COSA Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Newsletter March – April 1999 Vol 6 No 2

Contents of this page:

The future of COSA
DSAC and recovered memories
More on false rape complaints Rosemary McLeod article and Felicity’s reply.
Other false complaints Hamilton police report that over a quarter of their sex complaints are proved false.
John Tamihere reveals rape smear
Another teenager makes false rape claim
Yet another false claim by teenager
Extradition to face delayed charges of abuse refused
Judges issue directives to reduce delays in sexual offence cases
Satanic ritual case in the Wairarapa
Man cleared after false confession (UK)
Bishop to fight against false allegations (UK)
Houston trial update (USA)
Repressed memory evidence questioned (USA)
‘Sibyl’s’ identity revealed (USA)
Newsletters from overseas
One happy ending
Indictment- the McMartin Trial
COSA is at a crossroads


The Future of COSA

As our members have already been informed, this is my last term as COSA President. Gordon Waugh, a founding executive member and liaison officer, will also not be seeking re-election.

I have two reasons for this decision. The first is personal, in that my position with COSA has been unpaid, and has been very demanding on my time, especially in production of the regular newsletters.

The second and now significant reason, however, is that I feel that as a national organisation, COSA has largely served its purpose. When we set up COSA, most of the cases we saw could fit into three broad categories. There were fathers falsely accused of abusing their children in the context of acrimonious custody / access disputes. There were parents having their children removed from their care because of wrongful assumptions and over-zealous interviewing of children by social workers and other ‘health professionals’. Thirdly there were families torn apart by adults falsely accusing their parents of early incest on the basis of memories ‘recovered’ in therapy. Two or three years ago COSA was documenting 30 to 40 new cases a month. The flood has dried to a trickle.

COSA has been instrumental in bringing our concerns to public and professional attention. We have collected and disseminated a vast amount of research and other material pertaining to true and false sexual allegations. Policies and practices have changed. Many of the excesses of the 1980s and early 1990s have been addressed. We believe that these days evidential interviewing of children has more safe-guards with respect to contaminating suggestions and coercion to ‘disclose’. I doubt a child would receive 30 or more ‘disclosure’ interviews today, as has happened in the past. Fewer fathers seeking access appear to be accused of molesting their children these days (they are more likely to be accused of ‘violence’ instead, but that’s another story). It seems that counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists are not as likely to use hypnotic-like techniques to ‘recover’ memories of childhood sexual trauma they believe must have caused their clients’ adult problems.

We believe that COSA’s input has assisted in bringing these changes. This does not mean that the problem is completely over. While at a lower rate, false allegations are still occurring, in our experience particularly in the area of false rape complaints.

We have had contact with several thousand people whose lives have been adversely affected by false complaints, many of them in a deeply significant way. There has been virtually no redress for these people; no accountability by professionals who have contributed to their pain; no apology or compensation for their losses. ‘Shonky’ statistics, ideologically driven policies and misinformation in our resources and courses still abound. Certainly there is still considerable room for improvement. However it seems that the major issues which have contributed to the false allegation problem of the past two decades have been extensively aired by COSA, and are now in the public arena.

Another significant change is the development of a growing number of other groups expressing concerns about allied issues. Many of these have come into existence in the last two years. They include groups addressing issues relating to men; to fathers and their children; and to parents in general. The aims and activities of many of these groups overlap with those of COSA.. In the next newsletter we will outline some of the groups in New Zealand which might be of interest and /or assistance to COSA members; their contact details and what they have to offer. If you are part of such a group you think should be included, please send us the relevant information.

In summary, I believe that COSA national has largely achieved its first two objectives: to disseminate sound and reliable scientific knowledge about sexual abuse; and to promote changes to minimise the creation of wrongful accusations in the future.

The third objective of COSA, support for people affected by false allegations, has been, and can continue to be, served by the local support groups and regional co-ordinators.

Although resigning from COSA, I will continue some of my work in the sexual abuse field.

Our Auckland monthly support meetings began before COSA existed, and will continue unchanged.

As I have done for many years, I will offer those who contact me directly what assistance I can with respect to information and advice.

