Child Predator Alert: Can a 100-year-old Pedophile Still be a Threat?

Ed: This is just Part 1! What a diatribe! Read it if you can stand to...

"Pedophiles are vampires, they never stop til you drive a stake through their heart and they die."

These deadly words roared like thunder from the anguished voice of Frank Sedita, the district attorney for Erie County in Buffalo, New York.

Sedita's wrath describes a diminutive man with his shoulders hunched over. 5"5, 130-140 pounds, with snow white hair and piercing blue eyes framed by wire-rimmed glasses.
His name: Theodore A. Sypnier.

In order to understand Sedita's anger directed toward this frail senior citizen, you must first know the history behind this very old and crusty villain.

He's not 99 and a half. He's 100! And at 100, Mr. Theodore Sypnier is not only America's oldest pedophile to be released from prison, he is, so far, the oldest pedophile under parole supervision in the world!

This past November, the career pedophile was released from prison and sent to a halfway house after serving 15 months for violating parole, stemming from a 2000 conviction on multiple counts of child molestation and the sodomy of children.

If District Attorney Sedita had the last word against the habitual child-molester and rapist, whose career spans over 60 years of terror and perversion, this true menace to society would spend an eternity behind bars.

"I want him away from society as long as possible," DA Sedita told New York media reporters during a press conference.

"It doesn't matter if he's 100 years old. He's an evil pedophile and pedophiles are the worst."

Convicted previously on numerous charges of child molestation, rape and sodomy upon children as young as 4 years old, he is also a prime suspect in dozens of other similar cases including accusations from his daughters that he raped and molested them decades ago.

Even now, at 100, Sypnier is highly alert, physically fit, capable of living alone and taking care of himself. These attributes for a man of his age mean that he is still considered dangerous by authorities.

After reaching his 100th birthday shortly before release from the Groveland Correctional Facility during the approaching holidays in 2009, the retired telephone company worker vowed to appeal his conviction, which forbade him from contact with children. If the appeal is won, the future victory will allow him to spend time without restrictions with his great-grandchildren, who have disowned him.

"I'll tell them I've never harmed a child," Sypnier told a news journalist.

A former daughter-in-law rebuffed the old man's desire to visit his offsprings.

"No one from the family plans to have any contact with him," the irritated relative responded in a Buffalo News article.

Child molesters are professional con-artists, adept in manipulating children with 'sneaky' grooming methods designed to establish a special bond of warmth and trust with a child.
These methods may involve lavish attention and gifts, money, alcohol or drugs, or the befreinding of parents to have access with their child.

Some will volunteer to be a child's godparent and engage in the kind of games a child likes to play, then begin touching them in a playful way to feel them out, all in an effort to create an atmosphere of secret keeping.

Theodore Sypnier was not a scary looking old man clad in a trench coat, hiding behind bushes in the dark of night, waiting for the pivotal moment to kidnap and molest children. He was highly visible and well known as 'grandpa' by adults and children throughout the neighborhood of Tonawanda, New York.

Neighbors adored the soft-spoken man and knew him as a very generous person who often gave rides to adults along with handing out money and candy to children.

Being generous to children is of course no crime but experts have characterized Sypnier's approach with children as typical of a molester whose intention is the creation of a relationship geared toward moving in for the sexual encounter.

Grandpa Sypnier often availed himself to adults to babysit their children, free of charge. The two victimized sisters also called him 'grandpa,' their mother said, speaking at the time of the assaults in 1999, adding that it was "a total shock" when police showed her sexually explicit photos of her girls, aged 4 and 7, found in Sypnier's apartment.

Prior sex-related convictions revealed that in 1987, Sypnier was given three years probation for the sexual abuse of a minor and in 1994 he served a year in prison on a similar charge.
Neighbors in Tonawanda never knew of his background because he was convicted before laws were passed nationwide requiring sex offenders to register with police.

Released on parole in 2007 following the 2000 convictions, the unrepentant offender returned to prison in 2008 after stubbornly refusing to attend sex-offender counseling while living in a halfway house.

When the house director, Reverend Terry King, warned Sypnier of the consequences of not complying, the geriatric molester snapped: "I am 100 and I'm not gonna change and nobody will tell me what to do."

Despite a long history of abusing children and pleading guilty to related charges beginning many years ago, the old fellow insists he is innocent of every allegation and was wrongly convicted.
"He's in denial," an unidentified relative said in a newspaper interview. "He is a very sick, evil man, and I hope he dies."

When a Buffalo Newspaper reporter contacted Sypnier to comment about the controversy surrounding his case, he dismissed the child-rape convictions as pure fiction and blackmail cooked up by lying, immoral parents.

The sex offender told reporter, Lou Michel: "They were all single mothers with children and wanted my money. They were blackmailing me, threatening me with jail if I didn't give them money."

Highly publicized news of Sypnier's release into a halfway house trumpeted across the front pages of newspapers, tv stations and internet news sites throughout the world.

Democratic Assemblyman, Sam Hoyt is campaigning for Sypnier's confinement to a mental health facility.

Sypnier's release 'shocked' New York Supreme Court Justice, Penny Wolfgang. In a plea-bargain back in 2000, Wolfgang sentenced the child molester, then aged 90, to 10 years in a state prison for the molestation and rape of the two girls, aged 4 and 7. Wolfgang also added concurrent sentences of ten years on an additional 15 counts of child sodomy that Sypnier was charged with.

After sentencing the elderly defendant, the judge said that she thought a 90-year-old child rapist like Sypnier "would die in prison."

But age is a number that keeps on ticking for as long as mankind lives. And human fate is unpredictable. Both are inextricably timed by the creator.

Despite the odds in the age game, Theodore Sypnier outlived the judge's prediction and all the haters who wished him dead for his perverted devious sins against vulnerable innocent children.
A Pedophile's Daughter Speaks Out

Blessed with two lovely, highly educated children, a devoted husband, and a college degree that enabled her to earn a wealthy living in her professional career, Velma (not her real name) 57, is the daughter of Theodore Sypnier.

