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 The Newsletter of the Australian False Memory Association

 Part 2

 Concerning Recovered Memories

 Volume 6 Issue 2 July 1999


 Part1 | Part3


NSW Judge Acquitted of Charges at Committal

Given the pre-occupation with conspiracy theories of high-profile individuals being involved in child sex rings in NSW (particularly politicians and judges), it is worth noting the recent acquittal of Judge, Phillip Bell.
Judge Bell was accused by a former male prostitute.

Judge Bell shares the unfortunate circumstance of having the same name as the convicted, Mr Phillip Bell- who was fortunately extradited, successfully prosecuted, and jailed. Incidentally, Mr Bell (not to be confused with the acquitted Judge Bell) actually describes himself as a “hebephile”- a man who prefers young adolescents not children (although this individual seems to be splitting hairs to justify a situation where vulnerable others are exploited).

Judge Bell’s committal ran over two and a half days, a far cry from many NSW committals which are reported to last not days, hours but minutes (in the interests of speeding up justice in such complex matters). None-the-less, the stone is thrown, and the aspersions are cast. But justice must be seen to be done without fear or favour.

The question which was failed to be publicly asked is “How did this accusation arise?” and, “Who assisted it coming to court?” Meanwhile, the Judge can rest assured that he can return to work alongside one of his fellow Judges, who prosecuted in one of the more notorious Satanic/ Ritual Abuse cases in NSW. At least he was not accused of being the Devil incarnate, and the matter was clarified prior to being placed on trial before a jury of twelve ordinary Australians.

Dial your way to homelessness.

We have recently been made aware of a case of a young man who sought telephone counseling for his problems. Qualified psychologists run the counseling lines. Such lines are increasing, where professionals offer their services on a timed fee per minute basis, much like the horoscopes, informatel adverts, weather forecasts, and tawdry telephone sex lines. Unfortunately, this person racked up a bill of $1100, with demands for payment of this account. Given the person’s circumstances, this young man will have no money left to pay the rent...and will be homeless. Caring eh?

One wonders about the ethics of providing telephone counseling at all, where the practitioner has less information to make judgments about the welfare of the person seeking help.

Watchdog wants sex victim tapes

[The following is an article by Christine Reschlag, published in the QLD Courier Mail.]

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties wants confidential counseling sessions with alleged sexual abuse victims to be taped for use as evidence in court. The Council said the move would stop some practitioners shredding notes and “coaching” clients.
Council Vice-President, Terry O’Gorman said the proposal stemmed from fears counseling could result in repressed memories or “contaminated” evidence being put before juries. He said that in one case a woman underwent 20 sessions before she was able to recall an incident of abuse.

The proposal is contained in a submission to the Law Reform Commission which also argues that child witnesses should be afforded no more rights than accused paedophiles.

Counselors warned yesterday that victims would be deterred from seeking help if confidential sessions were taped..

…Mr O’Gorman conceded yesterday that his proposal was controversial but said the cases to which he was referring were held in a closed court and confidential sessions would not be revealed “to the world at large”.
“I expect that the opposition will be strong but it is an issue which must be addressed,” he said. “On the one hand, complainants who have in fact been sexually abused are entitled to the benefit of counseling. On the other hand, accused persons are entitled to put before a jury evidence which may indicate that a particular allegation has been influenced as to detail or nuance by counseling. Assertions by some counselors that they do not attempt to influence complainants strain credibility. Some counselors in this area are ideologically driven and have only minimal respect for procedural protections designed to minimise the risk of a miscarriage of justice.”

University of Queensland associate professor in clinical psychology, Matt Saunders, described it as “ill-advised”. “If people widely understand that this was what could happen and there was a caveat put onto the consultation it could constitute a significant barrier to a client talking about complex issues,” he said.

Australian Psychological Society communications director, Peter Cotton, said it was unreasonable to compulsorily record sessions. “We don’t want people going back into the closet feeling they have to be covert,” he said.

