COSA [North] Casualties Of Sexual Allegations News & Views September – October 1999 Vol 1 Issue 1
Contents of this page:
Punishment In Advance If the Court has no credible evidence of events in the past, it is not in a position to predict what might happen in the future. By removing access, or granting only supervised or limited access, the father is being punished for something he might do in the future – punishment in advance, just in case????
Claytons Diagnosis Over these past several years, we have heard in Court rooms and read from medical reports, statements made by Expert Witnesses called by the Crown in cases of alleged sexual abuse of children. These witnesses have been doctors – mostly members of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC)
Therapist’s Belief (UK)
Sex Abuse Lessons For Three Year Olds Children as young as three are to be taught about sex abuse in a new book aimed at toddlers. A storm of protest erupted as campaigners lambasted the project as an "attack on child-hood innocence".
The Bankruptcy of the Argument "It’s in the DSM-IV." – abbreviation for the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition". Terry Campbell uses his forensic and clinical experience, knowledge of the research, analytical skills and strong commitment to ethical practice, to detail the legal deficiencies of DSM-IV. He delineates the lack of scientific support for the DSM-IV and explains why it fails to meet the required legal standard for expert testimony established by the Daubert decision.
Therapy’s Delusions: The Myth Of The Unconscious And The Exploitation Of Today’s Walking Worried – new book.
"Sanctified snake oil" – by Susan Kiss SarnoffDefinition : "Sanctified snake oil" – Ideology, junk science and social work practice.
Third-Party Lawsuit Settled In May 1999, a malpractice claim brought by Joel Hungerford against his adult daughter’s therapist was settled for the $200,000
A Letter to Various Editors by Mark Pendergrast. "The recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to send Cheryl Amirault LeFave back to prison is an appalling example of injustice in the wake of a veritable witch hunt. The Fells Acres Day Care case, which began in 1984, was just one of over one hundred such cases, in which day care workers were falsely accused of sexually abusing preschoolers. The children were subjected to coercive and leading interviews." (USA).
Punishment In Advance
On Wednesday 21 July, the first segment of TV1’s Assignment programme dealt with the unproved belief that children who abuse animals grow into adults who abuse and harm people.
The second segment included a documentary from the BBC’s Panorama series about a group of youths who teased, tortured and set fire to a small dog. It was first thought that these young men would be charged for their abuse and torture of the dog, but based on the theory expounded in the first segment of this TV programme, the youths were actually charged with arson. This charge had a much heavier penalty. They were found guilty. This effectively punished them for something they might do in the future.
Defence Attorney John Osgood from Overland Park, Kansas, featured in this programme, argued that it is entirely against all known law that a person should be punished for something he might do in the future.
Correction: We wrongly reported that John Osgood was located in Overland Park, where this case was tried. Mr Osgood actually practices in Lee Summit, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. Mr Osgood’s contact details are here – Editor, 30 August 2002.
Here in New Zealand, we may not have had a case such as the one above, but we certainly have a similar theory-mindset-outcome of punishing a person for something he might do in the future. This is clearly illustrated in many cases that are handled by the NZ Family Court in access and custody disputes.
In New Zealand, our Criminal Courts base verdicts on the principle of ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt". In the Civil Courts, it is based on the "Balance of Probabilities". The Family Court, set up to deal with family disputes, child custody, wills and estate probate etc, also bases its decisions on the "Balance of Probability".
In some cases, where a Criminal Court acquitted a man on charges of sexual abuse of his child, the parent, on return to the Family Court, finds that, based on the Family Courts practice of using the "Balance of Probability", custody/access is denied because he is deemed likely to offend in the future. In other cases, even when there is no evidence of any abuse, the male partner is disbelieved and access is denied or limited. (Also see my later comment "Clayton’s Diagnosis" – Ed.) If the Court has no credible evidence of events in the past, it is not in a position to predict what might happen in the future.
The ideology underlying this state of affairs is clearly demonstrated by input from court-appointed psychologists/counsellors, the belief that women and children don’t lie and must be believed come what may, and that all men are predators, then the men’s chances of being heard over this loud haranguing is minimal and is often ignored.
By removing access, or granting only supervised or limited access, the father is being punished for something he might do in the future – PUNISHMENT IN ADVANCE, JUST IN CASE…????
