a file (certainly not the experience of many COSA members who have been falsely accused of rape). Rape Crisis and HELP attribute false rape complaints to inadequate training of police to do their job. They do not appear to appreciate that the police only label a case as false when they can prove that this is the case; in many instances the falsely accused will not get that satisfaction, but will not be charged because there is ‘insufficient evidence to proceed’.
In the past year HELP has attended 150 crisis call-outs, most, if not all, of which will have be subject to police investigation. They claim that ‘only two could be considered not genuine’. From what we know about NZ acquittal rates, many of these will have resulted in the accused being found innocent by the courts. Clearly even when this occurs, HELP consider that the accused were guilty.
Commissioner for Children advocates removal of parent on first accusation of abuse
The Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, was recently reported (The Dominion, 11 Nov 1998; Commissioner calls for rapid response to sex abuse alarm) as calling for parents and child-care workers to have children removed from them immediately after a first complaint of sexual abuse has been made. He was planning to meet with members of CYPS to discuss this proposal.
McClay’s call contrasts sharply with psychiatrist Karen Zelas’ recent ‘about-turn’ on this topic (see COSA Newsletter Nov/Dec 1998 here). She now cautions about the long-term negative psychological effects that can result from removing a parent or disrupting a family on the basis of an unsubstantiated abuse allegation. She strongly warns that such an intervention should not be undertaken lightly, and should only occur in circumstances where there is significant evidence that abuse has occurred.
Over the past few years COSA has reported numerous false allegations made against parents and caregivers. We are alarmed that the Commissioner for Children is assuming guilt from the very first suggestion that abuse has occurred, and is advocating action that may be extremely damaging for the children concerned.
Man not guilty of raping girl
A Whangarei jury took under 3 hours to find 29 year old Northland man Brendon Nutley not guilty of raping a girl in a car at a New Year eve’s rock concert.
(Sunday Star-Times, 13 Sep 1998, Acquitted)
Man falsely accused of abusing his grand child
A South Canterbury man was falsely accused of sexually abusing his grand child. His first trial ended in a hung jury, and the judge discharged him during his second trial because the prosecution’s evidence "was so inconsistent, wrong or made up" that it was "too dangerous" to put to a jury.
The allegations had arisen in the context of a bitter access dispute between their son (the child’s father) and the child’s mother, and the grand parents had become involved because the access visits took place in their home. The mother’s accusations have worked for her – the child’s father has given up his fight for access and the grand parents are not prepared to have the child in their home again.
The cost to the grand parents has been huge. They have spent their life savings on their defence. They have had full support from their children and other grand children, but the experience has ‘tainted’ normal family events such as going swimming with their grand children or the children putting on their pyjamas in front of the fire.
The couple report that the man’s guilt was assumed from the outset, and they are angry that there is no counselling, apology or compensation available for them.
(High Country Herald, Timaru, 18 Nov 1998, ‘Couple left picking up pieces’, by Sonya Rowell)
Boy admits he lied about mother’s abuse
Police alleged in the Christchurch District Court that a 36 year old mother had beaten and sexually abused her 12 year old son when he was between 4 and 6 years old. She denied the charges.
Her son had made the allegations after 9 months of counselling with counsellor Virginia Morris. Ms Morris said that it had taken that long in the therapy process for him to ‘have enough trust to make the disclosure’.
During her subsequent trial her son admitted via a closed circuit TV link from another courtroom that he had made up the complaints to the interviewers.
(The Press, Christchurch, 12 Nov 1998, Boy was abused, says paediatrician; The Dominion, 11 Nov 1998, ‘Boy in sex abuse case admits lying in interviews’)
Man innocent of raping young girl
A 17 year old girl accused a 29 year old shop assistant of raping her in his bedroom on 2 consecutive nights in 1992, when she was 11 and he was 23 years old. He denied the allegations, which were not made until 1997. There were apparently major discrepancies in the girl’s story, and there appeared to be no plausible reason as to why she would have returned to his room the night after he had raped her there.