Victims of Crime spokesman, John King, said last night he vehemently opposed the proposal, as it would stop victims speaking out in the first instance.

Christine Retschlag, The Courier-Mail, 16/4/99

Childhood Poverty Likely to Rise In Australia

The current social concern about child abuse has been linked to the social, political, and economic conditions from the 1970’s and 80’s. Readers are referred to work such as that by Professor Jeffrey Victor, “Satanic panic”. With rapid change, such as the rapid dislocations of the 1990’s, individuals seek explanations. How could such a catastrophe occur? Who and what are the hidden forces which are responsible? Within this, children frequently represent one’s hopes for the future- that this may be better than the past.

One of the ironies of the recovered memory phenomenon is that a generation which has lived under a time of relative prosperity (for some) and peace have came to recover hidden memories of trauma- and generally accusing the previous generation who had lived through the deprivations of war, economic depression, and social dislocation. While the affluent middle classes have sought to vent their primal screams of hidden trauma (albeit for a tidy fee), children in the developing world get to do it for real- as they seek their next cheap morsel to eat.

An article in the Melbourne Age (15 July 1999 p. 11) referred to the recent research of Professor Bob Gregory of the Australian National University. This raised the spectre of increasing numbers of Australian children living in poverty in the future. Figures were quoted that 18% of children now live in households where neither parent is working, up from the 11% figure in 1989. A rise of 229,000 persons in this situation from 1989 to 1998 was reported, together with the statistic that the average time of unemployment had risen from 12 weeks to 55 weeks over this time. Persons in this situation were likely to have left school earlier. Their children were likely to be in poorer health, of lower birth weight, and to suffer the social and economic consequences. Such a social situation, is by no means simply a case of “blame the poor.” It none-the-less highlights the waste involved when monies which have funded the present debacle could have assisted current unimagined suffering before one’s very eyes.

One of the tragedies of the recovered memory phenomenon, is that while individuals engage in various techniques to seek out “hidden” memories of past trauma, this distances them from the reality of their present situation and their loved ones. The individual is locked within an imagined past, and the reality of the present remains un-noticed.

Dr Andrew Gibbs,
AFMA Professional Advisory Board Member

Murder/ Suicide of Woman and her five children associated with claim of false Accusation of Abuse.

Australians were shocked this month when they read of the suicide of a young woman and the deaths of her five very young children, when she drove a car into a WA forest and gassed all the occupants, with the five children being between one and eight years old. This was the worst murder-suicide in Western Australia.

While the reasons for such suicides can be complex, and subject to coronial inquiry, this situation drew my attention when the woman’s father publicly spoke, claiming he was the subject of false child abuse accusations some 9 years earlier.

Pictures in the accompanying article were of a happy and healthy-looking young child together with her family- and the more recent pictures of a thin stressed-looking woman. The allegations surfaced in the woman’s late adolescence in the years shortly after her mother had died. There was the added stresses of this 28 year old woman rearing her five young children alongside their father, with both working hard to provide for them.

Professionals were quoted in various papers, citing the effects of the stress of effectively being pregnant from late adolescence onwards; and that of a distorted logic where such a tragic action may be regarded as a protective action by a mother concerned about her children’s future. Such actions are easy to judge, but require greater effort to understand.

Without ever being formally charged, the father reported going to the police, to clear up the situation which had arisen with his daughter. The woman had made claims of 40 acts of abuse. The woman never formally signed a statement against her father (now aged 60 years). Her father was never charged by police, or prosecuted. Immediately following her death, he publicly spoke to the media, stating his view that he was falsely accused- a brave act in the present social climate and under these personal circumstances.

The man had only spoken to his daughter once over the nine years from when the allegations first arose. However, one-month prior to the tragedy, she telephoned asking to speak to her brother. She did not identify herself. Her father answered. He asked her to leave him in peace, saying he would do the same for her.

