Clairvoyants agree on missing man

Clairvoyants agree on missing man

By CORINNE AMBLER Police Reporter

Police will join friends of missing Wellington man Michael Kelly today in a search of an area where clairvoyants think he might be found.

Three clairvoyants independently said Mr Kelly was in the same area of greater Wellington, and friends had been searching there, close friend George Allan said.

Ms Allan said she had been dealing with a Wellington clairvoyant, one from Tauranga, and two women from the Spiritualist Church. A clairvoyant from Christchurch had also come to Wellington of her own accord, saying she had strong feelings about where Mr Kelly, 23, could be found.

At a meeting last night suggestions from the clairvoyants were considered and it was decided to check the nominated area today.

Ms Allan said the clairvoyants thought Mr Kelly had been robbed somewhere near Ecstasy Plus nightclub by two men. He had been dumped in bushes near Oriental Parade, where he lay for a few days before the men panicked and took him away.

Ms Allan was told a third man was possibly involved and one clairvoyant could give detailed descriptions of the three, who were rough-looking Maoris, aged about 26. She could describe their tattoos and would recognise them if she saw them.

The clairvoyants thought Mr Kelly was near farmland and saw trees, buildings and cattle grates. Ms Allan said the women felt the third man had not wanted to hurt Mr Kelly, but one of the men wanted him dead.

All three clairvoyants had independently given the same description of the men’s car and police were following that up. …
From the Dominion, 12 November 1992.

Natural ebullience may have led to Kelly’s death

By MATTHEW GRAINGER

Michael Kelly, whose body was found at the bottom of a light shaft in a Wellington inner-city building yesterday, may have contributed to his death by his ebullient nature. His friends had told police that he had sometimes climbed buildings – and on one occasion a crane – after drinking.

Mr Kelly, 23, who started a police hunt when he went missing four weeks ago, was found at the foot of a three-storey shaft in the Moore Wilson building in Tory St by a worker who opened an internal window on to the shaft. He had last been seen on October 18 outside Ecstasy Plus nightclub on the corner of Tory St and Courtenay Place.

Detective Inspector Lloyd Jones said police were searching for clues to reconstruct the events that led to Mr Kelly’s fall. Mr Jones said Mr Kelly’s death was seeming “less like foul play, misadventure is more apparent.”…
From the Dominion, 17 November 1992.

Both articles reprinted in NZ Skeptic 26.

BSA slams 60 Minutes

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has upheld a complaint from the Commerce Commission against TV3 current affairs show 60 Minutes. An item, broadcast at 7.30pm on 15 October 2007, presented the story of Ewan Campbell, who had “invented a way to make farms grow faster” but had been prosecuted by the Commerce Commission and faced a fine of “over a quarter of a million dollars for false representation” (see Newsfront, NZ Skeptic 84).

Continue reading

Quackery Alert

The ACC-sponsored conference Many Faces of Abuse (Auckland, 10-12 August 2005) features a plenary speaker, Anne McDonald from Melbourne, who cannot talk, walk or feed herself. Her minder, Rosemary Crossley, is the inventor of Facilitated Communication – a technique whereby a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a severely disabled person and thereby enables that person point to letters of the alphabet. This technique gives severely disabled people the miraculous ability to spell out words, sentences and even whole paragraphs of astonishing, unlikely and often wildly pornographic prose. As a result of Facilitated Communication, hundreds of families and caregivers worldwide have had their lives and careers destroyed by devastating and subsequently-discredited allegations of sexual abuse. Among responsible organisations and individuals concerned with mental and physical disability there is now widespread agreement that Facilitated Communication is nothing more than a powertrip for manipulative therapists who prey on the vulnerability and dependence of the severely disabled.

In the US, in an unprecedented move, several major national professional bodies have adopted a formal position opposing the acceptance of Facilitated Communication as a valid mode of enhancing expression for people with disabilities. In the UK Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the High Court Family Division, condemned Facilitated Communication as dangerous and declared that it should not be used by British courts to support or reject allegations of abuse.

Two of the other plenary speakers at the Many Faces of Abuse conference, Jo Massarelli and Marc Tumeinski, are followers of Wolf Wolfensberger of Syracuse University. Wolfensberger is a Jewish Holocaust survivor turned born-again Christian who claims that the medical profession is now killing more handicapped people per year than the Nazis did between 1939 and 1945.

