Monday, August 10, 2009



I’m breaking the cycle of Posts on ‘Doe v. Poritz’ to mention a development today.

Today’s ‘New York Times’ (“Passions Remain High as Child Victims Act Is Derailed After Bruising Fight”, p.A11, Monday, August 10, 2009) reports that this initiative has failed to come to a vote – again – in the New York State legislature.

The measure would allow more time for sex-abuse victims to file a civil suit, extending the statute of limitations in civil suits from the current 5 years to 10 years, and would have also permitted – for one year immediately following the Bill’s becoming law – a suspension of the statute of limitations in child-sex-abuse cases completely.

I want to say a few things, and also connect some dots that appeared within the past week either in the ‘Times’ itself or in its also-owned subsidiary, ‘The Boston Globe’. I do this dot-connecting for two reasons. First, because I think it’s tremendously important for the SO community to gain a larger sense of perspective about sex-offense mania law (as I call it). Far too often the SO community labors under the miasm of presuming that it is basically a community seeking for all practical purposes merely to let ‘perps’ off, and that the SO community is therefore merely ‘soft on crime’, and a particularly heinous crime (in its genuine instances) at that.

There is much more going in matters of sex-offense mania law: not only is mania law in any form a lethal dynamic to allow to become ‘normalized’ in a culture and society and polity so utterly dependent on the rational deliberation of an accurately informed Citizenry, but there are also profound Constitutional corruptions inherent in mania law and, more specifically, in sex-offense mania law.

Second, because the Beltway and probably all the closed circles of State capitols – beset by lobbying advocacies and all manner of ‘experts’ who profit from the continuation of the mania – are all relatively small, closed sites in which a great deal of ‘migration’ of ideas takes place, so that the latest ‘thinking’ or fad quickly spreads from one area of interest and activity to another. Hence, you can figure out what’s going on from ‘dots’ that at first glance seem totally unconnected to SO affairs and developments.

So here the ‘Times’ is spinning this very interesting development as merely an instance of obstructionist ‘politics’: the President of the State Senate was apparently never going to let the Bill come up for a vote, so the House supporters, especially after receiving numerous calls against the Bill decided that it wasn’t worth it politically to keep supporting it. (As if, the report leaves you to infer, without such ‘politics’ the Bill would have sailed through, highly esteemed as good law and a good Law by all the legislators (who, of course, are also ‘politicians’).

Further, the ‘Times’ insinuates that since the Senate President is Catholic and is concerned the Catholic Church in New York State would suffer a “humongous financial burden and, frankly, the ridicule that the Child Victims Act and resulting lawsuits would inflict on the church”, then this is all just ‘politics’. This, taken in conjunction with the local Catholic bishop’s strong and vigorous speaking-out against the Act, is for the ‘Times’ proof positive that this failure is merely the result of a very rotten organization exercising its clout to squelch a marvelous Bill that is also, of course, well-intentioned in the extreme by being concerned for ‘child victims of sex abuse’.

I hold no brief either for the institutional Catholic Church or for the sexual abuse of children (presuming that we are talking about genuine sexual abuse – defined as the infliction of serious demonstrable damage, which includes any act of genital sex with a child – defined as an actual child as the standard English language uses the term, and not to include late teens who are days or months away from, say, military eligibility).

You can see, by the way, how a careful effort to establish ‘definitions’ immediately slows down the racing mental process. And that’s exactly how the careful effort at serious deliberation goes a loooong way toward blunting the sudden gallop of mental-to-emotional response that is the core of the dynamic of mania, in individuals and in societies.

I am suggesting strongly here that the ‘Times’ has provided a very inadequate ‘report’, and perhaps purposely so.

Surely, as I noted in my recent Post on Paul Shanley on this site* and also in my Post about the John Jay ‘report’ on Catholic priest sex-abuse of children, also on this site**, there is more than enough information and conceptual probability to provide a fuller understanding of the memory-of- child-sex-abuse matter.

Shanley, you may recall, was sentenced in 2005 as a 70-plus year-old former priest to a long prison sentence in Massachusetts***, on the basis of a highly dubious ‘scientific theory’ called ‘repressed memory’ and a frankly hard-to-believe assertion by several accusers. On the theory that individuals can ‘repress’ the memory of horrific experiences, such that their ‘memory’ may return only years later (long after supporting evidence and witnesses have ceased to be available), and that such a ‘memory’ will actually be far more reliable than any normal memory.

