COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter March 1998 Vol 5 No 2
Contents of this page:
Editorial: the last few months have been the quietest COSA has known We suspect that many the interviewing errors of children in the past (multiple interviews using leading questions, encouragement to ‘disclose’, and anatomical dolls) have been remedied. We also suspect that counsellors and psychologists these days are far more cautious about attributing all adult problems to past sexual abuse, and do not embark on recovering ‘repressed’ memories with the enthusiasm which was evident 5 years ago.
Rise in civil cases A worrying development, however, is the growing trend for complainants to sue their alleged offenders rather than report them to the police. Lawyer Antonia Fisher (of the law firm Brookfields) is specialising in such cases. In the past 2 years she has successfully won damages from men for her clients. None of the men have been criminally convicted.
ACC figures – from the ACC Sensitive Claims Office. ACC lump sum payments for sexual abuse claims rose from 221 in 1988 to 11,740 in 1995. From 1988 to 1991, the cost of compensation increased by 25% per year, until the lump-sum scheme was abolished in 1992 in response to the budget blow-out. At its peak, the number of ACC claimants reached 500 per week.
Courts: Second hung jury for Judge Elliott
School boys found not guilty of rape charges (UK)
Jury awards compensation to falsely accused couple in ‘Mr Bubbles’ case (Australia)
Woman jailed for false complaint about paternity of her sister’s child (Australia)
Juror fights for convicted man’s release (USA)
Another Janet Reno conviction overturned (USA)
New trial sought in Fells Acre day care case (USA)
Media: Call for justice for Ellis
Satanic Ritual Abuse in Britain
Psychiatrist investigated for implanting false memories of satanic abuse (USA)
Literature: Hidden memories: voices and visions from within
Children’s eye-witness testimony
Objective Documentation of Child Abuse and Dissociation in 12 Murderers With Dissociative Identity Disorder
Regular Features: Correspondence
Chairman’s report COSA (Canterbury) Inc
The last few months have been the quietest COSA has known
We are pleased to report that the last two to three months have been the quietest COSA has known since we started in 1994. The numbers attending our support group have dropped, and so too have the monthly number of phone calls and letters from families and individuals reporting new cases of false allegations. Certainly COSA has not received much media coverage recently, and any time we have publicity we have fielded a stream of new cases. However, we are hopeful that the decline in number heralds a real change, and not just the result of people either not being aware of our organisation, or alternatively deciding that we have nothing to offer. We suspect that many the interviewing errors of children in the past (multiple interviews using leading questions, encouragement to ‘disclose’, and anatomical dolls) have been remedied. We also suspect that counsellors and psychologists these days are far more cautious about attributing all adult problems to past sexual abuse, and do not embark on recovering ‘repressed’ memories with the enthusiasm which was evident 5 years ago.
This is certainly the case in the United States, where convictions arising from the sexual abuse hysteria of the 1980s continue to be overturned (as outlined in this and previous COSA Newsletter issues)
The problem is still not over, however, and false allegations will continue to occur (although thankfully at a lesser rate) while cases can rest on uncorroborated testimony, and while policies of automatically and uncritically believing the complainant remain.
We have a growing list of people on our register of cases based on uncorroborated evidence. We are calling for a Commission of Inquiry into such cases. This is a preliminary notice of intent- we will not re not going to show this list to anyone yet (and we will contact those on the list before doing so), but we would like to know who might be interested in having their case revisited by an Inquiry. If you would like to be included, and have not already done so, please contact our secretary, Mrs Colleen Waugh, to have you name added to the list.
Rise in civil cases
A worrying development, however, is the growing trend for complainants to sue their alleged offenders rather than report them to the police (Sunday Star-Times, 15 Feb 1998, Ruling incentive to sue attackers, D Chisholm). This is in wake of a recent appeal court judgement that ruled that victims could not sue for exemplary damages if the offender has been prosecuted, because this represents a double punishment. With the abolition of lump sum payments, women are being encouraged to sue rather than charge. Lawyer Antonia Fisher is specialising in such cases. In the past 2 years she has successfully won damages from men for her clients. None of the men have been criminally convicted.
