COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter May 1996 Volume 3 No 4
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Questioning children Hamilton psychologist Dr Jane Rawls has just completed some very important research. Her study, which was funded by the NZ Law Foundation, looked at the effects of repeated interviews on young children’s reports of events when either Closed or Open questions, or a mixture of both, were used in the interviews.
DNA error in rape conviction – David Dougherty
Social worker being sued after a video camera recorded her explaining to an ex-wife and child how to make up and phrase false allegations of abuse by the father.
DSAC Rape conference March 1996 Letter from Dr Greg Newbold.
Ken – Case history
Psychology, Public Policy and the Law Special issue on the theme of suggestibility of child witnesses
Journal of Traumatic Stress Special issue on traumatic memory research
Nature of the cases COSA is seeing
COSA has 3 aims
Hamilton psychologist Dr Jane Rawls has just completed some very important research. Her study, which was funded by the NZ Law Foundation, looked at the effects of repeated interviews on young children’s reports of events when either Closed or Open questions, or a mixture of both, were used in the interviews. Closed questions are ones such as "Did (s)he touch you on the…?" whereas Open questions are ones such as "What happened?".
Thirty 5 year olds took part in the study. Each one was videotaped in 4 sessions in which a male research assistant played a dressing-up game with the child. The sessions involved small amounts of touching when items such as jewellery and hats were put on or taken off each other. Sometimes the children were asked to keep a minor benign event secret.
After these games, the children underwent 4 interviews between 1 and 2 weeks later. These interviews included questions about understanding what is the truth, lies and promises, and then asked to indicate who touched whom,, where the touching occurred, and with what part of the toucher’s body. In the 2nd interview, a body-chart diagram, similar to that used in evidential interviews, was used to help children identify body parts. Interviews used Open questions with 10 children; Closed questions with 10 children and mixed Open and Closed with the remaining 10 children.
The results are alarming. All the children could describe in general terms having played dress-up games with the man,, although they frequently had difficulty estimating how long ago this had happened (ranged from "yesterday" to "5 months ago"). Their answers were much more accurate when open questions were used (32%) compared to closed questions (9%).
The children made a number of mistakes where they claimed things had happened that had not, and which were clearly fantasy. These errors were much more likely to occur when closed questions were used, and included claims such as climbing ladders, having other children present, going into other rooms, and tickling with feathers. Much more serious, however, was the fact that nearly a quarter of the children (24%) reported inappropriate adult/child touching. 10% reported genital touching; a further 7% reported either touching the adult’s bottom or having their own bottom touched; and another 7% claimed their had been touching under their clothes, such as rubbing on pretend cream. The videotapes of the sessions could prove that none of this had ever happened.
Only 40% of the 5 year olds could provide an acceptable definition of truth, lies and promises, even after lots of assistance with examples. However, even when they could define the concepts, those who were asked closed questions gave very inaccurate answers and the most fantasy. Hence this test, which is standardly used at the beginning of evidential interviews, in no way predicts that what a child says will be accurate.
When asked about the "secret", some refused to tell, some gave accurate accounts and some fictional ones. However 17% of the children described untrue events including inappropriate touching and said that these were the programmed "secrets".
This research has very serious implications with regard to the interviewing and testimony of children when sexual abuse is alleged. Fortunately for Trevor, the research assistant, all his contact with the children was videotaped. It is common for men to be convicted on the uncorroborated evidence of children, and Dr Rawl’s research shows just how unsafe this is.
Parents will inevitably used closed questions when asking about an allegation; furthermore I have personally examined large numbers of evidential interview transcripts where such questions are commonplace, either demanding a yes/no answer, or of the "binary" sort where one of two options are offered as possible responses: eg
"Did daddy touch your vagina in the bedroom or in the bathroom?"
"Was his hand moving or was it still?"
"Did you have your clothes on or off?"
The results are particularly alarming as these children had never been involved in any sexual abuse allegations, and the questioning used in the research was not trying to elicit information about inappropriate touching by Trevor, yet a number of children made these sorts of allegations.
Hopefully this research will add further weight to COSA’s objective to have a thorough inquiry and review of interviewing techniques and the reliability of uncorroborated evidence.
