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Thread: Convicted Ex-Priest Challenges Repressed Memory

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    Default Convicted Ex-Priest Challenges Repressed Memory

    This case is being held in the Massachusetts Supreme Court tomorrow. If they throw out the concept of "Repressed Memory" (RM) it will be the beginning of the end for that voodoo brain science in the USA - just like an FBI report in 1992 was the beginning of the end for Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA).

    We never had any SRA in Ireland and I think Nora Wall was the only person convicted on RM evidence.

    The Associated Press: Convicted ex-priest challenges repressed memories by DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press – 9 September 2009

    BOSTON — Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, one of the central figures in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was convicted after a 27-year-old man tearfully described how the popular priest used to pull him out of catechism classes and rape him, beginning when he was just 6 years old.

    The victim said he did not remember the abuse for two decades, until 2002, when memories came rushing back as he saw media reports about the clergy scandal unfolding in Boston.

    Now Shanley is challenging his conviction based on an ongoing debate in the psychiatric community over the validity and reliability of repressed memories. The highest court in Massachusetts will hear Shanley's appeal Thursday. ..........

    Shanley's lawyer, Robert Shaw Jr., argues that Shanley deserves a new trial because the jury relied on misleading, "junk science" testimony about repressed memories by prosecution witnesses. .............

    Shanley, now 78, was known in the 1960s and 1970s as a "street priest" who reached out to Boston's troubled youth. .........

    The victim in the Shanley case received a $500,000 settlement from the Boston archdiocese about a year before Shanley went on trial in the criminal case.

    Prosecutors originally charged Shanley with sexually abusing four men when they were children in Newton during the 1980s. They later dropped three of the men from the case. All four men said they recovered memories of the abuse years later. .........

    Shanley was convicted of child rape and indecent assault and battery [of one of the four]. He is now serving a 12- to 15-year prison sentence.

    A judge last year rejected Shanley's request for a new trial, finding that the theory of repressed-recovered memories, though controversial, is "generally accepted by the relevant scientific community of mental health professionals."

    Shanley's lawyer appealed, and the state Supreme Judicial Court agreed to take the case. .........

    Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading critics of the theory, said he believes testimony about repressed-recovered memories should not be allowed in courtrooms.

    "If you are going to present scientific opinions to a jury of non-scientists, it has to be science that is well-documented, where the scientific community agrees on it. You can't use so-called junk science in front of a jury," said Pope, one of the experts who signed a friend-of-the-court brief.

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    Politics.ie Member corelli's Avatar
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    "Repressed Memory" is not accepted by the Irish courts presently. Nor will it, one imagines. Repressed memory was only one part of the Wall conviction and the Court of Criminal Appeal were none too impressed with it, as it had not been revealed to the defence that the "memory" of the incident was one retrieved in that way.

    The Judgement of the Court of Criminal Appeal on D.P.P. v Nora Wall on 16 December 2005 is at

    D.P.P.-v- Nora Wall [2005] IECCA 140 (16 December 2005)


    "It is now also accepted by the respondent that there had been significant non-disclosure in this case, including (a) the information that Regina Walsh had made, but not pursued, an allegation of being raped in England and (b) the non-disclosure of Regina Walsh’s very proximate and material psychiatric history. It seems to this court that the applicant was further prejudiced during the course of her trial by evidence of which the defence had no prior notification, namely, that Regina Walsh recalled the alleged episodes of rape by reference to ‘flashbacks and/or retrieved memory’. There was no scientific evidence of any sort adduced to explain the phenomenon of ‘flashbacks’ and/or ‘retrieved memory’, nor was the applicant in any position to meet such a case in the absence of prior notification thereof."
    "......... we must sometimes listen to those who, consumed with zeal, have scant judgment or balance. To such ones the modern world is nothing but betrayal and ruin.........We feel bound to disagree with these prophets of doom who are forever forecasting calamity -- as though the world's end were imminent."

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    Default The Boston Globe and Repressed Memory

    From the Boston Globe today. The Boston Globe was one of the chief instigators of the witch-hunt against former priest Paul Shanley from 2002 until his conviction in 2005. Incidentally before the "Repressed Memory" witch-hunt there was a Satanic Ritual Abuse one and the State of Massachusetts was at the centre of that as well.

    It is hardly a co-incidence that the original Salem Witch-hunt also took place in Massachusetts! Little has changed since 1692.

    ‘Repressed memory’ is at issue in defrocked priest’s appeal - The Boston Globe

    Defrocked priest Paul R. Shanley, one of the key figures in Boston’s clergy sex abuse scandal, plans to challenge his rape and indecent assault convictions before the state’s highest court today when his lawyer argues that the victim’s “repressed memory’’ was junk science.