[Source: Adelaide Advertiser, The Australian, Saturday, July 10, 1999]

Ed: While the description of such circumstances may be cause for anxiety in some members, it is an important issue worth raising. Any review of the present situation, should require the examination of coronial records in some instances. It also highlights the importance of how any re-contact with accusing children needs to be handled.

Judges Cast Doubts on Experts

[See Source: Melbourne Age Saturday July 17, 1999 p. 5;
& Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Survey 1999]

An article just recently appeared in the Melbourne Age by Law Reporter, Caroline Milburn. This referred to the first ever National Survey of Judge's views on expert witnesses. This was conducted by the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration. It revealed that many were alarmed that such evidence appeared frequently biased or incomprehensible. Statistics were quoted of the Judges' concerns about he following:

  • Bias of Expert (35%),
  • Failure to prove bases of expert opinion (14%),
  • Failure by lawyer to pose proper questions (14%) and,
  • Failure by lawyer to cross-examine expert properly (11%).

Doctors and accountants were prominent in confusing judges and juries with obscure explanations or jargon. "Medical witnesses, particularly psychiatrists, were singled out as notorious for showing bias.", the report stated. [Often psychiatrist can also read "psychologist"] As such, the issue of the scrutiny of expert evidence is as important for the professions who provide it, as well as lawyers and judges.

Judges were so exasperated by expert evidence, that it was reported they were prepared to consider "radical reform of trial procedures in civil and criminal cases". This included court-appointed "independent panels" or experts, and the identification of disputed areas in the expert opinion prior to trial. "Expenses and notorious miscarriages of justice have consolidated the preparedness on the part of many judges to explore options that in previous years would have been repudiated."

The issue of expert opinion is an significant feature of the Recovered Memory issue where individuals may be sued for monetary compensation, or face criminal trial and potential jail. Each case needs to be examined according to the evidence, and on its own merits. As has been frequently stated within the current debate- not all memories of abuse are false. However, professionals should abide by their own stated Codes of Ethics, and where the basis of their opinion and methods are open and transparent.

This issue of "junk science" in the courtroom has been prominent elsewhere in the world, such as the United States, where Federal laws now require such evidence to pass certain tests- "Daubert" and "Frye". Essentially, these are that the opinion given conforms to scientific principles which can be subject to scrutiny and test. Evidence should be based on professional consensus, research which allows for the testing of the evidence (ie: ability to refute), and which has been replicated. In the US, these evidentiary standards result in "Recovered/ Repressed/ Dissociated" memories failing the test.

After all, in November 1997, almost exactly one-hundred years to the day that Freud proposed his repression theory, the British Royal College of Psychiatrists Working Party Report stated (like others) that there is no scientific evidence for this, and warned that certain methods carried the risk of false memories. After 100 years, repression is merely a belief- albeit with a somewhat tattered nineteenth century origin wrapped in the language of the present time.

And the AFMA, with its limited means, is aware of close to half dozen cases of uncorroborated allegations based solely on "Recovered Memory" which have been prosecuted in the first half of 1999- in three States. It would appear there is a difficulty in recognising these within the system.

Plague without a cure: a new sign of our times

The official opening this week of a psychology clinic at the Australian National University was a pointer to a plague that is sweeping our country. It goes by the name of stress. Its symptoms range from depression to nervous breakdown to suicide. In a city like Canberra it is everywhere. For example, the ANU clinic was fully engaged with 20 to 30 patients by the time it was opened.

Government departments regularly have 10% of their workforce absent on stress leave. This, in turn, raises stress levels among colleagues who must take over their work. The Australian Federal police force is particularly hard hit. The nature of the work, combined with a hard-line attitude taken over a new work place agreement, has produced absolute chaos, according to the AFP Association spokesman. “You would be horrified by the stress levels presently in the AFP”, he said.
Nurses at Canberra Hospital now have stress consultations and therapy sessions built into their conditions of service. This week even the Australian Football League Players’ Association established a new welfare package offering treatment for stress and depression.