Man awarded substantial costs following acquittal
Judgement of Greig J, T No 2/94, 12 Mar 1996
The appellant had been charged with 23 charges of indecent assault, sexual violation and sodomy upon his daughter, alleged to have occurred between 1979 and 1986. His trial took place in May 1995 when he was 45 years old and the complainant 19 years.
Other charges of incest and rape had been dropped because the findings and conclusions of the medical examination of the complainant were challenged and the complainant refused to be re-examined.
Diaries kept by the girl throughout the time the alleged abuse occurred were presented as evidence. These showed no evidence of abuse; "to the contrary, there were many references to a happy domestic life and of the complainant’s regard and love for her father".
The girl had undergone a considerable amount of sexual abuse counselling prior to the trial, and the defence suggested that this counselling had led the complainant into creating or embroidering these allegations.
The jury found him not guilty on all counts.
It had cost the defendant $154,344.04 to defend himself. At the hearing under the Costs in Criminal cases Act 1967, Judge Greig awarded him $95,000.
Woman charged with false rape complaint
A 34 year old Christchurch woman, Tracey Kettle, has been remanded for sentencing after making a false rape complaint. Kettle had consensual sex with a man he met at a night-club but two weeks after they met their relationship broke up and she made a complaint to the police that he had raped her.
Kettle admitted she made the false complaint because she wanted to "get at the man because he was scum".
She was sentenced to 12 months’ supervision.
(Waikato Times 13 Apr 1996)
Police lay charges in the absence of evidence
A Whangarei District Court judge dropped rape charges against 34 year old Te Pou Ote Aka Tito after the police could offer no evidence for the allegations.
(Northern Advocate 19 Mar 1996)
Many false rape complaints
Henderson police are worried about a rash of false rape complaints in the past 6 months. The most recent case involved a woman slipping a note to a service station attendant saying she had been raped by her boyfriend and needed help. She later admitted to having made the story up because her partner was coming out of jail and she wanted to hide her affair with another man – the alleged rapist.
(Western Leader, 6 Apr 1996)
DNA error in rape conviction
In 1993 David Dougherty was jailed for nearly 8 years for the abduction and rape of an 11 year old West Auckland girl in 1992. He has always maintained his innocence.
The Institute of Environmental Science and Research scientist Peta Stringer had told the court that some very weak signals of DNA which could have been Dougherty’s were found on the girl’s underpants. There were however also signals of DNA found that could not have been Dougherty’s and were also not the girls. Despite this, Dr Stringer’s evidence was interpreted by the court as meaning Dougherty could have committed the crime, and was a major factor in his conviction.
Senior forensic scientists from Australia, New Zealand and USA, who have reviewed the evidence, all say that it excludes Dougherty as a possible offender and that the genetic evidence implicates a second person, not Mr Dougherty.
Mr Dougherty’s lawyer, Mr Murray Gibson, is looking for a way to have the case opened and will be asking the Governor-General to intervene. Legal aid request has been declined, and Mr Gibson is working without pay.
(Sunday Star-Times, 31 Mar 1996)
Studies have indicated that a third of DNA tests done routinely in new rape investigations are nonmatches – ie they have the wrong suspect (Newsweek 11 Jan 1993 p 64)
Grandfather acquitted of abusing grand-daughter
A retired Ashburton man was acquitted by a Timaru District Court of touching his grand-daughter on the breasts and genitals during school holiday and other visits. The accused had denied all the charges, saying he had lost all sexual desire 14 years before. Evidence was given that the girl had never told her mother or grandmother about the allegations, and denied them when first asked about them by her mother.
(NZ Herald 12 Mar 1996)
Man acquitted of sexual allegations in custody battle
Charges of sexual violation of his step-son between 1987 and 1991 (when the boy was aged 4 to 8 years) were dismissed against a 37 year old man. A jury then acquitted him of other charge of indecent assault against the boy. He was also found not guilty of charges of cruelty to his natural son. Defence counsel, Les Atkins QC, demonstrated that the issue was one of custody, and that the man’s ex-wife had concocted the story to get control of the children.
Appeal Court quashes rape conviction
An Auckland man [name removed] has had his rape conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal. The judge has ordered that he should not face a retrial, as he had already served all but 2 months of the sentence he would have been expected to serve.