Although I will no longer be editing a newsletter, I will write regular articles for the MENZ Issues Newsletter, which will address pertinent issues with respect to false sexual accusations.

On occasion, I will be available as a consultant or expert witness in cases before the courts.

We do appreciate that for many of our members scattered throughout the country, it has been of assistance to belong to the COSA organisation and to receive the regular newsletters.

It has been about five months since our members were notified of my pending resignation, and there have been no volunteers / nominations to take up the position. This is understandable for a number of reasons. Not the least of these, the spokesperson for such an organisation inevitably walks through a political minefield, and is likely to be subjected to considerable attack, sometimes of a personal nature, which does not add to its desirability as a job to take on!

We recently conducted an informal survey of our members regarding possible options, and the response is overwhelmingly for disbanding of the national body but for local support groups to continue.

Most of the members of the Professional Advisory Board have indicated that they will step down from the Board at the end of my term as President (although several have said that they would discuss their possible return should there be an incoming President).

In consideration of all the factors, the Executive Committee, in accordance with Section 28 of the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, has passed a resolution to cease the operations of the national body effective from 1 June 1999 and thereafter ask the Registrar to dissolve COSA National. The two Branches remain as individual entities, both being Incorporated in their own right. Secondly, we resolved that after satisfaction of all our liabilities and debts to give the residue of our funds and assets to the two Branches. All members of the Executive will resign from the Committee effective from 30 June 1999.

It will be necessary for the Branches to make alterations to their registered Rules to suit the new circumstances. Because all memberships are to the national body, members will need to transfer to a Branch of choice. Some, (although we hope none or very few), might wish to resign. We recommend that the Auckland Branch takes care of those in the North Island, and Canterbury the South Island. An equitable method of dividing the funds and asset residue is on the basis of the number of financial members in each Branch. Financial members should receive a Flyer to explain the details, and a Form to indicate their preferences, enclosed with this Newsletter, together with a SAE to return the membership transfer form.

Subsequently, this is my penultimate COSA National Newsletter. There will be a final issue (May / June) in about two months’ time.

DSAC and recovered memories

Well, I know I have just said that we have largely won the battle on repressed memories, but I must admit that some professional groups have not yet admitted defeat. The New Zealand Medical Association have just adopted DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care)’s ‘Guidelines for sexually abused patients’, and published them in the Medical Association Newsletter (12 February 1999, p5-6). The guidelines state: "While it remains controversial, clinical experience and research support the concept of repression of memory".

It appears that DSAC continue to promote a ‘pro-repression’ position to medical colleagues. Over the past few years many professional bodies internationally have seriously challenged the concept of ‘memory repression’ and given strong warnings against implicitly believing memories that surface during psychotherapy.

Last year Members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Working Group on Reported Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse published recommendations on this issue in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Brandon S, Boakes J, Glaser D & Green R (1998). Recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse: implications for clinical practice’, British Journal of Psychiatry, 172, 296-307). They write: "No evidence exists for the repression and recovery of verified, severely traumatic events, and their role in symptom formation has yet to be proved. There is also striking absence in the literature of well-corroborated cases of such repressed memories recovered through psychotherapy. Given the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, even if only a small proportion are repressed and only some of them are subsequently recovered, there should be a significant number of corroborated cases. In fact there are none".

Brandon et al also recommend that patients should be alerted about "any doubts about the historical accuracy of recovered memories of previously unknown sexual abuse", because of the potential damage to them and their families if they take action on a ‘memory’ that is actually false. DSAC instruct doctors that it is "not your role to judge the truth or falsehood of the patient’s statements". However, as Brandon et al explain, "memories of satanic abuse or other bizarre events, memories before the age of four years and memories of repeated abuse over many years forgotten until recovered in therapy are not credible". Doctors have a responsibility to not cause harm to patients and their families, and hence should not uncritically accept such memories. Patients who describe such ‘memories’ should have their veracity gently questioned.

