COSA [North] Casualties Of Sexual Allegations News & Views June-July 2000 Vol 2 Issue 3

Contents of this page:

Editorial: Regulation of Counselling Our main concern in COSA is with sex abuse counsellors. Their potential to cause harm is enormous and unbridled. In many cases, they have met and exceeded that potential. Many allegations arising from counselling intervention have been blatantly false. There are no effective public checks and balances on the activities of sex abuse counsellors. No public scrutiny of the content of their training courses. No nationally controlled examinations. No licensing. No regulation. No acceptable complaints procedures. And no accountability. If counsellors want the respect and confidence of the public, and want us to pay them, they must meet contemporary standards of practice and change quickly to an evidence-based philosophy.

A Juror Has Second Thoughts by Dorothy Rabinowitz A juror has written a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, now considering the petition for executive clemency. He says: "I am convinced that Mr. Amirault was innocent." He had come to this conclusion, the letter continues, on the basis of all he had learned from his reading about the case. "I think my jury was misled and did not hear all the evidence," the juror writes. Noting that the verdict was based on the children’s testimony, he says, further, "We believed the children and did not know that their testimony was tainted." In the light of all that has been revealed since Peter Ellis was convicted, I wonder whether jurors at his trial are having second thoughts?

Madness on the Couch : Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis This new book by Edward Dolnick is one of the most readable yet profoundly informative books one is likely to encounter in the rising tide of books critical of the mental health enterprise. Madness on the Couch raises disturbing questions about the mental health enterprise overall while putting yet another nail in the coffin of psychoanalysis. It is only when enough conscientious professionals and laypersons see the recurrent pattern in these devastating pseudo-scientific aberrations that we can hope to be spared future recovered memory movements.

Brief News from the April 2000 False Memory Syndrome Foundation Conference in New York – the journal Dissociation has ceased publication, Dr Bennett Braun just lost his license to practice medicine in Illinois, all of the DID/MPD units in hospitals, etc., throughout the United States have been closed.

Yet Another Therapist Bites the Dust A second Genesis Associates partner, Patricia Neuhausel has given up her state license and agreed to permanently abandon her social work state license and not pursue licenses in related fields. The Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology two weeks ago approved a similar agreement with former Genesis psychologist Patricia Mansmann. A state attorney said Neuhausel’s case "involved numerous violations of the Social Workers’ Practice Act as well as violations of the prior consent order."

The Infamous Wenatchee Case Wenatchee, in the State of Washington, made world headlines in 1994 and 1995 when police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation’s most extensive child sex-abuse investigation. By the time it was done, at least 60 adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex-abuse involving 43 children. Many of the accused were poor or developmentally disabled. Most of those convicted have now had their convictions overturned by Appeal Courts.

Is Satanic Ritual Abuse Alive and Well in New Zealand? A professional couple has been charged with 24 sexual offences against the woman’s two adult daughters, now in their 20’s. The natural father of these two adult women has also been arrested. He has been charged with 10 sexual offences, which the two women alleged occurred between 1981 -1988. The couple also has a young daughter. According to reports, one of the couple works with young children in a pre-school. Child, Youth and Family spokesman Stephen Ward said he could not comment in detail on the case, for legal reasons. "What we can say is that, along with police, we’ve taken a very active interest in the young daughter’s well-being. We are continuing to take steps to ensure she is safe. "We will react appropriately if this case causes us to have concerns about the safety of other children having contact with the adults who have been charged," said Ward.

COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices

The State of Washington has ruled that the crime victims compensation program will no longer authorize services and treatment for any therapies which focus on the recovery of repressed memory, or recovery of memory which focuses on memories of physically impossible acts, highly improbable acts for which verification should be available, but is not, or unverified memories of acts occurring prior to the age of two.


