COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter June 1997 Volume 4 No 5
Contents of this page:
Editorial: AGM and free public meeting
Open letter from Charlotte Vale Allen Twenty years ago, Charlotte Vale Allen, Canadian author and lecturer, herself a genuine victim of childhood sexual abuse, wrote her book "Daddy’s Girl" to bring sexual abuse and incest into the open. In this open letter, Ms Allen eloquently, poignantly and dynamically speaks out against the madness of "recovered memories" and her repugnance of artificial "victimhood".
Courts: Teenager makes false complaint
Colin Ross being sued (Canada)
Amiraults case update (USA)
Case of Jeffrey Modahl jailed for being Satanist child abuser. (USA)
A rose by any other name? Rape Crisis want people to stop using the word "rape" and replace it with the term "sexual violence".
Dangerous statistics ‘Girls commit 40% of child sex attacks’.
Call to make smacking a crime Waikato psychology professors Jane and James Ritchie want to make all smacking of children a criminal offence.
Child abuse register (USA)
Satanist abuse and alien abduction: a comparative analysis theorizing temporal lobe activity as a possible connection between anomalous memories.
The abduction of credibility: a reply to John Paley.
Autobiographical memory and recovered memory therapy: Integrated cognitive, clinical, and individual difference perspectives.
Forms of memory recovery among adults in therapy: preliminary results from an in-depth study.
Sybil -the making of a disease: an interview with Dr Herbert Spiegel.
Features: Ernest and Betty – Case history.
Correspondence While no-one has alleged that I sexually abused them I feel I am a casualty of such allegations.
Newsletters received by COSA FMS, DSAC.
AGM and free public meeting
We decided to use our Annual General Meeting as an opportunity to hear from some experts about false allegation issues. What has developed is such an excellent line-up of speakers that now we are promoting this event as a public meeting. Following the business side of the AGM we will be addressed by three eminent authorities. Each will talk for about 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. Afternoon tea will follow. Members of the public are invited to attend this free event.
Please pass the message on – tell friends and family; work colleagues; members of relevant agencies and institutions; your politician; people in the media; and anyone else you feel might be interested.
Our proposed speakers are:
- Mr Murray Gibson, defence lawyer, who will talk about “False rape charges: lessons to be learnt from the David Dougherty case”;
- Dr Tannis Laidlaw, clinical and research psychologist and hypnosis expert, who will address the topic “The truth, the part truth or anything but the truth”; and
- Mr Bryan Rowe, private investigator and former senior police officer, who will discuss “Investigation of sexual allegations from the perspective of an ex-policeman” (Mr Rowe is still to be confirmed).
The meeting is to be held on Sunday 15 June at 1 pm (speakers to commence 1.40 pm) at the Northcote Senior Citizen’s Hall, corner of Ernie May and College Rds, Northcote (opposite Countdown Supermarket Carpark), Auckland. We do not have the resources to pay for much public advertising, so we need your assistance. Make this event a success and help the valuable information our team of experts will be offering be disseminated as widely as possible by coming along and letting others know about the meeting. All are welcome. Hope to see you there.
Open letter from Charlotte Vale Allen
Twenty years ago, Charlotte Vale Allen, Canadian author and lecturer, herself a genuine victim of childhood sexual abuse, wrote her book "Daddy’s Girl" to bring sexual abuse and incest into the open. Her book and lectures were immensely helpful to other genuine victims, who are unable to forget and never lucky enough to "repress. But many people now acquire "victimhood" through counselling. Being a "victim" draws sympathy. It explains the tragedies, the failures, the hardships, the health problems and the disappointments of life. It relieves people of some of life’s natural burdens: dealing with complexity, facing things beyond their control, and accepting responsibility for decisions and actions.
Many counsellors attribute their clients’ woes to long-buried "repressed" memories of childhood sexual abuse. They help clients to unlock these, and to rewrite their pasts. Clients sever all former ties with "families of origin" and surround themselves only with other "survivors", to prevent confirmation or denial. They edit their pasts to match new "memories" and beliefs. Innocent families are devastated by allegations of sexual abuse created in this way.
The wheel has turned full circle. Genuine victims of sexual abuse are now often reluctant to disclose abuse for fear of condemnation, and do not want to be seen as products of the "sex abuse industry". They are infuriated, appalled and distressed by manufactured victims who recover or enhance pseudo-memories of abuse.
In a recent open letter (below), Ms Allen eloquently, poignantly and dynamically speaks out against the madness of "recovered memories" and her repugnance of artificial "victimhood".
Charlotte Vale Allen writes:
"The central issue in my experience of childhood sexual abuse was power. I had none, my father had it completely. And now, looking at the matter of "recovered memories," what glares at me is that same issue of power.
Counsellors directing these "recoveries" play the same role my father did, exercising an inordinate degree of power and control over people who, for whatever reason, feel they have none. I find the situation alarming and absolutely infuriating.
None of the thousands of real victims I have met since 1977 were lucky enough to repress anything. Would that memory were such a convenient tool. We spent our time in the aftermath of the experience seeking absolution for having in some unknown fashion brought the abuse upon ourselves, and wanting a measure of power in our own lives.
Most wished simply to live without self-hatred and to comprehend why this horrific thing had happened. Many longed to have the truth come out about a problem kept secret far too long. Some, understandably, wanted never to see the abusive parent again. All of us were angry, alienated to some degree, fearful, yet overall, trying desperately to be optimistic. We wanted our futures and a little inner peace.