You might wonder how we have so many Holocaust memoirs if individuals actually ‘repress’ all memory of truly traumatic events. You might wonder even more if you realize that the alleged victim in the case had gone on from his childhood to a stint as a military policeman and then as a municipal firefighter before – reading the papers one day – the 2002 priest-sex-abuse crisis suddenly exploded in the national media, precisely as a result of the ‘reporting’ of the same ‘Boston Globe’. Nor would it offer much consolation to know that the father of this admittedly troubled man blurted that as soon as he heard about the scandal, he “knew” that all of his son’s troubles would be “totally” explained. Nor that the prosecution actually had to refuse the coincident claims of several other men whose stories appeared far too outlandish to be presented with a straight face in court. Nor that one juror after the looong deliberation had ended the trial admitted that the only reason the jury finally agreed on conviction was that the State had asserted that to do otherwise would be “to send the wrong message”. Nor that the payoff in the civil suit was nothing to sneeze at.

It is hardly improbable that the repressed memory ‘science’ has merely created a fake justification for certain types of persons to have a legal go at a reputedly ‘rich’ target. A gambit whose path has been smoothed by the deliberate weakening of evidentiary principles and statutes of limitations. The evidentiary principles require corroboration of the complainant’s version of events (thus refusing the old Medieval witchcraft-era acceptance of ‘spectral evidence’ – evidence that only the complainant could ‘see’ but which had to be accepted as ‘true’ by the court). The statute of limitations requires speedy trial in recognition of the fact that after a while witnesses are no longer available, material that might be construed as evidence disappears through the simple workings of Time and History, and human memory itself – always an iffy thing – erodes into substantive inaccuracy.

And all of this before one even begins to consider the possibility of a claimant lying for psychological and/or material gain.

Indeed, the ‘Globe’ itself – just a couple of days ago****notes in an article about war-crimes trials in developing countries, that “it can be critical for tribunals to work quickly, before evidence is lost, memories fade, and the suspects become too old to stand trial”. Precisely all of which sound legal practices have been tossed in the sex-offense mania, in both civil and criminal law.

And of course, all of this is exacerbated by media inaccuracy or incompleteness, either purposeful or merely through incompetence. The ‘Times’ Public Editor – sort of the Ombudsman - named Clark Hoyt had to apologize recently for a greatly factually-flawed assessment of Walter Cronkite’s career. Not only the reporter – who claims she was busy with other things – nor several editors of ascending level of seniority – caught the mistakes before the piece was published in the self-proclaimed “paper of record”. Just a chain of innocent mistakes, nobody guilty, and everybody competent – a freak occurrence, if you will, and not even any ‘bad apples’ (ala Abu Ghraib) to be blamed. Indeed, if the reporter and editors had not been so dedicated and busy, then none of this would have happened. Not to worry, keep trusting what you read. Yah. Indeed, Cronkite’s son Chip is quoted as quoting the old media joke “Just give me the facts. I’ll mix’em up when I quote you”. Charming.

So the failure of the Child Victims Act is an interesting straw in the wind. Perhaps, although they wouldn’t dare say it for attribution, State legislators are beginning to have second thoughts. Perhaps because they – and so many of them are themselves law-school grads and attorneys – are beginning to see that one rather large consequence – unintended or otherwise, but surely foreseeable – of the ‘victimist law’ movement has been to hugely deform the reliability of American jurispraxis and jurisprudence. (Note the “prudence” in that last term.)

Surely, the possibility – in that one-year suspension of all statute of limitations – of a claimant coming forth to demand compensation for an alleged ‘abuse’ committed, say, in 1939 or during the Administration of some President before FDR, must have given them pause. (The legal strategy of any plaintiff’s attorney, of course, would not be to really seek a trial, but rather to use the pressure of the national ‘mania’ to force the target organization to ‘settle’ for a hefty sum, on the advice of its own attorneys who would quite rightly figure that in a situation of public and legal ‘mania’, there was little chance of the organization prevailing at trial, no matter how weak the actual evidence might be for n allegation claimed to have taken place 70-or-more years ago.)

That’s how these things work.

The legislators, theoretically, would be in a ‘win-win’ situation. They have shown themselves ‘compassionate’, vigorous, and win creds and votes with the lobbying advocacies; they will garner good coverage from media that now have a practically irrefutable good-evil melodrama to ‘report’ about; and the cash would come from an organization that many ‘elites’ would like to see gutted and weakened in public estimation anyway. And that’s how these things work.

