Feb. 9, 2018

“Both prosecution and defense [in a trial in Palo Alto, Calif.] called expert witnesses to testify to ‘child sexual-abuse accommodation syndrome’….

“Roland Summit, a southern California psychiatrist, coined the term in 1983. He defined the syndrome through five categories: secrecy, helplessness; entrapment and accommodation; delayed, unconvincing disclosure; and retraction. The categories describe how victims often do not resist the abuse because of power dynamics in the relationship with an adult, often delay disclosing the abuse and may change their stories due to pressure or guilt….

“Blake Carmichael, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Davis, testified for the prosecution that child sexual-abuse accommodation syndrome is not a diagnosis but rather a set of concepts that provide context for a child’s experience of sexual abuse. He testified that research supports Summit’s original claims.

“By contrast, William O’Donohue, a clinical psychologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, testified for the defense that Summit’s paper is ‘junk science’.

“O’Donohue co-authored a literature review of Summit’s work that determined the syndrome is not a scientific theory grounded in research. O’Donohue noted that a second article Summit published in the 1990s described child sexual-abuse accommodation syndrome as his ‘clinical opinion’ and a ‘pattern’ rather than a diagnosable condition.”

– From “Former teacher denies sex-abuse allegations” by Elena Kadvany in Palo Alto Weekly (Feb. 7)

So here we are, 35 years after Roland Summit fanned the flames in the McMartin Preschool case, and prosecutors are still using his cockamamie conceit to win over jurors. It’s not just on the internet that no bad idea ever dies….