The law makers, when setting the rules governing family court matters, perhaps did not envisage that custody/access disputes would become so complicated and suffused by ideology. At one time simple direction given by the Court was sufficient. This has now changed. Schedules are now set specifying supervised access at recommended venues, days and times. In case you didn’t know, the non-custodial parent even has to pay the cost of the supervised access!
The fact that supervised or limited access is granted means that the Court and its psychologists believe the father would or could offend and therefore he is not allowed to be alone with his child. This deprives the father of quality time with his child and causes bewilderment in the mind of a tiny child, who, despite what some psychologists might say, is not fully able to comprehend the situation.
The irony of all this is the theory that the Balance of Probability is a reliable measurement, is quite false. A "balance" can only be struck if both sides of the argument are allowed to be heard without bias. Until and unless this happens, and both parties are treated equally at all times, there is no Balance on which to base the outcome.
But while all this is happening, sadly, the court seems to have forgotten all about the children who are at the very hub of these disputes. It is the children, whom these agencies say they are protecting, who will pay a far greater price, greater even than that which the falsely accused father will pay, in the long term.
These children have become victims of abuse by CYPFA, Psychologists, Counsellors and the Family Court, and they will base future life-style decisions and attitudes on a false premise . Parents who make false allegations to secure custody and limit access are damaging their own children.
It is about time the Justice system faced the reality of this situation and mustered the courage to do something to correct this. If justice is to be seen to be done in this country, then the children – the adults of the future – must receive an honest deal from the courts, and from the medical and social agencies.
There is no more room for bias and false ideological theories to pervade our justice and psychological services. Too much damage has already been done. They must stop punishing the children and their fathers for what the fathers might do in the future.
Colleen Waugh ( Very Temporary Editor).
Editor’s Note:- We heard that the Law Commission is to study the Family Court situation. Gordon asked the Commission for details. Judge Margaret Lee responded by saying "The Commission will publish a discussion paper in June 2000 and will be inviting public submissions on the proposals contained in it. It is expected that a report to the Minister of Justice with final recommendations will be published in February 2001."
Over these past several years, we have heard in Court rooms and read from medical reports, statements made by Expert Witnesses called by the Crown in cases of alleged sexual abuse of children. These witnesses have been doctors – mostly members of Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC) – who profess to care for the safety and wellbeing of children.
An example of a written report of a child alleged to have been raped, said "…..showed a normal annular hymen. There were no abrasions, no evidence of injury, no discharge or evidence of ejaculate etc. The hymen was translucent, its edge was regular and it was non-traumatised. The skin around the perineal area was entirely dry with nothing to suggest there had been any ejaculate." These comments show that the doctor has sound medical experience of such matters. You could rightly conclude, therefore, that there was no evidence of sexual abuse.
But Wait! There is more! It is the final sentence of the report that is most revealing. It said "Although there was no definite clinical evidence of sexual abuse, this does not mean that sexual abuse had not occurred."
The jury will have heard those last few words, made by an "expert", and will carry just that portion with them into their deliberations. The statement implies, without evidence, that abuse MAY have occurred. But it is equally true that abuse may NOT have occurred. The "expert’s" words are biased, misleading to the jury and detrimental to the accused.
This last comment is in fact merely an expression of the examiner’s own belief, conjecture, and personal opinion which should have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual findings in the examination.
A clear, unbiased and professional statement should have been……"that the lack of evidence neither confirms nor denies that abuse occurred." In other words "I didn’t find any evidence and I don’t know if there was any abuse."
We have also heard and read other similar statements made by the same brand of "DSAC expert" to the effect that very young girls can be raped by an adult male and that hymens can be repaired, without any obvious signs. Lawyers must challenge these claims and flawed conclusions.
Fact, knowledge and honesty must at all times, surely, override ideology and bias. Doctors who give such evidence in Court are bound to honour their oath to "First Do No Harm….."
This type of Clayton’s Diagnosis does little for the respect and confidence in a profession which is usually held in high regard by the public. We are surprised that the NZ Medical Council, the NZ Medical Association and the Courts have not taken disciplinary action against practitioners who use these misleading statements and flawed conclusions. – Colleen Waugh
SOME ITEMS OF INTEREST FROM OVERSEAS
NEWS FROM U.K.