In April this year DSAC is bringing Constance Dalenberg to NZ to give four one and a half day seminars on ‘Dissociation, Dissociative Identity Disorder [previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder] and Trauma Therapy’. In the past Dalenberg has demonstrated a very ‘pro-recovered memory’ stance. She claims that ‘recovered memories’ are as accurate as ‘continuous’ ones, and has expressed the view that the existence of satanic ritual abuse of children is not in question.

Multiple Personality Disorder is highly correlated with recovered memories, and many academics and clinicians now believe that it is a condition of fashion, largely (if not completely) created by inappropriate therapy. As Dr. Paul McHugh says of MPD – "Over the last decade a remarkable example of manufactured artifactual behaviour has surfaced and has been misidentified and bolstered by an invented view of its cause that fits a cultural fashion." One of the earliest and most famous cases of MPD was ‘Sybil’, recently exposed as being created by Dr Wilbur in her client by the use of hypnosis (see the Media section in this newsletter). It is to be hoped that Dalenberg will not be teaching NZ therapists to actively look for and diagnose MPD (or DID, as it is now called) in their patients.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith

More on false rape claims

Rosemary McLeod article

Last newsletter I documented the apparent rise in numbers of false rape claims, especially by teenagers. Amongst other reactions, this prompted a response on 21 Jan by Rosemary McLeod in her Broadside column in the Dominion, entitled ‘Sex complaints, more questions than answers’. She wrote:

"I’ve always been rather an admirer of Felicity Goodyear-Smith. In a world of crazily wavering uncertainty about everything we always thought we were certain about we need people like her as catalysts for debate.

Dr Goodyear-Smith, you’ll be aware, is personally dedicated to an organisation which seeks both to question much recent certainty about sexual abuse and to offer support to those who’ve been falsely accused of it. It’s called Casualties of Sexual Allegations.

The doctor’s been a plucky woman to maintain her sceptical stance against the tide of new orthodoxy. For years now she’s been lobbying hard against the belief, translated now into police handling of sexual abuse complaints, that no woman or child ever tells fibs about the subject.

However, as you might expect, she has a special reason for her courage. Sexual abuse is a subject that has impacted on her personally as the daughter-in-law of disgraced Centrepoint guru Bert Potter, and the wife of his son, John.

The guru is ending a nine-year sentence for perjury, child sex and drugs charges, and John Potter also served a four-month sentence for sexual offences with under-age girls, committed when he was 20.

The commune, headed by the priapic and portly Bert, seems to have been a private grazing ground for men preaching and relishing a gospel of help-yourself, and women with a baffling lack of dignity.

Resident children had adults’ sexuality inflicted on them. Adults had to bonk in public only, at Bert’s express behest, and with only the people he chose for them. Why?

Why ask? According to a recent report the guru still believes that sex with under-age kids is just fine. That sort of luggage in her personal life does give Dr Goodyear-Smith an uphill battle.

However, she’s also a highly qualified medical practitioner with an impressive curriculum vitae, and an experienced doctorworking with victims of sex crimes, facts which her detractors prefer to minimise. And she’s never made irresponsible statements that would imply she’s an apologist for the appalling behaviour of her extended family.

Its a thankless field that Dr Goodyear-Smith labours in, in any case. Human sexuality is wilder and weirder than we like to admit. What thrills one person appals another. Fashions come and go in sex as much as in anything else, and for her part she seems to be out on a limb somewhere, seemingly less concerned with victims of bad sexual behaviour than anyone with her knowledge could be expected to be.

This week, COSA’s newsletter continued its predictable theme of the past five years or so. Growing numbers of false rape claims were failing to change official views that the complainant must be believed at all costs, wrote Dr Goodyear-Smith. False complaints had become particularly common among teenagers.

She listed a number of instances last year in which people had been acquitted of sexual abuse charges, as no doubt they are every year. And though, she wrote, the police in some areas had become alert to the possibility of false complaints, health professionals’ literature in general still promoted the idea of ‘believe the complainant’.

Now, isn’t this a bit perplexing? Don’t we expect to be believed when we make complaints to the police? Why should anyone find it unacceptable that sexual abuse charges would be treated with the same concern as, say, burglary or assault, and face the same progress towards some kind of resolution?