Notified months ago of her father's scheduled release, the woman was petrified. A victim herself of repeated molestation several years ago by her sick father, she well knew that once the old man was released he would again prey on children.

Meanwhile, she has joined forces with authorities to have her father committed for life into a mental health facility under New York Civil Confinement Law.

But Velma's passionate journey to make it happen won't be easy. In 2006, New York State Mental Health officials ruled against civil confinement for the elderly man, stating, "he does not have a mental abnormality to warrant civil management."

Under New York civil confinement law, the State Office of Mental Health determines whether a sex offender has a mental abnormality that would, for legal cause, lead to life time confinement.
Velma insists that the State Mental Health officials are clueless about her father's dangerousness toward children.

"I know that man. I know first-hand about his character and the evil inside him. He is angry now and once he's on the loose he's extremely dangerous."

In December 2009, during an exclusive interview with a reporter from the Buffalo News, Velma Sypnier recalled a nightmarish childhood.

"I've actually witnessed him raping children when I was a child. And I was one of his victims."

"He would come in my bedroom and rape another child spending the night."
Overwhelmed with shame and sickness, Velma further said, "I would have to comfort the child after it was done."

Bizarre tactics were cleverly used to seduce children. "There was a time when he engaged in black magic," Velma recalls in the Buffalo News article.

"I found out about it as a young wife and mother when I went over to the house and found snips of hair."

Once, she confronted her father and his response was to shout in a deep voice, "Well, I'm using black magic to get what I want."

Frightened, Velma shot back, "this is absolutely evil!"

Still experiencing horrible flashbacks of being raped by the man who gave her life, Velma was determined not to become just another casualty among millions of grieving rape victims unable to live a normal life after being victimized sexually by a predator.

"It was my goal to define my own life on my own terms, not his," she lamented. "I was going to have a life; seek happiness and beauty in the world, and I believe I've achieved that."
Another Daughter Cries For Justice

We'll call this relative Martha. Now 70, the woman gave an interview last year with Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde. As a child, Martha said her perverted father would slam her against a wall and beat her mercilessly.

Rehashing vivid memories of her father's physical and verbal abuse, Martha said the reason she doesn't remember the actual sexual abuse that followed is because her mother, while on her death bed, told a relative that Sypnier had molested her when she was an infant.

Martha told columnist Esmonde that she remembers hiding her developing body under baggy clothes in an effort to protect her from Sypnier's "leering eyes" and "dirty mouth" comments.
"It made me feel filthy and I avoided being alone in a room with him."

"He's a maniac," Martha bluntly stated. "He is never going to change his ways."

Sypnier boldly told his daughter, "Nobody is going to tell me what to do -ever".

Martha issued a dire warning: "I would like to see him dead. He looks harmless, but please, people need to look beyond that. He is a threat."

Should Child Predator Theodore Sypnier be Confined For Life Under New York Mental Health Civil Law?

While the public outcry raged across New York state and throughout America about the 100-year-old high-risk sexual predator being scheduled for release, both daughters of Theodore Sypnier and the two girls he was sent to prison for raping in 1999 have unified to work non-stop with state lawmakers to keep the him off the streets. Also on the agenda is the pressuring of the State Mental Health officials who have already rejected Sypnier for continuing treatment, to reconsider him for life confinement under the mental health statute.

"The thought of Theodore Sypnier as a free man is a chilling prospect. He should never be allowed to even look at a child again," a New York lawmaker wrote in a letter to the State Mental Health office.

Three years before the law was passed, Republican New York assemblyman, James P. Hayes, even used Sypnier's pedophile history as a "case in point" to sway the state to pass a civil confinement law for repeat sex offenders.

Aware of Sypnier's release into a halfway house, Hayes expressed anger, "I am at a loss to explain why Mental Health authorites did not recommend Mr. Sypnier for civil confinement."
So, what is the full scope of this law, and how would it affect or help Theodore Sypnier?
In passing the law in New York state in 2007, Governor, Eliot Spitzer, said, "we must do all we can to protect society from individuals who prey upon innocents."

"This legislation will improve our ability to identify and properly confine the most dangerous sexual predators, while also expanding supervision and treatment of all sex offenders."
Here's how the New York mental health law works: Codified as Mental Hygiene Law Article 10, the act requires the Office of Mental Health to assess "sex offenders requiring civil management " toward the end of their prison term.

Simply put, this would apply to Sypnier since he has been tentatively approved for parole.
Once a paroled sex offender has a civil commitment trial, a jury must find, by clear and convincing evidence, that the offender suffers from a mental abnormality which predisposes him or her to commit sexual offenses.

Sypnier, having twice been rejected for civil confinement, one may never know if he actually suffers from an abnormality of the brain causing him to continually molest children.
Critics define civil confinement in the opposite way: "When the most dangerous sexual predators are due to leave prison....officials can revoke their freedom and toss them into mental hospitals indefinitely."

Despite vigorous oppositon from civil rights groups, twenty of the United States passed laws allowing civil confinement for sex offenders. One case in Kansas was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but the court ruled the law constitutional.

The Civil Confinement Law, nonetheless, is fraught with a catch-22.

For one, a convicted offender might defeat a prosecutor's attempt to keep him confined because if the offender can show, through preponderance of evidence, that despite suffering from a mental defect, he still possesses a reasonable degree of self control and competency, even if this is deceptive, he will most likely avoid civil confinement.

But Sypnier's relatives, and the two girls he molested in 1999, will keep pressing forward through political channels to have him removed from the halfway house and placed back into custody for a life time of mental health treatment.

Yet the State Mental Health officials, as mentioned, have rejected Sypnier twice now for permanent confinement.

So, how will the opposition prevail? It most likely will boil down to a legal showdown of good versus evil.

"These bureaucrats look at the paperwork in front of them; they can't make an approriate judgement until they consider what the man is," a relative of Sypnier said in a published news article.