Private business is no less vulnerable to the condition, but is less willing to help. The result – burnout for executives, marriage breakdowns, nervous conditions, unhappy workplaces.

There has been a surge in the numbers of clinical therapists. Canberra’s psychological services are under great pressure. Crisis teams are themselves under fierce pressure and stress.

The causes of the plague are partly ideological, partly social. The Howard Government, for example, is intent on pursuing economic rationalist policies that treat the labour force like economic units rather than real, breathing people. In private industry, managerial methods have not kept pace with the needs of the work place. Indeed the whole economic rationalist fad, with its downsizing and outsourcing, will be seen in time as one of the most socially destructive periods in our history. It is the product of weak and narrow politicians unable and unwilling to meet their responsibilities. It cannot last, but while it does the community is suffering unprecedented stress.

The social aspects are part of a larger movement which has seen women taking an unprecedented role in the workforce while simultaneously bearing children and pursuing university courses. All too often, the resulting stress is simply insupportable. When breakdowns occur, other family members – themselves operating at the limits of endurance – are required to accept an additional burden of child-minding and caring for the affected member. The ripples spread throughout the community, but they do not subside; instead they gain disruptive power as they expand.

Just as troubling is the inability of workers on the therapy industry to cope with the rising tide of people seeking help. There have been major pharmacological advances in the last decade. The development of anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac has provided the means to intervene chemically to prevent a descent into a chronic condition. But they are not, collectively or individually, the so-called magic bullet. They can correct a chemical balance temporarily, but they cannot go to the heart of the problem.

Moreover, the whole theory and practice of psychiatry has been drawn into question. Neo-Freudian psychoanalysis has suffered powerful blows to its credibility in recent years. Alternative methods have yet to achieve scientific respectability.

Psychiatrists themselves have a decidedly uneven reputation. As any Canberra GP will tell you, very great care must be taken in the selection of even the most academically qualified member of the profession.
Psychotherapists, whose qualifications are variable, are an even greater problem. No doubt, many are effective. Even the process of talking a problem through with an empathetic figure can be valuable. But such scandals as recovered memory syndrome and past lives discovered through hypnosis have cast a shadow over the whole vocation.

There is no clear and unambiguous process through which the victims of stress may be returned to robust mental health. And none is in prospect. It is, in short, a plague without a cure. And perhaps the most frightening aspect of the phenomenon is the reluctance of our institutional leaders to recognise its existence. The Government doesn’t want to know because that would mean confronting their failure. Most private enterprises have eyes only for the bottom line. Far too many of them have the view that only sissies have stress. Altogether the prognosis could be a great deal better.

Robert Macklin, Canberra Times, 29/5/99

International NEWS

New Zealand: Peter Ellis Case

The first allegations against Peter Ellis, a male child care worker at the Christchurch Civic Creche, were made in late November 1991,by a mother who had earlier written a pamphlet on sexual abuse.The extent to which a SRA scenario was involved in the Christchurch creche case has been somewhat masked by the Crown prosecutor's successful suppression of the more bizarre allegations which emerged in the children's later interviews, but it was undeniably part of the beliefs of some parents and formed a significant element in the police investigation.

The mother of one child, whose reported abuse managed to list all 16 of Pamela Hudson's satanic indicators, demanded at the depositions hearing that Hudson be brought to New Zealand as an "expert" witness. Her son, for example, had told of how he had been "forced to kill a boy and animals" (Christchurch Press, November 13, 1992). Further elements of Hudson can be found in the mother's claim that her son had spoken of a visit to a church where children had been made to take part in a "mock" marriage ceremony, and of a visit to a graveyard where he had been placed in a cage with a cat.. [Extracted from “Satan’s Excellent Adventure in the Antipodes” by Michael Hill. Published by Institute for Psychological Therapies]
Peter Ellis has been convicted and despite appeals is still in prison. He is eligible for parole but as he refuses to acknowledge guilt is automatically precluded..ED

Peter had a further parole board hearing on 11 March. This time he attended the hearing, and made the following statement:

