Saturday, January 07, 2012

TV shows bogus abuse prosecution

Last night, ABC TV 20/20 has a show on:
Michigan Family Outraged After Dad Jailed, Kids Taken Away Over Unfounded Abuse Allegations
Prosecutors focused on allegations obtained through controversial method.

A family, a firestorm, a fiction, exposed. ...
A justice system determined to tear your family apart.
There is more info at
Sex abuse claims in Wendrow case fall apart in court.

The first mistake was that the Oakland parents of an autistic daughter got duped by a bogus therapy called FC - Facilitated Communication. The facilitator started out doing the child's homework for her, and later moved on to sex abuse allegations. The daughter and her brother were put in foster care. The parents were arrested, and faced life in prison. The dad was in solitary confinement for 80 days.

ABC TV 20/20 exposed a similar case in 1994. There have been dozens of other such cases.

The Wendrows managed to get a court hearing with the girl's testimony. A demonstration of the facilitated communication showed that the girl was so disabled that she could not have possibly made the accusations. She could not talk, and could not type answers to questions. She did not know an "A" from a "B". There was no physical evidence or any other kind of evidence.

The Oakland prosecutor continued to press charges. He said that maybe the facilitated communication does not work, but that does not mean that the parents are innocent. It is up to the jury to decide whom to believe, he said, and denied any responsibility for the prosecution.

Eventually the charges were dropped, and the parents tried to sue for damages. No one ever apologized.

There was never anything to any of the charges, except for the accusations of a charlatan with the equivalent of a Ouija board. The process supposedly had the girl doing homework that she was obviously incapable of doing. Any fool should have been able to see in 5 minutes that the whole thing was a sham.

One matter left unresolved was the motivation of the facilitator. That is crucial, because the whole case depended on her credibility, and the prosecutor only believed her because she had no motive to lie or to frame the parents. I see two possibilities. (1) She is an evil con woman who makes money on autism therapy from state programs for handicapped kids or desperate parents, so she uses her Ouija board to take advantage of people and build her reputation. (2) She has somehow fooled herself into thinking that the facilitated communication works, and is subconsciously guiding the child's hand, and according to some "Savior Effect" she also subconsciously tries to save the child from imagined abuses. The TV show tried to interview the facilitator, but did not succeed.

I have discussed before whether the problem with the social workers, shrinks, and other leeches is one of Incompetence, greed, or ideology. It is often hard to figure out people's motivations, but as long as prosecutions are based on assumptions about motive, I as might as well speculate also. I do not think that honest incompetence explains her, as she was unwilling to recognize her errors when they were pointed out to her. I do not think that greed fully explain her either, as she probably could have made more money without making the accusations. If she had some ideological belief about the care of autistic girls, or some grudge against the Wendrows, the show did not say. Maybe she had some combination of motives. Regardless, I say that she is evil no matter what.

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