Democratic New York Assemblyman, Sam Hoyt, joined by a host of supporting Assembly members has kicked off a political battle with the State Mental Health authorities.
In one of a series of letters Hoyt sent to Commissioner Michael Hogan of the State Office of Mental Health, he stated:

"The civil confinement law of 2007 was established to deal with sex offenders who suffer from mental abnormality and present a real threat to the community. Mr. Sypnier's own family and his current halfway home director see him as a likely repeat offender. His three convictions, parole violation and the expressed desire to be in contact with children all seem to qualify him for consideration for civil management under New York State Law".

Assemblyman, Dennis Gabryszak, weighed in with: "It is a crucial responsibility of the Office of Mental Health to protect the children in our community from predators like Sypnier and take appropriate measures to prevent him from offending again,"

As Theodore Sypnier now settles down at the Saving Grace halfway house, located at 1900 Bailey Avenue, the director issued a public warning to let the citizens of New York know that the elderly great-grandfather has not changed from the manipulator who, for decades, used his grandfatherly charm to snare and rape victims as young as 4.

"Whether he's 100 or 105, the same person who committed these crimes many years ago still exists today with an unrepentant heart," said the Reverend Terry King, who monitors the operations of the facility.

Sypnier has lived here 'twice', a number of years ago as a result of sex-related convictions.
"He is someone that we as parents, as members of the community, any community, really need to fear."

With all the political forces arrayed against him and the daily news reports traveling with lightning speed throughout the nation, the spotlight is kept focused upon Sypnier as the oldest sex monster prowling the earth. And he responds as if weapons formed against him should not prosper.

First of all, the convicted predator says he will hire a lawyer to appeal his child molestation convictions of 2000, primarily because according to Sypnier, when he pled guilty, there was no stipulation as part of the conviction to bar him from being around children.
If the appeal fails, Sypnier boasted, "I'll be off parole in 2012 anyway."

A parole official confirmed the fact the elderly offender will removed from being under parole supervision in 2012, and with no restrictions placed save for the exception Sypnier must register with the state as a sex offender.

Still denying guilt for the rape of children, and in particular those he went to prison for in 2000, he gave this version to the media: "Those children crawled into bed with me because they were frightened, but there was never any sexual hanky-panky."

In the face of overwhelming evidence and the multiple sex crimes that Sypnier has pled guilty to committing more than two decades ago, he insists that he is innocent and plans to hire a lawyer to clear his name.

"I want to see my five great grandchildren and tell them I've never harmed or abused children. I love children."

Now ask yourself: Does Grandpa Sypnier love children too much, and in a perverted way?

Judith LEVINE: Sympathy for the Devil

"Feminist therapists, lawyers, and antiviolence activists — who had historically mistrusted the police — joined with law enforcers to turn child-protection agencies into machines of sexual reeducation and punishment."

I’m glad I don’t live in Massachusetts. Not just because my senator would now be Scott Brown, but because I would have felt obliged to vote for Martha Coakley — barely the lesser evil.

Lately reborn as a defender of justice at Guantánamo, Coakley is a leading legal light among sex-panic witch hunters. As Middlesex county district attorney and, since 1997, Massachusetts attorney general, she rose to prominence via the tireless prosecution of crimes that never happened: satanic ritual abuse of toddlers at the hands of daycare teachers, bizarre grandparental incest, and unfounded priestly pedophilia.

continue reading

Sex Offender Arrested Near Library For BEING NEAR Library

Ed: Now sex offenders are being prosecuted for being in places where everyone else is allowed. They can now be sent to prison for going to a public library paid for with their tax dollars.

James Conway May Have Violated New Iowa Law

James Conway isn't accused of harming anyone, but police said that his presence near the library was a violation of the law.

A new sex offender law took effect last year, creating exclusion zones were sex offenders are not allowed to go. Those locations include schools, child care centers and public libraries.

Conway is on Iowa's sex offender registry for committing lascivious acts with a child.

Don't Modify Those Bart & Lisa Simpson Cartoons!

Child abuse cartoon collector sentenced

03 Feb, 2010 08:14 AM
A Macgregor man who collected cartoons of children being sexually abused has been sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court to a year of weekend jail.

Downloading cartoons was William Paul Bellew's hobby and he had as many as 10,000 on his computer, 127 of which were the subject of charges.

Last week, the 54-year-old told Magistrate Grant Lalor that he did not know the child abuse pictures were illegal.

''It never crossed my mind that they were pornographic, because they were cartoons,'' the accused said.

During a search on his house last March, Bellew told investigators he did not keep child pornography and was not a paedophile but said that the material police were looking for was on his computer.

Last week, the court heard he used to tinker with the cartoons and turn them into likenesses of characters from The Simpsons.

''I used to edit them because I liked to use Adobe Photoshop,'' he said.

Mr Lalor said he found it hard to believe Bellew, a father of three, did not consider the ''vivid, degrading and disgraceful'' images child pornography.

Judges' Shock Ruling Okays Fantasist's "Repressed Memories" Fraud


"A disgusting sinkhole of racism and vulgar prejudice” was Alexander Cockburn’s apt characterization of Massachusetts on this site the other day— and we can now add this: the commonwealth is the last sanctuary for sex fantasists keen to lock someone up, perhaps for life, on no evidence at all.
On January 15 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts distinguished itself as the last court in America to accept, in the face of voluminous research and scientific opinion to the contrary, repressed memory (also called massive amnesia, dissociative amnesia, recovered memory) as valid evidence in a criminal prosecution.

It did so in its ruling in the case of Paul Shanley, the defrocked Catholic priest who in 2005 was convicted of raping and otherwise molesting a child on nothing more than the tearful “recovered memories” of the now-grown accuser. Shanley had become the eye of the panic storm over priestly abuse that swept through Boston and then the nation in 2002. The accuser, Paul Busa, was one of three young men who all had the same personal injury lawyer; all went to the same therapists; all talked together at length; all described nearly identical heinous assaults occurring in the same place and time when they were little boys in the same religious education class; all, miraculously, experienced total amnesia after each assault, so that they went innocently with the priest to be raped again and again every Sunday for years; and all, even more miraculously, recovered their memories of these agonies at the same time, after The Boston Globe decided to make Shanley its No. 1 “depraved priest”.