But of more concern is Dr Goodyear-Smith’s claim that there are ‘growing numbers of false rape complaints’. If this were so, the people who should be able to confirm it, you’d think, would be the police, who keep comprehensive statistics on offending. But they possess no such statistics on false rape complaints.

What police do have is a record of the number of false complaints in general each year, from which false rape complaints can’t be extricated.

So do they show an upward trend, which might be revealing? No. Over the four years from 1994 to 1998 the number or such complaints was 437, 513, 454, and 417. As you see, there was a barely significant … decrease. It follows, then, that the police know no more about whether teenagers are making up false rape complaints, as Dr Goodyear-Smith says they are, than you and me.

So what is Dr Goodyear-Smith telling us, and what does she really know? Is it just anecdotal?

What and where is the database from which she draws her feisty conclusions? We need to know."

My reply

McLeod’s article also appeared in the Press, Christchurch (21 Jan 1999. P 4. What Do The Statistics Really Say?), the Northern Advocate (26 Jan 1999, Fighting the orthodoxy on sex abuse complaints) and the Waikato Times (27 Jan 1999, More sex questions than answers).

Given that Ms McLeod issued a strong challenge in her final paragraph, I felt should be entitled to a Right of Reply. The following was submitted to all the above newspapers; to my knowledge to date (more than a month later) only the Northern Advocate has published my response. I therefore reproduce it here:

"It is pleasing to note that COSA newsletters receive serious attention from senior and influential journalists such as Alan Samson and Rosemary McLeod.

In the Nov 1998 newsletter I stated that false complaints appear to be a growing trend, especially among teenagers, and the Jan 1999 issue reported that the Orewa police had officially declared 9 out of 11 rape cases false. Rosemary McLeod asks, at the end of her column (‘Sex complaints, more questions than answers’, 21 Jan 1998) what I really know about false rape complaints.

This is a valid question, and I admit that my claims are not based on ‘hard’ data. As Ms McLeod rightly points out, the police do not supply national figures on how many rape complaints they declare false. Their criteria for this are very strict: they need substantial proof and / or a confession from the complainant.

The police have reported (‘Rape: 10 years’ progress?’ Conference, Wellington, 1996) that about half of rape allegations they receive are considered unfounded, with no-one charged. Of those charged, about half are acquitted (Criminal Justice Policy Group, Ministry of Justice, Outcome of Non-Traffic Cases Prosecuted). Hence, about 75% of rape complaints received by the police do not lead to a conviction. Only a minority of this 75% are officially declared false complaints. Admittedly, there will be some guilty offenders who are acquitted or not charged because of insufficient evidence, but many cases of wrongful accusations are not officially designated ‘false complaint’.

My claim that false complaints are increasing is an impression I have gained over the past decade, based on the increasing numbers of false rape complaints I have seen reported in the newspapers, and on the rising numbers of cases reported to the Casualties of Sexual Allegations organisation where evidence indicates the alleged offences are unlikely, improbable or impossible. Data from any service organisation, be it COSA, Rape Crisis or Women’s Refuge, comes from a highly selected source and is of course subject to potential biases, a factor that Ms McLeod correctly identifies. False complaints appear to be relatively common at the present time. However, I do not know of any comprehensive database which can prove definitively that the incidence of these is rising. My perception that this is a growing problem may be incorrect, and it is possible that false rape complaints have always been at this level.

The police only charge a percentage of those whom they determine have laid false rape complaints. According to Orewa Detective Sheryl Birrell, even successful prosecution seems a waste of police resources, since those convicted usually get minimal sentences (in contrast to the huge financial and potential penal costs to those they wrongfully accused). Ms McLeod has drawn attention to an important issue which highlights the need for the police to keep statistics on false sexual assault claims.

I must however take issue with her erroneous claim that my concerns about false allegations are at all related to my Centrepoint ‘connection’. I was working with genuine rape and sexual assault victims, and expressing concerns about possible false allegations, before I ever met my husband. I have never been a member of Centrepoint, and I am not responsible for my father-in-law’s behaviour. To my knowledge, COSA membership does not include members or ex-members of Centrepoint.