For conference details see:

imaginebetter.co.nz/mfoa2005_index.shtml

Interview with the Giraffe

Hokum Locum talks with one of the unsung victims of the Christchurch Civic Crèche

The New Zealand Judiciary has consistently refused to face up to that gross miscarriage of justice, the Christchurch Civic Crèche case. There has been a call for “new” evidence. In a sensational development I recently tracked down “Julian” (not his real name) at a secret Christchurch address. Here is his story.

HL: Thank you for talking to us Julian. How have you been over the last few years?

J: I’ve certainly missed Peter. It must have been hell for him in prison and I’m really sorry for his co-workers. You know, he was a really gifted childcare worker. The kids loved him.

HL: I know. So you were living in Peter’s house. Where? In a tunnel?

J: Can you see me in a tunnel? No, I was in the laundry chute. With a neck like mine it was the only option.

HL: But how come nobody found you? The police searched the house on numerous occasions.

J: I was always covered in dirty laundry, something the police are used to, so they always overlooked me. I think they were looking for paedophiles, or werewolves.

HL: Weren’t you lonely?

J: Oh no. Peter and I used to have some wonderful talks, and there were other pets for company — a cat and a frog.

HL: Ah, that must be some of the children, you know, that Peter changed into small animals.

J: You must be joking — nobody would believe that would they? Would they?

HL: I’m afraid so. I think that particular allegation ended up as a charge of unlawful transmogrification on an unknown child in an unknown location.

J: Bloody hell! Did they list me as an accomplice?

HL: No, you’re lucky. The interviewers, police and jury obviously found that a giraffe could not have been involved. No need at all for you to have been in hiding all of these years. How’s your health?

J: Not good. I’ve been having nightmares, wetting the bed, talking in my sleep and I’ve developed an allergy to hay.

HL: I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you’ve been to a vet.

J: Yes. She told me that all of my symptoms were consistent with sexual abuse in my early life. In fact, she said that any behaviour of a giraffe could be consistent with sexual abuse.

HL: Still, you could have put in a claim for ACC compensation. Lots of parents took the money even when they knew perfectly well that their children hadn’t been abused.

J: I have scruples.

HL: I’m sorry to hear that — I hope the vet has something for it…

J: No, you idiot! I mean I have a conscience.

HL: Just kidding. I heard a rumour that you were writing a book about your involvement in the Civic Creche Case.

J: Yes, I was disappointed I only rated a brief mention in Hood’s book. Even so, I think I was being confused with my cousin Gerald who works for the Life Education trust.

HL: How’s the book coming along?

J: Good thanks. I’ve always been a fan of the Jungle Books so I called it the Bandarlog. I’m going to blow this case wide open; that is, if I can persuade Val Sim and Mr Goff to read it.

HL: Make it a comic book then. We all look forward to reading it. Thanks again for talking to us.

J: Thank you.

How To Stop a Witch-Hunt

This article is based on an address to the Skeptics Conference 2002. A condensed version has also been produced for the NZ Listener.

I’ve just received my first bad review of A City Possessed. It was written by Val Sim, chief legal counsel for the Ministry of Justice, on the instructions of Phil Goff. When he released the review, Goff said he had read “significant parts” of A City Possessed and had found it well argued and researched, and quite compelling. ‘Anyone who looked at the case, and the circumstances of the case, would not be objective if they did not feel unease about the atmosphere that existed and some aspects of the case,’ he said. But he added that questions of guilt or innocence are not for authors or politicians to decide.

So it seemed ironic that, after giving Sim’s review his blessing, Goff released long-suppressed documents about the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. These showed that our politicians and their advisors minimised, discredited and ignored reports of gross civil rights violations because they didn’t want to upset the Indonesian authorities.

‘There are lessons to be learned from the Timor experience,’ Goff said. Indeed there are – lessons about the damage that can be done to innocent people by politicians and bureaucrats who are more interested in covering their own backs and not rocking the boat than in doing justice.