Editorial

Regulation of Counselling

In the past decade or so, New Zealand has had a huge growth in the number of people offering "counselling". Scores of them are listed in the Yellow Pages. Counselling has become entrenched in everyday life – counselling for grief, stress, relationships, eating disorders, and social workers in schools to name just a few. To that list, one could add tarot card readers, psychics, clairvoyants, astrologers, numerologists, aroma-therapists, crystal merchants, and a host of similar practitioners. Their activities permeate our communities and the outcomes are perceived by most clients to be helpful. Provided they affect only the client, they are relatively harmless.

Our main concern in COSA is with sex abuse counsellors. Their potential to cause harm is enormous and unbridled. In many cases, they have met and exceeded that potential. Many allegations arising from counselling intervention have been blatantly false.

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire, USA, in Hungerford v Jones, [U.S. District Court No. 97-657 Joel Hungerford v. Susan L. Jones, December 18, 1998] succinctly defined the consequences of false allegations:

It is indisputable that being labelled a child abuser is one of the most loathsome labels in society and most often results in grave physical, emotional, professional, and personal ramifications. This is particularly so where a parent has been identified as the perpetrator. Even when such an accusation is proven to be false, it is unlikely that social stigma, damage to personal relationships, and emotional turmoil can be avoided. In fact, the harm caused by misdiagnosis often extends beyond the accused parent and devastates the entire family. Society also suffers because false accusations cast doubt on true claims of abuse and thus undermine valuable efforts to identify and eradicate sexual abuse.

The court found the public interest was best served by restricting therapists’ [counsellors’] immunity:

….a therapist owes an accused parent a duty of care in the diagnosis and treatment of an adult patient for sexual abuse where the therapist or the patient, acting on the encouragement, recommendation, or instruction of the therapist, takes public action concerning the accusation. In such instances the social utility of detecting and punishing sexual abusers and maintaining the breadth of treatment choices for patients is outweighed by the substantial risk of severe harm to falsely accused parents, the family unit and society.

"Public action" in this context includes making recommendations and claims to ACC for compensation and treatment. Counsellors who, in the absence of genuine evidence, conclude that a client had been sexually abused, are guilty of reprehensible conduct. They wound the client and offend the public. They have no right, privilege or authority to attach the loathsome and vile label of "child abuser" to men they have never met, and about whom they know nothing of substance.

Training & Regulation

The need for regulation of activities of those whose work affects public health, welfare and safety is well grounded, and there are many examples – medical practitioners, nurses, pilots, lawyers, professional engineers, electricians, gasfitters and etc. Their training is based on scientific principles, empirical evidence and testable methods and practice, which comply with well-known standards.

Sound and correct training, examination, and licensing ensure competence. Codes of Practice and Ethics ensure compliance with defined standards. Complaints Procedures ensure that incompetence and malpractice can be dealt with quickly and effectively. These regulatory factors affect public confidence in the services provided.

When licensed practitioners make mistakes, they are held accountable. No sound argument supports the idea that counsellors should be treated differently.

Does sex abuse counselling meet the standards of mainstream mental health services? Have their theories and methods undergone scientific, professional and public scrutiny to prove their products, procedures and services are safe and effective? Is their training soundly based on scientific principles? Are they properly examined?

Should public and legal controls be imposed on the counselling occupations? Do counsellors need a License to Practice? Does counselling include genuine informed consent as a pre-condition to treatment? Should counsellors be accountable for the results of their work? Do they owe a duty of care to their clients and third parties? Should redress be available when counselling goes wrong?

The short answers are that there are no effective public checks and balances on the activities of sex abuse counsellors. No public scrutiny of the content of their training courses. No nationally controlled examinations. No licensing. No regulation. No acceptable complaints procedures. And no accountability.

The scientific method involves observation, measurement of entities that can be quantified, accumulation of data and analysis of the findings. On the other hand, purveyors of pseudo-science attempt to cloak unproved theories and conjecture, untested products and procedures, in a veil of scientific jargon. They often adopt the language of contemporary technologies, in an attempt to benefit from the prestigious appeal of the scientific, without undergoing the rigours of its method – sex abuse counselling bears those hallmarks.

Counsellors take reports of abuse at face value. They base much of their work on two naïve assumptions; firstly that self-reports of abuse are equivalent to actual abuse; and secondly, that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between those reported events and a later need for therapy.