Additionally, since public school employees are protected by a much more stringent statute that only allows lawsuits within a period of a very few years after the alleged acts, then the public teacher unions and schools are exempted. Leaving only private educational and religious organizations vulnerable to the Bill’s consequences. Something for everybody.

Unless you’re the target organization.

Or you are concerned about the integrity and legitimacy of American law.

And perhaps at this point, that might include some legislators, at least on the State level.

And if so, then that’s a good thing.


*”SHANLEY AND US ALL”, June 26, 2009.

**”PRIESTS AND JOHN JAY”, June 26, 2009.

***As of this writing, the Supreme Judicial Court of that State has agreed to consider a new trial for him, based on the fact that ‘repressed memory’ is not a genuinely accepted scientific theory (but is rather – by implication – a product of the type of ‘mania science’ that sprang up, replete with eager cottage-industry ‘experts’, precisely to take advantage of the sex-offense mania).

****”Misjudgment” (p. C-1, in the ‘Ideas’ Section, ‘The Boston Globe’, Sunday, August 9, 2009, by Joshua Kurlantzick).


  1. Paul Shanley was a member of -or at the very least- attended NAMBLA meetings (the National Association of Man/Boy Love) and the repression of trauma is not only well documented, well-corroborated, but listed as a valid diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders. In addition, there are many documented cases of Holocauset survivors who have repressed all of their trauma from the war.

  2. The relevance of Shanley’s attendance at NAMBLA (the preceding Comment’s uncertainty reflects the confusion of facts consequent to some very dodgy reporting during the trial) is of dubious value; but at any rate it is not dispositive and as we now know, the jury was not impressed and based its decision to convict, finally, only upon the worry that to do otherwise would “send the wrong message”.

    I can refer readers to a series of articles written by JoAnn Wypijewski, most recently in the 3/16/09 edition of ‘The Nation’ ( And also articles by Alexander Cockburn during 2005 on the Counterpunch site (www.

    I note here that the theory was deployed in the case as: alleged victim had sex once, totally repressed it, and was thus able to repeat the sex several more times, each time with no memory of the prior events, over a period of some months.

    The repression of the memory of trauma, and the confusing (and confused) terms Repressed Memory and Dissociative Amnesia require careful analysis. The latter term is included in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual Fourth Edition of 1994; a subsequent edition is being prepared and may well alter the status of the Diagnosis. There is already a substantive warning in the DSM text itself, to the effect that the then-noted increase in the diagnosis “has been subject to very different interpretations”, a polite way of warning that the diagnosis is highly contested by professionals.

    Restricting itself to a presumption of patient truthfulness, the Manual does not discuss the possibility of a person’s untruthfulness, although it does note that “care must be exercised in evaluating the accuracy of retrieved memories”. We are very much in the arena of ‘spectral evidence’ here.

    Readers may review my recent Post “Shanley and Us All” on this site for more on the repressed memory’ issue. The APA does not consider it possible to accept such ‘memory’ as accurate without corroborating evidence.

    See Elizabeth Loftus ( for a very informative and documented article.

    The SO community cannot but notice that the entire concept and the vast bulk of supportive research burst to the fore in the early 1990s, precisely in those years when the SO mania was gathering steam. For the past decade courts have been much more reluctant, as more research and substantial professional dispute has come to the fore.

    The fact that the Court in Massachusetts has been persuaded by later research that there are indeed large questions, and so has granted an Appeal for reconsideration on the basis of the reliability of the alleged ‘memories’ is therefore significant.

    I recall no cases of adult Holocaust survivors denying that they were in it.Holocaust ‘child’ survivors of a certain age – before 5 or so – are of course going to have little memory. They may of course exhibit the symptoms of the effects of their experience in later life, but that is not at all the same thing. And by adulthood, given the numerous memoirs now published, it will be very difficult to separate what any individual personally went through and ‘remembered’ later and what was ‘suggested’ by exposure to the memoirs.

    Memory is a process of ‘reconstruction’, which is itself a huge red flag for evidentiary purposes.For evidentiary purposes in criminal and civil cases, the concept is hugely fraught.

    But the early ‘supportive’ research, now widely doubted, certainly helped fuel the SO mania.