This is particularly attractive option in historical cases where complainants allege abuse years, even decades in the past, because a much lower standard of proof is required in civil cases. Women may make allegations that someone has sexually molested them some time in the past and be awarded substantial sums of money (to be paid by their alleged offender) in the complete absence of any other evidence. The accused may be considered guilty merely on the balance of probability, and not on the grounds of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ required in a criminal hearing. In some ways this is a parallel to the Family Court situation, where fathers may be acquitted in the Criminal Court but still denied access to their children by the Family Court merely on the grounds of a suspicion that abuse may have occurred, or is at risk of occurring in the future.
We have received the following figures from the ACC Sensitive Claims Office about the number of claimants and costs of claims to the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit:
While figures of 11 to 13 million dollars a year are substantial sums to be spent (with little or no objective evidence that the counselling has an positive outcome), these amounts appear to be considerably less than figures released by ACC in the past. Clearly the ‘entitlement’ figures do not include lump sum payments by ACC during that period. We do not know just what ‘entitlements are, but the most likely guess is that these are the Independent Allowances (based on estimated % disability resulting from the sexual abuse) which took over from the lump sum compensation payments. Previous information released from ACC includes the following:
ACC lump sum payments for sexual abuse claims rose from 221 in 1988 to 11,740 in 1995. From 1988 to 1991, the cost of compensation increased by 25% per year, until the lump-sum scheme was abolished in 1992 in response to the budget blow-out. At its peak, the number of ACC claimants reached 500 per week.
Almost 110,000 claims were paid out during a three-year transitional period (1992 to 1995) after the lump-sum compensation was abolished in the 1992 Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act. This cost ACC nearly $833 million in settlement ($152 million for impairment of bodily function and $681 million for loss of enjoyment of life). Sexual assault claimants were allowed to register for lump-sum payouts during a 3 year transitional period before the Act disallowing lump sums came into effect on 1 Jul 1995. A further 63,000 were lodged. Another 2,387 payouts totalling $8.1 million, were made after the 30 June 1995 cut-off date and in February 1996 it was estimated that final lump-sum payments would cost ACC a further $15 million.
Furthermore, ACC counselling payments for 1995 were previously reported as totalling more than $8.3 million. Because sexual abuse allegations are considered "sensitive claims", in 1997 ACC spokesman Alan Seay admitted that they are not identifying and costing them as sexual abuse cases, and therefore "We don’t really know what it costs but we do know that it is a huge amount of money". The matter is somewhat confusing. This certainly has been a costly business, how much appears to be anyone’s guess. The 1997/1998 figures should be released in July, which we await with interest.
Second hung jury for Judge Elliott
For a second time, a jury could not decide on whether judge Elliott indecently assaulted a boy aged 10 to 12 between 1970 to 1972, while Elliott was baby-sitting the boy. Elliott denies the charges. The complainant, now 38, laid charges with the police in Sep 1996, and the first trial at the end of 1997 resulted in a hung jury. Elliott has been suspended on normal pay ($156,000 a year) after his arrest in Dec 1996.
It has not yet been announced as to whether he will have to face a third trial.
School boys found not guilty of rape charges
Four West London boys, 3 aged 10 and one 11, were charged with indecently assaulting a 9 year old girl at their school. It was alleged that the girl was pushed to the ground, held down, stripped, gagged and raped by 3 boys as 2 others laughed. One boy could not be charged because he was aged 9.
During the trial the girl’s story showed grave inconsistencies, and evidence was presented that she was prone to fantasy and lying. It was also shown that a woman police officer had asked what the judge described as a "wholly improper, leading question" which had put the idea of a rape allegation into her head. The girl’s background revealed a very troubled and neglected child, craving attention and friendship, who is believed to have been responsible for a series of arson attacks in 1996 which had led to one home being burnt to the ground.
All the boys were acquitted, and defence lawyers were very critical of a system where ‘Everyone involved, police, social services, education department, decided to label the girl the victim and the boys the abusers’ and failed to approach the case objectively. It was felt that subjecting such young boys to a criminal trial was inappropriate.