A Christchurch High Court jury took just over an hour to find him not guilty of the charges.
(The Press, Christchurch, 9 Dec 1998, Man found not guilty of raping young girl)
Comforting a young girl leads to abuse allegations
A church elder in his 70s was acquitted of indecent assault of a 5 year old girl in The Christchurch District Court. She had claimed that he had sat her on his knee and put his hand up her shorts. One charge was withdrawn during his trial after the girl’s evidence failed to support it, and he was found not guilty of the other by a jury after a short deliberation.
The man had put the girl on his knee to comfort her when she became upset by being told she could not play with a toy that other children were using. This occurred in a very public place where the man would have been at grave risk of being seen. The man had no convictions.
(The Press, Christchurch, 9 Dec 1998, relief and tears after acquittal)
Man sues retired judge for misuse of public office
In 1990 a Thames man, Simon Rawlinson, was accused of sexually abusing his former girl friend’s daughter. He says that the allegations were unfounded; they were never investigated and he was never charged. In February 1991, 9 months later, he was served with an interim non-molestation order by the Thames District Court. He researched the Domestic Protection Act and found that the court had no jurisdiction to make such an order in his case. Rawlinson claims that this information was ignored by Judge Terrence Rice, who ordered a full hearing, did not tell him he could postpone the hearing to organise legal representation, and prevented him from presenting documents that would prove his innocence. The judge granted the woman’s application for non-molestation order, although this was subsequently discharged.
Mr Rawlinson felt very upset by the order, which he felt labelled him as a child molester and perjurer, and believed that he was treated unjustly by the judge and the system. He has tried to have the non-molestation order struck from the record, but Judge Rice did not allow this.
Rawlinson is now suing the judge (since retired) in the Rotorua High Court for $600,000.
(1 Dec 1998, Aggrieved man sues judge for $600,000)
In October Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, Peter Ellis’ lawyer sent a second petition to Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys to free and pardon him. She said there is new information for Sir Michael to consider. This included important matters not having been disclosed, that the police officer in charge had visited child complainants before their evidential interviews, and that police had not disclosed a second exhibit register, denying access to important photographs.
These showed that the toilet area where offences were supposed to have taken place was visible through an open door to teachers and visitors; that a game played in the circle, of concern at the trial, was innocent; and that children had visited animals in cages on park land.
Ablett-Kerr also asked for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the entire Christchurch Civic CrÃƒÂ¨che investigation.
Ellis is to have a rare 2nd Court of Appeal hearing following a previous petition to the Governor-General. This will be before five judges starting 31 May 1999.
An application was made for Ellis to be granted bail pending the appeal. However, Justice Henry has ruled that three Appeal Court judges were not persuaded the interests of justice would be served by granting bail and they declined the application.
(The Dominion (Wellington), 18 Dec 1998, Ellis sits and waits over bail bid; 19 Dec 1998, Court refuses Ellis bail for Christmas)
Changes to ACC laws amended at the 11th hour
Last year the Court of Appeal ruled (Daniels v Thompson case) that victims of rape and sexual abuse could not obtain exemplary or punitive damages through the Civil Courts if:
A. The abuser had been prosecuted in a Criminal Court (regardless of outcome) for the same actions giving rise to the claim for exemplary damages; or
B. Where it is likely that such a prosecution will be taken.
In a sudden late amendment to the Accident Insurance Bill introduced by ACT MP Hon Derek Quigley, and passed by Parliament on 11 Dec 1998, this ruling was over-ridden. The Government reluctantly agreed to Mr Quigley’s amendment when it became clear that ACT had enough votes of support from other opposition parties. However Justice Minister Doug Graham said the amendment substantially changed the law and should have been considered by a Select Committee with input from the public.
Mr Quigley said that "The judges’ concern that offenders shouldn’t suffer double punishment, through the Criminal Court and then through the Civil Court for exemplary damages, should not outweigh the right of victims to seek a legal remedy in their own name".