They argue that their "clinical experience" provides sufficient evidence on which to ground their theories and methods, and thereby claim special expertise. They often promote "alternative ways of knowing" involving intuition and feelings. They seem easily convinced by theories that cannot be objectively measured, and suspicious of any evidence that can be quantified. They seem so preoccupied with their own beliefs that they are unable to hear the evidence, logic and arguments of those with scientific and common sense views.

They argue that the training they do in Polytechnics and other venues is of high quality, but much of the material used on their courses is from amateur journals, self-help junk-science books, and from authors whose work has been seriously questioned, or worse, discredited. It is largely belief-based material.

This lack of rigour, testable theory and evidence-based methodology has resulted in the proliferation of dubious practices, misleading "statistics", and advocacy-based claims. These deficiencies caused an astonishing range of rubbish to be foist on the public and the Government.

A very few of the hundreds of junk-science, belief-based theories used in various forms of counselling include Recovered Memories, Satanic Ritual Abuse, Multiple Personality Disorder, Guided Imagery, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Body Memories, Dream Interpretation, Journalling, Art work, Past Life Regression, Facilitated Communication, Re-Birthing, Re-Parenting, Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Emotional Freedom Technique, Holographic Repatterning, Integration of energy psychology with EMDR, NLP with hypnotherapy, Resonance Tuning, Palm Therapy, Therapeutic Touch…..and many others. Because they are belief-based, these practices have the potential to go horribly wrong.

COSA argues that conclusions drawn from "clinical experience" are biased, contaminated, dangerous, unvalidated and unscientific. We argue that because counselling affects the mental health of clients, their families and the wider community, the training, practice and regulation of counselling should match the standards associated with contemporary knowledge, experience and evidence-based treatments of the mainstream public health services. We contend that the training and regulation of sex abuse counsellors is manifestly unsound and deficient.

Ethics & Complaints

When counselling goes wrong, or a counsellor behaves unethically or incompetently, is a reliable and impartial Complaints Procedure available to the public? The ARCI (Counselling Costs) Regulations 1992, established a Counsellors Approval Committee. It has power to approve counsellors to work on behalf of ACC, and also to remove them from the register under very limited circumstances – malpractice or incompetence are not grounds for removal. The Regulations require "approved counsellors" to have membership of an organisation which has an "appropriate" Code of Ethics and Complaints Procedure.

The former Minister of ACC, Hon Murray McCully, advised me that "In developing these Regulations, the Government’s intention was for counselling to become a self-regulatory profession with the Counselling Costs Regulations the infrastructure for this to occur."

The NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC) has a Code of Ethics which is 3½ pages of nice, politically-correct words. It appears to be aimed more at protecting its members, rather than protecting the public. By comparison, the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics is 25 pages of detailed material clearly aimed at protection for clients and the public, and control of its members.

NZAC also has a Complaints Procedure. I used it. It is a useless, toothless, Paper Tiger. Putting a complaint to an organisation with vested interests in protecting its members does not fulfil the public need for accountability, nor does it meet Government’s intention. I regard NZAC’s complaints procedure as a self-protection device, not a self-regulatory one.

Practice

Is counselling provided by ACC’s "approved counsellors" effective and scientifically reliable? ACC legislation affecting claims for sexual abuse is clearly framed in terms of evidence of criminal sexual offences and of consequential mental injury. However, ACC does not require claimants to identify the alleged perpetrator and claims are unaffected by whether or not charges have been laid or convictions handed down. In fact, it is quite often the case that when an alleged perpetrator is identified, he is unlikely ever to find out that he was accused of sexual abuse. Genuine evidence of abuse is rarely, if ever, sought by ACC.