They also all were plaintiffs in a civil suit that the Archdiocese of Boston settled, before Shanley’s trial and against its lawyers’ advice, thereby collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for their claimed suffering. Busa pocketed $500,000. His friend Gregory Ford, the first to recover his memories and, until he was discredited, the poster child of priests’ victims, got at least $1.4 million, the biggest individual payment made by the Catholic Church in Boston in the midst of the scandal. All three, along with another man, who was represented by the same personal injury lawyer, made essentially the same claims but had been in a different class as a kid, were complainants in the criminal indictment against Shanley brought by the then-Middlesex County DA, Martha Coakley.

That was in June of 2002. Then one by one the prosecution’s “victims” began to fall. Gregory Ford became a huge liability. A psychically troubled individual since adolescence, over the years he had also accused a neighbor, a cousin and his father of rape. Those denunciations his parents had always quashed, but after reading a Globe article they seized the opportunity that perhaps his troubles could be tied to Shanley, and pressed Gregory to remember until he succumbed and fell to the floor crying, telling them what they wanted to hear. Coakley and company ultimately decided that Ford, who once threatened to kill his whole family and burn down their house, might not make the most stable, sympathetic victim. The other friend was also dropped. He had claimed his memories returned while traveling to and from trips to Las Vegas, where he gambled away a lot of money and might have been perceived as an opportunist out for financial gain from the church. The fourth man had his own vexed back story and took himself out of the case, disappearing after a pretrial hearing.
That left Paul Busa, a former air force man who had hated his job and was looking for a way out of the military when the scandal broke. He found it, and at the time of trial was a fireman in Newton, married and with a story to tell the jury that was unencumbered by the more troubling biographies of his friends, not to mention the phenomenal coincidence of their amnesia and convenient remembering.

On January 31, 2002, Busa was told about the Globe’s story accusing Shanley of having sex with teenagers and young adults, and his first reaction was surprise; he’d always thought of the priest as “a nice guy”, he told his girlfriend, now wife. But later when she told him his friend Gregory Ford claimed to have been serially raped by the priest from the age of 6, Busa’s memories went to the alteration department.

He spoke to Ford, after which conversation he said his own memories hit him “like a tidal wave” and he cried for six hours. Then he spoke to Ford’s personal injury lawyer, Roderick (“Eric”) MacLeish. Then he went to the air force shrink, saying he needed to take a leave from the base to return to Boston to “pursue a class action lawsuit”. The shrink encouraged Busa to explore these new memories of abuse by keeping a journal. Write anything that comes into your mind, the shrink told Busa. Think of it as an “emotional barf bag”.

Thus began the accumulation of “evidence” that alone would put Shanley behind bars for twelve to fifteen years. At the top of each page Busa wrote, “Memo to Eric MacLeish, attorney confidential communication”.

“Journaling” is a common technique among therapists who believe in repressed memory. The theory is that through free-association and other quick-writing techniques, memories stored in the unconscious might break through the filters of thought, screening, logic and control that contribute to repression in the first place. In the annals of memory cases such techniques tend to produce fantasies, which can metastasize into false memories, as writing “whatever you want” slides effortlessly from game-like exercise into emotional release into documentary record. For Busa, the journal seems to have been both “barf bag” and serious business from the start, which accounts for such anomalies as his references to Shanley as “that faggot” or “that fucking faggot” in entries for days when he admittedly had no memories of sexual abuse but was making notes for himself and his lawyer that would later form the basis of his legal complaints.

It was February 11, 2002, when he was first told that Gregory Ford had recovered his memories, but Busa backdated his journal to February 1, the day after he discovered that the Globe considered Shanley a dirty pervert. Thus in one of the earliest entries, Busa writes, “Still no memories.” A few days later: “Remembered Shanley used to pull me out of class to talk all the time.” The next day: “Remembered Shanley leading me to the bathroom. Starting to get sketched out.” As he explained in a civil deposition, by the 9th of February he was “getting weirded out”, but this was retrospective, since it would not be until two days later that he “heard Greg was coming out [as a victim], tidal wave”. To that last entry he appended an exact time, 1300 Mountain Time. It was the wrong time, since his girlfriend didn’t telephone him until about 1500: a simple misremembering, the assistant DA said at trial; he was writing fast, and he was upset.

On the witness stand Busa gave a performance of pain and rage, remembering exactly how Father Shanley had defiled him. It’s possible that he told himself, his lawyer, his journal and various therapists those stories so many times that they had become true for him. But some things that he had earlier remembered for purposes of the prosecution’s indictment he forgot by the time he reached the stand. Since, as Judge Stephen Neel himself instructed members of the jury, nothing presented in court corroborated the accuser’s central claims, it was short work to drop the counts that had hinged on those previous memories and just go forward with the ones that remained.

There never was any other evidence on which to hang the case. No physical evidence: Busa, too, would have been 6 years old when the weekly rape and abuse began, but no one noticed anything wrong with him. None of the many people who were in the church every Sunday before mass, when these crimes were supposedly committed, including Gregory Ford’s mother, who taught one of the classes and said in a deposition that she never noticed a thing. No one saw Busa alone with the defendant. None of the teachers who were called to testify supported his claim that he was regularly plucked from class by Shanley, or that he was sent out to see the priest because of bad behavior. In fact, they contradicted Busa’s claims.

