"John Smith" No name case in Edmonton ♦♦ The Klassen/Kvellos
(Scandal of the Century) ♦♦ Martensville - what really didn't happen?
♦♦ Bice family ♦♦ Karl Starratt
Dean Tong's new book is called:
Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for The Falsely Accused
To Err is Human, Especially in Child Abuse Cases
Dean Tong Sunday, Feb. 17, 2002
Nobody likes a child abuser and with
good reason. We have seen some horrific cases over the past several
years, from Polly Klaus to Megan Kanka (Megan's Law) to JonBenet
Ramsay and now to Danielle Van Dam from San Diego. Whether it
is a parent or a stranger who kidnaps, harms, molests and/or
kills a child, Siberia is too good for that individual.
Yet over the past 30 odd years, since
the fruition of the Mondale Act (Child Abuse Prevention &
Treatment Act), we've seen an actual backlash in child abuse
cases. What does this mean?
This means that since 1963, when there
were only 163,000 reports of alleged child abuse or neglect,
to 1995 when there were over 3.2 million reports of alleged child
abuse or neglect, we've witnessed an approximate 2,000 percent
increase in the number of reports of alleged child abuse or neglect in America.
So, you want to talk about heightened awareness of an issue?
The point is that the astronomical increase
in the number of reports does not automatically mean there's
a substantial problem with child abuse in America. A quick phone
call to 1-800-FYI-3366 (National Center on Child Abuse &
Neglect) will show that 55 percent to 75 percent of all alleged
child abuse and neglect reports are unfounded.
Of the same, about 8 percent are false,
made with deliberate, premeditated forethought to "get"
someone. For every four reports of alleged child abuse in America
today, one is confirmed. That one case is unacceptable, of course,
but what happens to the other three wounded innocents caught
up in the throes of the system?
This writer was wrongly accused of molesting
his 3-year-old daughter in 1985. Although the state of Florida
dropped criminal charges against me and I took countless tests
to prove my innocence, I was denied normal contact with my children
by the family courts. And, because social workers and therapists
planted a seed that I "must have done something," my
now-20-year-old daughter still has her doubts.
Here's a case in point: Four-year-old
Amber told a social worker and police sex crimes detective that
her Daddy put his pee pee on her pee pee. When I received a call
on the case, the father had been arrested for GSI (Gross Sexual
Imposition) and was in jail.
After the defense hired a forensic expert
in linguistics and suggestibility who interviewed Amber in a
structured fashion, they gleaned that what Amber meant was that
her Daddy urinated on top of her urine in the commode she forgot
In psychology, this is called a "source
misattributions" error. In other words, the child's statements
were taken out of context and actually meant something else.
Well-meaning, well-intentioned social workers will interview
young children allegedly molested, using guided imagery, stereotype
induction, scripting, confirmatory bias and even anatomically
These same children will give, over time,
the desired responses the interviewers are seeking.
Doctors misdiagnose rashes and urinary
tract infections for child sexual abuse. As mandated reporters
under the Mondale Act, they often call social services from hospital
emergency rooms if they're in doubt about the cause of a child's
Here's a case in point: Little 5-year
old-Johnny fell from a pine tree and broke his tibia (lower leg).
The parents rushed Johnny to their local emergency room, in their
angst forgetting to tell the doctor that Johnny suffered from
OI (osteogenesis imperfecta), a condition known to exacerbate
broken bones. Need I say more?
What we don't know in alleged child physical
and sexual abuse cases is coming back to haunt us. Social workers,
police officers, therapists, guardians-ad-litem, lawyers, judges,
teachers and legislators need a wake-up call that all is not
well in America's child protection system. And the errors committed
are hurting the very individuals we are trying to save from harm,
Dean Tong, forensic consultant in the
Elian Gonzalez case and author of the new book "Elusive
Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused" (Huntington
House, 2002), has been retained by parents and lawyers in 32
states across America in abuse and custody cases. His website is
Contact Dean Tong
Publisher: Sheila Steele 1943-2006
• Index to injustice stories on this site
JUVENILE FACED LIFE IN JAIL
Brenton Butler: Academy Award-Winning Documentary. Police detectives beat confession out of him
17 YEARS FOR NOTHING
Marty Tankleff: 17 years from a coerced confession
Bernard Baran was convicted of molesting five children at a Pittsfield day care center in 1984. All charges dropped June 9, 2009
20 YEARS - VICTIMS LIED
John Stoll: convicted of multiple child molestation counts. “It never happened” stated a victim 20 years later
Freed by Innocence Project