As Edmund Burke said: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ Anyone who has tried to make bureaucrats or politicians accountable will have heard the excuses. When the first excuse – ‘there isn’t a problem’ – collapses under the weight of evidence, the second excuse – ‘I had no idea there was a problem’ – kicks in. According to historian and philosopher Tzetvan Todorov, when real, this ignorance is more or less a matter of conscious and deliberate effort. As Albert Speer put it: ‘Being in a position to know and nevertheless shunning knowledge creates direct responsibility for the consequences.’

In essence, Sim is saying that A City Possessed contains no new evidence that can justify reopening the Ellis case, and since a high court judge, two courts of appeal and a ministerial inquiry have endorsed the jury verdicts, that should be an end to the matter.

Prior to the publication of A City Possessed no outsider could effectively challenge that argument. But I’m astounded that Sim and Goff think they can get away with this self-serving obfuscation when thousands of New Zealanders have read my book. These readers know that I haven’t just disagreed with the findings of a jury, a high court judge, two courts of appeal and a ministerial inquiry, I’ve demolished them. They know that the book isn’t just about the guilt or innocence of Peter Ellis. They know that it identifies serious flaws in the justice system that need to be addressed. They know that the Court of Appeal’s “new evidence” rule is a confidence trick invented by Their Honours to save themselves from ever having to admit that they’ve made a mistake. And readers of A City Possessed also know that our Minister of Justice does have the power to instruct the Governor General to pardon Peter Ellis and establish a commission of inquiry. So who are Sim and Goff fooling? Not the readers of my book.

In the 11 months since A City Possessed was published, legal authorities nationwide have said: Lynley Hood’s got it right and the Government can’t afford to ignore this book. So I have to conclude that Val Sim is wrong. There was a miscarriage of justice in the Civic Creche case, and my book has exposed problems in the justice system that need to be addressed.

In the book, I argue that the Civic Creche case was one manifestation of an international phenomenon comparable to the great witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the classical sense, a witch hunt is a combination of three separate, but related, phenomena: a moral panic, an epidemic of mass psychogenic illness, and an outbreak of scapegoating.

Earlier this year, a correspondent to the Otago Daily Times suggested that episodes of this sort are a force of nature, like a tidal wave or a hurricane. Everyone is a victim, nobody is to blame, and the only way to right the wrongs done to Peter Ellis is to compensate him from the Earthquake Commission.

That’s actually not a bad idea, because while there are clearly wrongs to be righted, if we want to live in a society that values compassion, tolerance and forgiveness over vengeance and retribution, and if we want to avoid setting off another witch hunt, then demanding that heads roll will solve nothing.

In my view, there are no monsters in the Civic Creche story. I think the problems arose when the winds of panic swept through Christchurch and the moral compasses of ordinary, decent, well-intentioned people became so disoriented that they ended up doing harm when they thought they were doing good.

That said, one of the lessons of the great witch hunts is that we shouldn’t under-estimate the power of the authorities to inflame or dampen down these panics.

In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 the governor brought that panic to an end by declaring spectral evidence inadmissible. Spectral evidence is the dreams, visions and hallucinations of people who believe themselves to be bewitched. The fact that the governor’s wife had just been accused probably helped focus his mind. And the community had been calling for an end to witch hunting for some time, so the governor’s actions weren’t all that remarkable.

James 1 of England is a more interesting case. Earlier, as James VI of Scotland, he was a rabid witch hunter. But in 1604 he moved to England and became a sceptic.

One of James I’s most famous cases was that of 20-year-old Anne Gunther, who foamed at the mouth and vomited pins. After questioning her closely, the King concluded that Anne’s real problem was a desperate need for love. So he gave her a dowry. Whereupon – according to the King’s physician William Harvey – she married and found herself miraculously cured.

In 1634 William Harvey was sent by the King to examine seven Lancashire women accused of witchcraft by an 11-year-old boy. By the time Harvey arrived three of the women had died in their cells, but the rest were acquitted when they were found to show no unambiguous signs of witchcraft. Later, the boy admitted that his father had put him up to it, and had told him they would make a lot of money.

Even in Continental Europe, where around 100,000 witches were executed in spasmodic bursts over a 200 year period, strong minded leaders could hold the panic in check.