[The following items were extracted from the British False Memory Society’s Newsletter:]
Police Investigations Create "False Memory"
(Source: Psychological Science. American Psychological Society, November 1998.)
New Research findings indicate that exploratory methods of police and psychotherapy interrogation may both be effective in creating ‘false memory’.
The researchers from the University of Arizona found that in both situations people may respond to a particular unifying ‘gist’ which leads to distortion and fabrication. C.E.Brainerd, who conducted the research, explained the parallel distortion effect as follows: in therapy, sessions revolve around powerful uniting theses (e.g. emotional or physical trauma), with the events of the patients’ lives being explored in relation to those themes. In witness interviews, questioning also revolves around powerful uniting themes (e.g. crimes that are under investigation), with witness’ statements focusing on things that bear directly on those themes.
‘Based upon our results’, says Brainerd, ‘ it no longer seems remarkable that false reports could be common to these situations with procedures that emphasise memory for substance. When strong gists are operative, things that were not experienced can seem more memorable than actual experience.’
He continued" ‘Our findings help with two important problems in psychotherapy and police interrogation: diagnosis of memory and training of interviewers.’
‘Satanic Abuse’ Migrates To Ireland
Satanic abuse has had its heyday in the UK with the discrediting of reports from children and adult ‘survivors’. But news from Ireland indicates that Rape Crisis groups are actively promoting the myth in the republic.
A report in the Irish Sunday Times (1/7/99) states that Rape Crisis centres have opened satanic abuse help lines there despite there being no evidence of this type of crime discovered by the police in Ireland. Fiona Neary, the national coordinator of the Rape Crisis centres, defended the move on the grounds that one office had dealt with five cases with ‘a number reported to other counsellors’.
Helpline counsellors were to be trained by English members of the Ritual Abuse Information Network and Support (RAINS) including Sue Hutchinson of SAFE whose claims helped ignite the full-blown scare back in the 1990-91 in the UK affecting families with children.
Both the BFMS and criminologist Bill Thompson decried the move as a retrograde attempt to establish the credibility of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Neary countered that the purpose of the helplines was simply to be ‘available for victims’.
Robin Balbernie of Severn NHS Trust writing in Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 4, Issue 2, April 1999.
"In this paper I describe an example of projective identification from work with a six-year-old adopted boy, where I found myself almost completely unable to function for several sessions. A traumatic past experience belonging to my patient, which he could have no conscious knowledge of, [my italics – Ed] had been pushed out of his unconscious to lodge in mine; and then, in turn, I acted out a version of that experience……
Sex Abuse Lessons For Three Year Olds
By Steve Martin.
Excerpts from an article, featured on the front page of the Daily Record/Sunday Mail, Scotland’s International Weekly Paper, dated March 2-8.
Children as young as three are to be taught about sex abuse in a new book aimed at toddlers.
A storm of protest erupted as campaigners lambasted the project as an "attack on child-hood innocence". The 26-page book, Jenny’s Story, is the first child abuse project to be aimed at children so young.
Cornelia Oddit, of pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said: "To address children directly is going to scare youngsters who don’t need to be frightened."….
The producers insist the book, part of a project called the Wee VIP’s pack, is simply aimed at telling children their rights. But even they admit the book, designed to be read by children with their parents, won’t help where the parents are the abusers.
Tory councillor Neil Powrie said: "You have to question the sanity of people who want to pollute the minds of toddlers with fears about sex abuse. It is ludicrous that such a book should be produced." Pressure group Families Need Fathers warned of the dangers of stereotyping men as abusers – saying women could abuse too.
NEWS FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The Bankruptcy of the Argument "It’s in the DSM-IV."
Campbell, Terence W. "Challenging the Evidentiary Reliability of DSM-IV" American Journal of Forensic Psychology 17-1, 47-67
[Article Review. (by kind permission of the Editor, FMS Foundation newsletter)]
(DSM-IV is the abbreviation for the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition", much loved by some counsellors and psychologists).
Terry Campbell uses his forensic and clinical experience, knowledge of the research, analytical skills and strong commitment to ethical practice, to detail the legal deficiencies of DSM-IV. He delineates the lack of scientific support for the DSM-IV and explains why it fails to meet the required legal standard for expert testimony established by the Daubert decision. He concludes his well reasoned treatise with a 98-question strategy for attorneys to consider using in cross-examining mental health professionals who invoke DSM-IV to support their expert testimony.