"I would like to thank the Board for the opportunity to appear here today and in particular for allowing both my mother and my counsel to be present. There are two reasons why I think it is important for me to be present today. Firstly, because I wish to show my respect for the Board by personally explaining my position regarding parole and secondly, because it gives me the opportunity to say myself that which I have had to rely on others to say for me for the last six years. I cannot accept any Parole that you could offer me because the Board can only release me as a guilty man. I am a human being and of course I very much want my freedom, but I simply cannot accept it, if it is to be given, on the basis that I am a guilty man. I am not a guilty man. I am an innocent man."

Signed: "Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis"
COSA Newsletter May-June 1999

Canada: Victimhood: the cash cow of the '90s

An article by Susan Martinuk: National Post 18/2/99, referred to problems in Canada concerning massive lawsuits particularly against residential schools and orphanages. There are some remarkable similarities to Australia- although at this stage it appears that Canada is more affected.

To quote some of the relevant paragraphs from the article;

“… The number of lawsuits now totals almost 2,000 and is growing weekly. The cost is estimated in the billions of dollars and threatens to bankrupt church denominations, paralyse the courts, and place an overwhelming economic burden on governments.”

The Canadian Government offered an “apology” for its past role in residential schools, which particularly concerned the Native Indian population of Canada. Faced with the real social disadvantages of this population, a “healing fund” of $350 million was established. However, there have been criticisms that this is insufficient, and this acknowledgment of responsibility by the Canadian government has been used to launch massive compensation claims.

“A $2.4-billion class-action suit against a residential school in Ontario is claiming financial damages for plaintiffs who never even attended the school -- yet claim their lives were destroyed because their parents did. Somehow, school attendance rendered the parents unable to properly nurture their children.”

By no means should it appear a race issue as, in Canada, there are many claims from the non-native population who attended residential schools and institutions. The first claims emerged from Church-based institutions.

“Mt. Cashel, a Newfoundland orphanage, was the first Canadian institution to gain widespread notoriety for the abuse of its young wards. The Order of Christian Brothers voluntarily agreed to pay compensation, but no money has yet exchanged hands because of legal skirmishes over the Order's assets. The province of Newfoundland agreed to pay victims $10-million and is now suing the Christian Brothers for $11-million. Another 89 lawsuits are still before the courts.”

This case lead to many others. It bankrupted the “Irish Christian Brothers” in Canada a few years ago, with the wreckers ball demolishing the orphanage, including a sports center donated by the local community. Hundreds of other claims spread to other orphanages run by other orders. Of course, corporal punishment which today would be regarded as excessive, or as assault, was employed.

What is little known is that a Newfoundland Supreme Court Appeal (R. v Burke, 1996) found one of the three instigators of complaints at Mt Cashel had engaged in “lies”, “falsehoods” and “potential collusion”. The sexual convictions against the former Christian Brother were quashed, and one conviction of physical assault (related to claims of harsh punishment) maintained.

This initiating complainant appeared at the Hughes Royal Commission, and on “Oprah Winfrey” where he made increasing claims of sexual abuse. Credulous reference is made to this case in an Australian Book “Orphans of the Empire” by Alan Gill, concerning Australian institutions. However, in the Canadian court, the complainant eventually admitted these sexual claims were false. He told the court that the reason he said the increasingly lurid sexual allegations on Oprah was because he was “tired”. His own brother actually gave character evidence for the accused who was none-the-less convicted and jailed- with the sentence being four and a half years. None-the-less, following this instigation, claims from others increased and escalated, spreading to orphanages and schools run by other orders . As with all cases, each of these claims should be treated on their own merits- so as not to deny any true case of abuse.

[Source for the paragraph above: R. v Burke May 1996 Supreme Court Reports. On appeal from the Court of Appeal for Newfoundland. File No: 24071; [1996] 1 S.C.R.; May 26, 1995; March 21, 1996].