    Shanley’s appellate lawyer contends that prosecutors should not have been allowed to present evidence that the victim, a 27-year-old firefighter, buried memories of repeated abuse as a Sunday school student for two decades, only to recover them when the scandal erupted.

    “Overwhelming evidence proves that the theory of ‘repressed memory’ is not generally accepted by the relevant scientific community on multiple grounds and that the commonwealth’s experts provided misleading junk science testimony that should not have been admitted in a judicial proceeding,’’ the lawyer, Robert F. Shaw Jr. of Cambridge, argues in his brief.

    Nearly 100 psychiatrists, psychologists, and scientists have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief saying that the notion of people recovering repressed memories is “one of the most pernicious bits of folklore ever to infect’’ the fields of mental health. However, another large group, the Leadership Council, which consists of lawyers, academics, and scientists, has filed a brief saying repressed memory is a legitimate phenomenon. ...........

    The victim accused Shanley of pulling him out of Sunday school at St. Jean’s Church in Newton when he was between 6 and 11 years old and molesting him in the pews, rectory, confessional, and boys’ room. The former altar boy testified he did not remember the abuse until 2002, when he learned about a Globe article outlining accusations against Shanley by other men, including a former Sunday school classmate. Three other accusers were part of the initial case but were dropped as it went to trial.

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    All the more reason why children should be well educated about the dangers of abuse, the abusers should be identified as soon as possible, and not protected by any organisation they happen to belong to.

    I don't know much about "repressed memories" or how legitimate a practice it is. My hope would be never to see anyone convicted on flimsy or dubious evidence or testimony, but that justice be served as rigourously as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmesis2008 View Post
    All the more reason why children should be well educated about the dangers of abuse, the abusers should be identified as soon as possible, and not protected by any organisation they happen to belong to.

    I don't know much about "repressed memories" or how legitimate a practice it is. My hope would be never to see anyone convicted on flimsy or dubious evidence or testimony, but that justice be served as rigourously as possible.
    Has anyone been convicted for what was done to Nora Wall? I am referring not just to the so-called victims but also to the people responsible for with-holding relevant information from Nora Wall's lawyers. Was that information also withheld from the court which first tried Nora Wall? If so, heads should roll.

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    Quote Originally Posted by corelli View Post
    "Repressed Memory" is not accepted by the Irish courts presently. Nor will it, one imagines. Repressed memory was only one part of the Wall conviction and the Court of Criminal Appeal were none too impressed with it, as it had not been revealed to the defence that the "memory" of the incident was one retrieved in that way.

    The Judgement of the Court of Criminal Appeal on D.P.P. v Nora Wall on 16 December 2005 is at

    D.P.P.-v- Nora Wall [2005] IECCA 140 (16 December 2005)


    "It is now also accepted by the respondent that there had been significant non-disclosure in this case, including (a) the information that Regina Walsh had made, but not pursued, an allegation of being raped in England and (b) the non-disclosure of Regina Walsh’s very proximate and material psychiatric history. It seems to this court that the applicant was further prejudiced during the course of her trial by evidence of which the defence had no prior notification, namely, that Regina Walsh recalled the alleged episodes of rape by reference to ‘flashbacks and/or retrieved memory’. There was no scientific evidence of any sort adduced to explain the phenomenon of ‘flashbacks’ and/or ‘retrieved memory’, nor was the applicant in any position to meet such a case in the absence of prior notification thereof."
    The wall case is a bad example as the DPP really messed up that case .

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    Politics.ie Member corelli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glennshane View Post
    Has anyone been convicted for what was done to Nora Wall? I am referring not just to the so-called victims but also to the people responsible for with-holding relevant information from Nora Wall's lawyers. Was that information also withheld from the court which first tried Nora Wall? If so, heads should roll.
    It was withheld Glenn. See above the comments above of the Court of Criminal Appeal. The fact that the witness was getting counseling was not withheld merely the fact that the "memories" of the event were of a "repressed" nature.
    "......... we must sometimes listen to those who, consumed with zeal, have scant judgment or balance. To such ones the modern world is nothing but betrayal and ruin.........We feel bound to disagree with these prophets of doom who are forever forecasting calamity -- as though the world's end were imminent."