Between 1673 and 1684, in the German town of Calw, 39 children accused 77 adults of witchcraft. But when the legal faculty at the University of Turbingen examined the evidence, they rejected the children’s stories as fantasies, and condemned the irresponsible way in which the parents had questioned their children. The faculty also insisted that no witch be condemned without reliable evidence and due process. And so, in Calw, disaster was averted.

Reality Checks

In 1610, Dr Alonzo Salazar, a judge of the Spanish Inquisition, spent eight months conducting reality checks on the confessions and accusations of witchcraft recorded during a panic in a Basque country. Salazar’s assistants took the accusing children to the scene of the supposed witches’ sabbat one by one, secretly, in daylight. They were asked where the devil had sat, where they had eaten and danced, how they had got in and out of their own homes, whether they had travelled alone or in groups, whether they had heard clocks or bells and ‘any other circumstances which might serve to clarify the problem.’ (I’ve spelt out these details because, unlike Dr Salazar, Sir Thomas Eichelbaum did not do reality checks on the children’s evidence during his inquiry into the Ellis case.)

Salazar found that the children contradicted themselves and each other. He reported that there was not to be found ‘a single proof nor even the slightest indication from which to infer that one act of witchcraft had actually taken place’.

Salazar’s colleagues regarded his findings as convincing proof of the unreliability of witch accusations and witch confessions. At that point, the Spanish people did not stop believing in witches, but prosecutors-having realised that they could not distinguish between true and false allegations, and that false allegations were destroying the social fabric- became very wary of prosecuting them.

Witch suspects were still prosecuted when there was reliable evidence that real people had committed real crimes (and they did find the occasional crone who really had poisoned her neighbours’ well, or committed some other offence commonly regarded as the work of a witch). But Salazar’s reality checks brought witch executions in Spain to a complete halt 80 years before the panic burnt itself out throughout the rest of Europe.

Lessons to be Learned

What can we learn from all this? I don’t pretend to have any answers. Indeed, one of the lessons of A City Possessed is – beware of people who claim to have the answers.

Nonetheless, I think it’s important to challenge the pessimists who say: ‘Nothing will be done about the creche case because it’s too hard. The ripples spread too wide. Too many influential people will have their careers and reputations called into question.’

In my view, we can deal with it, and we must deal with it – not only for the sake of the past, but also for the sake of the future. Ten years on from the Civic Creche case, the sex abuse hysteria that drove it continues unabated, and the damage that hysteria is causing to the fabric of New Zealand society cannot be ignored.

Currently, children as young as ten are being labelled ‘sexual predators’. Prurient computer technicians are determining what responsible adults should be allowed to see, read and hear. Respected school teachers-who have been abusing nobody but themselves-have had their careers and reputations destroyed. A one-legged 60-year-old has lost his international sporting career over a bit of tomfoolery that harmed no one. The explosion of historic allegations against Catholic priests escalates daily. In my view, we’re as much at risk today of having our lives, our families and our communities ripped apart by false allegations of sexual abuse as the people of Christchurch were in 1992.

Overseas Experience

Overseas countries are also dealing with these panics. Earlier this year retired Canadian Judge Frederick Kaufman presented his long-awaited report into the epidemic of historic allegations of abuse in Nova Scotia youth institutions.

That scandal began in the early ’90s, when a paedophile who had worked for the province in the ’70s was convicted. Two more abusers turned up. Fearing a deluge of lawsuits, the Government hired a respected former judge to assess how deep the rot went.

The judge identified 89 cases of possible abuse that had occurred 20 to 40 years earlier. None of the claims were tested by the usual rules of evidence. But the Government concluded it was in deep trouble, and the justice minister made his pitch.

All survivors would be compensated according to the severity of their abuse. To ensure speedy justice, no one would have to prove a thing. He might as well have hung out a sign saying: Get Free Money Here.

When the 89 claims swelled to 500, the Government simply increased the compensation fund. And as the claims escalated, so did the hysteria. People who had devoted their lives to the care of troubled and needy children were pilloried by the media. Juvenile delinquents were recast as tragic choirboys. No one checked old medical records, or interviewed former employees. The Government did not want to “revictimize the victims.”

In the end, $30 million was paid out to just over 1200 claimants. Legal fees, counselling, and criminal investigations brought the cost to more than $60 million.