It hadn’t mattered to the jury members, who apparently bought the prosecutor’s argument that people remember what is important to them, and sending a bad kid to see the priest over and over again just wasn’t important to those teachers. The absence of corroborating evidence didn’t matter to the Supreme Judicial Court either. Not that Shanley’s appellate attorney, Robert Shaw Jr., had asked the high court to review to that level of detail. But it is reflective of the general shoddy nature of the high court’s ruling that it opens its description of the case with a falsehood. It states that "the victim was observed leaving the classroom with the defendant on several occasions.” Testimony offered at the trial afforded no substantive basis for this flat assertion.

So the ruling begins dishonestly and never deviates. The crux of Shaw’s argument was that the belief in repressed memory, by whatever name, is just that, an idea unsubstantiated by scientific research, an unproven hypothesis, and therefore inadmissible in court. He argued that Shanley had ineffective counsel because his trial lawyer, Frank Mondano, had not rigorously challenged the basis of the prosecution’s case, had presented the trial judge with no countervailing data or expert opinion on which to assess the testimony of the prosecution’s expert witnesses and make a reasoned judgment as to the admissibility of Busa’s “memories”.

Shaw was not asking the court to divine Busa's veracity or even to determine that the hypothesis of repressed memory is, finally, true or false. That, he asserted, is the function of scientific research. But, as amply demonstrated in voluminous material he presented to the court, the research now available shows that there is nothing beyond faith to support the hypothesis of massive repression.

Almost fifty years of research on memory and trauma, involving 120 studies and more than 14,000 people with documented experiences of rape, sexual abuse, torture, death camps, war or other horrors, reveals no evidence of repressed memory—that is, an inability to remember that cannot be explained by ordinary forgetting, infantile amnesia, intoxication or brain injury. People may forget certain details of Nazi cruelty, but they don’t forget they were in Auschwitz, and don’t exist for years in a la-la land of neutral thoughts about the place until one day a tidal wave of memory hits them. They may not remember every child they killed, every village they destroyed or every gaping wound of a buddy bleeding out, but they don’t forget they were in a hell called Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. They may not remember every unwanted touch or traumatic visitation by Uncle Harry, but there is not a shred of support for the idea that somehow repeated sexual trauma is different from torture, war, death camps such that it completely alters the process by which the mind creates and stores memory; that only sex can be so damaging as to reverse the process by which humans learn and have learned for millennia. The only circumstances under which childhood sexual abuse past the age of 4 has been demonstrably forgotten and re-remembered, according to Richard McNally, a research psychologist at Harvard who has conducted numerous experiments on the relationship between memory and trauma, is if the abuse was not first experienced as traumatic. That cannot apply to Busa, who claimed rape.

As dozens of pre-eminent social science researchers stated in an amicus brief, “Decades of research and scientific debate have clarified over and over again that the notion of traumatic events being somehow ‘repressed’ and later accurately recovered is one of the most pernicious bits of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry.”

It was on that basis that Shaw challenged Shanley’s conviction, and since no Massachusetts court had ever fully considered the scientific, evidentiary basis for repressed memory, he and Shanley and his family had every reason to hope that when the Supreme Judicial Court agreed to hear the appeal last year, it did so with a serious intent to review the research and join numerous other courts in the land of rationality.

Contrary to what the court ultimately ruled, repressed memory is not “generally accepted in the relevant scientific community”. Nor is it generally accepted by courts, though it once was. From 1992-94, 354 lawsuits based on repressed memory were filed in US civil and criminal courts. From 2000-04, there were twenty. One of the reasons for the drop off was a 1993 Supreme Court decision, in Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals, which held that scientific expert testimony must be both relevant and reliable to be admissible. A second decision, in 1999, extended the ruling to all expert testimony in federal courts. Since the mid-90s, many states have adopted similar standards, and judges have been dismissing cases or overturning convictions based on repressed memories, often after pretrial hearings featuring legal-scientific teams. R. Christopher Barden, a lawyer, psychiatrist and major proponent of the science-intensive approach, successfully led a team of five full-time defense lawyers and seven national experts in a monthlong landmark Daubert hearing in Rhode Island in 1999. He has litigated many such hearings in many jurisdictions across the country and has won them all, driving a stake through prosecutors’ use of this junk science to ruin people’s lives.

But faith and politics are powerful things, particularly in a place like Massachusetts, where the ground was laid by self-described feminists and therapists back in the 1970s for airy but wildly destructive notions that unremembered childhood sexual abuse, sometimes involving Satanic ritual, was epidemic, that numerous adult psychological problems or anxieties or even characteristics like lack of self-confidence could be attributed to it, that the magic bag of therapy could coax the memories into the light and thus bring “healing”, often in tandem with someone going to jail. Add that to the hysteria around the priest scandal and in particular around Shanley, whom the entire power structure and its servants had convicted before court action even commenced, and it required a stiff-spined panel of judges to bring sense to the situation.

The Supreme Judicial Court turned out to be spineless, a prisoner of media interest and public sentiment, however irrational. Middlesex County prosecutors had relied on two therapists prominent in the warped little world of Boston’s repressed memory promoters. Dr. Daniel Brown and Dr. James Chu. Brown had appeared as a certified expert in courtrooms for years, stating that the mind’s capacity for “massive repression” was generally accepted as demonstrable fact in the psychological professions. That was always false, and by 2004 many of the therapists whose work Brown recommended had been disgraced, stripped of their licenses and revealed as dangerous frauds in successful malpractice suits. Brown's own testimony had been rejected as unreliable by courts in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In 2007 an Indiana court rejected his testimony as misleading, and a federal judge threw out a $1.75 million verdict in a case that hinged on Brown’s expertise.

Brown’s confederate, Chu, had connections to the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, an organization peppered with believers in Satanic conspiracies, over which he once presided and whose journal he was editing at the time of Shanley’s trial. Formerly known as the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation, it was co-founded by Bennet Braun, one of Chu’s mentors. Braun ran the country’s first dissociative disorder clinical unit and promoted belief in Satanic ritual abuse, also in a cult involving, among others, the Klan, the US military, the Mafia and FTD Florists. His career ended with a $10.6 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by a patient who had come to believe in therapy that she was a Satanic priestess.

