August 4 2003
Letter read out in full by
The Toddlers Testimony
by Gordon and Colleen Waugh
We read with much interest the transcripts of the interviews with the Creche
Children published in the Star-Times yesterday. They clearly show how those
children were coerced into making outrageous and ridiculous allegations of
abuse by Peter Ellis and others. This has been a common practice from the
early 1990's and is still used today.
When we were operating COSA (Casualties Of Sexual Allegations Incorporated)
from 1993 to 2000, we dealt with scores of similar cases, and thousands of
cases of "Recovered Memory", all created by badly trained
counsellors using unscientific, unethical, and unsafe methods. We still get
calls for help today from people wrongly accused as a result of this
Many counsellors do not work from an evidential base or conduct external
investigations, but rely on their assumptions, beliefs and opinions, and a
presumption of guilt. If their call to "Believe the Children" is
valid, it demands they must believe everything that children might say, not
just the selected, convenient parts which supports their own opinions and
preconceptions. They force children to grow up wrongly believing themselves
to have been abused. That is a shocking imposition.
On a "No Names" basis, in a recent case, CYF social workers
believed two young brothers had been sexually abused. They had no evidence,
just a feeling. A female psychotherapist interviewed the boys. One boy didn't
"disclose" any abuse, so she quickly bypassed him. The other boy
was more suggestible, and she believed, without evidence of any sort, that he
must have been abused. She had five interviews with him and wanted more. The
boy ultimately made incredible allegations against his father, and the father
was later charged. The interrogation method she used was virtually identical
to what the Creche children were exposed to, and remains a standard practice.
Three main causes
Our experience suggests there are three main causes of this destructive
problem. Firstly, no legislation exists to control the provision or quality
of counselling services to the public. Any person can hang out their shingle
and offer counselling services to the public - there are no limitations. What
little training counsellors might have is a mish-mash of superstition,
assumption, unproven theory and psycho-babble. They are not required to
qualify by training or examination at recognised training institutions, be
registered or licenced, or hold an annual practising certificate. The effects
of untested and unproven allegations of sexual abuse made by them and their
clients are widespread, and devastating to our society.
Secondly, Section 23AB of the Evidence Act was introduced, without good
reason, to remove the requirement for corroboration in sexual cases, and to
remove the time-honoured mandatory judicial warning of the dangers of
convicting on the basis of uncorroborated evidence. The introduction of Section 23G, allowing so-called
"experts" to give evidence, opened the door to belief and fantasy
masquerading as evidence. Other sections are also flawed.
Thirdly, ACC methods encourage false claims of abuse. In claims for physical
injuries, ACC demands the highest level of proof of injury, often referring
claimants to specialists. But in sexual abuse claims, no such proof is
demanded. Without external investigation, ACC relies heavily on the
uncorroborated, untested narrative of the claimant and a counsellors opinion,
beliefs and assumptions as to the psychological condition of the claimant.
Sexual abuse claimants are not required to provide proof of abuse or of
mental injury, or name an alleged perpetrator, or report such allegations to
the police. Tens of thousands of such ACC claims were never tested by the
Despite Phil Goff's ostrich stance, a Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed
to sort this mess out.