December 2004Vol. 10, no. 3
Dancing with the elephant
From the parents panel at our October 2004 conference we heard very engrossing stories of parents’ experiences with returning children.When we named our conference “Dancing with the elephant” we were thinking of these and so many other accused parents.The first piece below is a letter (slightly shortened) we received from one parent who was not able to attend the conference and be on the panel.The second piece, “Patience is our mandate”, was the contribution of one of the parents on the panel:
Sept. 27, 2004
To my FMS family,
I say “family”, because everyone should have a “soft place to fall” and that should be our family.Also it is only those who are experiencing this horror who really “get it!”
Thank you, thank you, thank you to the FMS for being there to help me keep my sanity.My first contact couple I met said they told everyone they knew because this could happen to anyone.I no longer tell everyone because others don’t “get it.”
It was a compliment of the highest degree to be asked to be on the parents panel.Yes, we have a returner, not a retractor….
A retractor advised me to lead a productive, healthy life.It will show our daughter we will not be in the victim role any longer.To date, our daughter has refused to talk to this retractor. (Wouldn’t one think she would want to seek out the truth?)
As I write this letter, I’ve just returned from a visit with our accusing daughter.Smiling faces of my grandsons greeted me as I pulled into the driveway, anticipating my arrival.What a warm moment.It was a short visit.She cut my hair (didn’t scalp me.)She printed business cards for us, making special ones for her dad, which was a surprise for him.We picked vegetables, (mushrooms) as she proudly showed me her garden. She gave me a big hug as I left.However, I didn’t push for hugs from my grandsons…No, our daughter does not trust us with her sons.
Here is a brief background of our story.Almost nine years ago, Social Services sent our daughter to someone for help, since she was having an array of problems.He was supposed to be the best in the stall. So began our nightmare.
All of us who are living this nightmare have similar stories.I knew she was being hypnotized…She insinuated we had killed our grandchild.She had a restraining order issued after my numerous ways of trying to keep in touch.But she liked the cards I’d send.She got her sister to go along with her and try to have us arrested.Her tales go on and on….
I realize not all members of FMS are Christians, but I am, so please bear with me.I truly believe God does not send more than we can handle.At about five years I had reached my end.I prayed so hard I needed something.That night on September 12, 2000, my husband’s birthday, I was ready to leave for work when the phone rang.It was our daughter calling to wish her dad happy birthday.He wasn’t home, but would be later.I told her, I love you, but I had to go.
She finally got hold of him before midnight and they talked for an hour.
That was the beginning of her returning.I think she and I spoke daily on the phone.It was wonderful.Agree to disagree but still have a relationship would best describe the next three years.
Last spring I moved my horse out by her.I was giving my oldest grandson riding lessons.We had given him one of our puppies.Life seemed good.
However, there was an undercurrent, surfacing on different occasions that showed the main issue had not been dealt with, and she did not trust us.She was still not the daughter we had before bad therapy.I knew I could only live by letting truth prevail and being true to myself.I do not want my grandsons growing up believing I am an abuser.
Now back up to a year ago.It was the same setting as today’s visit described above, but the scene was very different.I had given [retractor] Beth Rutherford’s video to our daughter.On that visit last year she had me stay in the driveway to talk.She admitted to knowing false memories exist.(She did not apply it to her case.She did tell me she was now seeing two therapists.)She returned many items to me, and told us not to be in touch unless we confessed.She had the grandsons, the oldest holding the youngest one back as if from a monster, in the entranceway.That day, one of the lowest ever, it was tempting to take my car into a tree.I had risked all, and I had lost.
I did not try to make contact again.
Just before Christmas, she was having knee surgery and asked would her dad baby-sit the little guy while she was at medical appointments.They did Christmas shopping together.Her surgery was on the 23rd, her birthday.On the 24th they came and celebrated our traditional Christmas with the family until the wee hours of the morning.