Ms McLeod unjustly assumes because I offer support for those affected by wrongful accusations, that somehow I do not care about real victims of sexual offences. In truth, addressing the issue of false claims helps those genuinely in need. I am not advocating that the police should disbelieve a complainant, but neither should they uncritically believe her. I do not expect the police to implicitly believe any complaint I make to them, either of rape or any other crime, such as burglary, but I do expect them to take it seriously and conduct an objective investigation. They should treat all complainants with compassion and respect, saying ‘Here is an allegation: maybe it is true, maybe it is false – what is the evidence?’. From such a neutral stance, the accused is not presumed guilty, but afforded equal compassion and respect. The current police policy to ‘consider every rape complaint is genuine’ violates the law of natural justice ‘innocent until proven guilty’."

Other false complaints

Several more cases of teenagers making false complaints have come to my attention in the past month. Two of these are outlined in our Court section.

The Hamilton police also report that over a quarter of their sex complaints are false (Waikato Times, 20 Feb 1999, "False sex complaint rate high: police"). Of the 147 sex offences reported to them last year, they proved 41 were false. In the greater Waikato, police dealt with 297 sex offences last year and 77 proved not true.

These are not all the cases the police decide are unfounded; these are the ones proved false. Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead of Hamilton CIB says "It’s not a case of disbelieving the complainant. We have to prove it is false." He says that they seldom prosecute false complaints, but try to be understanding and look for the reason for the complaints. Reasons they identify include young girls who need to explain a pregnancy, failed relationships where a complainant is seeking sympathy or out of spite.

Despite the evidence that the policed require before deciding that a complaint is false, the counselling agencies still deny that these occur. Rape Crisis national spokesperson, Claire Benson, says that she disputes police statistics. Clinical manager of the Auckland HELP foundation, Kathryn McPhillips, believes (Metro, Mar 1999, 12-13) that the nine (out of 11) false rape complaints in Orewa last year were really genuine cases but that the women retracted their stories under police pressure. She describes some police interrogations as "hours of multiple police officers questioning them aggressively and accusing them of lying in a small room with no food on offer" and even calls for the 9 women to contact her for victim support.

It seems that even when the police hold irrefutable proof that a woman has made a false complaint, and she has admitted this herself, Rape Crisis and HELP still presume that she must be a victim – that there is a guilty man out there somewhere. It is not surprising therefore that Rape Crisis statistics show a negligible number of false complaints.


New Zealand

Budding politician faces rape allegation smear

Two years ago John Tamihere, urban Maori leader and Labour election prospect, was accused of rape by an adult niece of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. He denies the allegations. Tamihere says that at that time both he and the leaders of his whanau [family] advised her to go to the police, but she did not do so. He says that a request for money ($50,000) was made or the allegation would be publicised. He did not pay and heard nothing more until he sought the Labour nomination for the new Hauraki electorate last month, when the allegations re-surfaced. He has brought the matter to the media himself because he wanted to air the rumours publicly and ‘get on with life’.

(NZ Herald, Tamihere reveals rape smear, 28 Jan 99)

Another teenager makes false rape claim

A 17 year old student, Lee-Ann Cudly, has pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to making a false complaint. She had told the police that a man she knew had raped her, but she later admitted that the claim was false. In the meantime, a friend of hers had smashed a window in the accused man’s home. The judge said she should be made to pay the cost of the police investigation.

(The Press, Christchurch, Teenager made false complaint of rape, 14 Jan 1999)

Yet another false claim by teenager

A 15 year old Te Kowhai girl made a complaint to Hamilton police that a man had entered her home, hit her with a piece of timber and sexually assaulted her. She made a detailed description of him, and police issued an identikit picture, complete with a dog-collar tattoo around his neck. that she described.

The case was assigned 13 police. The officer in charge, Detective Sergeant Peter Van de Wetering, said the girl was very convincing. However, by the second day, flaws were starting to appear in the girl’s story. By the 4th day, concerns were mounting that the allegations were false. Two weeks and 235 investigating hours later, it was established that the story was not true and that the alleged offender did not exist. The case cost police $18,800

The girl was referred to police youth aid. She has now apologised to the police and given them a gift of fruit.