But Judge Kaufman found that, by 2002, it was impossible to know how much abuse there really was. The real victims (and he didn’t doubt there were some) had been discredited along with the fakes.

Meanwhile, in Britain, a select committee inquiry is under way into the police practice of “trawling”. Trawling involves police officers contacting former residents of children’s homes and asking them if they were abused, or if they witnessed incidents of abuse, and informing them of the availability of financial compensation. The inquiry was prompted by a concern that a whole new genre of miscarriages of justice may have arisen from this practice.

Also in Britain, in a case with remarkable similarities to the Civic Creche, two former child care workers were recently awarded maximum libel damages of £200,000 each. The judge found no basis for allegations that the pair were part of a paedophile ring that was exploiting children for pornographic purposes. He ruled that those responsible for spreading the allegations had ignored the principles of natural justice, and had included claims which they must have known were untrue, and which could not be explained on the basis of incompetence or carelessness.

Criminalising and Scapegoating

There are lessons from all this that we ignore at our peril. They relate to the harm being inflicted on society by current campaigns to protect children from vaguely defined sexual dangers by criminalising and scapegoating a wide range of people and behaviours.

These campaigns ignore the realities of childhood and adolescent sexuality. They distract us from serious problems related to the health, education and welfare of children. They put a destructive barrier between all adults and all children. They erode essential freedoms for us all. But the hysteria surrounding the issue is so pervasive that anyone who suggests more thoughtful discussion risks being branded a child abuser. In my view, we must insist on a more sensible and compassionate approach. So what’s to be done?

Well – laws and procedures can be changed. It happens all the time. All that’s needed is moral courage and political will. Where is Dr Salazar when we need him?

Given the will to do so, ACC could abandon its counselling guidelines that are known to induce false memories of abuse, and it could treat sex abuse fraud as seriously as it treats other sorts of fraud.

Given the will to do so, CYFS could admit that its interviewers can’t distinguish between true and false allegations of sexual abuse.

Given the will to do so, Parliament could change the laws that make it easy to convict on unreliable evidence of sexual abuse, and courts could insist on reliable evidence, no matter how great the clamour for a conviction.

Given the will to do so, the Court of Appeal could correct its own mistakes.

But these changes won’t repair the damage done by the Civic Creche case. I think what’s needed there is a royal commission headed by a robust overseas judge.

Of course we shouldn’t expect too much of such a commission. It won’t fix everything. But it will enable everyone involved to have their say. It’ll help the truth to come out. It’ll bring a degree of accountability. It’ll highlight the policies, procedures and laws that need to change.

In my view, a royal commission on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission model is the way to go. This would offer amnesty to those whose conduct is called into question in exchange for a full, truthful account of their roles in the case, while those whose rights have been violated would be offered the chance to be heard, and to hear the truth come out, as an alternative to expensive and divisive show trials and administrative purges, and endlessly escalating compensation claims.

Scandals

In the course of researching A City Possessed I uncovered many scandals. The biggest scandal was the discovery that, since the mid-’80s, New Zealanders have been calling for a commission of inquiry into the ways in which sexual abuse allegations are handled in this country, but successive governments have simply buried the problem. Since A City Possessed was published the clamour for an inquiry has reached a crescendo. But still the Government doesn’t want to know.

So where do we go from here?

Twenty years ago, I did an interview in the US. This was when Ronald Reagan was President, and the fall of the Berlin Wall was still seven years away.

My interview was with suburban grandmother Molly Rush. Molly belonged to a group that had entered a nuclear weapons plant and damaged the nosecones of two warheads. At the time of my interview she had spent 11 weeks in jail and was out on bail awaiting appeal.

By temperament I’m slow to take sides on any issue, but I knew where I stood on the arms race. I asked Molly what her group had done, and why they had done it. I asked her what they had hoped to achieve, and whether they had achieved it. And I told her about a demonstration I had attended.

I said: ‘One of my feelings was that in no way did anything that was said or done influence any of the dignitaries at that meeting. They were so sealed off by the police and the secret service.’

I think the philosophy she conveyed in her reply can be applied to everything we do. She said:

“It’s important to counter that feeling of helplessness or hopelessness that can lead to violence or apathy. A couple of things need to be said; one is that when you participate in a public protest to assume that you’re immediately going to change those people whose whole lives are so committed to these policies is unrealistic. What you’re trying to do is galvanise public opinion.”