Campbell summarizes the scientific shortcomings by calling the readers’ attention to several important facts: DSM-IV diagnoses rely heavily on clinical judgment (which is often shown to be subjective); the accelerated rate with which the American Psychiatric Association has updated DSM manuals and increased the number of diagnoses; the DSM-IV’s very own words that the manual "provides no adequate definition of mental disorder." ; the brief discussion of research showing the speed with which clinicians make diagnoses and the inaccuracies that persist make for additional interesting reading.
Campbell’s principled discourse calls for forensic psychologists to meet their ethical obligation to the courts by identifying the severe forensic limitation of the DSM-IV. It may seem appropriate to question whether the DSM-IV might have similar clinical limitations.
Therapy’s Delusions: The Myth Of The Unconscious And The Exploitation Of Today’s Walking Worried.
by Ethan Watters and Richard Ofshe. Scribner 1999 ISBN 0-684-83584-3. 287 pages. $US25.00 hardback.
This new book by the authors of "Making Monsters" reveals how talk therapy has masqueraded as a scientific discipline. It is a powerful call for reforming the mental health profession. See the Website at : www.chordate.com/therapys_delusions/index.html
"Sanctified snake oil" – by Susan Kiss Sarnoff;
Definition: "Sanctified snake oil" – Ideology, junk science and social work practice.
(This article is 15 pages long and therefore we are unable to published it here in its entirety due to costs. Social workers, psychologists and related professionals would find it most informative and if you know of someone who might be interested, a full copy of this article will be forwarded with a small charge to cover print and postage. A brief introduction to this article follows – Editor).
Susan Kiss Sarnoff 1 July 1999 Families in Society. The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, Page 396. Copyright UMI Company 1999. All Rights Reserved. Copyright Manticore Publishers Jul/Aug 1999.
1 This article explores the pervasiveness of the form of junk science known as advocacy statistics, and its danger to the practice of social work. Using domestic violence statistics as exemplars, the article documents how misinterpretation and refusal to believe data that does not conform to ideology can lead to inaccurate assessments, faulty treatment recommendations, and misallocation of resources. Such practice, which clearly violates the NASW Code of Ethics, reflects poorly on the profession and, most significantly, makes it impossible to understand the true nature of the problem.
2 Christopher Wren observed that, "Politicians are said to use statistics the way drunks use lampposts: for support rather than illumination." Recognizing this, "advocacy statistics" have been a staple of groups vying for government attention – and resources- for as long as government has provided such resources. "Advocacy statistics" consists of spurious "data" that support preconceived ideas rather than offering empirical evidence of the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of those ideas.
3 This article will explore domestic violence advocacy statistics in a framework that this author has developed and defined as "sanctified snake oil."
Third-Party Lawsuit Settled.
In May 1999, a malpractice claim brought by Joel Hungerford against his adult daughter’s therapist (Susan Jones) was settled for the $200,000 policy limit of Jones’ malpractice coverage. In December 1998, the New Hampshire Supreme Court had held that a therapist owes a duty of care to the accused person when the therapist diagnoses and treats an adult patient for sexual abuse.1.See FMSF Newsletter Feb.1999. Hungerford v Jones, 722 A 2d 478 (NH, 1998
A Letter to Various Editors by Mark Pendergrast
Aug. 20, 1999 (Mark sent this to at least two Editors. He asked for it to be spread far and wide.)
Dear Editor, The recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to send Cheryl Amirault LeFave back to prison is an appalling example of injustice in the wake of a veritable witch hunt.
The Fells Acres Day Care case, which began in 1984, was just one of over one hundred such cases, in which day care workers were falsely accused of sexually abusing preschoolers. The children were subjected to coercive and leading interviews.
Everywhere else in the United States, convictions have been overturned — but not in Massachusetts, home to Salem. "Stick a fork in them," said attorney Wendy Murphy, referring to the Amirault family. "They’re done."
This kind of vicious comment could have been in The Crucible. Shame on Murphy, and shame on Massachusetts. Yours, Mark Pendergrast Author, Victims of Memory
Man Falsely Accused By CPS Of Abuse Awarded $510,000
Saturday, June 08, 1996 by Ronald K. Fitten, Seattle Times staff reporter.