(Waikato Times, 20 February 1999, The man who never was…..)

Extradition to face delayed charges of abuse refused

The New South Wales police have failed in an attempt to have an Australian man living in Canterbury extradited to face sexual abuse charges. The 54 year old name faced 3 representative allegations of carnal knowledge with a girl aged between 12 and 15 (between 1964 and 1968); and similar allegation with a 7 year old girl between 1972 and 1973. The man denies all charges.

Nigel Hampton, QC, represented the man. Judge Strellel said that the delay relating to the complaints in the 1960s (30 to 35 years ago), exacerbated by the deaths of 2 family members who could have provided evidence for the defence, and the destruction of records, created unfairness to such a degree that it would be unjust to make the man stand trial on these charges. He did not find the delay a factor in the 1972 – 1973 allegations, but he refused to grant extradition on the grounds of hardship. This included the effects of returning to Australia on the man’s wife and mother-in-law, who depend on him personally, emotionally and physically.

(The Press, Christchurch, 16 Dec 1998, Judge declines bid by police for man’s extradition)

Judges issue directives to reduce delays in sexual offence cases

The Chief Justice Thomas Eichelbaum and the Chief District Court Judge Ronald Young issued a practice note on 2 November on sexual offences involving child complainants and child defendants. The judges expressed concern about instances of unnecessary delays in cases of alleged sexual offending. While cases of any kind, civil or criminal, may have a legitimate claim for urgency, the courts are especially concerned that cases of this type, and in particular those involving child witnesses or child defendants (which term includes those dealt with indictably), are disposed of promptly.

They have issued directives and procedures to be followed aimed at minimising the delay. These were published in a recent issue of LawTalk, and may be obtained from the COSA Secretary on request.

Satanic ritual case in the Wairarapa

One of our members recently sent in a newspaper clipping describing an interview with ‘two incest survivors’. The case is reported as though all the allegations were true and the accused are portrayed as evil sadistic molesters who were guilty of everything they were accused of.

The story involves the allegations made in 1990 by a four year old girl regarding her paternal grandfather. The Children and Young Persons Service, police and psychologists were quickly involved, with a number of videotaped interviews of the girl and her brother. The children began to ‘reveal more and more abuse’, naming their grandmother as an offender as well. They said they were made to eat dog food, perform oral sex and had numerous indecencies performed on them. Eventually the children made a string of bizarre allegations, which the police described as being on a par with those made by children at the Christchurch Crèche.

The grandfather was a doctor and when the children’s mother initially approached her own GP, he suggested that possibly the allegations were not true. The mother says ‘but I believed my daughter’, and claims the GP was covering up for the grandfather as part of the "old boys network".

The mother was diagnosed with postnatal depression and hospitalised. The children’s father is said to have ‘turned to alcohol’ and ‘through his financial mismanagement, the family home was lost’.

The grandmother was never charged. After two years, the grandfather went to trial and was acquitted.

The case is reported as a terrible miscarriage of justice, where the guilty remained free. The mother says her children still suffer – ‘There are still triggers for the children today, including not being able to eat sausages or anything with the consistency of tapioca.’ Every day she reads the death notices hoping to read the names of her children’s grandparents.

Reading between the lines, this case has many of the hallmarks of ‘satanic ritual’ type allegations fuelled by over-zealous interviewing of children. The accused did not lose their freedom in this case, but it is disturbing that it should be reported in the newspaper as though the allegations were true and reliable, despite the outcome

(Wairarapa Times Age, 23 May 1998, Innocence Lost Forever, by Jo Seddon)


Man cleared after false confession

John McLoughlin, a 28 year old man from Hull, is educationally subnormal. Ten years ago he was accused of serious sex offences against a young boy in relation to claims by a group Childwatch of Satanic Child Abuse, who believed in the existence of satanic cults ritualistically abusing children. McLoughlin was interviewed by police without the presence of a solicitor and eventually signed a confession written for him while in police custody. He had later tried to withdraw his confession but the Crown refused. He was convicted on the strength of the confession after similar charges against two co-accused were dropped because of the unreliability of witnesses.