The very notion of assisted "recovered memories" drives me wild. People recall memories every day. A certain perfume, a toy, a book, countless things can revive an experience that’s rested dormant in a remote corner of our minds for years. But I never encountered anyone, man, woman or child, who had forgotten being abused. We remembered that hateful subservience that erased our self-esteem and stole our childhood. We had the psychological tics and terrors that go along with having lost the right to privacy and to our own bodies. We were diligently trying to reconstruct ourselves without hurting others or rejecting those who loved us.
In the past few years, I’ve had calls from people seeking validation for their recovered memories. After all, I wrote the book. I’m the genuine article, an honest-to-goodness abuse victim who fought for years to open a firmly closed door. I could offer sisterhood, fraternity, if I would only just apply my personal stamp of approval to the ghoulish tales these callers tell, often with relish.
A woman I’ve known for many years has always been searching for her "gift" for the life or career move that would finally bring her happiness. After falling out of touch for a decade or so, she telephoned not long ago to say "Guess what? Me too!" But in new tones of self importance.
She now has a growing collection of memories that fill her with promise. This woman who had never been able to find satisfaction was now brimming with it. With the help of her counsellor, she’s found her calling – as a victim!
She had ludicrous, utterly unbelievable tales to tell of satanic rituals. But wait a minute! Wouldn’t her housewife mother have noticed that her work-at-home husband up in the attic studio was performing bestial acts upon their young adopted daughter. And why didn’t school fit into any of this? Didn’t she go? Her brother, also adopted, vehemently denies anything happened. But there’s a happy ending to her tale – she’s planning to go back to school at the age of 50-something to become a counsellor, and then, at along last, she’ll be able to exercise her new found power.
What is going on? People, feeling a non-specific malaise or unhappiness, go to see a counsellor and are persuaded to rewrite history. As part of their "therapy" they must sever all former ties, not just with the supposedly abusive parent, but with all family members, thereby preventing either confirmation or denial, and discarding their composite past. Then, with their proliferating, ever-wider and more bizarre accusations, they wind up devastating entire innocent families. A collective lunacy has taken hold with clients and counsellors lockstepped in a march toward finding a past history of abuse at all costs. Never mind who gets hurt, or the pertinent matter of historical truth.
Victimhood as a desirable status is anathema to those of us who lived in silent shame for so long because ours was a secret too terrible to reveal. If we took the risk and told somebody, there was the very real likelihood that we’d be condemned as vicious liars. Now legions of enraged possessors of brand-new memories are firing scattershot salvoes of blame at their relatives, with no regard whatsoever for the consequences.
After my father’s death, I took it upon myself to reveal our well-kept secret in the hope that it would help others. For a long time it has done just that. However, I despair of the idea that Daddy’s Girl might now become the equivalent of that underground "cookbook" on how to make home-made bombs; that it might be used as a manual on how to appear to be a victim. It seems as if, with the best of intentions, I opened the door and now monsters are crowding through its portals.
I have long since acquired objectivity about my childhood. Not then or now do I blame anyone. I believe that my father loved me. I have never broken contact with my family. I am fully cognisant of the many, many long-term effects of incest, and fear that this profitable trend of "recovering memories" will serve only to silence genuine victims. In the long run, it will create serious psychological problems for those who must now spend their days editing the past, in order to make it reconcile with the rewritten present.
So, as I did some twenty years ago when I set out to bring incest into the open, I feel again a moral obligation to speak out in order to try to stop this madness of "recovered memories" and, if possible, quash the notion that being a victim is in any way attractive."
[This was published in The Mail, Christchurch, (12 May 1997)]
Teenager makes false complaint
A 14 year old Auckland girl may be charged with wasting police time, after allegations she made that she had been sexually assaulted by a gang were proved to be untrue.
(NZ Herald, 15 May 1997)
$7500 awarded for unlawful detention
A COSA member, whose name is suppressed, had his conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal last year (see Case History in March 1997 Newsletter, Vol 4 No 2). However the court staff failed to notify Rangipo Prison where he was detained, authorising his immediate release. He was unlawfully kept in prison a further 22 hours until he was freed. He has been awarded $7500 by the courts for unlawful detention.
(NZ Herald, 15 May 1997)
David Dougherty is seeking compensation after the overturning of his abduction and rape convictions. Police are to appoint an independent investigator to review the inquiry which lead to Dougherty’s arrest.
(NZ Herald, 24 Apr 1997, ‘Dougherty seeks compensation’; Star-Times, 4 May 1997, ‘Media storm forces police to review file’, by Donna Chisholm)
Colin Ross being sued
Apparently Dr Colin Ross (employed by the University of Manitoba from 1985 to 1991) and Tammy Schultz (employed by the Winnipeg Christian Counselling Group in 1993 and a member of the Manitoba Government satanic cult identification committee) are being sued by a family for negligence.
The family claims that a fraudulent form of psychotherapy, caused the death of the children’s favourite aunt and baby-sitter in 1986, and left the children’s mother disabled in 1993.
The father of the family, George Bergen, said it took 3 years to investigate the fraud and he only became aware of all of the material facts of the case in January 1997. It is alleged that Ross and Schultz implanted false satanic abuse memories whereby the 2 sisters came to believe that they had been born into a satanic cult family and that the church they attended had worshipped the devil.