This means that victims will be able to sue offenders for punitive damages as well as get accident compensation.
(The Press, Christchurch, 12 Dec 1998, Victims get right to sue)
Man convicted of murdering his wife on basis of ‘recovered memory’ of alleged witness
In 1984 Former Mountie Patrick Kelly was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his 34-year-old wife Jeanette who fell from their luxury apartment. He was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Kelly’s murder trial had centred on Taber’s dramatic evidence of how she watched Kelly beat his wife unconscious, then drop her off the 17th floor balcony of their condo. Five years ago, Kelly’s former lover, Dawn Taber, recanted her testimony that she saw Kelly throw his wife off the balcony in March 1981. Although she still maintained Kelly is guilty, Taber said she wasn’t at the apartment that afternoon and didn’t see anything. She said her memories were based on dreams.
Kelly’s lawyers say that a gross miscarriage of justice has occurred, that his conviction was based on ” false memories and junk science" and they are arguing with the Ontario Court of Appeal for a new trial.
However the Appeal Court judges say that a witness recanting testimony does not automatically mean a new trial is necessary.
(Toronto Star , 26 Nov 1998, ‘Ex-Mountie’s Conviction Was Faulty, Lawyer Says’, by D’Arcy Doran)
Parents sue vicar for false allegations of SRA of their daughter
In 1993 David and Valerie Dallimore and their children, Rebecca, Theresa and Andrew, moved to the village of Hockwold cum Wilton, Norfolk. Rebecca, a slightly retarded 19 year old, began attending St James’s Anglican church in Hockwold. There, traditional services had given way to ‘charismatic worship’. At healing sessions run by the Reverend Arthur Rowe, the vicar, Rebecca would lie down and wriggle on the floor and speak "in tongues". She soon left home to live with members of the church.
At one healing session in 1993, Rowe apparently announced that Rebecca had been held prisoner by her parents and abused by them for 17 years, saying that he had received the word of knowledge of the abuse from God. The Dallimores became targets of a rumour that they indulged in satanic worship. It led to a three-month police investigation, during which Mr Dallimore was arrested and the family home searched for ‘satanic paraphernalia’. The police inquiry dismissed the claims as totally unsubstantiated and exonerated the Dallimores.
On 4 November 1998 in settlement of a libel prosecution, Rowe apologised in court through his lawyers for the part he had played in the disruption in the Dallimore’s relationship with their daughter. Publishers EMAP Anglia Newspapers and journalist Peter Williamson apologised unreservedly for the distress caused by reporting the false stories of satanic abuse. The Dallimores are hoping to be reconciled with their daughter who lives at a secret church address and with whom they have had no contact for 5 years.
The following day (5 Nov 1998) Rowe withdrew his apology. He had agreed to make the public apology under terms settling the action brought against him and publishers of the Lynn News but his counsel, Mr Martin Collier, told Mr Justice Morland he could not read out Mr Rowe’s statement because he had withdrawn his instructions. The Dallimores’ case against EMAP Anglia Newspapers and a journalist, Mr Peter Williamson, was settled as scheduled.
(Daily Mail (London), 4 Nov 1998, Family drawn beyond the pale of tolerance as Church ‘cult’ called them satanic abusers; The Guardian (London), 5 Nov 1998, ‘ Cult’ vicar apologises for satanic abuse story; The Press Association 4 Nov 1998, Rector ‘Sorry’ Over Satanism Interview by Mike Taylor; The Irish Times, 5 Nov 1998, Rector withdraws ‘Satanism’ apology)
Psychiatrist charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council
A leading child psychiatrist, Anthony Baker, who calls himself a "therapeutic pioneer", has been charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council for behaving indecently and pursuing an improper emotional relationship with his patient. He denies the charges.