Instead of being evidence-based, ACC’s decisions on rehabilitation and compensation for sexual abuse claimants are based on a number of assumptions:

  1. Claimants and counsellors are always truthful,
  2. Sexual abuse always causes mental injury,
  3. Counsellors can determine, on the basis of a client’s unverified history, and without corroborative evidence, whether she/he has experienced a sexual offence,
  4. The alleged abuse is the cause of current psychological problems,
  5. Sexual abuse counselling is a safe and effective form of treatment for claimants, and
  6. Counsellors outside mainstream mental health services are competent to give treatment.

Those are fatally flawed assumptions, unsupported by contemporary scientific research and evidence. Despite their claims, counsellors cannot correctly decide or assess whether a client was sexually abused, unless genuine evidence of a criminal offence is obtained. Sexual abuse does not always result in mental injury, nor does it always cause psychological or behavioural problems.

The "talking-cure" treatment dispensed by counsellors is inefficient and costly. It is fundamentally wrong to by-pass mainstream mental health services by leaving the many thousands of claimants in the hands of poorly trained and unregulated practitioners.

The cost to the taxpayer of ACC’s Sensitive Claims Unit is therefore improperly justified on a confused and ill-informed set of assumptions and beliefs. These ingrained systemic flaws are unlikely to be corrected until ACC and its counsellors are obliged to comply with established standards of science, ethics, practice and evidence-based treatments.

How, then, did ACC’s counsellors manage to process almost 80,000 cases in the past few years? They did it because their knowledge, skills and credibility were not challenged. In other words, they literally conned Government, ACC and the public into believing they have a divining rod to tell them whether sexual abuse actually occurred, and that they are competent to treat mental injury.

Conclusions

The causes of these and related problems are incredibly poor training, the use of beliefs instead of science, and a complete lack of regulation of an entire industry, compounded by the fact that ACC and its counsellors operate outside professionally qualified and supervised mainstream mental health systems.

We need to move forward from these amateurish attitudes and excesses by imposing reliable science-based training, rigorous public examination, licensing of practitioners and clear standards, on all those who provide "counselling", and especially on sex abuse counsellors. Counsellors must be required to qualify for and join mainstream health providers, or cease practicing. They must accept they have a duty of care to those affected by their work.

Regulation of their industry is long overdue. It is vital that an impartial and responsive Complaints Tribunal be established. Its inherent features should include evidence given on oath, public hearings and realistic penalties for malpractice and incompetence.

If counsellors want the respect and confidence of the public, and want us to pay them, they must meet contemporary standards of practice and change quickly to an evidence-based philosophy.

Gordon Waugh.

Editor

A Juror Has Second Thoughts, by Dorothy Rabinowitz

(from The Wall Street Journal, 12 May 2000)

"It was inevitable that jurors in cases like that of the Amiraults would one day discover all they never knew about the testimony and other evidence the prosecutors had presented. They had once sat listening to dramatic recitals by five- and six-year-olds, all unaware of the pressure, pleading and perseverance it had taken to produce such charges from children who had had to learn from the investigators all about the sexual attacks and tortures that had supposedly been inflicted on them by the Amiraults." [In the light of all that has been revealed since Peter Ellis was convicted, I wonder whether jurors at his trial are having second thoughts? – Ed]

In the long years since the members of the Amirault family were convicted of atrocious sexual crimes against children at the Fells Acres Day School, the jurors have maintained their silence. That silence has now been broken by one of those who voted, in 1986, for the conviction of Gerald Amirault.

The words of that juror are to be found in his letter to Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, now considering the petition for executive clemency filed on behalf of Gerald, the Amirault still behind bars serving a 30- to 40-year sentence.

Urging Gerald’s immediate release, the juror wrote, "I am convinced that Mr. Amirault was innocent." He had come to this conclusion, the letter continues, on the basis of all he had learned from his reading about the case. "I think my jury was misled and did not hear all the evidence," the juror writes. Noting that the verdict was based on the children’s testimony, he says, further, "We believed the children and did not know that their testimony was tainted." A superior court judge had reviewed the case and shown that taint, the letter continues — a reference to Judge Isaac Borenstein’s detailed inquiry and his ensuing report, which heaped scorn on arguments that the prosecutors had proceeded in the interests of justice and rightly convicted the Amiraults.