Bergen says that if his suit is succeeds, 100s of other families will come forward and that his case can be reviewed as a class action suit. He says that 14 other families have signed sworn statements that Ross, Schultz and other therapists implanted false memories of incest and/or satanic cult abuse in their families.
In all cases, the therapists are said to have used similar fraudulent psychotherapy, introduced in 1985 by Ross when he was an employee of the University of Manitoba and contracted to the St Boniface Hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the Manitoba Government was duped into believing in Ross’ fraudulent claims that childhood satanic ritual abuse and incest is the ultimate cause of virtually all emotional and mental health problems.
(News Release from Winnipeg, Manitoba, 9 May 1997)
Hillary and Elizabeth Morgan back in the USA
American Elizabeth Morgan accused her ex-husband Eric Foretich of sexually abusing their daughter Hillary Foretich (now known as Ellen Morgan) in a bitter custody dispute when the girl was 2. The couple had divorced in 1982, months after their daughter was born. They battled over access and custody, but it was not until 1984 that she made her allegations of abuse. No evidence was found to support the allegation. At other points, Morgan also has accused Foretich’s parents and a psychiatrist of sexually abusing the child. In 1987 Morgan secretly sent her daughter to NZ to avoid her father having access to her. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon Jr found Morgan in contempt of court for refusing to comply with visitation orders for Foretich. Morgan went to jail for 2 years then joined her daughter in NZ, where they continued to live in exile.
Last year the US Congress passed a law which removed control of her case from U.S. courts, so that she would no longer be defying the law or risking contempt charges by going home. The congressional action, sponsored by Rep Frank R. Wolf, set aside years of court rulings and was tailored to cover Morgan’s case alone. The relief came in an unusual amendment to the federal transportation spending bill, a tactic Wolf chose to hasten its passage. It was the second time that Congress had stepped into the battle. Also at Wolf’s prodding, in 1989 Congress had passed a bill which freed her from jail. Foretich, who has not seen his daughter for10 years, contends that the congressional action was unconstitutional because it took away rights that he had won legitimately in court.
News has now been released that Morgan, 49, and her daughter, now 14, have returned to the United States.
(Washington Post (20 May 1997) ‘Morgan, Girl Back in U.S., Relatives Say Child’s Father Asks Court To Check on Her Welfare’, by Bill Miller, B01)
Amiraults case update
In last month’s newsletter it was mistakenly reported that Violet and Cheryl Amiraults had been returned to prison. In fact, at the 11th hour on 16 May 1997 Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein gave a verbal order granting the Amiraults new trials on charges that they molested children at the Fells Acres day care center. Borenstein said that 74-year-old Violet Amirault and her daughter, Cheryl Amirault LeFave, would have won a new trial 10 years ago if they had effective lawyers at the time.
It has recently been revealed that although 10 children testified against Violet, Cheryl and her brother Gerald ("Tooky") during their 2 criminal trials in the 1980’s, a total of 16 families received financial settlements related to the Fells Acres Day School abuse case. These 16 settlements totalled US $20 million. In one settlement, a young girl who attended the school for less than 2 months and did not testify, received $70,000 up front, and will receive lump sums of $35,000 at ages of 21 and 25. At 25,she will receive $2385 a month for life. Her parents were also granted $70,000. Another girl who did not testify received $85,000 up front and will receive $2,385 per month for life, starting in 2011. The young boy whose allegations prompted the initial investigation of the school received $75,000 up front and $35,000 at age 18. He will receive $45,000 at age 21, $65,000 at age 25 and $110,000 at age 30.
Monetary awards were granted by insurers representing other day care providers convicted of sex abuse in the 1980’s, including cases in New Jersey and North Carolina that were subsequently overturned. In those 2 cases, insurers continue to make payments and have declined to sue the authorities despite the fact the defendants were later vindicated.
(Boston Globe (17 May 1997), ‘Amiraults deserved retrial in 1987, judge says’, by William Doherty, B2; Boston Herald (22 April1997). ’16 Fells Acres families settled for $20 million’ by Tom Mashberg)
Teenage boyfriend convicted of sexual assault
A 15 year old girl found herself pregnant to her 18 year old boy friend Kevin Gillson. He said that he wanted to marry her, get a job and help her raise their child, due in June. However the police found out and arrested Gilson . He was charged with sexual assault of a child. His girl friend insisted that the sex was consensual, but the law says no one under the age of 16 can consent to a sexual relationship. A jury found him guilty.
He is currently free on bail pending sentencing (24 June), on condition that he must not see his girlfriend. Since he was convicted he will have to register as a sex offender and faces a sentence ranging from probation to 40 years in prison.
(Port Washington, WIS, 28 Apr 1997)
Remaining charges dropped in Little Rascals day-care case
Prosecutors have finally dropped all pending charges against the 2 remaining defendants in the notorious Little Rascals case, 8 years after sex-abuse allegations were filed on behalf of 29 pre-schoolers.
In 1992 Robert Kelly Jr, the former owner of the Little Rascals day-care center was convicted of 99 charges after a 9 month, million-dollar trial, the longest and most costly in state history. He was sentenced to life in prison. In 1993 Kathryn Wilson, the centre’s cook, was also convicted and sentenced to life. Children had testified that Kelly forced them to perform oral and anal sex and took pictures of them having sex with other children. Prosecutors acknowledged they didn’t find any pictures. Children also said Kelly and female and male adults had sex in front of them, and some testified about a magic key, spaceships, a boat trip and swimming with sharks. Defense lawyers said parents became hysterical over rumours of sexual abuse at Little Rascals, then badgered children into making allegations and pushed authorities into bringing charges.