(The Times (6 Feb 1998). Boys cleared of indecent assault on girl, by Adrian Lee)
Jury awards compensation to falsely accused couple in ‘Mr Bubbles’ case
In Nov 1988, Tony and Dawn Deren, the NSW couple at the centre of the 1988 "Mr Bubbles" sex case, were charged with sexually assaulting 5 children from Mrs Deren’s Seabeach Kindergarten at Mona Vale. The police claimed they had video and photographic evidence of the alleged assaults. The Derens adamantly denied the allegations, and all charges were dismissed in 1989 after a 6 week hearing. A Supreme Court jury has found that the couple are entitled to an award of $800,000. The police had made comments about them reported in 3 newspapers, which the jury agreed, seriously damaged the Derens’ reputations. Justice Alan Abadee then had to decide whether the police could claim ‘qualified privilege’ (that is, that the police had a duty to inform the public), in which case the couple would not be entitled to compensation. Justice Abadee rejected the NSW Police Service’s lawyer’s argument of qualified privilege, saying "The plaintiffs should not be denied their remedy and the fruits of the jury’s award. I do not consider that the defamatory matter here was published in the discharge of some legal, social or moral duty."
With interest, the compensation will be $948, 558. The State of NSW is considering whether they will appeal the decision.
(Sydney Morning Herald (18 Feb 1998). Sex case couple may get $800,000′, by Anabel Dean; Sydney Morning Herald (21 Feb 1998). $950,000 damages for couple in "Mr Bubbles" case, by Jennifer Cooke)
Woman jailed for false complaint about paternity of her sister’s child
Sydney woman Roxanne Dargaville (aged 30) falsely claimed that English actor Hugh Grant had fathered her sister’s child. She was paid $A10,000 ($NZ11,582) for the story and a photograph by a publishing company. It was later found that the photograph had been altered by Dargaville to include Hugh Grant’s face. She has been sentenced to 2 years 9 months in prison.
(NZ Herald, 31 Jan 1998. Woman jailed over Hugh Grant hoax)
Juror fights for convicted man’s release
In 1997 in Dalton, USA, James Thomas, aged 69, was on a jury who found Wayne Cservak guilty of aggravated child molestation and child molestation. Cservak received a 10 year sentence. However, Thomas did not believe him guilty but voted to convict after 7 hours of deliberation because of pressure from other jurors. When the verdict was read in court, Thomas felt overcome with the feeling that he had done the wrong thing.
With his own money, he hired lawyer Robert Adams, who won a new trial for Cservak on the basis that Cservak did not receive adequate representation at his first trial. Before the second trial could be held, the 13 year old alleged victim recanted his story and Cservak was set free. Despite this, the prosecution still insists that he was ‘guilty as charged’.
(Chattanooga News-Free Press, 15 Jan 1995, ‘Shedding Doubts, Juror Fights, Frees Man’ by Sherry Wein)
Another Janet Reno conviction overturned
A year ago (COSA Newsletter Jan/Feb 1997, 4, 1) we reported the case of Grant Snowden, a South Miami police officer convicted in March 1986 of sexually abusing a child at his wife’s baby-sitting service and sentenced to 5 life terms. The charges were pursued by the then Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno (now the US Attorney General), and he was found guilty despite the fact that there was clear evidence that the child’s allegations had been generated by repeated interviews from the prosecution. The child could not even identify Snowden in court.
After nearly 12 years in prison, in Feb 1998 Snowden’s conviction has finally been overturned in a unanimous ruling by Judges Edmondson, Harry Wellford and Thomas Clark of the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals. The judges note that the case against Snowden was based entirely on allegations of crimes for which there was no evidence, and relied on the testimony of 3 children, the eldest of whom was 6, claiming events said to have occurred 2 years earlier. The case relied on testimony of the experts telling the jury that children who maintained under questioning that they had not been molested were not telling the truth, and in fact, the more they maintained they had not been abused, the more certain it was that they had been, but were not yet ready ‘to disclose’. ‘Expert’ Dr. Simon Miranda told the jury that ‘99.5%’ of children making accusations of abuse were telling the truth.