The charge arose after Webster met the complainant in a bar. The evidence of both parties, especially the complainant, was considerable affected by drink, the Court of Appeal said.
(NZ Herald 28 Mar 1996)
Social worker being sued
A clinical social worker from Virginia, USA, who was providing family therapy under court-ordered referral, accidentally turned on the video camera when setting it up for an interview. The camera recorded her explaining to an ex-wife and child how to make up and phrase false allegations of abuse by the father.
She then thought she was turning the camera on, conducted the phoney interview and sent a copy of the tape on to the father – complete with her instructions on how to make false allegations!
The father (who happens to be a lawyer) is suing her for $11 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
(Tomlin v McKenzie – VA S Ct #951427 – Koontz J 4/19/96)
DSAC Rape conference 27-30 March 1996
Letter from Greg Newbold, Sociology Department, University of Canterbury
In the COSA newsletter for April, Felicity Goodyear-Smith reported on the 1996 DSAC rape conference in Wellington. In it she noted that whilst I and a number of defence lawyers were there, there was little comment on the fact that rape law reforms might have swung the scales of justice too far in favour of the alleged victims.
Due to teaching commitments I was only able to attend the conference for the last 1Ã‚Â½ days, but it soon became clear to me that the conference was heavily slanted towards victim credibility. Indeed, as Felicity has observed, any suggestion of the possibility of false allegations was drowned in a tide of anti-rape rhetoric. I was deeply angered when she told me that her offer of a paper had been declined.
But to the suggestion that I might have missed an opportunity to address the rights of the accused, I must plead not guilty. Without knowing anything about DSAC, I was invited as one commentator on a panel of 5, to discuss Mary Koss’ paper on date rape. I was thus restricted to this topic. Moreover, I did not receive her paper until 2 days before the conference, and then only on request. I was to have been allowed 20 minutes to speak, but due to incompetent chairing, Dr Koss was permitted to speak for 80 minutes instead of her allotted 40 minutes, leaving me with just 5 minutes to deliver my 20-minute prepared commentary. I took 10 minutes.
In my abridged commentary I talked about the erosion of the rights of the accused as a result of recent law changes and as a result of public concern about rape. I noted the 1992 case of Pauga, convicted of rape in the absence of a complaint, the 1994 case of Coffey, convicted of rape even though neither he not the complainant could remember whether or not she had consented, and the 1991 case of Foord, convicted of rape even though the complainant did not indicate unwillingness at the time.
I suggested that rape in dating cases was not always clear, with complainants sometimes not making up their minds about whether they had consented until after the event. And I suggested the unthinkable, that when women say "no" in dating situations, this is not always exactly what they mean. However, if express permission was not given, I said, a suitor could be convicted of sexual violation even though a woman may have appeared to have been compliant (as in the Foord case).
I concluded that in the current climate it is almost certain that innocent parties have been convicted and imprisoned for acts which they have not knowingly committed, and that this constitutes a tragedy as serious as the tragedy of rape itself.
Predictably, my paper was poorly received. I had to raise my voice to be heard above the rumbles of discontent as I spoke. Afterward I was surrounded by a group of women, one of whom was rape Crisis Spokesperson Toni Allwood, castigating me for the terrible suggestions I had made. One women told me that through my paper, I had confessed to being a rapist myself and I asked her if she had mad cow disease. In his summary at the end of the conference, and to the acclamation of the audience, Victoria University Law Professor Warren Young lamented about some of the ‘appalling’ attitudes he had heard expressed at the conference, and then referred directly to me.
So that was the rape conference 1996 as I saw it. I suppose, in another 10 years’ time, DSAC will hold another rape conference. If they do, I will offer a full paper and it will be about false complaints. But DSAC obviously likes people to toe the party line and so I suppose, like Felicity, that next time I too will be banned.
Editor’s note: I did not wish to imply in my April Editorial that I thought that Greg Newbold had in any way "let the side down". Indeed, I applaud him for making the best of his very limited time, and bravely challenging a very hostile audience.
Ken – Case history
Names and details of case histories are changed to avoid identification of those involved. Please contact the Editor if you would like to have your case presented.
