Child sexual abuse – Michael Salter – “empirical basis of the moral panic account of sexual abuse has been shown to be substantially untrue”

October 29, 2017 Comments Off on Child sexual abuse – Michael Salter – “empirical basis of the moral panic account of sexual abuse has been shown to be substantially untrue”

Child sexual abuse
by  Michael Salter

Salter, M. (2017) Child sexual abuse. In Dekeseredy, W. and Dragiewicz, M. Routledge Handbook of Critical Criminology, Routledge: London and New York

Despite its popularity amongst critical criminologists, the empirical basis of the moral panic account of sexual abuse has been shown to be substantially untrue. There is no evidence of an increase in reckless or baseless sexual abuse prosecutions during the 1990s, which was supposedly the height of the “moral panic” (Cross, Walsh, Simone, & Jones, 2003). Child sexual abuse, whether recent or historical, remains very difficult to prosecute, with low rates of reporting, high rates of attrition, and low rates of prosecution across jurisdictions (e.g. Connolly & Don Read, 2006; Fitzgerald, 2006; Kelly, Lovett, & Regan, 2005). In order to establish the narrative that innocent men have been the victims of an epidemic of false allegations, “moral panic” advocates have misrepresented child protection interventions and legal cases in significant ways (R. Cheit, 2014; Kitzinger, 2004; Michael Salter, 2016). This has included championing the cause of convicted sex offenders despite overwhelming evidence of guilt (R. Cheit, 2014; R. E. Cheit, 2001; Olio & Cornell, 1998)….

It is clear that “panic” is an insufficient descriptor of social responses to child sexual abuse, and captures only the most visible tabloid responses to child sex offending. While the “moral panic” literature advances a view of society united in condemnation, the social and legal response to child sexual abuse remains uncertain and contradictory. Most abused children do not disclose at the time because it is unsafe to do so, and those who disclose are routinely disbelieved and left unprotected (Swingle et al., 2016). When child or adult survivors of sexual abuse disclose, they can face a hostile response from families or communities who rally in support of the alleged or convicted offender (e.g. Adcock, 2016; Salter 2017a). Daly (2014) offers a compelling explanation of polarised responses to sexual violence, suggesting that “a minimization of sex offending and victimization, on one hand, and a demonization of certain groups as ‘sex offenders’, on the other hand” are “mutually reinforcing” (p 378 – 379)….

An over-reliance on moral panic theory can blind scholars to the power dynamics, vested interests and discursive struggles that shape public understanding and responses to child sexual abuse…..

Pope ‘must hand over sex abuse files’ , LA archdiocese to pay out $10 mln to settle abuse cases, False allegations of rape and domestic violence are few and far between

March 14, 2013 Comments Off on Pope ‘must hand over sex abuse files’ , LA archdiocese to pay out $10 mln to settle abuse cases, False allegations of rape and domestic violence are few and far between

– False allegations of rape and domestic violence are few and far between
– Pope ‘must hand over sex abuse files’
– LA archdiocese to pay out $10 mln to settle abuse cases

False allegations of rape and domestic violence are few and far between
Our new report shows that while false allegations must be taken seriously they are relatively rare and are often complex cases
Keir Starmer, Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Crown Prosecution Service has come a long way in dealing with cases involving violence against women and girls. In the last year (2011-12) we have seen the conviction rate rise to 73%, delivering the lowest attrition rates ever recorded. The CPS has now published a trailblazing report on so-called “false allegations” of rape or domestic violence….

This report outlines the key findings from the review of those cases and the steps that we plan to take. Importantly, what it shows is that charges brought for perverting the course of justice or wasting police time for such “false” allegations need to be considered in the context of the total number of prosecutions brought for those offences. In the period of the review, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence. During the same period there were 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for making false allegation of domestic violence and three for making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.

Furthermore, the report shows that a significant number of these cases involved young, often vulnerable people. About half of the cases involved people aged 21 years old and under, and some involved people with mental health difficulties. In some cases, the person alleged to have made the false report had undoubtedly been the victim of some kind of offence, even if not the one that he or she had reported….

Pope ‘must hand over sex abuse files’
From: AAP     March 14, 2013
POPE Francis must commit to handing over secret Vatican files about child sex abuse in Australia, an advocacy group for people abused by priests says.
Nicky Davis, of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), called on the new Pope on Thursday to show that the church is serious about tackling child sexual abuse.
She said the Catholic Church had never voluntarily handed over incriminating documents or cooperated with law enforcement or official inquiries into the issue.
“One of the first actions of the new Pope should be to open all the secret Vatican files relating to child sexual abuse in Australia and hand them to Australia’s royal commission.”

LA archdiocese to pay out $10 mln to settle abuse cases
13/03/13  With all eyes on the Vatican’s new beginning – the past continues to dominate for the US archdiocese of Los Angeles and its former leader Cardinal Roger Mahony.
LA has agreed to pay out 10 million dollars (7.7 million euros) to settle four cases of sexual abuse by Father Michael Baker. Recently-released church files show Cardinal Roger Mahony knew that Baker, and others, had abused minors – but he allowed them to stay in the ministry. A Lawyer for the archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, denied a church cover-up, although he said Mahony admitted he made “serious mistakes” with Baker. Baker was convicted in 2007 and sent to prison on 12 criminal counts of felony oral copulation with a minor….

Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher, Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief, NCRJ Reveals Itself

February 13, 2013 Comments Off on Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher, Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief, NCRJ Reveals Itself

Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher

February 11, 2013

Since arriving in Los Angeles from Japan in 1962, the Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki, who is 105 years old, has taught thousands of Americans at his two Zen centers in the area and one in New Mexico. He has influenced thousands more enlightenment seekers through a chain of some 30 affiliated Zen centers from the Puget Sound to Princeton to Berlin. And he is known as a Buddhist teacher of Leonard Cohen, the poet and songwriter.

Mr. Sasaki has also, according to an investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders, released in January, groped and sexually harassed female students for decades, taking advantage of their loyalty to a famously charismatic roshi, or master….

Such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism. Several other teachers have been accused of misconduct recently, notably Eido Shimano, who in 2010 was asked to resign from the Zen Studies Society in Manhattan over allegations that he had sex with students. Critics and victims have pointed to a Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism, and to the quasi-religious worship of the Zen master, who can easily abuse his status.

Disaffected students wrote letters to the board of one of Mr. Sasaki’s Zen centers as early as 1991. Yet it was only last November, when Eshu Martin, a Zen priest who studied under Mr. Sasaki from 1997 to 2008, posted a letter to, a popular Web site, that the wider Zen world noticed.

Mr. Martin, now a Zen abbot in Victoria, British Columbia, accused Mr. Sasaki of a “career of misconduct,” from “frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students” to “sexually coercive after-hours ‘tea’ meetings, to affairs,” as well as interfering in his students’ marriages. Soon thereafter, the independent “witnessing council” of noted Zen teachers began interviewing 25 current or former students of Mr. Sasaki.

Some former students are now speaking out, including seven interviewed for this article, and their stories provide insight into the culture of Rinzai-ji and the other places where Mr. Sasaki taught. Women say they were encouraged to believe that being touched by Mr. Sasaki was part of their Zen training.

Report on Joshu Sasaki Allegations
An independent Council of Buddhist leaders investigated allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Joshu Sasaki, who has taught thousands of American at his two Zen centers in California and New Mexico. Published: February 11, 2013

On Authority by Alan Hozan Senauke with Jan Chozen Bays and Grace Myoan Schireson

When ongoing questions of misuse of sexuality or power unfold in a spiritual community, it is rarely a matter of one person’s actions. Reading through the painful and heartfelt accounts documenting Joshu Sasaki’s sexual relationships with students at Rinzaiji down through the years, we see how, knowingly and unknowingly, the community was drawn into an open secret, and people’s ability to practice the
dharma suffered. Despite individual and collective attempts to address boundaries, repentance, and rectification, these behaviors appear to have continued over more than four decades. We have reports that those who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed, or otherwise punished. Understanding that our practice is to bear what is unbearable and not to turn away from reality, how could this be so? We suggest it has something to do with a view of spiritual authority and “enlightenment” that we in the West have created in the name of Zen. To be fair, this is not just a problem of Zen. It arises in various Buddhist communities, and more widely in other religious
congregations. We are unfortunately susceptible to enthrallment, which is hardly “seeing things as they really are.”

Organised abuse and the politics of disbelief
Michael Salter
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Medicine
University of New South Wales

Organised abuse refers to any incident of child sexual abuse in which multiple adults act in a coordinated or premeditated way to sexually abuse multiple children.1 Although it is a relatively infrequent form of sexual abuse, organised abuse has been amongst the most incendiary issues in debates on child sexual abuse over the last thirty years (see Brown, Scheflin et al. 1998; Kitzinger 2004). This paper will explore how organised abuse came to play a central role in conflicts over the signification of child sexual abuse. As narratives of sexual violence have gained increasingly
legitimacy in the public eye, it seems that organised abuse has come to represent a new frontier of disbelief….


During a period in which women and children’s testimony of incest and sexual abuse were gaining an increasingly sympathetic hearing, lobby groups of people accused of child abuse construed and positioned “ritual abuse” as the new frontier of disbelief. The term “ritual abuse” arose from child protection and psychotherapy practice with adults and children disclosing organised abuse, only to be discursively encircled by backlash groups with the rhetoric of “recovered memories”, “false allegations” and “moral panic”. Seeking to recast the debate on child abuse according to an older politics of disbelief, these groups and activists attempted to characterise sexual abuse testimony, as a whole, through the lens of “ritual abuse”:…