This case is one of a long line in which Janet Reno relentlessly pursued a sexual abuse conviction at any cost, and which are now being overturned when the ‘evidence’ comes under objective scrutiny.
(The Wall Street Journal (20 Feb 1998), Review & Outlook: Reno Overturned)
New trial sought in Fells Acre day care case
A hearing is underway on behalf of Cheryl Amirault LeFave, who is seeking a new trial. LeFave and her mother (the late Violet Amirault) were convicted in 1988 of abusing the children at the Fells Acre day-care center they operated. The fells acre case has been covered in previous COSA newsletters. They both served 8 years in prison before being granted a new trial on other grounds and released in 1995. Violet Amirault died of cancer last year aged 74. LeFave’s brother, Gerald ”Tooky” Amirault, was convicted of similar charges in a separate trial in 1986 and is serving a 30- to 40-year prison sentence.
The argument for a new trial rests on the claim that the children’s testimony was unreliable. The prosecutors argue that this point has already been considered and rejected by a jury, but expert witness for LeFave, Dr. Maggie Bruck, of McGill University in Montreal, claims that new scientific studies on child witnesses during the past decade means that the evidence should be re-examined. Bruck has testified that the testimony a decade ago of 4 pre-school children who said they were molested at the Fells Acres Day Care Centre was tainted by leading questions and suggestive interviewing techniques. She based her conclusion on transcripts of the testimony, videotapes of interviews with the children, and other records in the case.
One of the initial problems in the Fells Acres investigation, occurred at a meeting of 60 parents at the local police station just after the first allegations. The police, in effect, told the parents, ”`Go home, question your kids, and don’t take no for an answer.’ That was their mindset,” Bruck testified. She says that that tactic caused panic among the parents and turned them into biased interviewers. She said police also suggested to the parents not to say anything good about the Amiraults – or their children would be reluctant to disclose abuse. In videotaped interviews of 3 children by nurse Susan Kelley (working for the prosecution), they initially denied any abuse, but came to make more and more bizarre and unlikely allegations as interviews progressed. Some made bizarre claims that other children and animals had been killed at the day-care center, and that a robot told them not to tell their parents. Children were told that their friends had already made allegations, using peer pressure to encourage them to ‘tell’.
Bruck criticised the use of anatomically correct dolls during the interviews, quoting studies which indicate that often lead non-abused children to say they have been molested. She explained how interviewers who believe a child has been abused may unwittingly attribute statements to children that they had never said. Repeated questioning can cause children to believe what they have been told, and Kelley continued with leading questions after children denied any abuse.
The Fells Acre case has many parallels with the Christchurch CrÃƒÂ¨che case. The hearing will resume on 23 March and we await the developments with interest.
(Boston Globe (18 Feb 1998). Psychology professor says Fells Acres children were swayed, by William F. Doherty, pB03; Boston Globe (19 Feb 1998). Psychology professor cross-examined on Fells Acres testimony, by William F. Doherty, p B02)
Call for justice for Ellis
David McLoughlin published a hard-hitting Editorial pointing out some of the factors which indicate that Ellis’ conviction is a terrible miscarriage of justice. These include the recent revelations that 2 jurors had close connections with players in the case, and that the officer most involved in the investigation, Detective Colin Eade, had had a sexual relationship with two of the crÃƒÂ¨che mothers and had propositioned a third, as well as having had a subsequent relationship with one of the key Social Welfare workers who had performed the evidential interviews on the children.
He further pointed out that the vast majority of the allegations against Ellis were generated by 2 mothers who made absurd claims about satanic abuse and paedophile rings, stirring up a high degree of anxiety and frenzy in other crÃƒÂ¨che parents.
McLoughlin also explains how belief in Ellis’ guilt has been held buy people in very high places. For example, Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has been very outspoken in her condemnation of Ellis. A close acquaintance of Dalziel’s had children at the crÃƒÂ¨che who were the subject of charges against Ellis which did not progress to conviction. Apparently, that acquaintance was one of the women that 20/20 TV reporter Melanie Reid revealed had a relationship with Colin Eade. Furthermore, Dalziel’s partner is Rob Davidson, who used to be married to Gaye Davidson, one of the 4 women who were initially charged with CrÃƒÂ¨che offences but who had their charges dropped. Rob Davidson is adamant that no abuse occurred at the crÃƒÂ¨che, but he cannot convince Dalziel.