"We did not know the children were inappropriately interviewed," writes the juror — nor did he or the rest of the jurors know how authorities and parents influenced that testimony.

"If I knew then, what I know now from reading the newspaper, I would not have convicted Mr. Amirault," he adds. The juror’s letter concludes with a final plea to "release Mr. Amirault and undo a terrible wrong."

Significantly, the juror doesn’t ask for Gerald’s release on the grounds that it would be merciful, but rather that he was wrongly convicted. It is a plea for justice, not compassion — an important distinction in a chronicle of state-inflicted evil whose truth has already been muddied by concessions and bargains made, we are informed, in the name of mercy.

It was such an arrangement that ensured that Gerald’s sister, Cheryl — tried in 1987 and sent off, along with their mother, Violet, to do eight to 20 years — would not have to return to prison when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts last August reinstated her conviction. In exchange for this act of compassion, the prosecutors’ office required a promise that Cheryl Amirault would pursue no further legal efforts to establish her innocence. This bargain, which secured her freedom, also ensured that her conviction would remain intact.

Legally speaking, matters had turned out differently in the case of Violet Amirault, who died with the presumption of her innocence permanently restored. Her death came in 1997, before the Supreme Judicial Court could reinstate the conviction of the once proud and successful Mrs. Amirault, whose preschool had been her life’s passion and – like numerous others in the wrong line of work in the era of hotline accusations and mass abuse trials — the source, also, of unimaginable ruin and degradation.

A grant of executive clemency for Gerald Amirault would not of course mean legal vindication, but neither would it require any deal that would prevent him from pursuing further efforts to establish his innocence.

It was inevitable that jurors in cases like that of the Amiraults would one day discover all they never knew about the testimony and other evidence the prosecutors had presented. They had once sat listening to dramatic recitals by five- and six-year-olds, all unaware of the pressure, pleading and perseverance it had taken to produce such charges from children who had had to learn from the investigators all about the sexual attacks and tortures that had supposedly been inflicted on them by the Amiraults.

This was no ordinary resort to tainted testimony. The children’s interviews were systematic, their sole objective the creation of abuse accusations. The jurors could not have known that investigators looking into the charges against the Amiraults had interested themselves exclusively in efforts to prove the family’s guilt — that the question of whether anything had in fact happened to the children was not one they were prepared to consider.

Begged for stories about bad things that had happened, the children had provided the interviewers with spectacular reports — all the now-famous tales about invading robots, mutilated squirrels, and how Miss Violet had tied a naked boy to a tree in front of the school while all the teachers and children watched. The jurors could not have considered the point Judge Borenstein, among others, later made — that the prosecutors never questioned the credibility of child witnesses relating these fantasies.

The juries have spoken, district attorneys defending the Amirault prosecutions regularly inform all challengers – an argument also made by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The juror who has come forward now is, so far, a lone voice, and as such also a reminder of what might have been. Indeed, a single dissenting vote could have prevented Gerald Amirault’s conviction.

The juror has since read and learned and shown himself more alive to the claims of justice than those who sit on the state’s highest court. Even in the militant climate of irrationality in which the Amiraults were tried, it would have been difficult to imagine that revelations about fabricated testimony, investigators prompting children to make their accusations, and all the rest of the insults to justice represented by the Amiraults’ prosecution would one day be dismissed – by the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts – as insufficient indicators of a miscarriage of justice.

Gov. Cellucci may have a different view.

Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis

A New Book Reviewed by John P. Brown, Jr., Ph.D.

Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis by Edward Dolnick, is one of the most readable yet profoundly informative books one is likely to encounter in the rising tide of books critical of the mental health enterprise. While not nearly as current or as sweeping an indictment of the mental health industry as the meticulously documented Manufacturing Victims by Tana Dineen, or as painfully current as Therapy’s Delusions by Ethan Watters and Richard Ofshe, Madness on the Couch nevertheless raises disturbing questions about the mental health enterprise overall while putting yet another nail in the coffin of psychoanalysis.