A King County Superior Court jury yesterday agreed with a Seattle’s man claim that he had been falsely accused of sexually abusing his daughter by Child Protective Services and awarded him $510,000 in damages. The jury, which deliberated for two days after listening to almost three weeks of testimony, also agreed with the man’s assertion that CPS’s failure to properly investigate the sexual-abuse allegations severed his relationship with his daughter and destroyed his relationship with his wife.
The jury awarded the man $120,000 for back economic losses, $375,000 for pain and suffering, $5,000 for future damages and $10,000 – from two CPS caseworkers – for punitive damages. An attorney representing CPS said the state would appeal the ruling.
The Seattle man, 45, an unemployed attorney, said the jury ruling would "help me pay for ongoing therapy for my daughter, who was traumatized by all of this." Jurors voted unanimously that CPS was negligent. Several jurors suggested after the verdict that the overall impression they got from the testimony and evidence was that CPS had failed in almost every aspect of the investigation. "I thought it was the whole CPS process that dropped the ball in this case," said juror Dwight Salyers, 33.
"CPS failed to look at the overall evidence. In their manual it says you must interview all parties involved – but they didn’t interview the accused and the police didn’t talk to him. Nobody did . . .and that just blew us away."
Juror Gayle Kanss said some jurors suspected whatever punitive damages they awarded was not enough. "Most of us felt there was no amount of monetary compensation for the loss of the relationship this man experienced with his child," she said. "We thought we had to award something reasonably compensatory – even though this was a lawsuit against a state agency."
Caseworker Ann Gurian, who was ordered to pay $7,500 in punitive damages, said she was heartbroken by the ruling. "I think this lawsuit will have a negative impact on all of us at CPS and on our ability to do our job," Gurian said. "Personally, it affects my feelings about my job and whether I want to do it at all. We’re in this business because we care about kids, and we are trying to protect kids . . . and this is what happens?"
Charges against the plaintiff arose in 1992 following disclosures from a friend of the plaintiff’s then-4-year-old daughter who claimed the plaintiff’s daughter had been sexually molested by him. As a result, the man was not allowed access to his daughter for one year while CPS conducted an investigation. He was only allowed supervised contact for one year after that. He was also divorced by his wife. After a criminal investigation, however, no charges were filed.
Phillip Raymond, attorney for the plaintiff, had asked the jury Wednesday during closing remarks to award $120,000 for past economic losses and expenses his client used to pay for his divorce proceedings. "We’re pleased with the verdict," Raymond said yesterday. "Most important of all, my client feels vindicated." But Peter Berney, assistant state attorney general who represented CPS, said he believed an appeal was needed to address at least two legal concerns overlooked by the jurors. "What is the responsibility of CPS for the conduct of other professionals," Berney asked. "Are we responsible for Janet Keen or Roger Wolfe? Are we liable for Janet Keen if she doesn’t produce a professional report?"
Berney was referring to testimony during the trial by experts who sharply criticized a report produced by Keen that suggested the abuse had occurred. The two experts, Marsha Hedrick and Roger Wolfe, both professional child-abuse evaluators, said Keen’s report was shoddy and below standard. Keen was hired by CPS to determine whether the plaintiff’s daughter had been abused. Wolfe also was hired by CPS. His evaluation of the evidence, however, concluded that it was highly unlikely that the plaintiff had sexually abused his daughter.
Yet police investigators, who were sent material about the allegations by CPS caseworkers, testified they received Keen’s report but not Wolfe’s. "There is no evidence that the caseworkers didn’t send Wolfe’s report," Berney said. "The only evidence is that the police didn’t have it."
COSA [North] Housekeeping Items
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ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION. In this day of E-mail and Internet no place is too far away and therefore business is now extensively reliant on this style of communication to function. Committees and Organisations are now turning to this form of communication and several groups exists where the president may reside in one town and the secretary in another. I know of an organisation who has just this type of structure and they have 400 members nation-wide.
I would like members who have e-mail and are able to keep information flowing with the committee, to contact us.
We also added a "Stop Press" about the favourable outcome of the Hess vs Fenandez case.
Editor – Gordon Waugh
Opinions expressed in this newsletter are the responsibility of the individual writer and are not necessarily endorsed by COSA [North].