McLoughlin joins other voices in calling for a commission of inquiry into the case.
(North & South (Feb 1998) Editorial: plea for Peter Ellis, by David McLoughlin, Issue 137, P6)
Invitation to fraud in Canada
Canadian adults raised in British Columbian foster homes are making widespread allegations that they suffered sexual abuse, and are claiming government compensation. Of the 200,000 raised in BC foster homes from 1940 to 1992, 48% of the girls and 33% of the boys have reported that they were abused, which could cost BC taxpayers up to $10 billion. A group settlement has just been made for 150 former students at Vancouver’s Jericho Hill School for the Blind has paid each between $60.000 and $150.000, depending on the length and severity of the alleged abuse. Other Canadian states (Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick) are similarly embarking on group settlements.
In Nova Scotia, the government set aside $33.3 million for abuse victims who had attended government reform schools. While 100s of claims were legitimate, the programme was suspended when over 1,200 people applied for compensation, on the basis of claims subsequently proven false.
A boom is also occurring on of ‘historical’ claims of sexual and other abuse said to have occurred in native Indian residential schools. In 1996 a Canadian Federal Government Commission indicated these could cost $20 billion. There was no testing of witnesses’ testimonies for truthfulness or accuracy – payouts rest solely on the word of the adult claiming the long-distant ‘abuse’. Many Indians remember happy experiences of their school days, and are bewildered by the demonisation of their schools.
Prof Beyerstein, a Vancouver psychologist, is concerned about a government committing tax-payers’ money to compensate people claiming abuse while under government care. While he acknowledges that some may have been genuinely mistreated, there is no scientific litmus test to determine who was abused and who wasn’t. He explains that false abuse claims appeal to the same sort of people who blame their personal problems on abductions by space aliens. "People who have for some reason failed in their lives, shift the blame from themselves to something else – a parent, an alien, whatever," he says. "Blame is a powerful psychological tool."
(The British Columbia Report (26 Jan 1998). ‘An invitation to fraud. Compensation for abuse claimants could cost British Columbia billions’, by Robin Brunet.)
Satanic Ritual Abuse in Britain
In Rochdale 7 years ago, children from 5 families were dragged screaming from their beds by social workers during a dawn raid and taken away from their families. They underwent suggestive interviews by social workers obsessed with devil worship, satanic ritual abuse and witch-hunts, and were kept separated from their parents for 9 months until it was revealed that it was all a terrible mistake, and the children were returned home to their loving families. After that scandal, and a similar one in the Orkney Islands, it was promised that all social workers would be retrained to ensure that such a tragedy was never repeated.
However, it now appears that belief by UK social workers in satanic ritual abuse (SRA) is again on the rise. Claims of satanic cults abusing children are being taught to trainee care workers at university and at conferences. Students on the social work diploma course use a 1995 a book written by lecturer Guy Mitchell to identify symptoms of ritual abuse, and are also recommended to read Michelle Remembers the book which began the belief in satanic abuse but which has subsequently been revealed as a hoax.
At Liverpool University, a team of women researchers are carrying out a survey in which questionnaires were delivered to 100,000 addresses at random. It asks: ‘Would you describe the sexual abuse you experienced as a child as ritualistic sexual abuse (Satanism/occult/religious cult)?’ A bit like the question ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’, this loaded question presumes that satanic abuse is occurring and that it is likely that respondents have been subjected to it. Such an approach is very likely to result in a false positive finding.