Ken is a 51 year old farmer (born 1944) who grew up on a farm himself. There were 5 children in his family including a younger brother Murray and an older brother Norm.
Ken’s father accidentally died in 1948 and his mother remarried in 1950. She had a further 7 children to her 2nd husband and fostered another 2. The family was very poor but with much hard work they continued to farm.
Tragedy then struck in 1963 when Ken’s stepfather Oliver died. Oliver had not made will and everything in his estate was frozen for two years. Older brother Norm was now in the army, and Ken (now aged 19) and Murray worked as shearers, fencers and shepherds, as well as looking after the home farm, to support the family of 12 and ensure their half-brothers and sisters could go to school.
Oliver owned a farm up north and once the estate was sorted out and debts paid, money was put in trust to be paid to each of Oliver’s 7 children at their 21st birthday. The farm the family now lived on was owned by Ken’s mother and her first family, but there was little equity and it mostly belonged to the rural bank. At their mother’s request, Ken and Murray leased and share-milked it for several years, and later purchased it outright in 1974, just before her death.
Ken married in 1975. Over the two decades, he and his brother continued to farm, initially jointly and later owning separate farms but often working together. The debt on the home farm was paid off and the brothers finally began to make a profit.
In the early 1980s, some of Ken’s half-brothers and sisters got together and decided that they were not happy with the amount of money they had each received from their father’s estate. They believed they had been tricked out of their inheritance by Ken and Murray, who now owned valuable farmland. A legal investigation revealed that all the dealings were honest, but the half-siblings were not satisfied.
In 1985 several of them made allegations that Ken had sexually abused them as children. The matter was investigated, Ken adamantly denied all accusations, there was no corroboration, and the police decided there was no case to answer.
Subsequent changes in the evidential rules relating to corroboration and the relaxing of the rules relating to similar events meant that in 1993, when the siblings returned to the police, charges were now able to be laid against Ken.
Ken was arrested in February 1994 and after about 2 weeks in custody, was released on bail. His case came to trial in the High Court in March 1996.
Ken faced 20 charges. Three of his half-brothers, one of his half-sisters and one of his foster-sisters claimed that Ken regularly and brutally sexually assaulted them. The accusations included rape, sodomy and bestialities. His cruelties included beating them with pipes and other objects, and regularly leaving them bleeding from their anuses because of violent episodes of anal intercourse. The allegations spanned from 1959, when Ken would have been 14, until 1977, when he was 33, and had been a married man for 2 years.
Ken’s mother was by all reports a loving and caring mother. She apparently never noticed that her younger children were being brutalised in this way by their older brother; nor was this detected by the children’s father or by any of their school teachers.
Although the alleged events were so historical, Ken’s defence was helped by the fact that he had retained over 30 years of farming documentation. He obtained other evidence including aerial photographs of the alleged sites of the assaults. These demonstrated that attacks would have occurred in full view of the neighbouring farm house (in a little group of trees). The neighbour could testify that none of the alleged events had ever been witnessed, nor had Ken and the complainants ever been seen coming or going from the area (which was supposed to have happened regularly each afternoon). Much of their other evidence was also shown to be unfounded: for example, one claimed he had been forced to swim the river in full flood but a meteorologist testified that records indicated the river had not flooded for many years on either side of the alleged date.
A family friend testified that one of the siblings had told him they were making the allegations because they had been cheated out of their inheritance.
Various friends and family could testify that Ken was not known to be a violent man, and beating and assaulting children as alleged was completely out of character for the man they knew.
A number of other inconsistencies, improbabilities and impossibilities in the complaints’ testimony was demonstrated.
The jury found Ken not guilty on all counts, to the loud applause of his supporters of family and friends present in the courtroom.
Satan‘s Silence: ritual abuse and the making of a modern American witch hunt
by Debbie Nathan & Michael Snedeker, 1995, Harper Collins, USA
This excellent book traces the origins of the current hysteria about satanic ritual abuse and the strange alliance of feminists and religious fundamentalists which has fuelled it. It explores the lack of any scientific basis of the methods used by investigators in sexual abuse, and the inhumanity of the methods used to gather "evidence" against innocent people.