However an Appeal Court has now heard that vital statements were not been disclosed to the defence at the time of his trial. These included the full record of a police interview with Mr McLoughlin and the fact that a witness had withdrawn his allegations against him.

In June 1998 the Appeal Court completely cleared Mcloughlin. Lord Chief Justice Buxton described the convictions as "wholly and completely wrong". However the Appeal Court have turned down his claim against the police for damages for wrongful arrest. His lawyer is now suing the police.

(Hull Daily Mail (17 Dec 1998). Timetable Of Rough Justice: Police will be sued, P.15)

Bishop to fight against false allegations

The Most Rev John Ward, 70, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, has been arrested over allegations of rape of a six year old girl nearly 40 years ago. A 45-year-old woman, now living in Ireland, claimed that the Archbishop had raped her three times in a chapel in 1960 when he was a parish priest in Peckham.

The Archbishop refutes the allegations and is continuing with his duties at St David’s Cathedral. He is very critical of the action of the police and the media in releasing these details. He says that many priests have been falsely accused – as well as teachers, doctors, social workers etc – and because of police connections with the media their lives have been made a misery and their ministry damaged. The Church has had enough of these tragedies and travesties of injustice and abuse. "Now that a bishop is so accused, I will use my position to go public and ask the kind of questions that challenge present procedures that are a dangerous machinery for grave miscarriages of justice."

(London Times , 27 Jan 1999, Archbishop Ward: "The Church has had enough")

United States

Houston trial update

The US federal government charged psychologist Judith Peterson, psychiatrists Richard Seward and Gloria Keraga, therapist Sylvia Davis and hospital administrator George Jerry Mueck with 60-counts of mail fraud, insurance fraud and knowingly misdiagnosing MPD in order to keep patients in the hospital. The trial began on September 9.

After the trial had been running nearly six months, in Feb 1999 a mistrial was declared because of problems with the jury.

Repressed memory evidence questioned

Mark Hobson, now 45, is serving a life sentence without chance of parole. Nine years ago he was convicted of raping a young female relative when she spent a weekend at his home. She began recalling her memory of being raped while attending hypnotherapy at Harding Hospital after attempting to commit suicide.

A female adult who was at the home during the weekend in question recently signed an affidavit saying she slept in the same bed with the child the night of the alleged attack. ”I slept with her (the girl) in the same bed,” the woman’s affidavit says. ”I was there all night long. Mark did not rape or have any other sort of sexual relations with (the girl).” She adds ”There are many things about the man (Mark Hobson) I simply do not like, but I do not want an innocent man (to) spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Hobson contends in a petition for a new trial that the girl’s repressed-memory recollection of the event is wrong.

(Columbus Dispatch, 23 Jan 1999, Man Wants New Trial In 1990 Rape Case)

Sibyl‘s’ identity revealed

‘Sybil’ was the alias given to the famous woman said to be host to some 17 distinct personalities, who sparked off the debate about whether the bizarre illness Multiple Personality Disorder actually exists.

Last month it was revealed that Sybil was actually Shirley Mason, a reclusive artist who had lived alone in Kentucky, for the past 25 years until her recent death.

Dr Cornelia Wilbur had treated Mason from the mid-1950s, and had claimed this was the first case of Multiple Personality Disorder to be psychoanalysed. Shirley Mason had apparently followed her doctor to Kentucky, where the two women became close friends.

Both Wilbur and her co-author on Sybil, Flora Schreiber, are long dead. But in recent months the story has been seriously questioned by Robert Rieber, a New York psychologist, who claims that the diagnosis was cooked for the book. Rieber claims to have uncovered tape recordings of conversations between Wilbur and Schreiber in which they invent the idea of multiple personality disorder. Rieber’s conclusions support those of Herbert Spiegel, another psychiatrist who was once involved in the treatment of Mason. Spiegel refused to collaborate with the original book because he believed Mason was no more than a "highly hypnotisable hysteric".