Dealing with SRA was the subject of a conference at Warwick University organised by the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support, a secretive group that vets members and professionals before they attend. It is also commonly talked about as if it was an established entity at other conferences throughout Britain attended by social workers, health professionals, lawyers, police officers and others involved in child care. Speakers include Judith Dawson-Jones, who led the social work team investigating child abuse in Nottinghamshire in 1989, and generated false allegations of SRA and ritualistic murder. Counsellors in Rape Crisis Centres, including Leeds, Manchester and Hull, use leaflets and training videos (including one by Dawson-Jones) about SRA. Maureen Davies, an Evangelical Christian and a key proponent of SRA theories, now lectures in North Wales. A British Psychological Society report recently found that 13% of 800 surveyed psychologists had worked with clients who claimed they were victims of SRA, and they believed them.
Jean La Fontaine, emeritus professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics, says that no investigation in Britain or overseas had uncovered any evidence of SRA occurring.
(Mail on Sunday (1 Feb 1998). New Witch-Hunters, by Rosie Waterhouse)
Psychiatrist investigated for implanting false memories of satanic abuse
Dr. Donald Garland, Jr, a psychiatrist from Tucson, Arizona, is under investigation by state authorities for implanting false memories of satanic abuse in a patient, and destroying the patient’s family ties. The Arizona Board of Medical Examiners have decided to continue the investigation, and may revoke his medical licence. Board member Dr Pamela Powers told the hearing that she believed that the patient had suffered considerable harm from Dr Garland’s treatment.
The patient in question sought therapy from Dr Garland in 1991 at the age of 33, depressed because she had separated from her husband after finding out he had had an affair while she was pregnant with their second child. Garland soon diagnosed her with "multiple personality disorder as a consequence of childhood abuse and satanic ritual abuse." She apparently recovered memories of physical, sexual, emotional and ritual abuse by her family, including memories that she had been raped with knitting needles and a shoehorn by her mother and grandmother, and also her father to a lesser extent. All were remembered as being involved in satanic cult activities. The alleged abuse supposedly began around age 2 and continued through most of her childhood, according to the doctor’s records. Investigators from the Board of Medical Examiners could find no documented evidence for these claims. Garland did not talk to any other members of the family to try to verify the claims.
Pat Crawford, the patient’s mother, who was one of those accused by her daughter, filed a complaint against Garland in May 1996 which lead to the current investigation. She says "Not only have I lost my daughter, but also my two grandchildren. Dr Garland has done us a terrible injustice. He was able to break what I thought were very strong bonds between a mother and daughter. I did grieve for a long time and I still do." She wrote to the Board that her daughter’s treatment "was a direct cause of harm to her and her family … As a result of her therapy, I have not heard from my daughter for almost seven years. My vital young daughter has been destroyed by the repressed memory therapy and Dr. Garland’s use of it." Crawford’s other daughter – the patient’s younger sister – also says that there was no abuse in her family.
Garland is still treating the patient after seven years, and he told the hearing that he believed his treatment was appropriate.
Many other US psychotherapists are also facing charges relating to their use of "repressed memory therapy". Last year Alfred Ells, a Scottsdale therapist, was de-licensed by the Board because he had been implanting false memories of satanic abuse in patients.
(Tucson Citizen (12 Feb 1998). Doctor accused of implanting satanic abuse memories, by Carla McClain)
Hidden memories: voices and visions from within
Robert Baker (1996) , Prometheus Books, New York.
A comprehensive text, relatively easy to understand by lay readers, explains phenomena supposedly ‘supernatural’ (recall of past lives, satanic ritual memories, alien abductions, channelling, multiple personalities, speaking in tongues) a manifestations of cryptomnesia (hidden memories, suddenly remembered in altered form). Baker explains the role that imagination, delusion and suggestion play in creating these ‘supernatural’ experiences.
Children‘s eye-witness testimony
For over a century, it has been known that children (and adults) can given sincere and convincing but partly or completely false testimony about events which they have witnessed. In 1891, Varondeck (a Belgian psychologist) was appearing as a defence expert witness in a murder trail. An 8 year old child was the only witness to the murder. Varondeck asked 20 eight-year-old children the colour of the beard of one of their teachers. Nineteen of the twenty dutifully told him the colour of the beard. Only one child answered accurately that the teacher in question did not have a beard.