Peace demonstrations, large and small, have served to create a climate of public opinion that has finally made politicians address this issue. We need to take heart from that.

But beyond that you have to deal with the whole issue of effectiveness and pragmatism. I’m a pragmatic organiser at heart but what I’ve learnt in the past few years is that one can’t necessarily predict the results of one’s actions. Some of the most profound changes have come about in situations that seemed exceedingly hopeless and exceedingly unaffected by what you’re doing.

I’m instructed by the example of a young priest who climbed the fence of a nuclear weapons plant. He received no media attention and spent more than six months in jail with no apparent result. He was visited in prison by Bishop Matthieson who has since become an outspoken opponent of the arms race. Bishop Matthieson has said publicly that his meeting with the young priest in jail was part of the process that lead to his conversion. Yet if that priest had climbed the fence thinking – “I’m doing this to convert Bishop Matthieson” – that would have been absurd.

So we’re not talking about acting to achieve specific goals, what we’re talking about is trying to hang on to a vision, and to live out our lives in a way that contains truth, and to have faith in the power of truth in the Ghandian sense – faith that the power of truth can overcome wrong.

Newsfront

Justice at Last

Two recent items in the overseas press show that NZ is lagging behind in recognising that the child sex abuse panic has been greatly overblown. In a case which closely paralleled the Christchurch Creche, Dawn Read and Christopher Lillie, Newcastle, were cleared in court of molesting children in a nursery eight years ago, says the Guardian (July 31). Despite this they were fired from their jobs and hounded into hiding by the media and the community. They have just won a libel case against the review team who assessed evidence from the children, the Newcastle City Council and the local Evening Chronicle.

In a very similar situation in Saskatchewan, the Globe and Mail reports (August 1) Police officer John Popeoppich has finally won an apology from the government and a $1.3 million settlement after 10 years of panics centred on a babysitting service. Although he had never met any of the children, he was suspended from his job without pay when one of the children picked his photo out of a book of city police officers after an investigator suspected police involvement in the alleged satanic cult. Meantime in NZ ACC’s decision to reinstate lump sum payments has had the expected result of an increase in abuse claims. At least Lynley Hood won the Montana book awards for A City Possessed.

Highland Fun and Games

And on a completely different subject, it’s all on in Scotland at the moment. The country has the highest concentration of UFO sightings on the planet, says The Evening Post ( June 24). Around 300 UFOs are spotted in Scotland each year, the most per square kilometre and per head of population of anywhere in the world, figures compiled from Scotland’s offical tourist body revealed.

VisitScotland said 0.004 UFOs were spotted for every square kilometre of Scotland. The 2000 UFOs spotted every year in the US represented 0.0002 sightings per square kilometre. The paper asks – Is Scotland beset by UFOs? Or by a combination of whisky and RAF bases?

Still in the land of the bagpipes, organisers of the Queen’s jubilee said they had seen something “pretty weird” when a baton on the way to the Commonwealth Games was lowered into Loch Ness recently (Dominion, June 6). The baton contained a device that could detect a pulse rate and had been lowered 220 metres to the lake’s bottom. On its return, near the surface, there was a “strange interruption”. Investigators said there was a thing in front of the camera. It was brown, almost looked organic and slipped by and then the pictures cut out, said event director Di Henry. She concluded it could have been wood or seaweed or it could have been Nessie. It was all done to stimulate interest in the Commonwealth Games…what are they anyway?

Back to the Future

Speaking about bottoms (we were you know), the future is all in your behind, according to a blind German psychic whose exploits were reported in the Dominion Post (July 17).

Ulf Buck tells fortunes by feeling people’s bare buttocks. Sounds scary, but the 39 year old swears by it. He’s even been on national TV over there, doing hands-on “readings”. The paper says Herr Buck has been practising his unique form of posterior palmistry for years. And that he’s happily married. What can one say.

Fishy Remedies

Trials of the supposed “miracle cure” for cancer found in NZ’s green-lipped mussels have stopped.