Their convictions and life prison sentences were overturned by a state appeals court that ruled their trials had been riddled with mistakes.
(Associated Press, 23 May 1997, ‘Remaining charges dropped in Little Rascals case’; Reuters, 23 May 1997, ‘Last charges dropped in N. Carolina day-care scandal’)
Case of Jeffrey Modahl
In the mid 1980s Kern County authorities charged a number of people claiming that they were uprooting sex rings of Satanist child abusers. One of these was Jeffrey Modahl.
The case began in Oct 1984, when 2 Kern County officers interviewed 2 girls about an alleged incident of sexual abuse supposed to have occurred 18 months earlier. The girls, Carla Modahl and Carol Ann Bittner, mentioned only 2 possible molesters, Leroy and Anthony Cox. They claimed that these men had tied them with ropes to a bed at the Cox ranch and sexually molested them. The accused molesters were said to have hammered a large nail to the wall in the back of the bed to hang the ropes binding the girls.
Carla Modahl (age 9) and her sister Teresa (11) had been adopted by their mother’s sister, Ruth Taylor, after their mother was killed in a car accident. They lived with Ruth, her partner Jeffrey Modahl, and Ruth’s children by previous marriages, Carol Ann Bittner (age 12) and Richard Taylor (age 7). Jeffrey worked as a mechanic for Richard Cox, who managed a construction company out of a 10 acre ranch in Bakersfield, California. This "ranch" consisted of one large main house, 6 two-bedroom duplexes, and a large shop on the property. Richard Cox and his wife Joanne lived in the main house and Ruth did house work for Joanne Cox at times. Leroy Cox and girl-friend Jody Dugrenier, several of Richard’s wife’s relatives, and some of Richard’s employees also lived at the "ranch". Anthony Cox ran the dump in Taft where he lived with his wife Teresa Cox. Through 1983, the company ran landfill operations at the dumps Richard Cox and Jeffrey Modahl frequently worked 12 to 14 hours a day 7 days a week.
The County officers took both girls to a shelter for children presumed to be abused. There they were unable to have contact with friends and family, but were repeatedly questioned about alleged sexual abuse. Officials investigated the ranch but found no physical evidence to corroborate the accusations including no nail holes in the bed. However the county authorities still built up a case involving a large "sex" ring. They seized the other children living with Jeffrey Modahl and Ruth Taylor, (Teresa and Richard Shang) and placed them in the shelter. All these children were questioned repeatedly and suggestively. Eventually, Carla named other people present at the alleged sexual molestation, including Richard Cox, his wife Joanne Cox, Jeffrey Modahl, Ruth Taylor, Teresa Cox, and Jody Dugrenier. Teresa Cox and Jody Dugrenier were said to have taken pictures but none were ever found. And despite repeated questioning, Carol Ann Bittner refused to place Richard Cox, Joanne, Jeffrey Modahl, Ruth Taylor, Teresa Cox, and Jody Dugrenier at the scene of the crime. Teresa and Richard Shang denied being molested at all.
There were 4 trials. The first trial was of Teresa Cox (Anthony’s wife), who was accused of the molestation of Carol Ann and Carla. She was convicted.
The second trial was of Anthony and Leroy Cox.. They were convicted.
The third trial was of Richard Cox and Ruth Taylor. Carla testified she and Carol Ann were molested by Anthony Cox, Leroy Cox, Richard Cox, Jeffrey Modahl, Joanne Cox, and Ruth Taylor. The defense asked for a medical exam because the allegations included vaginal rapes and sodomy of a young child. The judge refused because it "would be a wrongful invasion of the young victim’s privacy". Richard Cox and Ruth Taylor were convicted.
The fourth trial was of Jeffrey Modahl. Carla testified that Jeffrey Modahl molested her, Carol Ann Bittner, and Teresa Modahl. Her testimony was unsupported by any medical examination or physical evidence. No ropes, no nails, no nail hole in the wall, and no pictures were presented as evidence, and her testimony was contradicted by other witnesses. Carol Ann Bittner testified Jeffrey never molested her, nor had she ever seen Jeffrey molest Carla or Carol Ann as described by Carla. Richard Shang Taylor, the 7 year old brother, was not allowed to testify because he refused to state Jeffrey had done bad things to him. Jeffrey was convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison.
These rulings were made in the witch hunting atmosphere prevalent in Kern County in the mid 1980’s. During this period, county officials circulated the widely believed rumours that multi-generational satanic rings were operating in Kern County, and that children never lie about sexual abuse. Between the years 1982 to 1985, dozens of people in Kern County were convicted of elaborate forms of large scale child molestation and pornography production, and sentenced to prison for decades, even centuries. The same group of ambitious social workers, child abuse co-ordinators, deputy sheriffs, and district attorney investigated and prosecuted all these cases.
Jeffrey Modahl is still in prison today A team of supporters are fighting for his release.
NZ Judges trained by Rape Crisis
It is reported (Drent (11 May 1997). ‘Judges visit Rape Crisis in training programme’, Sunday Star-Times) that a group of High Court judges attended Rape Crisis for a training session, which included role playing by actors to help them understand rape survivors’ treatment in court. The actors were used to "to show them what goes on inside woman’s head when she is the centre of a rape trial".