(Cited in Robert Baker (1996). Hidden memories: voices and visions from within, Prometheus Books, New York, p39)
Objective Documentation of Child Abuse and Dissociation in 12 Murderers With Dissociative Identity Disorder
Lewis D, Yeager C, Swica Y, Pincus J &Lewis M (Dec 1997), American Journal of Psychiatry, 154 (12):1703-1710.
This paper reviews the clinical records of 12 people (11 men, 1 woman) who have been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder) and who have committed murder. All 12 were said to have signs and symptoms of DID during both their childhood and adulthoods. It was found that there was evidence that 11 of the 12 had suffered severe abuse during childhood; that they had amnesia for most of this abuse and under-reported it. The authors conclude that "This study establishes, once and for all, the linkage between early severe abuse and dissociative identity disorder".
This is a strong claim indeed and this paper is already being widely cited in support of childhood abuse causing multiple personality disorder. While it may prove to be true, this is a single study and it is usual in scientific circles for findings to be independently replicated by other researchers before such a sweeping generalisation is made. In the latest FMSF Newsletter, Pam Freyd points to some of the possible flaws or deficiencies in this study.
Firstly, the subjects in this study all showed childhood evidence of abuse. This contrasts sharply with the cases of DID brought to the attention of the FMSF – these cases are people who develop multiple personalities while undergoing psychotherapy as adults but showed no signs of the disorder as children.
Secondly, in a previous (1986) study published by Dr Lewis of the clinical evaluation of 15 murderers, she found that all had histories of head injury, 5 had major neurological impairment and 7 others had neurological problems such as blackouts. In the present study, no results are reported of neurological examinations of the 12 patients. Whether or not these subjects had head injury histories and neurological impairments is important, because if the 1997 subjects did not have neurological impairment, the difference between the 2 groups would require some explanation, and if they did have similar head injuries and neurological problems, then any amnesia experienced by them could well be of physical rather than psychological origin.
Thirdly, Dr Lewis has had a past history of being an expert witness in trials and of uncovering multiple personalities in convicted murderers were other experts have not. During the trial of serial rapist Arthur Shawcross, she demonstrates on videotape her method of uncovering his memories by hypnotising him and then asking him several times whether he can recall any abuse by his mother.
Fourthly, it should be asked how the authors differentiated between their subjects being amnesic for childhood abuse and deciding not to report all their childhood traumas to the interviewers.
Given that the leading researcher in this paper has had a practice of hypnotising and ‘age regressing’ murderers to uncover memories of a traumatic childhood using repeated suggestive questioning, and taking into account the other factors outlined above, it would be premature to accept this paper’s claim that "This study establishes, once and for all,…".
I am writing to you in the hope that our story may help in some way towards seeking an inquiry into conviction on uncorroborated evidence and testimony.
In 1996 my daughter Mary* was advised to take her 12 year old daughter Sue* for counselling. Mary was desperate for help as Sue was uncontrollable and attacking her. Two months later Sue manufactured a suicide attempt and her doctor advised her parents to sign her into the Mental Health Unit at the local hospital. The woman counsellor and a Mental Health person then called in the police and the first we knew (ie my husband and I) about all this was when the police arrived at our door to tell us Sue had made allegations against her grandfather that he had sexually abused her and took my husband to the police station.
Before the Deposition hearing Sue took a doll from her school and together with a note in cut out letters supposedly from her grandfather placed them in her home for her mother to find. Our daughter called in the police officer in charge of the case and after some denials Sue confessed to planting the manufactured evidence, and said she did it because she did not think her parents believed her, when in fact they had supported her all the time.
The trial was in late 1997. My husband was acquitted even before the defence had to give any evidence.
Our grand-daughter is now in a foster home or to the best of our knowledge still is. We have no contact at all with our daughter. So our once very close family has been torn apart and the child who is coming up 15 years of age this year is not getting the proper help she needs which I feel is a very sad case.
The original evidence produced by Sue was 2 dolls male and female, a magazine called ‘Pillow Talk‘ and a carrot in a condom which she said were given to her by her grandfather. The police could find no link to my husband of these items.
My husband’s health has now stabilised (he had a stroke the year before all this began, also a heart attack in 1980) but I now feel he is coming to terms with the loss of a daughter whom he loved so much, which I feel I am now free to concentrate on helping others and in some small way help to put an end to this scourge that seems to be gathering momentum in our society today.
