May 28, 2012

How would Bruce A. Robinson, founder of the comprehensive and widely respected, describe the credibility now given ritual abuse?

“I am unaware of any child psychologist or similar specialist who still believes ritual abuse happened in child care facilities. I think there is a consensus that repeated direct questioning of young children will get them to reveal stories about events that never happened. Over time, these stories often become ‘memories.’ ”

Mr. Robinson, meet Kathleen Coulborn Faller, professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan.

As previously noted, Dr. Faller in “Understanding and Assessing Child Sexual Maltreatment” (second edition, 2003) identifies herself as a true believer. Here’s how she makes her case:

■ “Responses to allegations of ritual abuse have undergone a transformation in the last 10 years, so that any case… elicits great skepticism. In fact, it is no longer au courant to believe in the existence of ritual abuse.”

Au courant? Does she really consider scientific research into children’s testimony to be some kind of fad, like pet rocks?

■ “The vigor of the attack against ritual abuse… reinforces the belief of some professionals, myself included, that there is substance to ritual abuse….”

What!? And where are these other professionals?

■ “Ultimately the backlash… resulted in the reversal of some criminal convictions involving ritual abuse (New Jersey v. Michaels, 1994; North Carolina v. Kelly, 1995)… ”

In fact, these convictions were overthrown not because public and professional opinion had begun to shift, but because their many legal defects were obvious to appeals courts.

● ● ●

I’ve again asked Dr. Faller to respond.