About mid-winter she brought a friend with her to our home under the disguise of a friendly visit.She asked us to get God in our lives.Translation seems to be “confess.”When we told her she had never told us exactly what she remembered, her reply was “THEY TOLD ME SOMETHING HAPPENED.”That night we asked her to leave.She wanted to give us a hug and we said, “There’s the door.”
She set the boundaries that if we didn’t confess we were to have no contact with the family.Fine!We made the decision we were getting on with our lives.
In May, her grandfather passed away.She had set the boundaries.Our son contacted her.They came to the funeral; her eldest was a pallbearer.Outside of church I approached her.We hugged, her saying, “You smell good!”, and my saying, “You feel good!”They stayed awhile, visiting with family and again parting with hugs and “love you”.
This summer we broke the boundaries with birthday cards but minimal cash gifts.I want my grandsons to know they are loved.
She invited us out a couple of times to share their lives with us.We finally went once.
I’m closing this letter after a very successful weekend with our dog working her way into one of the higher ranked Dock Dogs Big Air dogs in the country.Driving home late last night my husband and I were reflecting on after so many bad things happening to us, this is sweet.We are getting on with our lives, no longer victims of her therapy.God is richly blessing us daily.
Some universal truths I must touch on as guidelines for survival:
·They are the real victims, for what they miss out on with the family.
·Get educated on false memory.
·Have a sense of humor.
·They are not the same person, child or sibling as before therapy.
·Don’t try to reason or get into a fight.
· Try to make a weekly phone call with the simple message “I’m thinking of you.I love you!.”
·Send a card, careful - no hidden message, only Love you.
·Let love rule.
·When being accused, simply reply “Nothing happened!”Don’t become the monster they try to make you out to be.
·They want to return to the family.
·Take care of yourself, exercise, nutrition, etc.; go ahead and lead a healthy life so you can be there when they return.
·Pray, pray, pray, and believe in the power of prayer.
I think each of us has to decide the quality of life we want with our child and whether we canlive with or without an apology.At this point we have excluded our daughter from our will and the inheritance would go to her children instead.
Mother of a returner
Patience is our mandate
Catapult with us back 14 years to the time when our eldest daughter (now 43) embarked upon a catastrophic journey into recovered memory therapy.Seeking help for minor depression, our once loving, caring and honorable daughter turned accuser.Her two children (then four and seven) and husband joined her in slowly escalating abuse accusation targeted primarily at her own father/their grandfather.And expanded with time to many others—pediatrician, grandfathers, friend, etc.
Step with us through the court system; the defense attorney, lie detector tests, personality surveys (we were normal though highly defensive), the city sensitive crimes unit interrogation.Feel our relief in discovering the FMS Organization especially Pam Freyd, the comfort in knowing that others have traveled this difficult path.We armed with expertise from national experts.Rejoiced at the moment of vindication; “the charges are unsubstantiated.”(But what about the societal damaging side effects—a teacher no longer willing to work with children or to care for any other child than her own grandchildren.)
Despite that finding our child was lost to us.Encouraged through her therapy to hate, to sever every connection to us.Though we felt so desolate, God continued to work in His Time.For me, it was via the medium of a thrift shop!Early in 1990 in synchrony with FMS, my diagnosis of breast cancer brought me many times to our leading Midwest Medical Center.En route home, I discovered a place where often I would wander incognito to let down and sometimes to find spectacular buys.At one point of anguish (we had inklings of her giving speeches citywide on her abuse by us), my eye fell upon a wooden plaque which read, “You have need of endurance, in order that … you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.”Heb. 10:36.Bought that for $0.95 to post on my bedroom wall!And not long after, during one of several reoccurrence episodes, a stop at the same shop brought me face to face with our daughter.Now I understood why I had been drawn to that place—she went there too! Did still live in the same city.