Highly Recommended. (more)
Rewriting the soul: multiple personality and the sciences of memory
Ian Hacking, 1995, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
A philosophical overview of the concept of what constitutes memory, and how the disorder of multiple personality has coming into being and flourished in the past 25 years.
Psychology, Public Policy and the Law, Jun 1995, 1 (2)
This is a special issue and contains a number of papers on the theme of suggestibility of child witnesses, including the Social Science Amicus Brief in State of New Jersey v Margaret Kelly Michaels by leading memory researchers Stephen Ceci and Maggie Bruck.
Journal of Traumatic Stress, Oct 1995, 8 (4), 501-726
This is a special issue on traumatic memory research which claims there are differences between memories of trauma and memories of stressful but non-trauma events. The concept of dissociation in trauma is emphasised and the majority of these studies are aimed at looking to verify the concept of memory repression and recovery.
The victim support racket flourishes
A Nelson family who had their letterbox damaged were offered victim support by a "24 hour free and confidential service".
(Rodney Times, 4 Apr 1996)
Newsletters received by COSA
NZ Skeptic Autumn 1996 No 30
Includes excellent article by American doctor Elizabeth Feigon "Therapeutic Folie-a-deux", which explores the therapist-patient alliance in cases where the former uncritically validate the hypnotically produced "memories" of the latter of experiences such as alien abductions, past lives and satanic rituals and other recovered memories of abuse. Dr Feigon she describes this alliance as a "folie-a-deux" – a paranoid disorder in which the same delusion is shared by two (or more) persons, and expresses her concerns as to how therapists have contributed to the recent mass hysteria regarding sexual abuse.
AFMA Newsletter Mar 1996 3 (1)
Includes an edited version of a paper by Australian Barrister Phillip Priest, entitled "Evidence – the keystone of litigation practice: repressed memories and corroboration in sexual cases".
FMS Foundation Newsletter Apr 1996 5 (4)
Includes details about the precedent-setting decision by the Texas Supreme Court which reversed a court of appeal decision and ruled that a daughter’s action against her father, based on repressed memories, was barred.
Also contains an article about mediation processes in helping families reconciliate after a daughter who has made allegations based on recovered memories retracts her accusations.
COSA offers a service of posting copies of this newsletter to members at a cost of $30 per year (including postage).
End Ritual Abuse Newsletter Mar 1996 3 (1)
Includes a vitriolic attack by recovered memory supporter Judith Herman attacking the False Memory Syndrome and the media for promoting the Foundation’s point of view. Herman claims that "acceptance of the FMSF position appears to be on the wane".
Vancouver &Lower Mainland (Canada) FMS Newsletter Mar 1996
Local news from Canada abut FMS issues.
1996 AGM Presidential report
It is now two years since we first started COSA, and a year from our inaugural AGM as an incorporated society. I would like to take this opportunity to look back at what we have achieved in the last year, and where we are headed.
New contacts and publicity:
Clearly our initial task is to ensure people find out that we exist. It is important that all those suffering the effects of false allegations and those professionals wanting information learn how to find us. COSA has certainly become increasingly well known in the past year.
We have been informed of about 250 cases of alleged false accusations in the last year. Each one represents a devastated individual or family. About one in 5 of those contacting us become members or subscribe to the newsletter. We also field calls from a large number of professionals, especially lawyers and doctors. Again about 1 in 5 who contact us subscribe.
Lottery Board and JR McKenzie funding has allowed us to distribute brochures to libraries, Citizen Advice Bureaux and General Practitioners nation-wide; a similar distribution is now under way for lawyers. We have done some very limited paid advertising, especially in Metro magazine which tends to have a longer life than newspapers and often find its way into waiting rooms.
COSA is frequently contacted by the media to comment on relevant issues; we issue press releases from time to time and also send our newsletters to key media people who then run stories based on material they read there. Several COSA members have had their individual stories told in magazines, newspapers, the radio or television.
We are encouraging our members to further publicise our existence by word of mouth; writing letters to newspapers; speaking on talk-back radio; distributing brochures; and paying for small ads in their local papers.
Membership / newsletter subscribers:
There are about 180 subscribers to the newsletter (all but 8 of whom are also members), with a ratio of 80% affected families to 20% interested professionals. Free newsletters are also distributed to the 13 members of the Professional Advisory Board; allied associations such as the FMSF; and selected politicians and members of the media.