The article by Susan Martinuk continued;

“As one lawyer for the Mt. Cashel victims stated: "No amount of money will compensate these men for what has been done to them." So why should the state and societal institutions go bankrupt in attempting to do so?
Compensation is legitimate when abuse is legally proven, but is often paid before claims are subjected to the high standards of proof required by the courts.

Many alleged victims of Canada's residential schools stated their cases before a royal commission. They were not cross-examined, there was no corroboration of testimony and no opportunity for churches or government to defend themselves. The most horrific accounts were exaggerated by the media. Yet, large amounts of money have exchanged hands based on this unchallenged testimony.”

And concluding the article, was the view that;

“…We have a moral obligation to right what is wrong, apologize when necessary, and pay compensation when appropriate. But large monetary payoffs have rendered sincere apologies and positive efforts worthless.
Sadly, if we continue to rely on a monetary balm to heal every injustice, healing will eventually cease as we run out of the balm that heals.”

Susan Martinuk is a Vancouver writer and broadcaster.

[Canada has massive problems with uncorroborated claims of child sexual abuse also. There are remarkable similarities to Australia. Ed.]

USA: David Calof in
contempt of court

American therapist David Calof has a legal suit pending against the families of his patients angry that their sons, daughters and grandchildren falsely accused them of childhood sexual abuse while under Mr Calof’s care. Calof deliberately ignored the subpoena, and failed to attend the hearing, but submitted a 36 page declaration which said disparaging things about a large number of people (including the plaintiff’s lawyer Christopher Barden; Pamela Freyd, Elizabeth Loftus and Felicity Goodyear-Smith) but offered ‘no reasonable excuse’ to have the subpoena quashed. The court found Calof in contempt, ordered him to attend the re-scheduled Depositions hearing and ordered him to pay $1432 in costs.

(3 March 1999 Superior Court of Washington in and for King County Teresa Boone, No. 97-2-32225-1 SEA)

Pamela Freyd is the founder of the US False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Elizabeth Loftus is a Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington and Felicity Goodyear-Smith is the founder of the NZ COSA.

David Calof has provided workshops to Australian professionals within government services. His interests have included hypnosis, and he has spoken in Australia on how to manage self-mutilation in disturbed patients. The workshops on self mutilation were held within major Australian hospitals/ institutions. His formal qualifications are that he completed High School, and studied with Milton Erickson (of Ericksonian Hypnosis fame). Calof is a registered counselor in the State of Washington. Such a license can be obtained for a fee of approximately $US 67.

USA... Creating False Memories

In 1986 Nadean Cool, a nurse’s aid in Wisconsin sought therapy from a psychiatrist to help her to cope with a traumatic event experienced by her daughter.

During therapy, the psychiatrist used hypnosis and other suggestive techniques to dig out buried memories of abuse that Cool herself had allegedly experienced. In the process Cool became convinced that she had repressed memories of having been in a satanic cult, eating babies, of being raped, of having sex with animals and of being forced to watch the murder of her eight –year-old friend. She came to believe that she had over 120 personalities—children, adults, angels and even a duck- all because, Cool was told, she had experienced severe childhood sexual and physical abuse. The psychiatrist had performed exorcisms on her, one of which lasted for five hours and included the sprinkling of holy water and screams for Satan to leave Cool’s body.

When Cool finally realised that false memories had been planted, she sued the psychiatrist for malpractice. In March 1997, after five weeks of trial, her case was settled out of court for [US]$2.4million.

Nadean Cool is not the only patient to develop false memories as a result of questionable therapy. In Missouri, a church counselor helped Beth Rutherford to remember during therapy that her father, a clergyman, had regularly raped her between the ages of seven and fourteen and that her mother sometimes helped him by holding her down. Under her therapist’s guidance, Rutherford developed memories of her father twice impregnating her and forcing her to abort the foetus herself with a coat hanger. The father had to resign from his post as a clergyman when the allegations were made public. Later medical examination of their daughter revealed, however, that she was still a virgin at age twenty two and had never been pregnant. The daughter sued the therapist and received a [US]$1 million settlement in 1996.