Her attitude was distant and confrontational.We met there several times in the intervening years.Once she mellowed enough to drive separately and meet me for a sub; consented to look at current photos of her siblings.And then a powerful reversal into anger and repeated expanded accusation.I tried giving her FMS literature which she threw on the ground.By now our FMS contacts brought news of some recanters and returners.We were overjoyed for these families; but felt it would never be our turn.Years passed with no further word.
Until fall a year ago, when we learned through a friend that our daughter was critically ill with a spinal lumbar lymphoma tumor.She had a nine-hour surgery followed by more than six weeks of hospitalization.No person had told us.The anger about that stifled me; but no, my energy must be directed elsewhere in positive ways.We have choice in these situations.Her dad opened the phone book and to our amazement, her number appeared (had been unlisted for years—now there because of a phone company error.)He dialed the number and spoke with her.Shortly after, she was rehospitalized with pneumonia.This afforded us the opportunity to visit her in a “protected” environment.There were anguished tears; a cry of “Why did you never try to find me?”The Returner still believed in the therapy she and her two children had received for many years, which included the hard to believe Satanic Abuse allegations.Ph.D. authority laden therapists had done an excellent indoctrination with all three.
Our thrust was to simply be—not to challenge or dispute now.With the keyword “Be Wary”, I began to chauffeur her to chemo; to doctor’s appointments and often follow with lunch.She was loving, warm and open.Amazing to bridge a 14-year gap.Slowly I brought up the possibility of FMS.This was terrifying for her in that the recovered memory therapy alleges that FMS is part of the cult.
Mother’s Day brought her first visit home.We went to Mass and brunch together—she reaching for my hand during the sermon.Later she told me that every such holiday had left her in tears; distraught at the loss of us.Her sister was now willing to meet with her; her brothers not yet wanting to deal with this craziness; protective of their own families but willing to have us with her if we are alert to further problems.Months later, she shared with me her initial fear of being drugged by us—she had courage to simply come.
Another challenge:In June I was diagnosed with a very small nonmalignant acoustic neuroma brain tumor.Now our daughter and myself faced very serious illness together; she driving me to the MRI’s and physician appointments when her dad could not.Again God works in amazing ways.We had been asked to address the Wisconsin FMS Fall Conference. Afterward a recent Returner spoke with our dad.In turn we began an email friendship, which expanded to her mother (who had also been accused).These letters gave me so much insight into what this therapy entailed.Amazing how parents can continue to love their children no matter what has transpired.This cautioned me to temper my approach-- to go slowly; to know that the grandchildren, if our daughter begins to know the truth will be very frightened that she has been taken into the “cult”; could separate from her.Who would believe such nonsense?—they do!How they all too have suffered in this travesty.
Our prayers have been answered though in some ways.One grandchild is now married and in the service while the other is in college a hard-worker with straight A’s.With trepidation, they are willing to let their mom be with us on a limited basis because of her cancer struggle.Our greatest wish--that they will one day know our truth.
Patience is our mandate. Our eldest is slowly re-establishing friendship with cousins, old friends, etc.; now comes quite freely to visit our home.We often go to the thrift shop TOGETHER—now she to glean my Senior Discount!Returner to Recanter--this will be a long process.As we embark on that walk, we learn to go on with life fully; to take care of self-diminishing hurt as we reach out to her; all building TRUST.We are so thankful to now be able to love and support her.With us keep the Faith in whatever mode is yours; keep connecting to others.In empathy and with love, we ask you to hold on to the HOPE in your own circumstance that your child will someday return.
Join the FMS Yahoo group
Just a reminder that there is a facility online at groups.yahoo.com that serves as an online community for those involved in FMS around the world.Currently there are 21 members of this group.I encourage everyone to join.It's free and provides a place to discuss events and issues related to FMS with others affected by it.Please pass this along to anyone else you think may be interested in joining.