In his appeal to the high court Shaw did not fault Judge Neel for his pretrial ruling on the admissibility of repressed memory. In that hearing Shanley’s trial lawyer offered nothing that would have enlightened the judge, not a single witness or study to rebut the prosecution’s so-called expert witness. He merely huffed and puffed cross-examining Brown, and himself called up Chu—just to clarify a few matters. The high court decided that extended cross-examination, however ignorant, was enough to provide Neel with the full scope of the debate on the reliability and general scientific acceptance of repressed memory.

Truth be told, Neel had punted the memory question to the jury. The jury had punted it back, relying on the wisdom of judge, prosecution and its trial expert, Chu. The high court merely punted again, saying there’s no reason to believe that a fuller presentation of the research and opinion of the scientific community would have changed anyone’s mind. Perhaps that is an accurate reading of Massachusetts temperament. The long knives were drawn for Shanley by everyone, including the shameful remnant of the gay movement, immune to fact or reason.

But the high court’s job is not to hew to popular prejudice. Its members can’t simply say, “Look, no one wanted to free the faggot, and neither do we.” So it made a charade of ruling, mischaracterizing the appellate argument for its own ends.

It discussed the issue of repressed memory almost entirely with reference to the evidence at the pretrial hearing, as if the judge’s action there were the focus of the appeal. It stated that Shaw challenged repressed memory on grounds that there is no peer-reviewed literature and that scientific study is not possible. Those “arguments” appear nowhere in his submissions. In fact, the material before the court emphasized methodologically sound prospective studies that contradict the notion of repressed memory, and in an affidavit Dr. Harrison Pope, an internationally recognized psychiatrist, scholar and expert on research methodology, spelled out a valid method for testing agreed upon by the scientific community.

The court accepted at face value Daniel Brown’s claims for the eighty-five studies he brandished to support his opinions. It accepted patient self-diagnosis and therapists’ reports, upon which Chu had relied, as scientific evidence of how the brain works. It did not trouble itself to grapple with Pope’s affidavit, which analyzed in scrupulous detail the body of studies upon which Brown had relied: the flawed research (without controls or error rates, with faulty methodology, with subjects who report abuse in infancy and therefore would not remember because of normal infantile amnesia, with subjects who suffered brain injury along with trauma, etc.), or flawed conclusions from studies. It ignored the record of chicanery piled up by the authors of some of those studies, as spelled out in Chris Barden’s scathing affidavit, as well as the recent history of other court rulings rejecting Brown’s testimony.

In fact, the court offered no analysis whatsoever of the impressive documentary material that Shaw provided, none of which had been available to the trial court. “In sum”, it ruled, “the judge's [Neel’s] finding that the lack of scientific testing did not make unreliable the theory that an individual may experience dissociative amnesia was supported in the record” that had been placed before him.

Who are we to “second guess the judge or reach a different conclusion”, the justices postured in a footnote right near the end, and then, as if aware of their titanic bad faith, added in that same footnote:

The defendant does not challenge on appeal the sufficiency of the evidence. We do not consider whether there could be circumstances where testimony based on the repressed or recovered memory of a victim, standing alone, would not be sufficient as a matter of law to support a conviction.

As Robert Shaw told me later,

"Whether one calls it a question of 'sufficiency of the evidence' or a question of validity and reliability, as we argued, where repressed memory is at issue we are dealing with the same question, directed at the very nature of the evidence.

"If the Court harbors a concern that repressed memory evidence might not in itself be 'sufficient as a matter of law' to sustain a conviction, then we believe that Paul Shanley deserves the benefit of a ruling addressing that concern.

"If the Court were to conclude that repressed memory evidence is not 'sufficient as a matter of law,' then Paul Shanley is entitled to understand how the evidence is nonetheless valid and reliable enough to be admitted in his case. Moreover, sexual abuse cases are regularly tried in the Commonwealth where the only evidence is the testimony of the accuser concerning the accuser’s memories of the alleged crimes.

"That is precisely why the relevant question was not framed as one of 'legal sufficiency' in the classic sense, but whether repressed memory evidence is valid, reliable and admissible. If it is valid, reliable and admissible, then the question of legal sufficiency is resolved.

"If it is not valid, reliable or admissible, or, as implied in footnote 26, is not sufficient in itself to support a conviction, then the judgments in this case cannot stand."

Back in 2002 virtually the entire media swallowed the story of Shanley’s monstrosity as presented by personal injury lawyer MacLeish. They then regurgitated it back to a gullible and easily lead public. Political ideology offered no buffer from this dangerous nonsense, as so-called leftists abandoned any interest in justice or reason, blinkered simply by disdain for religion and the Catholic Church. Homophobes and the homosexual establishment were as one against Shanley, repeating MacLeish’s lie that he was a founder of NAMBLA, that he had a long history of documented sexual abuse, that he had been moved from parish to parish because of this, that because he’d had sex with young men he must be a child rapist. The Boston Globe, a disgraceful paper that, like Martha Coakley, deserves every blow it has recently suffered and would best disappear from the scene, didn’t care that its reporters either never reviewed the entire documentary record about Shanley or willfully misrepresented it.

In late 2004, shortly before his trial the next year, Coakley’s office offered Shanley a deal: plead guilty to one minor charge and receive sentence of time served, plus two and a half years’ house arrest. Shanley declined. “I’m 74 years old”, he told me from prison after he was convicted; “why would I take a deal?” But “can you imagine”, he added, “here I am, the worst monster, a danger to children everywhere, and they offer me time served? Seven months [the time he’d spent in jail awaiting bail]. But for refusing to lie, I got twelve to fifteen years.”

Still, Shanley hoped that if only people had the information… Now the Supreme Judicial Court joins the rest of the Massachusetts rogues’ gallery, demonstrating again that, in a match-up against prejudice, the truth will not necessarily set you free.

