Imagine if you will, the perfect defense for any horrible crime. The jury is convinced that all witnesses and their testimony, under oath, is false because the memories of the witnesses are false. True, the witnesses are convinced that their memories are valid, but professional psychiatrists and psychologist say otherwise. The witness' memory is false, planted there by another psychologist and therefore the testimony is false. The accused is found not guilty. The perfect defense for crimes against humanity. After all, the crime itself is so horrid and outlandish, there is no way it can be true.
This is the defense used by Peter J. Freyd when he was accused by his daughter, Jennifer, of sexual abuse. Peter Freyd is a smart man. He is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and best known for his adjoint functor theorem. That, it appears, qualified him to start the False Memory Syndrome Foundation which he did shortly after his daughter, as an adult, accused him publically of sexual abuse. Jennifer is not a mathematician, rather, she is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. She as well is the principal investigator of the Freyd Dynamics Lab, and an editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. She has published three books and over 200 scholarly articles. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Peter Freyd started the False Memory Syndrome Foundation with his wife and Ralph Underwager who was a minister and a psychologist who rose to prominence as a defense witness for adults accused of child sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. He gained international attention for his testimony in the "Mr Bubbles" case. Anthony Deren and his wife Dawn Deren ran a daycare near Sidney, Australia. Children began telling their parents that they were met there by a clown who would pick a "special guest" to take to a party. The children then explained the clown, "Mr. Bubbles" would draw up a nice warm bubble bath at an undisclosed location and join the child after undressing them both.
Ralph Underwager gained international attention when he testified that the memories of the children were false and therefore not admissible in court. Given this setback, charges against Anthony Deren were dropped. The case was featured on 60 Minutes Australia with testimony from doctors indicating that there was indeed findings of sexual abuse, Many in Australia were outraged and calls were made for a Royal Commision into the case. The motion was denied by NSW Premier Nick Grenier.
Underwager sued Channel 9 Australia for defamation and lost. It should be noted that night after the charges were dropped on Tony Deren, the Hinch program aired an interview in which Deren confessed to fantasies of pedophilia, " Well, actually there were two girls, between the ages ten and thirteen, and I sat in the swimming pool, playing games with the children, and I seemed to have this, uh, need to touch young girls in their private parts. (See Video) Anna Salter, a psychologist who had written a monograph about Underwager's conclusions and expressed doubt, received a copy of the video. As well, she received a grant from the New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners. She spent 18 months reviewing the writings of Underwager and his colleague Hollida Wakefield. She presented her report to the New England Association. It was entitled, "Accuracy of Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: A Case Study of Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield." The study was highly critical of Underwager and Wakefield's work and for that, she was sued by Underwager and Wakefield for defamation and the court ruled in Salter's favor.
Eventually, Ralph Underwager took it all too far and was excused from his administrative position after he partook in an interview with Paidika: the Journal of Paedophilia and stated "Paedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God's will for love and unity among human beings." This was documented in the October 12, 1993 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Published: October 12, 1993
Pedophilia debate By Kim Ode; Staff Writer
A Northfield, Minn., psychologist frequently quoted in the national media as a member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation's advisory board has resigned that position in a difference of opinion with the foundation after publication of an interview in "Paidika, The Journal of Paedophilia," a magazine about man-boy love published in the Netherlands. Ralph Underwager resigned to show his disappointment in the foundation's insistence "that we must maintain that all sexual contact between a child and an adult is destructive, and that flies in the face of scientific information." He and his wife, psychologist Hollida Wakefield, are staff psychologists at the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield. The interview took place in 1991, and appears in the journal's winter 1993 issue. In the journal, Underwager suggested that pedophiles become "much more positive" in addressing societal attitudes against them. "They should directly attack the concept, the image, the picture of the pedophile as an evil, wicked and reprehensible exploiter of children." In response to criticism of the interview, Underwager said that he meant that pedophiles must begin to take responsibility for their actions. "Based on 40 years of experience treating pedophiles and the research literature, we believe the primary problem in treating pedophilia is the universal minimization, rationalization and denial pedophiles engage in. Therefore our first emphasis in the interview is on taking personal responsibility for one's own choices and actions." In the journal, Underwager said that pedophilia is a learned behavior, just as he believes that homosexuality and heterosexuality are learned. "The theory of learned behavior permits individuals to take personal responsibility for their own behavior." Asked whether choosing pedophilia is a responsible choice for the individual, Underwager replied, "Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I have come to know more about and understand people who choose pedophilia is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. . . What I think is that pedophiles can make the assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is what they choose. With boldness, they can say, `I believe this is in fact part of God's will.' " In an interview after the article appeared, he maintained that he personally has never endorsed pedophilia. "I have never endorsed the positive nature of sexual contact between an adult and a child. But the data is that some people report the experience to be good," he said. Underwager cited almost a dozen research studies that he said claim that "some individuals perceive their childhood sexual experiences with adults as positive." Yet, he said, "we do not believe sexual contact between an adult and a child is ever acceptable. Rather, the effects are apt to range from neutral to seriously damaging." He said the journal article was a means of speaking to "the intellectual and political leadership of pedophiles in Europe" as a means of primary prevention by talking to "the causative agent" instead of the victim. Wakefield remains on the foundation's advisory board. She disagreed with Underwager on several major points in the article, notably his contention that "radical feminism" has fueled a jealousy among women toward men's ability to love each other. The interview concluded with her statement, "It would be nice if someone could get some kind of big research grant to do a longitudinal study of, let's say, 100 12-year-old boys in relationships with loving pedophiles. Whoever was doing the study would have to follow them at five-year intervals for 20 years. This is impossible in the U.S. right now. We're talking a long time in the future." Although his wife remains on the board, Underwager said they are concerned that the foundation is becoming "another ideologic pressure group. It started out to be an education and research effort, but I think they're getting panicked by the incest survivors who are attacking them into taking positions that are unfortunate, like the position that you cannot ever say that there is scientific data that finds sexual abuse a good experience." Pamela Freyd, director of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, was terse on the subject of the Paidika article. "Dr. Underwager has resigned from the board," she said. Have his actions hurt the foundation? "I don't suppose it's helped."