To join click on link below:
Feb. 20th: Membership meeting
at Chris’s place (call 847-966-1505)
Discussion: Future of the organization
Speedy recovery to Roger LaPlant
from his recent operation
Tributes to Marv
For many years Marv Scadron has been one of the mainstays of our organization.Quietly, unostentatiously, Marv has always been ready to do whatever needed to be done.Often his helpmate Lora has assisted him.If there was a mailing to be done, material to be printed or reproduced, a contract to be negotiated, more often as not it was Marv who did it.We here at the newsletter have found Marv of inestimable help.No missing comma ever escapes his proofreading eagle eye.And until recently, every issue came to you partly thanks to his and Lora’s labors.All the production aspects of the job of putting out the newsletter were carried out by them.
Marv is also our Vice-President who has directed our legislative efforts cannily and vigilantly.Noteworthy were his leadership in our successful efforts to defeat the hypnotists’ bill and pass the videotaping bill and our battle for informed consent and changes in the statute of limitations.
To all of us he has been a true friend and wise counselor, even as he battled his own and Lora’s illness with amazing courage and stoicism for many years.In the last four years he and Lora have been blessed by the return of three of his four daughters.But Marv’s efforts on our behalf never slackened until just recently, when illness made him unable to continue.We all love him.He is a true Mensch.
Gretchen and Walter
Marv has enriched our group with his knowledge, dedication, and humor.Always deflecting attention away from himself, he shows concern and caring for others.Being relative latecomers to the group, we feel unfortunate that we have not had the time to get to know him better.
Having Port-a-Potties accidentally land on his lawn instead of in the park, we caught him graciously helping move them, and with a sense of humor. How about another Guiness at Grandpa's Marv?Chris and Joe
Several years ago, I glanced across the room at a local FMS meeting and saw a lovely couple, holding hands and smiling (through tears) at each other.Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to Marv and Lora and found them to be the most genuine and caring people I have ever known. Despite their profound sorrow over the loss of all four of their daughters to false memory syndrome, they remained a positive influence on everyone around them.Throughout Lora's many hospitalizations, Marv always managed to remain optimistic and see that she received the best care possible, even sidelining his own health to ensure she got the proper care.
Shortly after joining our organization, Marv became very active and made himself invaluable in the various roles in which he became involved. He was always there to suggest a new idea, to get his own hands dirty by digging in and doing much more than his share of the work. Every newsletter that went out from our organization had Marv's handprints on it in many different ways. If there was something to be done, Marv was always there to volunteer to get it done.
Marv has endured many ordeals in just the few years I have known him. He has always maintained his sense of humor and his obvious adoration for Lora. Few people have had the impact on my life that he has had.
Marv always quoted the saying "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem." He predicated his own behavior on this belief and all of us can be grateful we have him in our lives. The only way I, or any of us, can ever repay him for the many things he has done, is to follow his outstanding lead and pitch in to make a difference in someone else's life.
Marv, I pray that all your children are enlightened and come to see you for the wonderful husband, father and friend, you truly are. May God bless you and give you comfort in the twilight of your life.
Lots of love,Eileen
Knowing Marvin and Lora almost from the beginning of our individual journeys into hell has taught me about the human spirit.From the very start these two wonderful people were always gentle, kind, compassionate and caring to all of the families involved in False Memory.No matter how much personal pain they were in they always showed love and compassion to me and to everyone they came in contact with.They gave of their time and love with hugs,
phone calls, time and energy that I know they sometimes didn’t have enough of.
The daughters that have reentered their lives should feel honored to be again included in their circle of love.I know I feel honored to have known such kind gentle people.I thank them for being my friend and always being there for me.May God hold them in the palm of His hand.
The Johnson case: Round two
The indomitable Karen and Chuck Johnson and their equally tenacious attorney William Smoler of Madison returned to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a second time on November 3, 2004 (Johnson v. Rogers Memorial Hospital.)Six members of the Society were present at the hearing.