COSA would welcome the opportunity similarly to provide a training session for High Court judges to help them understand the falsely accused’s treatment in court, and try to show them what goes on inside man’s head when he is the centre of a rape trial but is innocent of what he is accused.
During a trial, until the verdict is reached, we do not have a rape survivor – we have a complainant who may or may not have been raped, and we do not have a rapist – we have a defendant who may or may not be guilty. To maintain the principles of fairness and justice, both should be treated equally with respect and understanding.
A rose by any other name?
Using a strange form of logic, Rape Crisis want people to stop using the word "rape" and replace it with the term "sexual violence". The reason they give is that crimes of sexual violence warrant strong language, and they believe that the word rape has lost its impact because "people are talking about false rape complaints".
(Sunday Star-Times, 27 Apr 1997, ‘Move to replace the word "rape"’)
Book to be published on Christchurch Civic CrÃƒÂ¨che case
The Canterbury University Press will be publishing a book about the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre sexual abuse allegations. The book is by Dunedin author Lynley Hood, and is due for release late this year or early next year. It is being predicted that the book will have even more impact than the recent book by Jo Karam on the Bain murders.
Ms Hood is still keen for people with information about the case to contact her, although she has nearly finished the necessary research. She is concerned about a rumour that she has not made any effort to contact complainant families in the case. She says that she has made many attempts to contact the families and has spoken to some.
(The Press, Christchurch (22 May 1997). ‘CrÃƒÂ¨che book to cause stir’, by Martin van Beynen, 35)
Research at the department of Psychology, Waikato university, has shown that "40% of sexual attackers are girls" What the research actually did was to look at 20 children who had been referred to the local CYPS for assessment "after exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour" and compare them with a matched control group of 20. 12 of the problem children were boys and 8 were girls. The children typically came from disrupted families and had troubled backgrounds, and they were aged between 7 and 16. Rather than labelling them all as "sex offenders" however, an alternative explanation could be that these children were engaging in sex play and experimentation, and had not been taught the appropriate context and parameters of such behaviour.
(Sunday Star-Times, 27 Apr 1997, ‘Girls commit 40% of child sex attacks’)
Too dangerous to talk to children
In his regular column, journalist Peter Calder describes how a 3 year old girl named Ursula holds onto him and starts up a conversation while he is soaking in the thermal pools. In a panic that the situation might be misconstrued, he looks around for her parents or his own partner as chaperon and is so anxious that he is unable to hear anything she is saying. She soon paddles away, and Peter comments:
"She thought I was ignoring her. Innocent, unspoiled by thoroughly modern mistrust, she didn’t know that what happens between a child and an adult in these suspicious days may be pure, but it’s never simple. I’m sorry, Ursula, I would love to have got to know you better. But, though it hurts me to say so, I was just too worried about what people might think."
(NZ Herald, 26 May 1997, ‘Stranger’s greeting loaded with risk’, Peter Calder)
Famous cricketer falsely accused
Tony Lock is a famous cricketer who played for England in the 1950s and Western Australia in the 1960s.
In June 1994 he was charged by a 29 year old woman of having indecently assaulted her in 1980 when she was a 15 year old girl whom he had coached. He was found not guilty. When he left the court he said "I suppose when I die it won’t be Tony Lock, the greatest left-arm bowler to play for England, but Tony Lock, the guy who was up on sex charges".
He was then re-arrested and charged with offences with a 10 year old. The alleged assault took place at an address before the Locks had moved in. Lock was determined to fight it, but that month was diagnosed as having inoperable cancer. His wife died 2 months later, a week before their 45th wedding anniversary, and Lock believed that the stress had contributed to her death.
In Feb 1995 the 2nd charges were dropped, but Lock’s health had deteriorated and he died the following month. His son Richard recently spoke out about how his father had been frightened and victimised by a highly publicised campaign by Western Australian police in 1992, using his fame to highlight their tough stance against child abuse.
(Sunday Star-Times, 27 Apr 1997, ‘Abuse claims break player’)
Call to make smacking a crime
Waikato psychology professors Jane and James Ritchie want to make all smacking of children a criminal offence. While COSA does not condone violent behaviour against children, it believes that the judicious use of spanking to discipline children should be at the discretion of parents.
The Ritchie’s stand is supported by the Minister of Youth Affairs, Deborah Morris, who is reported as saying "when parents use smacking they are using it in anger". We question what data Ms Morris has used that enables her to make such a statement. We also note that Ms Morris does not have any children of her own.
(NZ Herald, 13 May 1997, ‘Dark stain under fire in families’)
Feminist magazine challenges counselling philosophy
It is refreshing to find this article in the NZ radical feminist magazine Broadsheet decrying the development of a counselling industry which defines women as being sick and needing healing, rather than focusing on women’s strengths.
(Rankine J (Summer 1996). "Putting therapy on the couch", Broadsheet, 12-17)
Alleged assault figures increase
A crime survey in New South Wales, Australia, found that there were more prosecutions and convictions in NSW now than in 1982, when the last survey was done. The authors of the report, research officers from the Judicial Commission of NSW, Ms Patricia Gallagher and Ms Jennifer Hickey, said that this indicated that the crime was being taken more seriously, but pointed out that while there were 2,143 reports of assault made to police, only 630 offenders were charged, and therefore "the process remains a very difficult and painful task for victims". It appears that they did not consider the possibility that many alleged offenders were not charged because there was no evidence that they had in fact committed a crime.
(Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 1997)
Loftus elected President of American Psychological Society
Elizabeth Loftus, a University of Washington psychology professor and a leading authority on human memory, has been elected president of the American Psychological Society. She will serve as president-elect of the 16,000-member organization in 1997-98 following the society’s annual meeting in Washington DC in May, and as president in l998-99. Loftus, who is also an adjunct professor of law at the UW, has studied the reliability of eyewitness memory and testimony in criminal cases and has been one of the central participants in the debate over repressed memory. In her most recent research, reported earlier this year at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Loftus discussed a series of new studies that indicated the power of human imagination may be stronger than previously suspected, blurring the line between memory and imagination.
The American Psychological Society, which was founded in 1988, is dedicated to advancing the science of psychology through research, support for the teaching of psychology and improving the human condition by freely disseminating scientific knowledge.
Child abuse register
More than 2 years ago a Denver socialite Barbara Huttner was found not guilty of molesting her 3 year old grandson. However, her name is still listed on the state’s registry of child abusers and she cannot get it removed. She is not alone.
The registry includes the names of more than 100,000 alleged perpetrators was set up in the late 1960s to help social workers investigate cases of abuse. About 6,000 names of alleged perpetrators are added every year, submitted by social workers investigating complaints they decide are founded. About 70% of those on the list have never been charged with child abuse and therefore never convicted. State officials say that an acquittal doesn’t necessarily prove innocence and therefore people cleared in court are not automatically removed from the registry.
(Rocky Mountain News (28 Apr 1997) ‘Name stuck on list of child abusers’ by Ann Carnahan)
Memory systems and the psychoanalytical retrieval of memories of trauma
Brooks Brenneis C (1996). Journal of American Psychoanalytical Association, 44 (4), 1165-1187.
This paper addresses the suggestion that trauma memories are different from other memories, a theory for which current evidence is lacking. The author warns that "the clinical application of current propositions about traumatic memory to patients without explicit memory of trauma (eg those with "body memories" or "flashbacks" and dreams) may warrant considerable caution".
He offers guidelines to assessing the validity of retrieved memories:
- How memories are recovered (those recovered through extended, multifaceted, socially influenced searches warrant greater scepticism);
- Quality of retrieved memory (more weight given to detailed recollections than to diffuse feelings, dream images and "body memories");
- Plausibility of forgetting alleged events (less credence given to multiple repetitions of severe abuse extending into late childhood or adolescence);
- Plausibility of retrieving memory (scepticism applied to memories during the period of childhood amnesia, before 2 or 3 years of age);
- Prevalence rate of alleged abuse (more weight given to more common types of abuse).
Satanist abuse and alien abduction: a comparative analysis theorizing temporal lobe activity as a possible connection between anomalous memories
Paley John (1997). British Journal of Social Work, 27, 43-70.
Dr Paley is an academic researcher of health services. While being careful not to claim that satanic ritual abuse never happens, Paley documents the striking similarities between satanic ritual abuse and alien abduction memories, and concludes that some of these memories might be "artefacts of the retrieval process". He also hypothesises that these might be related to the types of hallucinations, flashbacks and ‘memories’ elicited in people with temporal lobe lability (who are also people with increased suggestibility).
The abduction of credibility: a reply to John Paley
Cook, Kate & Kelly, Liz (1997). British Journal of Social Work, 27, 71-84.
Ms Cook is a law student, and Ms Kelly a feminist researcher into child abuse and violence against women. They find Dr Paley’s argument "unpalatable" and claim that it is more important to "respect the testimonies of women and children" than "the book-based research of privileged academics" like Paley. People who work with SRA survivors see their "visibly expressed terror, it is difficult to retain rational scepticism, and one’s priority is how to provide effective practical and emotional support".
They claim that there is documentation of proven SRA cases (they give the McMartin Day-care case as an example) and that young children who give accounts of SRA must have been abused, because "from where can they access information with which to ‘create’ these bizarre stories/experiences?".
The retractions of women who have recovered SRA memories and now believe these were false, the writers dismiss as being "the outcome of suggestion… that their original accounts were untrue".
The spectrum of factitious disorders
Feldman M & Eisendrath S (1996). American Psychiatric Press, Washington DC.
Factitious disorders are those presented by patients who feign or induce illness in order to accrue benefits of the "sick" role. A distinction is made between the psychosomatic and the deliberate feigning, the "crock" vs the "crook".
There are also factitious disorders by proxy (also known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy). Examples of these are when mothers deliberately and falsely present their children to health professionals claiming that they are ill. There is a growing number of such cases where the mother makes false claims that her child has been sexually abused (usually by the father) and enlists the support of health professionals and social workers in her ruse.
Autobiographical memory and recovered memory therapy: Integrated cognitive, clinical, and individual difference perspectives
Destun L & Kuiper N (1996). Clinical Psychology Review. 16 (5) 421-450.
This paper explains that highly hypnotisable people are likely to score high on absorption (the capacity to give total attention to an internal event, such as daydreaming or ‘losing oneself’ in a book or movie), vividness of visual imagery (the ability to experience both real and imaged events with a high degree of vividness); and suggestibility (ability to suspend critical judgement and indulge in fantasy conveyed by suggestion). All these features result in their having more difficulty distinguishing between real and imaged events.