Nature of the cases COSA is seeing:
COSA knows of about a dozen cases where it appears men were convicted of sexual offenses on the basis of long distant memories recovered in therapy by the complainants. These convictions largely occurred before there was public and professional awareness that the validity of such memories is under challenge. In all, COSA has details of about 150 cases based on recovered memories. The flood of these sorts of cases has now reduced to a trickle; the police are much more reluctant to press charges on this basis; and we are hopeful that many therapists are now aware of the dangers of recovered memory therapy and have changed their practices.
Custody /access disputes
About a third of the cases we are seeing fall into this category. Generally sexual abuse allegations are made against the father by an ex-wife and the response of the Family Court is to deny any unsupervised access, even if there is no evidence that the children have been abused. We know of many fathers who have been also charged in the Criminal Courts, acquitted, but still denied access to their children by the family Courts.
Cases arising through interviewing
About a quarter of the cases we see can be loosely defined as resulting from interviewing contamination. The allegation arises from a concerned adult who suspects a child has been abused because of his or her behaviour, although the child has not disclosed and may well have denied it when asked. Examination of interviews of these children reveals that they have come to progressively make allegations under the influence of suggestive and leading questioning.
Deliberate false allegations
Alarmingly, this is where we are seeing the largest increase in cases. These include instances of teenage retribution for perceived excessive parental strictness; soured relationships where women want to "get" their ex-boyfriend or partner; and even cases of deliberate extortion for money.
COSA has 3 aims:
- provide support for people involved in false allegations;
- foster and promote sound and reliable scientific knowledge concerning sexual abuse;
- promote changes that will minimize the creation of wrongful accusations in the future.
I would like to review how well these are being addressed.
We are slowly increasing the support we can offer, acknowledging that it is not COSA’s role to take up specific cases on our members’ behalf.
Auckland support group
120 people have attended this monthly support group with an average of about 20 participants per session. It is nearly equally attended by men and women, with a mixture of accused, their partners and other family members or friends. Attendees include fathers with allegations arising in the context of access/custody disputes in Family Courts; parents and others accused on the basis of recovered memories with no charges laid by the police therefore no way to "clear their name"; those awaiting trial; those acquitted but who come to support others.
The overwhelming pattern in people’s stories is their disillusionment with the mental health, social and justice systems. Social workers, therapists and counsellors, psychologists, DSAC doctors, psychologists, counsel for the child all presume that whenever an allegation of child sexual abuse or adult rape is made, it must be genuine. This presumption of guilt colours all that follows. Month after month, stories are shared of the costs to these families when false allegations are made: families are torn to pieces; people lose their children and grand-children; their jobs; their life savings; their reputations; their freedom; their health; sometimes even their lives.
We now have regional co-ordinators or support people in 16 centres nation-wide. As well as Auckland, support groups have been held in Wellington and Christchurch. Our national support basis is still in a very early stage of development, and in the next 12 months we hope to extend the support we can offer our members.
Dissemination of information
Our monthly newsletter summarises and reviews the wealth of information that continues to flow in.
Conferences, talks and seminars
I have made a number of presentations to various audiences in the past 12 months on issues related to false allegations. These include addresses organised through the post-graduate medical societies in Whangarei, Tauranga, Whakatane, Napier, Hastings, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin; guest speaker at the Family Court Association; the Rationalists’ Society and the North Shore Men’s Centre; and guest lecturer for the Department of Psychology, Massey University.
I presented a paper at the NZ Skeptics Conference in August and another at First International Forum for a critical look at the functioning of Child Protection Services, The Netherlands in June, which I attended under the sponsorship of the Dutch Ministry of Health.
My offer of a paper at the recent DSAC Rape Conference in Wellington was declined, as I outlined in the April COSA newsletter Editorial.
Conference presentations planned for later this year include:
- "Clinical use of narrative to harm or heal" at an international conference on Narrative and metaphor across the disciplines, Auckland University 8-18 July 1996;
- a poster presentation "Parents and other relatives accused of sexual abuse on the basis of recovered memories: a New Zealand family survey" at the NATO International Scientific Meeting Recollections of trauma: Scientific research and clinical practice, June 16-26, 1996 Port de Bourgenay, France;
- paper on recovered memory research submitted for consideration at the International Congress on Stress and Health, Sydney, Oct 1996.