The Johnson case rests on the shoulders of an earlier Wisconsin third party lawsuit (Sawyer v. Midelfort), won by Bill Smoler in 1999, in which the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the Sawyers the right to sue their daughter’s therapists.This case resulted in a $5 million jury award to the Sawyers in 2001.One crucial difference between the Sawyer and Johnson cases is that the Sawyers had access to their deceased daughter’s medical records as administrators of her estate.The Johnson’s daughter Charlotte is alive and has refused such access on the grounds of the therapist/patient privilege.In the Johnsons’ first round (2001), the Supreme Court upheld their right to sue, but did not deal with the confidentiality issue as applied to their case.The trial and appellate courts then dismissed the Johnson case a second time on the grounds that no trial could be held without access to Charlotte Johnson’s medical records whose confidentiality could not be breached without her permission.Bill Smoler argued that therapist/patient confidentiality was not absolute.Exceptions were permitted by statute (child sexual allegations) and in decisions in some other states (Tarasoff, etc.) and that the Court had the recognized right to grant exceptions on public policy grounds.In Charlotte’s case, Smoler argued, she had already breached her own confidentiality by making her public accusations in her parents and her therapist’s presence. The defendants’ attorneys argued that permitting a breach of confidentiality in Charlotte’s case was to undermine the confidentiality of all therapist-patient relationships.Smoler rebutted that point of view by arguing that a conservative resolution of the case by the Court would result in therapists warning patients in advance that if the patient went public with their accusations in a manner similar to the way Charlotte had done, then the patient would lose their confidentiality protection.Such a holding, therefore, would not “open the floodgates”.
Judging by the tone of the judges’ questions, many of them seemed sympathetic to the Johnsons’ case.It was notable, incidentally, that no one in the courtroom, either the defense attorneys or judges, seemed to question the reality of false memories.Two of the judges asked the defense attorneys essentially the same pointed question: how can parents accused of such crimes not have any recourse to defend themselves?The only answer the defense could give was that the parent would have to wait for their accuser to become a recanter or for their accuser to die!!The court’s decision in this momentous case will be issued in several months.We await it with great anticipation.
The Oct. 3rd Wisconsin meeting
We held a regional meeting at the Falk Park Pavilion near Milwaukee on October 3, 2004.Some thirty people attended.Our featured speaker was Ryan Worrell of the Wisconsin Innocence Project whose ancestor was hanged as a witch in 17th century Salem.The Wisconsin Innocence Project was founded in 1998 by law professors Keith Findley and John Pray to give Univ. of Wisconsin law students a first hand experience with cases that seem to involve a miscarriage of justice.Many other law schools now also have Innocence projects.Twenty students are enrolled in the program at Wisconsin and work under the supervision of the two professors and other attorneys.
The Project receives hundreds of applications for review every year and has reviewed 3,000 cases since its inception. “We look at everything.”They take cases in the order received.Some of the more spectacular exonerations obtained by this and other Innocence Projects involved DNA testing.But, as Worrell pointed out, in the vast majority of criminal cases there is no DNA evidence available.The DNA-based exonerations have however begun to open the public’s eyes to some of the general weaknesses of the justice systems.(See also “1000’s of false convictions”, p. 9 opposite.) Worrell outlined some of these weaknesses:
·Prosecutorial misconduct, as in the Chris Ochoa case (see p.5 of this issue, taken from the Project’s web site.)
·Flawed witness identification methods
·Weak public defender systems
·Use of junk science, such as use of recovered memories, non-evidence based hair comparisons, bullet tests, blood tests, etc.
·Jailhouse snitches – “a major, major problem”.
His experience with Innocence Project has made Worrell change his career goal.He used to want to be a defense lawyer.Now he wants to be a prosecutor and help change the system!We found his talk most interesting.It scarcely needs to be pointed out to our readers that many FMS cases that have ended up in the courts have very definitely highlighted the flaws in our justice system.