JoAnn Wypijewski has been reporting on the Shanley case since 2002, writing about it for Legal Affairs as well as The Nation and CounterPunch. She can be reached at

Judge will allow testimony about accuser’s ‘repressed memories’

A Marion County judge will let jurors hear testimony about the “repressed memories” of a man whose allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest is based on memories so painful that experts say he lost access to them for decades.

The decision by Superior Court Judge David Dreyer could break new ground in Indiana. Henry Karlson, an Indiana University law scholar, said he’s not aware of a case in Indiana in which a jury has been allowed to hear evidence about repressed memories.

The case involves a man identified in court papers as John Doe RG. Now a 44-year-old business executive, he contends that, as a boy, he was repeatedly molested by former Indianapolis priest Harry Monroe while he was a parishioner at St. Andrew Catholic Church.

In 2005, the man filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis involving Monroe. Twelve other accusers followed with their own lawsuits, each arguing that the church kept Monroe’s history of abuse hidden even as it moved him to new parishes and new victims.

So far the archdiocese has failed in its attempts to get the first three of the 13 cases tossed out. Dreyer ordered Wednesday that the repressed-memory case and a case involving a former altar boy at St. Catherine must go forward. Another judge ruled in 2007 that a third case should go forward. The trials should begin later this year.

None is likely to be as hotly contested as the repressed-memory case. Both sides have lined up Harvard University experts and others to testify about the validity of repressed memories.

Dreyer, who heard attorneys argue the matter in August, said expert testimony on repressed memory was reliable enough to let a jury decide how much weight to give it.

Attorney Pat Noaker, who represents all 13 plaintiffs and argued for the repressed-memory testimony, said the decision is in line with other cases across the country.

“The judge’s decision may be the first of its kind in Indiana,” he said. “However, it is consistent with what the majority of states have allowed. And that is to let repressed memory go to a jury.”

Attorney Jay Mercer, who represents the archdiocese, hasn’t decided whether he will appeal Dreyer’s decision. But he said the order doesn’t mean the issue is settled.

“I still think there is an issue at trial as to whether (repression experts) will be allowed to testify or as to the reliability of their theories,” Mercer said.

Monroe acknowledged in pre-trial testimony that he abused at least five of the men who have brought lawsuits. He said he couldn’t remember whether he had abused the others. His tenure as a priest from 1974 to 1984 included time at parishes in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Perry County, along the Ohio River.

Abuse allegations arose from each stay. In some cases, the accusers have said their families went to church officials and were assured Monroe would be removed from the priesthood. Others kept their abuse hidden until lawsuits began to reveal that there were more boys in Monroe’s past.

Monroe was removed from the priesthood in 1984. But he was never prosecuted because law enforcement officials said the criminal statute of limitations had expired.

John Doe RG told The Indianapolis Star in 2006 that he was 10 years old when Monroe began abusing him at the church rectory and on camping trips, often giving him alcohol. He said the priest told him he wouldn’t get to serve at Mass if he revealed their secret. And he kept quiet.

As he grew older, he found that his relationships never lasted. He had difficulty trusting authority figures. He had certain sexual hang-ups and became a functioning alcoholic. In 2003, when he finally sought psychological counseling, he said, the memories of his hidden abuse began to unfold.

An initial “image flash” of one of the instances of abuse was followed by more detailed memories and eventually his lawsuit against the archdiocese, which was filed just days before the statute of limitations for lawsuits was set to expire.

In his ruling, Dreyer said the man experienced a “tumultuous journey” after his “image flash.” It included increasing confusion, depression and avoidance of the new realization.

Karlson said repressed-memory testimony has been used in hearings before judges who are trying to rule on statutes of limitations issues. This order, sending the issue to a jury, is different.

“Ultimately,” Karlson said, “this is going to force the court of appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court to make a determination on the use of repressed memory in cases of this nature.”

Child Pornography, and an Issue of Restitution

February 3, 2010
Child Pornography, and an Issue of Restitution

When Amy was a little girl, her uncle made her famous in the worst way: as a star in the netherworld of child pornography. Photographs and videos known as “the Misty series” depicting her abuse have circulated on the Internet for more than 10 years, and often turn up in the collections of those arrested for possession of illegal images.

Now, with the help of an inventive lawyer, the young woman known as Amy — her real name has been withheld in court to prevent harassment — is fighting back.

She is demanding that everyone convicted of possessing even a single Misty image pay her damages until her total claim of $3.4 million has been met.

Some experts argue that forcing payment from people who do not produce such images but only possess them goes too far.

In February, when the first judge arranged payment to Amy in a case in Connecticut, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, called the decision “highly questionable” on his blog and said it “stretches personal accountability to the breaking point.”

The judge in the case acknowledged, “We’re dealing with a frontier here.”

The issue is part of a larger debate over fairness in sentencing sex offenders. For years, lawmakers (and some voters) have reasoned that virtually no punishment was too severe for such criminals; even statutory limits on sentencing were often exceeded.

Now some courts have begun to push back, saying these heavy sentences are improper, and a new emphasis has arisen on making sex offenders pay monetary damages for their crimes. If such damages become widespread, experts say, it may make it easier to reach a consensus on measured sentencing.

Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and an expert on sentencing, said the rise in monetary damages might curb “a troublesome modern tendency of many legislators and judges to respond to all perceived crime problems with longer and longer terms of imprisonment.”

Those longer terms and conditions are already under fire.

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 that a state ballot initiative allowing the indefinite extension of sentences for sexually violent predators might violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection; the court ordered a new hearing to explore the issues.

On Monday, the court also asked for more study on a law that prohibits sexual predators from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park after their release from prison. The law, called Jessica’s law, was approved by voters in 2006.

Corey Rayburn Yung, an expert in sex crimes at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, said that while “it’s hard to be too sympathetic” toward those who possess images of child pornography, “there is such a thing as going too far.” The harm to child pornography victims from those who possess the images, he said, is less direct than that caused by those who abused the children.