Miss A’s GP referred her to Dr Baker in 1994, when she was aged 15 and a fortnight after she had been seriously sexually assaulted. He was said to be an internationally recognised expert in childhood sexual abuse. Miss A says that Dr Baker did not address her recent rape, but he constantly criticised her parents, planting in her mind the suggestion that her father had sexually abused her.
She claims that for seven months Dr Baker’s counselling sessions included encouraging her to become a lesbian; suggesting that she should masturbate behind a screen in his room; advising her to have sex with strangers; hugging her and offering to buy her a vibrator. He advised her to leave home and suggested she file a lawsuit against her father for abuse. She became very disturbed and made a suicide attempt.
It was only when Miss A’s mother showed her an article about false memory syndrome that she realised what had been happening to her and laid charge against Dr Baker with the GMC.
(The Times (London), 18 Nov 1998, Doctor told rape girl that father had abused her; 19 Nov 1998, Child Abuse Expert ‘Ignored Danger Signals’ GMC Hearing Told; Birmingham Post, 19 Nov 1998, Psychiatrist ‘Planted Sex Abuse Memories)
Civil case against psychologist settled out of court
Former Idaho Falls psychologist Mark D. Stephenson was suspended from practising his profession in 1996 after a state board found he committed a number of ethical violations. Families involved in those cases then filed civil claims, involving accusations of placing the women under hypnosis and convincing them they were sexually abused. Two days into his trial this November, the case was settled out of court.
(Idaho Falls Post Register, 18 Nov 1998, Jury being selected for false memory trial; 20 Nov 1998, False memory suit settled out of court)
Altar boys recover memories of abuse by priest
The Rev Norman Goodman, a retired priest, has been accused of molesting 13 altar boys in the 1970s. The complainants, now in their 30s, are now seeking in excess of $5.3 million in a civil claim against Goodman and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Goodman and the diocese have continually denied the charges.
Under a Statute of Limitations, the complainants apparently all claim that they only discovered the abuse two years ago because their memories were repressed. Goodman’s lawyer says that all of them ‘recovering their memories’ in the past two years is unlikely, and is hoping to have the case thrown out of court. Goodman, however, is ready, willing and able to defend the charges and desperately wants to go to court to clear his good name.
No trial date has yet been set.
(The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL.), 28 Oct 1998, Priest’s lawyer enters motion to dismiss suit)
Ray and Shirley Souza, the Massachusetts, grandparents who have been under house arrest since their 1993 child abuse conviction, will not have to go to prison. A Superior Court judge Elizabeth Dolan ruled that instead they must remain confined in their home until May 2002.
The couple were convicted of repeatedly raping two of their young granddaughters after their daughter, Shirley Ann, went into therapy and had a dream in which she saw her parents raping her as a child. Her therapist interpreted the dream as a "recovered memory." The allegations that her parents had raped their grand children followed, and the couple were convicted despite the lack of any corroborative evidence and the bizarre, unlikely nature of the allegations.
In a nonjury trial, Judge Dolan revoked the couple’s original prison sentence of 9 to 15 years in prison and ordered the Souzas placed on probation and confined to their house for a total of 9 years. The ruling is retroactive to May 10, 1993 which means they have another 3 years under house arrest to serve.
(Robin Estrin, The Associated Press, 12 Dec 1998)
Braun trial update
Dr Bennett Braun, the psychiatrist who could lose his medical licence for allegedly using drugs and hypnosis to convince a patient that she was a high priestess of a satanic cult, is to stand trial next May. At a pre-trial hearing Judge Phillip Howe said he will begin hearing evidence in the case on May 18, allowing lawyers in the case to go through more than 150 boxes of medical records pertaining to Patty Burgus, a woman whom Braun treated for multiple personality disorder in the late 1980s.
The judge ordered a separate trial for Dr Elva Poznaski, another psychiatrist at Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie who treated Burgus’ sons, John and Mikey, also for multiple personality disorder.