Dolnick focuses on psychoanalysts’ disastrous venture into the treatment of schizophrenia, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. With telling quotes and revealing anecdotes, Dolnick lets the players themselves tell the story of how groundless -often truly bizarre – speculation took on the aura of scientific truth through credulous repetition and the power of mental health politics. Again and again Dolnick shows how sufferers and family members were not only given obviously ineffective treatment but were actually blamed for causing the conditions – not on the basis of a great deal of scientific information, or even a little scientific evidence, but on no scientific evidence whatsoever.

Given the magnitude of the damage done, Dolnick is surprisingly gentle in his assessment of pseudo-science run amok and leaves the reader with a comfortable feeling that the mental health field, belatedly seeking guidance from science, has moved on to safer and more effective treatment.

Such comfort in the progress of the mental health enterprise is premature, however, and that is why Dolnick’s Madness on the Couch is a must read. From the perspectives of both science and clinical practice there is no difference between schizophrenogenic mothers and parents falsely accused of sexually molesting their troubled offspring.

Anyone seeking to honestly understand the now waning recovered repressed memory movement – with its bizarre sideshows of satanic ritual abuse and multiple personality disorder – can see in Dolnick’s book that the road from science – defying speculation through contagious spreading by uncritical professionals and credulous media to eventual exposure and decline has been well travelled.

It is only when enough conscientious professionals and laypersons see the recurrent pattern in these devastating pseudo-scientific aberrations that we can hope to be spared future recovered memory movements. Dolnick’s thoroughly engrossing Madness on the Couch gives the reader a clear accounting of a past that can be a prologue, if we choose to ignore the obvious patterns

Brief News from the April 2000 FMSF Conference in New York

By E-mail, Holly Wakefield wrote: Good news looming up here folks ……

At the FMSF conference last weekend [April], we were told that the journal Dissociation has ceased publication because so many of the members of the organization have quit or have not renewed their memberships because of the difficulties MPD therapists and recovered membership therapists have had in the last few years.

The latest is that Dr Bennett Braun just lost his license to practice medicine in Illinois.

We were also told that all of the DID/MPD units in hospitals, etc., throughout the United States have been closed for the same reasons.

Yet Another Therapist Bites the Dust

The Philadelphia Daily News (Wed, Apr 12, 2000) published an article advising that a second Genesis Associates partner gave up her state license. In abridged form, the article says a partner in the controversial Genesis Associates firm has agreed to permanently abandon her social work state license and not pursue licenses in related fields.

The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counsellors Tuesday unanimously accepted the consent agreement with Patricia Neuhausel, a social worker for the Exton-based Genesis firm.

The State Board of Psychology two weeks ago approved a similar agreement with former Genesis psychologist Patricia Mansmann. A state attorney said Neuhausel’s case "involved numerous violations of the Social Workers’ Practice Act as well as violations of the prior consent order."

In signing these consent agreements, neither Neuhausel nor Mansmann admitted to the allegations made by the state. They will still be permitted to engage in counselling activities not regulated by state licensing boards.

Neuhausel and the state reached an agreement on March 26, but it was not accepted by the state board until Tuesday. The agreement covers not only social work but related fields such as professional counselling and marriage therapy. "She is voluntarily giving up her license to practice social work, forever," within Pennsylvania, state attorney Mark Greenwald explained to board members.

The state formally accused Neuhausel in November of practices ranging from unprofessional to grossly negligent. The state alleged that she "detached" some clients from their family members without the clients’ fully informed consent and asked some clients to help pay the firm’s legal expenses.

A prepared statement from the Department of State said in part, "Ms. Neuhausel has agreed not to offer any service involving the practice of social work or psychology as defined in the statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychology and the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counsellors.

"She may provide any type of counselling or services that fall outside the jurisdictions of the respective licensing Boards, and may offer services to the general public that are not covered by any of the licensing statutes," it continued. "Services offered by her, however, may not be advertised as being provided by a professional licensee."