Before the publication of Sybil, there had been very few cases of MPD ever diagnosed (the most famous being the subject of The Three Faces of Eve, which Mason is known to have seen. After the publication of Sybil the diagnosis became commonplace, with more than 40,000 cases by 1995. Most of those diagnosed are women and, tellingly, follow the pattern of the book closely. Alternative personalities emerge under hypnosis and often claim to "remember" events, typically sexual abuse, of which the patient has no conscious memory.

Many psychiatrists now suspect the condition owes more to fashion than genuine mental illness. The backlash has been accelerated by several court actions by former patients who have successfully sued their therapists for millions in compensation. As a result, fewer and fewer psychiatrists are now willing either to make the diagnosis or treat this ‘disorder’.

(Sunday Telegraph(London), 24 Jan 1999, Sybil and her secret; Newsweek 25 Jan 1999, Unmasking Sybil)


FMS Foundation Newsletter, Dec 1998, Vol 7, No 10.

With fewer cases coming forward and less families needing support, plus the amount of information now available about FMS issues, the American Foundation is reducing the number of newsletters it produces and is moving more into a ‘watchdog’ role.

FMS False Memory Support Groups Canada, Vol 6 No 1, Jan 1999.

Documents a letter writing campaign by Canadian members to their politicians about recovered memory issues.

FMS False Memory Support Groups Canada, Vol 6 No 2, Feb 1999.

Reproduces an excellent article by Dr Harold Merskey, first published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, (vol 4, 253-262, 369-371) entitled Prevention and Management of False Memory Syndrome.


One happy ending

A short message from our Secretary, Mrs Colleen Waugh

COSA has been working closely with families who have felt the keen edge of the sword that brought hurt and devastation to them due to false accusations of sexual abuse. Lately we have been receiving letters from some of these families telling us of their reconciliations. These are the letters we have been hoping would eventuate when truth and understanding returns.

One such letter said:

Our family member is home with us and we are slowly getting our lives in order again… Thank you for knowledge gained from COSA…. wish you all well…

Indictment– the McMartin Trial

This letter was sent to media all over the country

Dear Sir

I wonder how many saw Oliver Stone’s film, "Indictment- the McMartin Trial" on TV2 last week.. It was a fact-based drama of a family victimised by a modern day witch-hunt ignited and fuelled by public belief in ritual-satanic-abuse.

After spending up to seven years in prison without bail, not one of the McMartin family was convicted. Fortunately, ritual-satanic-abuse belief has all but died out except in a few countries such as Canada. Or has it?

Our own shameful depravity, the Peter Ellis debacle, all but swept under the carpet, still festers on to the lasting guilt of everyone of us.

Parallels with the McMartin case can be drawn, such as the leading role of the media, the credibility and conduct of the investigators, the absence of corroborative physical evidence, and the jury’s blind belief in stories by children, after hours of suggestive interrogation of them by dubiously qualified counsellors using medically discredited methods.

The disgraceful difference is that in our country, the accused was convicted and incarcerated.

This case will one day stand alongside the Thomas case as one of New Zealand’s most heinous miscarriages of justice.

And then we will all ask ourselves how we could have allowed it to happen.

Neil McKenzie, Tauranga.

COSA is at a crossroads

COSA is at a crossroads. The organisation has been spectacularly successful in witnessing an epidemic of people who have become casualties of sexual allegations; in supporting those people; in raising awareness of the issues which have caused the epidemic; and lastly in recently witnessing a significant decline in the number of people who are becoming casualties.

Where does this situation leave the organisation COSA as the year 2000 approaches? Clearly every organisation needs to adapt to the times, and not be trapped by requirements that are no longer relevant.

I would not like to see COSA be trapped in the past and justify it’s existence by distortion of statistics as Rape Crisis has been guilty of in the last year. There are still concerns about false allegations that need to be articulated, and there are still problems with counselling practices in NZ.

But I think the way forward is to acknowledge that the main ongoing need will be to provide support and understanding for individuals. Local support groups, either under the COSA name, or under the umbrella of other support organisations can achieve this, and still allow for the provision of informed comment on issues of concern. There is no longer so much of a significant need for a national organisation.

Brian Robinson

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