The mussels caused near-hysteria when Adelaide’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital said that Lyprinol killed cancer cells in lab tests, back in 1999. Queensland-based company Pharmalink stopped funding the research after deciding the extract didn’t work. Lyprinol is now on sale as HPME, Highly Purified Marine Lipid Extract, without any claims of cancer-fighting properties.

And still on the marine organism front, the Dominion (June 10) reports about half a million asthma patients have descended on an Indian city. They hope for a miracle cure offered to anyone who swallows a live fish stuffed with medicines. In Hyderabad a family has been offering the treatment for many years and say the cure must be taken at least three years in a row, along with a special diet, for 45 days. Apparently the fish’s movement clear the patient’s windpipe and the medicine then goes to work. They guarantee a 100 per cent cure, no matter how bad the asthma. Hard to swallow.

Justice Yet to be Done

It was sad to see – two shelves of Lynley Hood’s A City Possessed, heavily discounted at Whitcoulls.

Released only last October it hasn’t taken long for the book to hit the bargain bin. Perhaps it will encourage more people to read it (I know of one person who’s snapped up a copy), but what impact has Hood’s meticulously researched examination of the Civic Creche fiasco had?

Justice minister Phil Goff continues to refuse to read the book, opening himself and the judicial system to ridicule in the process. I particularly liked the www.menz.org.nz website’s take on it, which had Goff reverting to Dr Seuss: “I will not read that book by Hood, I will not, will not, say it’s good. I will just say the courts are right, I do not want to see the light…I will not read it, so I say, I wish that book would go away. I will not read it, not a bit, In case I have to act on it.”

Yet the issue won’t go away. Goff says it’s important that the judiciary is independent of interference and that the findings they come up with can’t be overturned on a political whim – an important democratic principle. Yet it is clear that the judiciary has failed to do its job, and there are major systemic failures which need to be remedied.

Meanwhile the sex abuse industry grinds on, destroying more lives. The Dominion (December 4, 2001) reports that social welfare psychologist Prue Vincent was fined $5000 and censured for botching a sex abuse investigation that left a man wrongly accused of molesting his young children. Vincent however, has been allowed to continue practising.

Her victim, the report said, spent $82,000 proclaiming his innocence in five hearings. He has never been told what he was supposed to have done to his children and since that day (“…Father’s Day. A bit poetic”) has been shut out of their lives.

The sexual abuse counsellors continue to ply their trade under the cover of the Family Court, immune from public scrutiny. Felicity Goodyear Smith’s critique of this court at the skeptics’ conference in Auckland a few years back still stands. As long as it continues to operate in secrecy lives will continue to be wrecked.

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Sex Claim Support Group Closes

An organisation founded in 1994 to help fathers accused of sexually abusing their children is winding down, saying the “epidemic” of allegations has ended thanks to its work.

Cosa (Casualties of Sexual Allegations) was formed by Auckland general practitioner Felicity Goodyear-Smith. It fought a wave of allegations in the 1990s stemming from counselors using the now largely discredited “recovered memory” theory to make adults recall childhood abuse.

“Recovered memory” cases spread across America in the 1980s and then to New Zealand in the 1990s.

Research by academics such as University of Washington in Seattle psychology professor Elizabeth Loftus, who visited New Zealand in August, raised serious doubt that memories “recovered” by such therapy were genuine.

When the number of cases dropped rapidly late last year, Dr Goodyear-Smith resigned as president and Cosa was split into North and South Island branches.

Cosa (North) liaison officer Gordon Waugh said yesterday that only one recovered memory case had been referred to the organization in the past year and it was time to close down. At the height of what he called an epidemic, hundreds of men were seeking Cosa’s help each year.

Cosa (North) closed in October. The South Island branch is still going.

Mr Waugh credited the fall in recovered memory allegations to Cosa’s work in educating the public, lawyers, politicians and professionals about what he called the flawed beliefs behind the theory.

“A small handful of true believers still cling doggedly to their beliefs, but they have clearly isolated themselves from mainstream knowledge and understanding,” he said. “It has been a long battle which should never have been necessary to fight. Sensible people now accept that recovered memories, multiple personality disorder, satanic ritual abuse and all the associated trappings was a dangerous fad with no scientific or common-sense basis.”

From The Dominion, Friday October 27