Furthermore, highly hypnotisable subjects are more likely to find themselves in the suggestible state of hypnosis.
All these factors may contribute to highly hypnotisable people recovering memories of events that never occurred, through the influence of therapists’ suggestions during exercises such as guided imagery or journalling.
Forms of memory recovery among adults in therapy: preliminary results from an in-depth study
Andrews, Bernice. To be published in Recollections of trauma: Scientific research and clinical practice, Read & Lindsay, Plenum, New York.
Dr Andrews and colleagues interviewed 108 clinical psychologists who had between them nearly 700 clients who had recovered memories. The therapists chose to speak in detail about 236 clients.
It is reported that 33% of the memories did not involve sexual abuse, and 33% had their memories before they began therapy. ‘Memory recovery techniques’ were used in 20% of the cases. It is claimed that 41% had corroborating evidence. The authors conclude that this proves traumatic events can be forgotten completely and then remembered, and contradicts claims made by false memory societies that recovered memories are usually caused by suggestions from therapists.
This study has several potentially serious flaws:
- the researchers did not examine the corroborating evidence, merely took the therapists’ (who may have an invested interest in there being corroboration) word that they was some corroboration;
- the type of ‘corroboration’ often involved the fact that someone else (eg a sibling) claimed abuse from the same person. Since brothers and sisters might follow a sister who has recovered sexual abuse memories into therapy and then recover their own memories, this does not prove that the allegation is necessarily true;
- recalling an isolated event from childhood not perceived as traumatic at the time can be an example of simply remembering a forgotten event, not recovery of a repressed memory.
There is concern that this study will be used as a claim that memory repression and recovery is proven and common place.
[Acknowledgement to Mark Pendergrast for some of the critique of this study]
Sybil – the making of a disease: an interview with Dr Herbert Spiegel
Borch-Jacobsen M (24 Apr 1997). New York Review of Books, 60-64.
The diagnosis of MPD (multiple personality disorder) and its believed link to child sexual abuse, began with the publication of Sybil in 1973. Dr Spiegel was one of Sybil’s therapists. In this interview he speaks out for the first time, saying that he does not believe that Sybil suffered from MPD, but she was highly hypnotisable and had a histrionic personality. The MPD phenomenon that she manifested was "an artefact created by Connie Wilbur" (her primary therapist).
Spiegel states that "therapists [whose patients manifest MPD], with some exceptions, have become unconscious con artists. They are taking highly malleable, suggestible persons and moulding them into acting out a thesis that they are putting upon them".
Ernest and Betty – 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.
Ernest and Betty were born in the 1930s and married in 1957. They had three daughters in quick succession: Pamela born in 1958; Cathy in 1959 and Rosemary in 1962. Ernest worked for the military and describes himself as a fair but rather strict father.
In 1973, at the age of 15, Pamela left home to live in a "trial marriage" with her boy friend, totally against her parents’ wishes. It was a troubled year for her – the relationship was violent. She returned home in 1975.
Pamela married in 1978 and Laura was born. The marriage failed and in 1979 she returned home with her daughter Laura to live with her parents. Pamela re-married in 1986. That too, was violent and failed after 18 months. Again Pamela returned home. She was in and out of jobs, and on and off the DPB. At the family’s urging and hopefully to build her self-confidence, Pamela decided to get a flat, and moved into it in November 1991. Laura continued to live with Ernest and Betty until 1992 when she was 15.
In April 1992, Pamela went to see a counsellor because she was depressed, lonely, and without a job or outside contacts. She was aged 33 at this point. Just two months later Pamela told her family that during her therapy she has recovered memories of Ernest and other men sexually abusing from the age of 2 until about 12 or 13. These included incest, rape and indecent assaults. She claimed to have been raped by a close family friend in 1972 or 1973, and that Betty knew about this and condoned it.
Her sister Cathy had attended some of the counselling sessions to lend support to her elder sister. She came to believe that Pamela’s stories were true. Her youngest sister, Rosemary, said she knew these things never happened, and supported her parents. Cathy could not actually recall any of the incidents, but vehemently supported Pamela. The counsellor would not respond to Ernest and Betty’s repeated attempts to communicate.
Pamela laid a complaint with the police in June 1992. The police investigated and interviewed Ernest in September 1992. They decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Betty went to a psychologist for help to deal with the situation. Her therapist told her that Ernest must be guilty, and that Betty’s only course of action was to leave her husband and support her accusing daughter. Betty had no desire or intention to leave her spouse to whom she had been happily married for nearly four decades, and found this response both bizarre and totally unhelpful.
To date, Ernest and Betty have had no further contact with two of their three daughters, and the two grand-daughters, they helped raise, nor with the two other young grand-children from Cathy’s second marriage. . Rosemary has no contact with her sisters or their children, and her young son has lost access to his aunts and cousins. For a while, Rosemary said she became afraid to touch him, in case he accused her of sexually abusing him when he goes up.
With the help of her counsellor, Pamela made a claim for and obtained lump-sum ACC compensation. Despite numerous requests over the past 2 years, ACC has declined to give any information regarding the accusations on which the claim was based. They denied that Ernest was identified in Pamela’s claim as the abuser and quoted the Privacy Act. If that is so, who does Pamela now claim sexually abused her, and why have Ernest and Betty’s family been devastated by the memories their daughter claims to have recovered?