The Infamous Wenatchee Case

Wenatchee, in the State of Washington, made world headlines in 1994 and 1995 when police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation’s most extensive child sex-abuse investigation. By the time it was done, at least 60 adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex-abuse involving 43 children. Many of the accused were poor or developmentally disabled. Most of those convicted have now had their convictions overturned by Appeal Courts. The latest news, as of 20 May, is:

Mark and Carol Doggett, key figures in the Wenatchee child sex-ring investigations, will not face a new trial on charges they raped their children. Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen said his office won’t retry the couple, who were released from jail in 1998.

The decision came six weeks after the state Supreme Court declined to review prosecutors’ contentions about errors when the Doggetts’ 1995 convictions were thrown out. Riesen said the court ruling meant prosecutors wouldn’t be able to enter some evidence. "There have been recantations by the kids as well," Riesen said.

The Doggetts, who now live in Bothell, said they aren’t surprised by the news. "Actually, we expected this after we were first arrested," Carol Doggett said. "This is far from over. That was only the top of the inning. Now it’s our turn."

Since their 1998 release from prison, the Doggetts have been reunited with four of their five children and are working at being reunited with the fifth, who remains in foster care in the Wenatchee area. Mark Doggett, 43, works as a warehouseman, and Carol, 41, is employed as a computer draftsman.

The couple were arrested in late 1994 by Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez on 1,000 counts each of child rape. They were found guilty of first-degree child rape and complicity to commit first-degree child molestation. The alleged victim was their 9-year-old daughter. They were acquitted on charges they raped a son and two other daughters. Each was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison.

Wenatchee made world headlines in 1994 and 1995 when police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation’s most extensive child sex-abuse investigation. By the time it was done, at least 60 adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex-abuse involving 43 children. Many of the accused were poor or developmentally disabled.

In February 1998, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published "The Power to Harm," a series of articles that documented overzealous – even abusive – actions by Perez and social service caseworkers, civil rights violations by judges and prosecutors as well as sloppy work by public defenders. Since then, many of the convicted have been freed by higher courts, largely through the work of The Innocence Project, a group of volunteer lawyers.

The Doggett’s convictions were overturned by the state Court of Appeals, which found the state failed to show their daughter told the truth about sex abuse. The Doggetts contend Perez bullied their children into making accusations.

The court also said the couple should have been able to call an expert witness on false-memory syndrome. The appeals court also questioned whether coercive behaviour by authorities had left the girl incapable of testifying accurately.

"What people don’t seem to understand is how CPS (Child Protective Services) and police operate, secluding the children away so nobody can talk to them," Carol Doggett said yesterday. "The stories our kids are telling are really gut-wrenching," she said.

Is Satanic Ritual Abuse Alive and Well in New Zealand?

The two girls [now in their 20’s] told police that when they were aged 8 and 10, they were placed on tables as part of a ritual involving several adults dressed in black. A line of red candle wax was placed on one of the girls’ foreheads before her step-father raped her. It is alleged on one occasion the older girl was not allowed dinner until she performed oral sex on her step-father. [Whatever happened to healthy scepticism ? A decade of fantastic and wacky claims of sexual abuse has produced no evidence of satanic ritual abuse. There are no sensible grounds for believing this sort of drivel. – Ed.]

Reports in the Sunday Star-Times (Apr 23 and Apr 30) advised that a professional couple had been charged with 24 sexual offences against the woman’s two adult daughters, now in their 20’s. The natural father of these two adult women has also been arrested. He has been charged with 10 sexual offences, which the two women alleged occurred between 1981 – 1988. The couple also has a young daughter. According to the reports, one of the couple works with young children in a pre-school.

The alleged abuse by the couple went on for more than 10 years and may have ritual overtones.

The officer heading the case is reported to have said "I’ve been in the CIB Child Abuse Bureau for a while and this is a bizarre case. It certainly is outside the square."