Another therapist faces gross negligence and unprofessional conduct charges
Clinical psychologist Roberta Sachs has been cited with gross negligence and unprofessional conduct by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. The charges have arisen in the context of the investigation of repressed-memory therapies relating to the treatment of the Burgus family If convicted, Sachs faces up to $20,000 in fines and loss of her license.
(Chicago Tribune, 4 Dec 1998, Psychologist Cited In Repressed-Memory Case)
"Satanic ritual abuse" psychiatrist loses his licence to practice medicine
Dr. Robert Rockwell, a psychiatrist associated with the theory of "satanic ritual abuse", has admitted having a sexual relationship with a patient and other ethical breaches and has been forced to surrender his license after the state Health Department charged him with professional misconduct. Rockwell hopes that his patients will keep seeing him as a "psychotherapist," a profession that does not require a license in New York state.
Four years ago Rockwell organised a conference in Albany on "satanic ritual abuse," at which several people described their horrific memories of being tortured and sexually abused as children by members of secretive cults. He says that his beliefs are unchanged and he still sees patients who he believes are victims of satanic abuse.
"It’s still something that’s very much a reality with people I see," he said.
The misconduct charges involved 9 patients going back to 1985, and included a two-year sexual affair with a married woman he was treating for multiple personality disorder.
(Gazette Reporter, Albany , 25 Oct 1998. ‘Albany psychiatrist surrenders license. Admits to sexual relationship with patient’ by William Hammond Jr)
Teacher falsely accused by pupil
Michael Gallagher, 60, an Abington schoolteacher, was charged with repeatedly raping Margaret Powell, now 23, during the 1985-1986 school year, when she was in his fifth-grade class at Willow Hill Elementary School.
Prosecutors have now dropped that charges, saying that the purported victim had made the story up and that Mr. Gallagher was wrongfully accused. They began noting inconsistencies in her story during pre-trial interviews. They also found an anonymous 1993 letter Powell admitted writing to Abington district officials that said, in part, "within the last two years, I’ve had recovered multiple memories of sexual molestation that I believe occurred during my 1985-86 placement in [Gallagher’s ] class." Authorities say that Gallagher would never have been arrested if prosecutors had known that Powell’s allegations were based on so-called recovered or regressed memories.
(Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 Oct 1998. Rape charges dropped against schoolteacher. Montco prosecutors said the woman, who was the man’s former student, had fabricated the story, by Matt Stearns)
Landmark ‘Hungerford’ ruling
An important judgement was made by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire on 18 Dec 1998. This was in the case of Joel Hungerford v Susan Jones (U.S. District Court No. 97-657). The Court decided that:
i.) a mental health care provider owes a legal duty to the father of an adult patient to diagnose and treat the patient with the requisite skill and competence of the profession when the diagnosis is that the father sexually abused or assaulted the patient; and
ii.) a mental health care provider owes a duty to act with reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to the father of an adult patient resulting from treatment or other action taken in relation to mental health conditions arising from the diagnosis of past sexual abuse or assault by said father.
This decision relates to the case of social worker Susan Jones treating Laura B, then in her mid-20s, in 1992. Having attended a weekend seminar on memory retrieval techniques, Jones presented herself as a qualified and experienced mental health therapist in the treatment of problems associated with incest and sexual abuse.
Laura had no knowledge or memory of being sexually abused by her father (Joel Hungerford) when she began therapy. During the course of repressed memory therapy, however, Jones led Laura to believe that her nightmares and anxiety attacks were actually "flashbacks" and "recovered memories" of episodes of sexual assault and abuse by her father. Jones also persuaded Laura that her physical sensations and pain were "body memories" indicative of memory repression or traumatic amnesia involving incidents of sexual abuse. Jones concluded that Laura’s psychological problems, including her difficulties with intimate relationships, were caused by her father’s sexual abuse.
Jones directed Laura to break all contact with her father and file a complaint against him with the police. He was indicted but in May 1995, the Superior Court (Groff, J.) ruled that Laura’s "memories" of assault recovered during therapy were not admissible at trial because they were not scientifically reliable.