*Not their real names
Newsletters received by COSA
FMS Support groups Canada Jan 1998 5 (1)
Included in this issue is a translation of a section of a report to the minister of Justice of the Netherlands on ‘Recovered crimes: on accusations of sexual abuse after therapy’. the report has been written by P van Koppen form the Netherlands institute for the Study of Criminality and Law Enforcement, and the section reproduced are proposed binding guidelines for the police and prosecution in dealing with such cases. This includes a list of criteria which would give cause for the case to be abandoned, or proceeded with great caution and scepticism. Part of the initial investigation should include contacting the therapist and ascertaining whether any memory recovery techniques have assisted in memory recall.
FMS Foundation Newsletter Jan / Feb 1998, 7 (1).
This issue includes Pamela Freyd’s analysis of Dr Dorothy Lewis’ recently published study claiming links between multiple personality and childhood trauma (see literature section above). There is also a long book review of Marc & Jacqueline’s book ‘Stranger than fiction: when our mind betray us‘, yet another text dealing with ‘lies of the mind’ including FMS, alien abductions SRA and facilitated communication.
Chairman’s report COSA (Canterbury) Inc, 22 Feb 1998.
Dear Canterbury Members,
This is my last report as Chairman of COSA (Canterbury) Inc. This battle-weary war horse is moving into a quieter paddock. In any organisation, there comes a time to move aside to allow room for new people with new ideas and new enthusiasm to take over. This does not mean that I am leaving you all. COSA Canterbury is creating a new position of Case Manager and with your support, that will be my new role.
During my term as Chairman, I have become more and more involved in members cases, and have acquired a considerable expertise and contact base for this work. This work has required that I be compassionate, while remaining unemotional and objective. It requires tactical skills (a ring craft) plus earned respect from the police, Crown Law Office, and most of all Defence lawyers. Plus hours and hours of leg work.
Far too many falsely accused men have gone to jail. Far too many families have been smashed to bits. This work, to be done effectively, has demanded most of my time. But the show must go on. The work of meetings and member-fellowship, fund raising, committee work, new contacts and so on. Far too much work for any executive. That is the reason I am moving aside.
We have come a long way over the last three years. I remember our first meeting at my home. It was just a small gathering of deeply concerned people and it is great to see those people are still with us today. I will always remember that meeting, because a week previously, our daughter Jane had come back home. It was the beginning of COSA Canterbury and the beginning for Judith and I to start rebuilding our family. Three horrendous years. Three incredible years.
It is reassuring at this time to reflect and enjoy the fellowship we have, the friends we have made, and to remember what we have achieved. The indefatigable vitality our President, Felicity, showed us during her visit last year. To share in the victories we have had with some of our members. This helps us recharge with new strength to carry the fight on.
There is still a lot of work to do. Many of our members have still not got their families together and we are still seeing new damage caused by stupid legislation and stupid counselling techniques. We all must keep working so that this madness will one day end.
The success of any organisation depends on its members, and as your out-going Chairman, I have been deeply moved by the support you have given to me. Many, many thanks to you all for that. To the Committee, thanks a million for your patience and I promise to try and arrive showered and on time for the next term.
To the Executive now, and our Treasurer and committee-meeting hosts, Murray and Nancy. Fabulous people, thanks. To my confidante, my friend and our Secretary Jane, a lovely, lovely lady. Thank you Jane. Thank you for being there for three incredible years. Thanks to Greg for being our Patron. His level-headed advice is respected indeed. And thank you, Judith. Thanks for our 32 years. Lastly to our National Executive, Felicity, Colleen and Gordon, who live in Spark Plug City (Auckland), many, many thanks and I look forward to our continued co-operation in my new role.
In about four weeks time, "60 Minutes" will be screening our story. The whole terrible story, and there will be faces to that story. I would ask that as many of our members as possible write in after they see it, with their own thoughts and stories, so that TVNZ and the population can see the scope of this disaster in this country.
Thank you all,
Arthur Simmonds Chairman.