The most novel approach is being taken by Amy’s lawyer, James R. Marsh, whose practice focuses on child exploitation cases. Mr. Marsh’s arguments are the fruits of a national movement granting greater rights to crime victims and shifting the financial burden of crimes to criminals, said Paul G. Cassell, a former federal judge and professor of law at the University of Utah, who advised Mr. Marsh and wrote a brief supporting his position in a Texas case.

Amy’s uncle is now in prison, but she is regularly reminded of his abuse whenever the government notifies her that her photos have turned up in yet another prosecution. More than 800 of the notices, mandated by the Crime Victims Rights Act and sent out by the federal victim notification system, have arrived at Amy’s home since 2005.

Those notices disturb Amy when they arrive, but Mr. Marsh, looking at the same pieces of paper, saw an opportunity: he could intervene in the federal prosecutions and demand restitution. He had Amy write a victim-impact statement and hired a psychologist to evaluate her. Economists developed a tally of damages that included counseling, diminished wages and lawyer fees. The total came to $3,367,854.

Mr. Marsh contends that every defendant should be ordered to pay the full amount, under the doctrine of joint and several liability. According to that doctrine, the recipient would stop collecting money once the full damages are paid, and those held responsible for the amount could then sue others who are found culpable for contributions. But the doctrine, which developed in civil law, does not apply as easily in criminal law, especially with an indeterminate population of defendants.

Amy’s first restitution award came in February in the Connecticut case; it involved Alan Hesketh, a British executive at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, who paid $130,000. Since then, Mr. Marsh has automated the process and e-mailed Amy’s filings to United States Attorneys in 350 cases. “I’m able to leverage the power of the Internet to get restitution for a victim of the Internet,” he said.

Mr. Marsh has, in effect, expanded his small New York law firm by hundreds of federal prosecutors. Some of them decline to file for restitution — a judge in Minnesota ordered prosecutors to explain why — but many have. Judges’ reactions have varied, with some declining to order restitution, including one in Texas and another in Maine, usually saying that the link between possession and the harm done is too tenuous to reach the level of “proximate harm” generally required under the law for restitution.

Yet in two Florida cases, judges have ordered defendants to pay nearly the full amount requested and even more. Many judges who have considered the issues award a few thousand dollars. Even though many of the defendants have no way to pay even the smallest fine, Mr. Marsh’s efforts in the first year have earned $170,000 for Amy.

“This is a lawyer’s dream,” he said.

The federal government has struggled with how to best approach the wave of new cases, and those to come. Another victim known as Vicky has begun making similar claims in court, and still more victims could come forward. Professor Berman suggested Congress would have to sort out the issue, perhaps with a victim compensation fund.

A memorandum last summer from a lawyer in the Administrative Office of the Courts, the federal agency that runs the judicial branch, stated that the law did not support restitution for “mere possession.” But Lanny A. Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the criminal division at the Justice Department, issued a letter in October stating “we do not agree that restitution is not available to victims of the possession of child pornography as a matter of law.”

Mr. Breuer urged judges not to let “practical and administrative challenges” to the restitution issue “drive a policy position that directly or indirectly suggests that possession of child pornography is a victimless crime.”

Sex Offenders Struggle To Comply With Impossible Laws

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just before Christmas the City of Fresno installed floodlights to show off the historic water tower in downtown. But now the tower has become a beacon for homeless sex offenders on parole. They say it's one of the only places they can go to stay on the right side of the law.

The electrical outlets at the base of the tower are the attraction. These parolees are required to wear electronic monitoring devices on their ankles. The devices hold a charge for about 12 hours and must be charged for an hour in the morning and an hour at night. The trouble is dozens of these men live in a homeless tent encampment beneath a freeway overpass at the edge of downtown. They do not have access to electricity.

They were using an outlet at the state parole office, but their access was cut off two weeks ago. Their move to the water tower has not been embraced by the city. The old water tower also serves as a visitor's center for downtown. Police Chief Jerry Dyers said it's not an appropriate place for sex offenders to gather. "This is not the message we want to send. When people come to the water tower which is a visitor's center, that is not the image we want to portray," said Dyer.

Dyer said he is working with the state parole office to find another plug-in location, but indicated it might take awhile. In the meantime the city manager's office may turn off the power to the outlets at the tower.

One homeless sex offender who didn't want to be identified said, "Once you cut that off where are we going to go? We're going to go somewhere else, and they're going to that off. Then we'll go somewhere else and they will cut that off."

Without a source of electricity to charge their monitors the men will be breaking the law. Once the monitors are dead the men will be un-trackable to the law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be keeping track of them.

Brian Semsen, a Baptist minister who works with the offenders said the men in the camp are trying to comply with the law, but are being treated unfairly. "These folks out here on the street are the Lepers of our day. In Jesus' time Leper's were considered unclean. There were laws requiring them to segregate. They had to shout "unclean, unclean" when they approached others so they could warn them to stay away. Now these folks, these men are the Lepers of our day." Semsen said.

The sex offenders know they are unwanted, but said if they don't find access to electricity nearby, they will have to use outlets at businesses on the Fulton Mall, a popular public shopping area.

A Reminder of what "Sexually Violent Predator" Really Means

I would like to point out that the term "Sexually Violent Predator" rarely means what folks could reasonably expect it to mean.

"Sexually Violent Predator" does not require actual "violence". In every state using the term it means having ANY kind of sex with someone under the age of 14 or 13 (depends on the State).

The mere act of having sex with someone under that age is, in the State's definition, "sexual violence". No actual violence need be employed.

Thus, it serves to drum up lots of hysterical reaction from the public. Politicians love the term because it allows them to set the public's agenda and to offer themselves up as tough-on-crime problem-solvers. Local T.V. news reporters love it because everyone wants to stay tuned to learn the details (which are never revealed). This is the dirty little secret none of you are being told. The problem is, most of you don't want to know it, either. It's more fun to create monsters and chase them around than it is to pay attention to the very real problems our children encounter in their daily lives.