Hungerford then filed a suit against Jones in the Federal District Court alleging that Jones’ negligent treatment and diagnosis of his daughter resulted in false accusations of sexual abuse and criminal charges. Jones moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that she owed Hungerford no duty of care. This current Supreme Court ruling has found against her.
Doctor averts false allegation of father abusing his son
Dr John Adams, Sexual Health Clinic, Wellington, writes in a Letter to Editor entitled ‘Handle bar accidents’ in the New Zealand Medical Journal, 13 Nov 1998, 440.
‘Last year I saw a boy aged 8 with a large and tender perianal haematoma. His parents were living apart and having stayed with his father during the weekend he was brought in on Monday by a very angry mother with accusations of abuse.
When the boy was interviewed he gave a very clear history of tumbling off his bike coming down Mt Victoria and said "the handlebar nearly went up my bottom". The abrasions and bruises on his elbows and shins were entirely consistent with that story’.
Newspaper therapist recommends ‘Courage to Heal’
Neal Rosenthal is a therapist who answers people’s letters about their problems in the Christchurch Press. In the 26 October issue, he replies to "Tommy" who writes about how his life was ruined by being sexually abused as a boy, and wants help to handle the hurt. As well as recommending that Tommy goes to see a sexual abuse counsellor, Rosenthal recommends several books, and top of his list are "The Courage to Heal" and "The Courage to Heal Workbook".
In endorsing these books, the therapist fails even to mention the unscientific and potentially dangerous ideas they promote.
Offensive nursery rhymes banned
The PC-brigade are still hard at work in the UK. A playcentre in Kent banned the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice" on the grounds that it was cruel to animals and offensive to the blind; and "Goosey Goosey Gander" because it contains gratuitous violence. The children were allowed to be exposed to "Baa baa black sheep" but only after a verse about white sheep was added.
(Listener, 26 Dec 1998)
Social workers divine parental abuse from students’ essays
Examiners of junior high essays in British Columbia ‘flagged’ 46 out of 140,000 as indicating that the students’ parents might be abusers. The essays were given to the Ministry of Children and Families for analysis.
(The National Post, 18 Nov 1998, B.C. School Essays Used to Flag Child Abuse)
FMS Foundation Newsletter, Vol 7, Oct 1998 (no 8) & Nov 1998 (no 9)
These Newsletters outline some of the landmark cases currently in progress in the United States, where therapists are being called to account for the iatrogenic damage they have caused in using ‘recovered memory therapy" and diagnosing their patients with multiple personality disorder.
British False Memory Society Newsletter, 6 (1): Dec 1998-12-27
Founding Director of the BFMS Roger Scotfield, is bowing out after heading this organisation for the past five years. His position will be taken up by Madeline Greenhalgh, their current administrator.
A member wrote to us recently about his daughter, now 40, who had written to him in 1993 accusing him of sexual abuse when she was 4 years or younger. "Any correspondence was sent back and she broke all contact with home, verbal abuse and anger when we tried to get in touch with her." However after receiving information from COSA he wrote to her again, explaining to her about recovered memories and that "her behaviour was exactly the same pattern coming from patients of therapists who used repressed memory and other hypnotic techniques". After 6 weeks he received a reply, an abridged version of which is reproduced below. He and his wife "immediately invited her home and had a family reunion. It was so wonderful to hear her laugh again and she is now coming home for this Christmas".
His daughter had written:
"Dear Mum & Dad
… I thank you for writing the letter and extending a hand. I really appreciate it. You tell me nothing happened to me as a child and I am prepared to accept that. The reason being that I can’t say that sexual abuse has happened – I can’t find an incident in there that I can concretely remember and that had to be enough to say that it didn’t happen.