It does not take much effort to understand why people accused of child sexual abuse may engage in a vigorous defence of their innocence, nor why they might be joined by professional defence experts that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year defending them. What does bear explaining is the purchase that their rhetoric found in the media, academia and the broader community. It seems that many Australian journalists and academics held deep seated concerns about the credibility of women and children as reliable witnesses to their own lives. After a period of relatively sympathetic media coverage on sexual violence, organised abuse was used as a frame
through which concerns about women and children’s testimony could be made legitimate again. The impact of this rhetorical strategy on the lives of adults and children with a history of organised abuse has yet to be measured, however, the controversy that has been the hallmark of the politics of disbelief has effectively displaced reasoned consideration of the challenges posed by organised and ritual abuse. It seems that reports of organised abuse can be overlooked, ignored, or displaced onto minority groups, but it is too troubling a subject to approach directly without a framework of disbelief. Over the last thirty years, that framework has been in ready supply, stemming both from the long-standing medico-legal tradition of denial, and from the activism of lobby groups of people accused of sexual abuse.

Proceedings of the 2nd Australian & New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference
19 – 20 June 2008 Sydney, Australia

Presented by the Crime & Justice Research Network and the
Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Network
Edited by Chris Cunneen & Michael Salter

Published by The Crime and Justice Research Network
University of New South Wales
December, 2008
ISBN: 9780646507378 (pdf)

NCRJ Reveals Itself
February 9th, 2013

There was a powerful article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine on January 27 about the devastating effects of child pornography on victims whose images have been spread around the world on the Internet.  It is the kind of article that would seem to generate only sympathy and concern for victims. But the “National Center for Reason and Justice” proved otherwise. This…organization used the occasion to question whether real harms occurred and to smear Dr. Joyanna Silberg, one of the therapists named in the article. In a letter to the New York Times, published on the NCRJ website, the president of the organization, defense lawyer Michael Snedeker, claimed that “Joyanna Silberg, the therapist of one young woman in the story, is notorious for advocating the debunked myth of satanic ritual child abuse.” Snedeker also asserted that “obsessive attention paid to victims can paradoxically make their feelings of trauma worse, or even cause them in the first place.” He closed by expressing concern about giving “pseudoscientific, dangerous therapists another gravy train.”

These statements are wrong in every particular. Dr. Silberg is not even the therapist for the woman she mentions in the story! That woman lives in another city. Dr. Silberg merely conducted assesments for the purpose of litigation. Dr. Silberg did not receive a percentage of any legal judgments, nor has she received any payment other than the set fees for conducting an evaluation. The insinuation that she may have engaged in therapy that made the woman worse is beyond false, it is defamatory….It is clear from the article that what Snedeker calls “feelings of trauma” were hardly caused by the therapists in this case. They were caused by the appalling actions of those who took these images and disseminated them. Moreover, Dr. Silberg has never advocated or endorsed anything pertaining to satanic ritual abuse. Instead, she is apparently a target for these smears because she has spoken up for victims of sexual abuse through the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence.

The Myth of Epidemic False Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Divorce Cases

October 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Myth of Epidemic False Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Divorce Cases by Merrilyn McDonald
It is commonly believed that false allegations of sexual abuse in the context of divorce are epidemic, that most allegations made in the context of divorce are made by vindictive mothers and that these allegations are almost always false. These beliefs are not supported by scientific evidence. It is widely believed that at least 50 percent of all allegations of child sexual abuse are false, and that an accused person appearing in a court of law is quite likely to have been falsely accused. Those who defend accused child sexual offenders want us to believe that 50 percent of individuals brought to trial are innocent. These beliefs are not supported by scientific evidence, either….
False allegations of sexual abuse in divorce  are a rare occurrence. False allegations  of sexual abuse in general are rare. Unsubstantiated is not the same as false. Child sexual abuse is a common experience . Child sexual abuse is grossly underreported

false allegations of child sexual abuse by children are rare

September 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

false allegations of child sexual abuse by children are rare

How often do children’s reports of abuse turn out to be false? Research has consistently shown that false allegations of child sexual abuse by children are rare. Jones and McGraw examined 576 consecutive referrals of child sexual abuse to the Denver Department of Social Services, and categorized the reports as either reliable or fictitious. In only 1% of the total cases were children judged to have advanced a fictitious allegation. Jones, D. P. H., and J. M. McGraw: Reliable and Fictitious Accounts of Sexual Abuse to Children.Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2, 27-45, 1987. In a more recent study, investigators reviewed case notes of all child sexual abuse reports to the Denver Department of Social Services over 12 months. Of the 551 cases reviewed, there were only 14 (2.5%) instances of erroneous concerns about abuse emanating from children. These consisted of three cases of allegations made in collusion with a parent, three cases where an innocent event was misinterpreted as sexual abuse and eight cases (1.5%) of false allegations of sexual abuse. Oates, R. K., D.P. Jones, D. Denson, A. Sirotnak, N. Gary, and R.D. Krugman: Erroneous Concerns about Child Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect 24:149-57, 2000….Children Tend to Understate Rather than Overstate the Extent of Any Abuse Experienced – Research with children whose sexual abuse has been proven has shown that children tend to minimize and deny abuse, not exaggerate or over-report such incidents.

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