"I see that the name of this organisation means it is for casualties of sexual allegations, and while no-one has alleged that I sexually abused them I feel I am a casualty of such allegations.
My older sister alleges that Dad sexually abused her when she was quite young. Nothing about this is known in the rest of the family – my mother or by my two brothers – and my father died about 5 – 10 years before the allegations were made. She implicates Mum in the abuse. Mum was elderly when she came to know of the allegations a year or two after my sister made them and was very distressed by them. Mum died in 1995 with hardly any further contact from my sister, except abusive letters.
I was under pressure from my sister to agree that I had been sexually abused by Dad. She said she had been "and I had better get into therapy and I would probably discover that I had been too". From what I know she had "discovered" she had been sexually abused by Dad while she was attending a therapy group who met regularly over a period of time. The realisation came when she was in her late 40s.
At first I did not disbelieve her allegation, though I knew nothing about any sexual abuse in our family. She said that Dad put his penis in her mouth when she was quite young (as a baby or quite a young child). I was shocked and worried – in fact I felt a confusion of feelings, then and after, which I still haven’t sorted out.
There was a background of my sister alleging various disturbing things. At one time this included distress about her being responsible for the death of her twin, who died a few days after his birth.
When she alleged sexual abuse I found it hard to say or think clearly that possibly this didn’t happen. This was because I trusted her to tell the truth. Also, she was my older sister; she could be quite belligerent; she had considerable experience in therapy and knew better; she could be very disparaging towards me. As to her imprecations about me, I was hostile. Part of it was I hated the idea that she could know – when I didn’t – that I had been sexually abused, and by Dad. I was very reluctant to agree with the idea that my problems would probably be found to be because I had been sexually abused – but I was very upset.
In 1990, in this context, I entered counselling again and waited to see if anything would come out about me being sexually abused by Dad. Eventually I did one session supposing that someone had sexually abused me when I was quite young; I did not have any content. I had the attitude that "if this is what it take to feel better I’ll say yes I was sexually abused" and I thought "it could be true" and "some memories or content might come out over time" but this did not happen. I looked at the Courage to Heal and I thought that some of the memories were disturbingly vague to be recounted as evidence of sexual abuse. I think I started to draw the line at this point, but I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t contradict my sister’s talk, which now includes that she has multiple personality disorder. At the end of counselling I had no increasing belief that I had been sexually abused when young and told my therapist I did not think it had happened. One memory regarding Dad I could not explain definitely but I suppose it was a dream or reverie.
I recently decided to present myself to a group such as COSA, because although I don’t know if my sister has been sexually abused by my father, I feel I haven’t been, and I think that the signs are this is a fabrication, although one truly believed in by my unhappy sister. She has recently written to say she doesn’t belong in what remains of the family as "we either did it, or support it (the incest). I do not have a family any more".
I am having some difficulty sleeping and I think part of the reason for this is a lot of loose ends regarding these matters and in particular how I can express doubt about her allegations, and not being able to openly discuss issues surrounding it all.
I want to come out with those who say something has gone wrong. Some people who allege sexual abuse are mistaken. People who say "it didn’t happen" are not necessarily in denial or supporting abusers.
At present I feel I could be hated and would have no protection if I stated my belief in the wider world."
Newsletters received by COSA
FMS Foundation Newsletter (May 1997) Vol 6 (5)
Editorial includes a discussion about "hit and run" accusations, where therapy encourages clients to cut themselves off from family and friends after making the allegations.
COSA offers a service to members of sending copies of FMSF newsletter at a cost of $30 per year (including postage).
DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care) National Newsletter April 1997, 32
DSAC are applying for funding to establish a national database on child sexual abuse. They hope to use data from all cases referred for medical assessment for child sexual abuse and believe that this will provide information on the nature of child sexual abuse and its prevalence in NZ.
There are many advantages to such a study: it is national; prospective; and collects epidemiological data about the complainant and alleged perpetrator.
COSA has grave concerns however as to the criteria DSAC will use when including cases in its study. DSAC has a policy of believing the complainant, of ‘being advocate for the victim". In the past they have expressed the opinion that false allegations rarely happen, and we wonder how they will be deciding whether a complainant is a victim or not.
COSA Branch reports
News from the South
Felicity Goodyear-Smith’s visit
Many thanks to all our Canterbury members for their fine efforts and support that made Felicity’s visit a huge success. Felicity’s presence down here was indeed a unifying force and the meetings and news media coverage lifted COSA’s profile considerably.
Like a lot of our members I come from a trades background, in my case building. Every day I deal with the general public, we talk the same language, they know a good job from a bad job and can see and touch the work that has been well done. Since I have become involved with false allegations of sexual abuse I have had to learn another language. This is the language used by prosecution lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counsellors. I have tried to use it in my trade. For example when I have a "repressed memory" it means that I forgot about the job, if the client is suffering a "post traumatic stress disorder" it means the job cost too much …. this was because the architect had a "multiple personality disorder", he kept changing his mind and the plans, plus the client’s kids have a multitude of "accommodation syndromes" … the rooms are too small! And on it goes. To put it simply, this language is pure "mumbo-jumbo" designed to cloak the activities of the previously mentioned "professionals". If ordinary people were to try and use it they would find it is like putting their hands into a bowl of porridge …. it makes a mess and they will get hold of nothing.