Let me explain. I initially saw a therapist and all these memories ‘came up’. We discussed them – but they were never a coherent whole and that is where they stayed. Eventually after a few sessions I stopped seeing that therapist – there was just the initial sequence – some follow up and then blank – it never went any further. I went to another therapist we ended up dealing with many issues, but nothing further on this issue came up. I went to a support group. I heard many stories, I felt many things, but nothing further came up. I saw no-one for a while – for quite some time and worked on getting my life happening again. I still thought it must be there and waited for the memories to flood in. Nothing.
Then I felt I had to do something to find some answers one way or another so I saw another therapist who worked on moving physical energy blocks and releasing memories, and still nothing came up…..
This letter I write to you is an apology for all the discomfort and pain I have caused. I know you do know and I feel it in my heart, that I did not do this wilfully to be vindictive or to cause pain. On writing the very initial letter I truly believed that abuse had occurred and by writing to you about it I would help you to heal it for you also, so that it would not be left un-repaired.
If either of you feel you don’t want to heal this mess I will have to accept that and live with the consequences. I do feel we need to resolve this and if you feel the same way, can we discuss if I could come over or how we may go about beginning that process?…
I sincerely hope we can pass beyond all that has transpired. I’m terrified mum, that you will hate me and I understand if you need to and in many ways it freezes me into inaction, but if possible if you can find it in your hearts to begin to heal this huge rift/wound it would make so much difference.
I hope to hear soon. I understand you will be angry with me and may have the need of some time. I do hope we can heal this terrible thing that has happened.
I send you my love and think of you so much. Please receive this letter with love.
I have just re-read this letter – it feels inadequate in expressing what I feel in the face of all that has occurred, but I don’t know what else I can say or how else I can say this. I hope my sincere intentions come through."
Speech by Nigel Hampton QC
COSA (Canterbury) Meeting, October 1998
Nigel Hampton basically delivered the same speech he made previously to the Canterbury Royal Society in March 1995 (see COSA Newsletter April 1995), and which was published in an amended form in the 1995 New Zealand Law Journal p 154.
At that time, he had said that allegations based on recovered memories needed to be tested against a new set of court rules. He believed that such evidence should only be admitted if the prosecution could establish that memory repression and the process of recovery through therapy had gained general acceptance in the field of psychology and could be demonstrated to be scientifically valid and capable of empirical testing. With the current state of knowledge, post-counselling evidence should be subject to the same rules as post-hypnosis evidence.
He also called for the reintroduction of the corroboration rule, which requires a judge to warn a jury it is dangerous to convict without independent evidence from the complaints’ story.
Nigel Hampton made no apologies for repeating this address, because, he says, although three or more years have passed, "What has changed? Nothing." In November 1995 he received from the Minister of Justice a copy of a paper produced by Ministry Officials on "Prosecution of Sexual Offences – Recovered Memories" dated 25 September 1995. That paper:
"(a) Briefly describes the concept of recovered memories and what makes it controversial;
(b) Comments on the use of evidence based on recovered memories and its admissibility in New Zealand Courts;
(c) Discusses the appropriateness of the law changes relating to sexual offences proposed by Messrs Williams and Hampton; and
(d) Considers whether there are any other means of regulating the admissibility of evidence based on recovered memories."
It concludes: "The Department has considered the desirability of an amendment to the Rules of Evidence specifically limiting or prohibiting the admission of evidence based on recovered memories. This would address concerns about the prosecution of allegations arising out of recovered memories. The justification for such an approach would have to be that recovered memories are inherently unreliable. However, we would not support such an approach at this time. ….. While we consider that it is too soon to make a judgement about whether statutory rules relating to the admissibility of recovered memory evidence should be contemplated, the department will continue to closely monitor developments."
At the COSA meeting, Nigel Hampton commented: "Three and a bit years now. Still too soon to make a judgement about whether rules should be contemplated? I think not. I wonder how the monitoring is going. …. I have seen or heard nothing since, that gives me cause to believe that neither the Minister or his officials are prepared to do anything further."