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    The prosecutor in the Paul Shanley case was also heavily involved in one of the Ritual Abuse/Day Care Centre cases in the 1980s - also in Massachusetts (of course). I am reasonaby hopeful that the Massachusetts Supreme Court will - finally - rule against Repressed Memory but in the long run I am not hopeful at all. In Massachusetts (and California), no sooner had Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) fallen into disrepute than the judges started to accept the Repressed Memory variety of hysteria. If and when RM becomes too ridiculous to believe any more, they will fall for some other brand of lunacy.

    Remember the allegations that the Christian Brothers murdered children in Artane and Letterfrack? These were the IRISH equivalent of SRA and RM. If RM goes down the drain in Massachusetts, I predict that the Boston Globe will start to publish similar child-killing claims about Catholic Church schools in the USA.

    wbur.org News In High-Profile Prosecutions, Martha Coakley Made Her Name

    Martha Coakley’s legal career has been dominated by cases that seek to protect children. She joined the Middlesex district attorney’s office in 1986, and found her stride five years later when she was appointed the chief of the child abuse prosecution unit. ..........

    Soon after taking office, the controversial Fells Acres Day Care case resurfaced. The case was from the 1980s, when Violet Amirault and her children, Gerald Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, were convicted of sexually abusing children at their day care center in Malden.

    When Coakley became district attorney, there was new research that showed prosecutors’ leading questioning made it impossible to tell if the children were telling the truth.

    Violet was released in 1995, Cheryl four years later. But when her brother Gerald, who’d served 15 years, asked for parole, Coakley did everything in her power to prevent it . ......

    in 2005 her office successfully convicted retired priest Paul Shanley of child rape. This week, the state’s highest court will hear arguments about whether or not Shanley should get a new trial.

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    Politics.ie Member truthisfree's Avatar
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    Repressed memory evidence is a seriously dodgy area and in my opinion not worth the paper it is written on until I see some hard evidence proving otherwise. I genuinely feel for anybody who is innocent and imprisoned for a crime and particularly this type of crime.

    But lets not lose sight of the thousands of victims of abuse in this country that this technique was not used to get evidence.

    A small handful of people wrongly convicted never under any circumstances makes the endemic abuse carried out in the institutions in this and other countries go away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by truthisfree View Post
    Repressed memory evidence is a seriously dodgy area and in my opinion not worth the paper it is written on until I see some hard evidence proving otherwise. I genuinely feel for anybody who is innocent and imprisoned for a crime and particularly this type of crime.

    But lets not lose sight of the thousands of victims of abuse in this country that this technique was not used to get evidence.

    A small handful of people wrongly convicted never under any circumstances makes the endemic abuse carried out in the institutions in this and other countries go away.
    "Thousands" of children were definitely not victims of abuse in this country. The case of Nora Wall was not an aberation. Since her trial not a singles nun has been convicted of any crime. In fact not a single prosecution against a nun has been approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions. That is despite the fact that the media shrieked obscenities at nuns and made allegations against them up to and including the killing of children

    In the book "Suffer the Little Children" published in November 1999 as a follow up to her TV series "States of Fear", Mary Raftery and her co-author Eoin O'Sullivan wrote:

    "Dear Daughter concerned the experiences at Goldenbridge Industrial School, Dublin of Christine Buckley, who grew up there during the 1950s. She had suffered horrific abuse , and descriptions were also given of the systematic ill-treatment of other children by the Sisters of Mercy, who ran the school. These included memories of children being routinely and savagely beaten, having boiling water poured over them, being locked in a furnace room, being forced to stand all night in a corridor as punishment, and very young children being made to sit on potties so long that in some cases their rectums collapsed."

    But not a single prosecution followed - not even for pouring boiling water on children!

    After the "States of Fear" series was broadcast a journalist in the Irish Independent wrote on 9 May 1999:

    "In Australia, hundreds of orphaned children were flogged, beaten and sexually abused at a Sisters of Mercy orphanage in Queensland. The regime of abuse is believed to have lasted 90 years. One child was said to have been burned with a red-hot poker to ``exorcise the devil. A nun pulled out another child's ingrown toenails with a pair of pliers. Girls were raped by priests and male workers. Some became pregnant and miscarried. It is alleged that foetuses were flushed down lavatories to cover up the crimes."

    Oddly enough the Australians don't seem to have prosecuted nuns for flushing foetuses down toilets either!

    These atrocity stories are the IRISH equivalent of Satanic Ritual Abuse and Recovered Memory. (The above article is entitled "Church Needs Public Exorcism Over Abuse" - so the nuns were being LITERALLY demonised) We are no better than the Americans. We just have a different brand of hysteria.
    Last edited by Kilbarry1; 11th September 2009 at 11:05 AM.

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