The couple were arrested in April, a few weeks after complaints were laid with police by the woman’s two daughters, step-daughters of the man. The women told police they were speaking out now, because they feared for the couple’s younger child. The couple appeared in the District Court in mid-April, when a judge gave them permission to take their young daughter out of town for Easter. They have been remanded on bail until a pre-depositions hearing. They have denied the charges and their names have been suppressed. Police opposed bail, but the court placed no restrictions on the couple’s involvement with young children while they were on bail.

Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, said he was shocked education authorities had not been notified. He would seek police assurance the children in the preschool were safe. However, he believed the charges were so serious the couple should not be around children until the case had been through the courts. "Where there is a hint of accusation of this kind of behaviour, we should do all we can to keep our children safe," said McClay. "I know that is a brutal statement. But we are better to err on the sided of caution."

Police said they had alerted Child, Youth and Family about the child as soon as the two women approached them. Child, Youth and Family sought an order for custody of the child, but the couple fought the agency in the High Court and won the right to keep the child in their care.

Child, Youth and Family spokesman Stephen Ward said he could not comment in detail on the case, for legal reasons. "What we can say is that, along with police, we’ve taken a very active interest in the young daughter’s well-being. We are continuing to take steps to ensure she is safe. "We will react appropriately if this case causes us to have concerns about the safety of other children having contact with the adults who have been charged," said Ward.

The two women alleged the offences were committed by their natural father between 1981 to 1988, and by their mother and step-father, between 1984 and 1991. They include rape, sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, indecent assault and anal intercourse.

The two women allege they were often forced to watch their mother and stepfather have sex, with their stepfather often acting in a verbally abusive and threatening manner towards them.

They told police that when they were aged eight and ten they were placed on tables as part of a ritual involving several adults dressed in black. A line of red candle wax was placed on one of the girls’ foreheads before her stepfather raped her. It is alleged that on one occasion, the older girl was not allowed dinner until she performed oral sex on her stepfather.

COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices

COSA Meetings

We hold a public meeting in conjunction with the North Shore Men’s Centre at 7.30 pm on the second Monday of each month. Everyone is welcome. The venue is the Onepoto Community Rooms, Pearn Crescent, Northcote. If you want to attend but are unsure of the exact location, give them a call on 415 0049. (map here)

Important Website

The Men’s Centre North Shore carries all the COSA material including all the old newsletters on its website. For those of you with computers, visit the site at: www.menz.org.nz/cosa There is much material on other related topics as well.

Positive Partners Strong Families

This is a course on communication and conflict resolution for couples, run by two trained Facilitators. To register, contact Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith at the Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, PB 92019 Auckland.

E-mail: f.goodyear-smith@auckland.ac.nz

(more on Positive Partners Strong Families)

Contributions to the Newsletter

It’s hard work putting the Newsletter together all by myself! We’d appreciate input from members. Please keep an eye on your local newspapers for articles which clearly give misleading information on sexual abuse to the public. We would also like to receive items on court cases. When sending cuttings, please ensure you mark them with the name of the newspaper and the date of publication.

We would also like to receive Letters to the Editor or articles for publication. In the interests of ethics, credibility and privacy, only your Given Name and Town/City (eg John, Levin – or Jane, Katikati) will be published with your letter.

Subscriptions

If you are unsure as to whether your subscription is current, please write, phone, fax, or e-mail Colleen. She will be happy to advise you.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM for COSA North was scheduled for 15 April. We mailed a report, dated 27 April, on the outcome of the AGM to all members. No responses have yet been received. We really would like to hear from you, so please put pen to paper! !

Editor, Gordon Waugh

Washington Crime Victims Compensation

STOP PRESS!!!

The following decision results from an analysis which showed that RM practices are dangerous – an extract from recently adopted rules forcompensation by the State of Washington Department of Labor and Industries, Crime Victims Compensation:

Date of Adoption: April 20, 2000

Effective Date of Rule: May 22, 2000.

(1) The crime victims compensation program will not authorize services and treatment:

(e) For any therapies which focus on the recovery of repressed memory, or recovery of memory which focuses on memories of physically impossible acts, highly improbable acts for which verification should be available, but is not, or unverified memories of acts occurring prior to the age of two.

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