In addition to Worrell’s talk we had a parent panel on the topic “Waltzing with elephant” – strategies that parents have used in dealing with returners.Two of these contributions are to be found on p.1 and onward of this issue.
Finally, Elizabeth Gale, who recently won a $7.5 million jury award, answered questions.She made an interesting revelation.In 1994, when Frontline’s exposé of recovered memory therapy was aired, Gale was still hospitalized at Rush.She and all the other patients on Bennett Braun’s ward watched the show.It did not shake their belief in their memories one bit.They dismissed the show as “just part of the conspiracy.”Many of us in our dealings with our accusers have encountered a similar tenacity of belief systems and imperviousness to evidence.
It was a great meeting.
The lost years
On August 4, 2004 the Cleveland Scene printed“The lost years” a compelling story about a group of parents whose lives have been totally disrupted for the past 10 years or more by the pain of false memory syndrome.The story involves a group of parents (real names not used) who have met for years in Ohio.It begins “Long removed from the therapy that broke their families, anguished parents mourn the children who walked away.”The report covers one meeting of the group:“For more than a decade, each of them has come here, every few months, to seek relief among others who understand the pain. ‘You can try,” says Dawn, ‘but you will never know what it’s like to have your child accuse you of sexual abuse unless you’ve had it happen to you.Your friends will not understand, nor will your relatives.’”It tells how several families got their accusations - what happened to them and how some of them have dealt with returning children who do not recant.“In the hopes of fostering reconciliation, the parents have followed therapists’ advice not to discuss the accusations.So the periods of non-communication are deemed simply the ‘lost years,’”
The most compelling account is that of Carole, a recanter, who comes to the meeting to tell her story, to tell of her remorse.
A letter in response to the story was printed August 25.It was written by one of our Steering Committee members and reads as follows:
Your article on False Memory Syndrome (“The Lost Years,” August 4) was well informed and did a fine job of representing the life of FMS families.It is an emotional subject for me, as my sister accused my family of abuse way back in ’87.Our story follows the pattern established by that hateful book, “The Courage to Heal.”I would like to thank you for providing the public a look at what life is like for us. I keep hoping that, through continuing media coverage, enough of the population will reach agreement that all this is bull, that the victims of the recovered-memory movement will come to their senses and recant.Your attention to this topic is greatly appreciated.
Des Plains, Illinois
The article can be found at: www.clevescene.com
Happy Holidays and a
Good New Year To all
1000’s of false convictions
The New York Times (April 19, 2004) ran an article about of a study which suggested that thousands of innocent people are in prison today.The study was presented at a conference of defense lawyers in Austin, Texas.It was prepared at the University of Michigan and supervised by Samuel Gross, a law professor. Almost all the exonerations were in murder and rape cases, and that implies, according to the study, that many innocent people have been convicted of less serious crimes. The study says, “they benefited neither from the intense scrutiny that murder cases tend to receive nor from the DNA evidence that can categorically establish the innocence of people convicted of rape.”
The study’s authors said they picked 1989 as a starting point because that was the year of the first DNA exoneration.Of the 328 exonerations they found in the 15 years of the study 145 involved DNA evidence. DNA provided the evidence in 88 percent of the rape cases, but such evidence is much less likely to provide proof in other kinds of cases.
Some 90 percent of false convictions in the rape cases involved misidentification by witnesses, often across races.But the study found that “the leading causes of wrongful convictions for murder were false confessions and perjury by co-defendants, informants, police officers or forensic scientists.”
“A separate study considering 125 cases involving false confessions was published in the North Carolina Law Review last month and found that such confessions were most common among groups vulnerable to suggestion and intimidation.”Steven A. Drizen, a law professor at Northwestern, who conducted the study with Richard A. Leo, a professor of criminology at the University of California, Irvine said that “false confessions were most common in murder cases.”And that “videotaping of police interrogations would cut down of false confessions.”
Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project was quoted: “Every time an innocent person is convicted, it means there are more guilty people out there who are still committing crimes.”