FRANCE...Fathers’ group seeks vindication for wives’ false sex-abuse claims


A news-report from France informed readers of a group of ten fathers, falsely accused during divorce proceedings of sexually abusing their children, forming a working group. Sound familiar? No doubt feeling their survival is under threat, the group goes by the name SOS-Papa.

One father- Philippe, was cleared a year ago, and obtained a “symbolic condemnation of his former wife” after three years of court clashes - a first in France. In order to keep custody of the child, she falsely charged that he had molested and raped their little girl.

The “symbolic condemnation” was for her to pay One Franc (about 25 cents Australian)- while being threatened with a real fine if she repeats the charges. It appears quite a strange penalty for such injurious statements to be made- particularly when this enters a court of law.

“I lived with that, the most heinous of accusations, for nearly one year,” Philippe said. “You cannot imagine the devastation that brings on.”

SOS-Papa claims false accusations in order to get custody of children are on the rise, where they report having 200 cases whgich are similar to Phillippe’s [presumably without the onerous fine]. Under the French system, inquiries into sexual abuse charges can take several months, and have the fathers under investigation thrown into jail. These investigations keep them from seeing their children for as long as a year.

“The group says the only way to curb the phenomenon is for courts systematically to pursue mothers who make false accusations. “We end up absolutely alone, and it is good to know there are other innocent men who share our fate,” the group said.”

One father referred to the effects of his claimed false accusation on his child;

“Dominic, another father cleared of abuse charges after a 15-month separation from his daughter, complained the investigation took so long it could not have been healthy for the child " The children are interviewed at least 10 times by police, teachers, doctors, psych-ologists, investigators,” he said. “By the age of three my daughter had already undergone a useless gynaecological exam.”

The article concluded with some salutory words;

“An investigating magistrate who specializes in cases involving children said the court is obliged to investigate once a mother has charged a father with sexual abuse.

“We cannot know in advance that the accusation is false,” the investigator said. Until the charges are disproved, father and child are separated. “That is exactly what the liar mother wants,” Philippe said.

SOS-Papa has thus established one essential principle: “A child has the right to both parents!” ”

National Post 15/3/99

USA: Psychologist barred from treating cases involving false memories

“The Minnesota Board of Psychology has permanently barred Renee Fredrickson, a St. Paul psychologist, from treating patients for problems potentially involving ritual cult abuse. The board restricted her license and fined her $15,000 for unprofessional conduct and causing potential harm to patients. She is one of three psychologists disciplined by the board this spring, according to newly released documents.

Fredrickson, 52, author of the book "Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse," was sued by a female patient two years ago for allegedly causing false memories of ritual cult abuse, torture, dismemberment and murder. That case was settled later. But following an investigation by the Psychology Board, Fredrickson acknowledged allegations that, during the course of therapy, at least three patients came to believe they had been victims of sexual abuse and satanic cults, and at least one patient became suicidal as a result. The board also said she inappropriately used hypnosis in exploring those memories, including memories of "parents killing a family in Oregon."

Fredrickson admitted that she reinforced the first patient's memories of cannibalism and murder, and even complained to her patient that the FBI wasn't properly investigating claims of ritual satanic abuse. The patient eventually concluded that those memories were false.

In addition, Fredrickson complained to police that she was being stalked by members of a cult. The board listed that as a sign of "possible mental dysfunction."
As part of a consent order settling the case, Fredrickson agreed to stop treating patients who suspected or believed that they were victims of such abuse, or even to consult with other therapists who treat them. She also agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation and to take a course on professional "boundaries," or proper behavior.”