In my position as honorary Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, Auckland Medical School, I surveyed families where parents and other relatives had been accused of sexual abuse on the basis of recovered memories, and the allegations were denied by the alleged perpetrator and/or other family members. I am currently preparing several papers in conjunction with researcher Dr Tannis Laidlaw and Associate Professor Robert Large for consideration of publication in medical and psychological journals. I am unable to release details of our findings prior to publication but will say that many of the allegations involved very low-probability events such as satanic ritual abuse or memories of being abused as very young babies.
In the past year I have published several articles, papers and letters on false allegation issues. These include:
- a paper in the New Zealand Law Journal entitled "Review of ‘Was Eve merely framed; or was she forsaken?’";
- two articles in Patient Management on "Distinguishing Between True and False Allegations of Sexual Abuse Part I: Adults Alleging Abuse as Children", and "Part II: Allegations Involving Children";
- an article in The Dominion, Wellington, called "Many sex abuse memories false";
- an article in the NZ Rationalist and Humanist called "Dissemination of misinformation in the sexual abuse field";
- several Letters to the Editor in the New Zealand Medical Journal and the New Zealand Law Journal.
Our third aim we have hardly started to address, although there is some indication that bringing the debate about recovered memories to the public and professional arenas in the past to years had lead to therapists to look at these issues and start to change their beliefs and practices. We have made a submission to the Police Working Party on recovered memories, copies of which have also been distributed to other bodies including the Law Commission.
However most professional bodies and teaching organizations in this field still minimize or deny the occurrence of false allegations, and actively oppose my speaking to their audiences and members. One of the important areas to focus on is the issue of accountability of workers in this field. We hope to look at this aspect in greater detail in the coming year.
What COSA is basically battling is a major attempt at social engineering imposed on our society in the last decade. I think this was made very clear in the recent Rape Conference and the Fraser TV programme in which I contributed.
Women are portrayed as blameless, not responsible for what happens to them, whereas men are the ones who should be held responsible. One of COSA’s primary objectives is the development of a society where men and women enjoy equal rights and responsibilities. I believe that men and women have identical capacity for both good and evil. Some men do rape, but some women also cry rape when it has not happened.
Sometimes it seems that the task is too great, because the ideology we are challenging has infiltrated so deeply into our legal and social institutions. However we must also remember that such fads come in cycles, that times will change and one day we will look back upon this madness which has inflicted western society with amazement that such a thing could happen in a democratic and civilised society. The actions of COSA can help speed that day in arriving. The lives of thousands of New Zealanders have now been touched by false allegations. We recognise that many chose to keep their pain private. However the more people stand up to be counted, and encourage others to do the same, the greater the impact we can have.
I thank you all for your support, and in particular, I would like to acknowledge all the hard work and commitment of our secretary and treasurer Colleen and Gordon Waugh, without whom COSA would not have even come into being.
Other AGM Business
Treasurer Gordon Waugh presented an interim report of our financial situation, which is meagre but in the black.
We were delighted to welcome 2 Christchurch Sub-group members, Arthur and Jane, who came to Auckland especially for the AGM. They reported on the outcomes of their own personal cases and those of some of our other Christchurch members and discussed some of the activities they have been involved in on behalf of COSA.
The AGM was also attended by out-of-towners including contact person Mike from Inglewood and members from Whangarei.
Please notify COSA if you know of any recent or coming workshops, seminars and other relevant events.
Public Meeting organised by Men’s Action Network
7 pm Wed 15 May, Methodist Centre, 62 London St, Hamilton
Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith speaking on "False allegations of sexual abuse"
Entrance by koha.
NATO International Scientific Meeting Recollections of trauma: Scientific research and clinical practice
June 16-26, 1996 Port de Bourgenay, France
I will be attending this conference
International conference Narrative and Metaphor across the Disciplines
Auckland University, 8-10 July 1996
I will be presenting a paper at this conference entitled "Clinical use of narrative to harm or heal".
Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith