Child Sex Abuse Hysteria & The Ellis case

Focus on People - Hall of Fame

Jane Rawls - Index

Jane Rawls is a New Zealand psychologist who has carried out research on the reliability of children's testimony

This page last updated Jan 28 2005

2000-0709 - Sunday Star Times - Lying with conviction
by Donna Chisholm - The story of how an innocent man was locked up for 14 months on sex charges against his own son is a tale which should make all fathers very afraid……….…..So let's go back to June 1993. Ellis had just been convicted in the Christchurch creche case and awareness of sex abuse had never been more acute in psychology circles. Sharp divisions were becoming evident about how evidential interviews with children should be handled. The Children and Young Persons Service supported the children-never-lie philosophy. But Hamilton psychologist Jane Rawls, who had just returned to New Zealand from researching her doctorate in the US on the accuracy of children's reports of being touched by adults, took a more cautious line.

1996-0531 - The Dominion - Sex abuse questioning
Letter to the Editor by Wendy M Burgering and Mark Copeland - Dr Rawls's findings do raise concerns for police investigators and specialist interviewers as to the reliability of children's disclosures of sexual abuse. They highlight the need for considerable care to be taken when interviewing children. As Dr Rawls correctly points out, the use of open-ended questions is the best technique. Closed and multichoice questions can be, and are, used if required. The use of leading questions is not encouraged or taught.

1996-0529 - NZ Herald - Children often fabricate stories of sexual abuse
by Alan Samson - Ground-breaking New Zealand research indicating that many children fabricate stories of sexual abuse when questioned by adults is before an international forum in Paris. The research by the main-stream Hamilton psychologist Dr Jane Rawls and financed by the Law Foundation, received publicity when she presented her findings to the Law Society’s conference in Dunedin this year. Dr Rawls told how a team of lawyers, police and psychologists got an unpleasant surprise when it assessed a study group of 30 five-year-olds - seven reported they had been sexually abused.

1996-0528 - The Dominion - Five-year-olds and the truth
by Alan Samson - Alarming evidence has come to light that children often fabricate stories of sexual abuse. Ground-breaking New Zealand research indicating that many children fabricate stories of sexual abuse when questioned by adults is currently before an international forum in Paris. The Law Society-funded research, by mainstream Hamilton psychologist Jane Rawls, received publicity when she presented her findings to the society's conference in Dunedin.

1996-0519 - Sunday News - Sexual abuse challenge vindicated
by George Balani - I've been pilloried by some readers and listeners because I've challenged the "sexual abuse industry".  It's never made sense to me we accept almost without question the uncorroborated evidence of young children, elicited by so-called "professionals" in videotaped interviews………. I feel vindicated about the stance I've taken on. At long last there's some positive evidence children can and do make up some incredible stories (Sunday News, May 12). Dr Jane Rawls, a Hamilton psychologist, has conducted a study in which she taped 30 five-year-olds being questioned by a man.

1996-0512 - Sunday News - Sex, lies and videos
by Paulette Crowley - Adults often wrongly accused of abuse: study. Children have been shown to make up stories about innocent adults sexually abusing them in a scientific study backed by video evidence. Dr Jane Rawls, a Hamilton clinical child psychologist who is often called as an expert witness in court cases, questioned and filmed 30 five-year-olds being questioned by a man……… Felicity Goodyear-Smith, who runs the Casualties of Sexual Allegations lobby group, said the research had serious implications for the interviewing and testimony of children who claimed they'd been sexually abused.

1996-0411 - The Bar Tender - New Research on Children’s Evidence
by Rob Harrison - During I995 Hamilton clinical psychologist Dr Jane Rawls pursued her research interest in children’s testimony with a project supported by the New  Zealand Law Foundation. Last week she reported on her results at an Auckland District Law Society seminar. The aim of the research was to determine what type of questions elicited the most accurate responses about past events from young children……………….. Dr Rawls’ findings must raise the issue of how safe some of these convictions are.  Her research, coupled with research overseas, suggests that a comprehensive review of interviewing techniques needs to be undertaken in New Zealand. For Peter Ellis, and all those implicated in the Christchurch Civic Crèche case, such a review cannot come soon enough

1996-0400 - Law talk - The content of young children’s disclosures
by Dr Jane Mary Rawls - The primary mode of gathering evidence from children is through interviewing. Report veracity can be tested against physical evidence but in some sexual abuse cases, for example, this may be absent, and we are left merely with the adults' questions and the child's answers……………………………………. In summary, it seems that the use of interviews consisting of open-ended questions only is by far the safest option when interviewing children as it results in greater accuracy of reports after a minimal delay and, overall, decreases the chances of commission errors, especially when body-parts diagrams are used as an integral part of that interview. The implications of these results for future complainants, and their relevance to evidential and court procedures, were the focus of a series of seminars planned for members of the legal profession in late March. Further seminars are proposed for later in the year.