Source: Maura Lerner (Minneapolis/St Paul) Star Tribune


Some quotations from Frederickson’s book Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse, Simon and Schuster, 1992,

These may suggest the nature of the therapy that this therapist is associated with. Incidentally, she has a PhD in psychology. If this scientific nonsense is being purveyed by a highly trained therapist, how very important it is that non or ill-trained persons should be prevented from practising as therapists or counselors in Australia....ED

  • Our physical bodies always remember sexual abuse, just as our feelings and our minds do. (p93)
  • Dissociation always occurs during abuse... (p59)
  • Abusers are usually dissociated during the abuse,
    too. (p60)
  • remember a period of time, such as between the ages of ten and fourteen, you have repressed memories. (p46)
  • Most people who have repressed memories are not odd or weird. As a matter of fact, most are models of normalcy. Sexual abuse is always intergenerational,... (p84).
  • If you remember almost nothing or very little of your childhood, or if you cannot. This form of amnesia lurks in the background of millions of ordinary, high-functioning Americans. (p53)


This piece by Jeff Corbett appeared in the Newcastle Herald on 18/5/99.

[Those involved in the creation of the present social climate should be ashamed of the feelings described in this article- of parents (particularly fathers) who have come to behave uncomfortably towards their children for fear of allegation. None-the-less, it is pleasing that an individual untouched by false accusations can be so clear sighted about their implications.

A full report in the Sydney Morning Herald [11/5/99] declares that a 1997 analysis of NSW court cases involving child sexual abuse showed that fathers committed about one third of the abuse cases brought before the District Court. Forty per cent of [the] children were said to have been abused by non-related adults, the study showed. The article has been edited in the interests of space…ED]

“ Like you I have read with great distaste of the revelations of Australian fathers’ sexual abuse of their children. At times the revelations reached such a crescendo that it seemed we were a nation of men who spawned daughters so we could sexually abuse them.....

It was in 1986 that I first became aware of the impact this had on me. ...I was walking with my 5-year-old daughter along Corlette Street.... on a Saturday morning. We were walking hand in hand and we’d reached six or seven doors from our home when suddenly I felt awkward.

I felt awkward about holding my daughter’s hand.
I knew why I felt awkward. I felt awkward because I was her father and she was my daughter and people were watching.

It seems exaggerated now and it seemed exaggerated then, but it was apparent that the saturation-point media campaign had got to me. Fathers were sexual predators who preyed on their children. All children were at risk. Therefore all fathers had within them the capacity to sexually abuse their children.

The awkwardness has never left me, and I now have three daughters. My physical contact with my daughters is different from that with my sons. I will, for example grab my elder son around the neck and give him a wrestling hug but I will never do that with my daughters. My wife has noticed the difference.

Male teachers....are in fear that even the most casual physical contact will be interpreted as a sexual grope or advance.... [They] take a fear of a sex-assault allegation with them to work every day – they know that in high schools a get-square complaint of sex assault is an occupational hazard, one they would not recover from.

Just last week.... I read of an Australian survey by a Professor Lesley Barclay into fatherhood, and the results of his interviews with 300 health and social workers were especially illuminating. The 300 believed that physical and sexual abuse of children by fathers was higher than the statistics showed. Half believed that one in five fathers sexually abused their children and one third said the same percentage of fathers were guilty of sexual abuse of their children.

Get that? One hundred of these 300 health and social professionals, who we can presume are fairly representative of their fellows around Australia, believe that one in five fathers sexually abuse their children.

[ED: If these statistics are valid, then it would appear that close to one in five males are criminals who should be imprisoned- roughly estimated at some 1.5 million of the Australian adult male population. If not, then on what basis are they made? Some definitions of sexual abuse include “any activity”. For example, a postcard from the Victorian Center Against Sexual Assault states, “Sexual Assault is any behaviour which makes you feel uncomfortable, frightened, or threatened. It is sexual activity that you have not agreed to, where another person uses emotional or physical force, coercion or threats against you.” Such a broad definition is problematical. Surely and “assault” requires a sexual act where there is physical contact made without consent?]



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Australian False Memory
    Association (Incorporated)

Australian False Memory Association
Caring for Families and Individuals

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