Sept. 27, 2013
“The children are the big victims (in unfounded sex abuse cases) and are sacrificed…. Can you imagine being a child and being interrogated, being sent to the gynecologist, seeing your mother cry, seeing your father getting into fights, or a person you really like being sent to prison? You actually end up believing that this happened to you, that’s what we called ‘added memory.’
“Those children grow up with the same memories as those who actually experienced child abuse. I found it disturbing and I felt that it had to be told.”
– From an interview with Thomas Vinterberg, director of “The Hunt,” at filmophelia.com (July 11, 2013)
Vinterberg’s sympathy for the children in such cases is well placed – but do they in fact “grow up with the same memories as those who actually experienced child abuse”?
Although reliable follow-up is scarce, Debra Poole, professor of psychology at Central Michigan University, had this to say about the unfounded claims of child witnesses in the Fells Acres (Amirault) case:
“It has nothing to do with lying and everything to do with the implanting of false memories…. Studies have shown that children will vehemently defend the veracity of implanted memories. They recall reporting them, and those reports produce mental images of the events that these individuals cannot distinguish from their real experiences. But the kids are not responsible for that. The interviews are.”
The Little Rascals child witness I talked with insists she continues to “remember vividly what happened.”