Notes from a practice under siege
Calof, D.L. (1998). Notes from a practice under siege: Harassment, defamation, and intimidation in the name of science, Ethics and Behavior, 8(2) pp. 161-187.
Posted with permission of the author.
Author note :
I should also add that this article covers the first four years of what would become an over 10 year campaign of harassment and the most egregious actions actually took place after this article was published.
Copyright 1998 – 2009 David L. Calof ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Do not duplicate, transmit, or quote extensively without express permission of the author
10564 5th Ave. N.E. Suite 405
Seattle, WA 98125
Notes From a Practice Under Siege:
Harassment, Defamation, and Intimidation in the Name of Science
David L. Calof
Family Psychotherapy Practice
Editor Emeritus, Treating Abuse Today
I have practiced psychotherapy, family therapy, and hypnotherapy for over 25 years without a single board complaint or law suit by a client. For over three years, however, a group of proponents of the false memory syndrome (FMS) hypothesis, including members, officials, and supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc., have waged a multi-modal campaign of harassment and defamation directed against me, my clinical clients, my staff, my family, and others connected to me. I have neither treated these harassers or their families, nor had any professional or personal dealings with any of them; I am not related in any way to the disclosures of memories of sexual abuse in these families. Nonetheless, this group disrupts my professional and personal life and threatens to drive me out of business. In this article, I describe practicing psychotherapy under a state of siege and places the campaign against me in the context of a much broader effort in the FMS movement to denigrate, defame, and harass clinicians, lecturers, writers, and researchers identified with the abuse and trauma treatment communities.
Key words: False Memory Syndrome Foundation, FMSF, abuse
It is easy to point out the sins of others.
It is hard to admit one’s own mistakes.
A man broadcasts the sins of others
But he hides his own sins
as a gambler hides his false dice.
For over 25 years I have practiced psychotherapy, family therapy, and hypnotherapy in my home city of Seattle. From 1982 to 1994, I served as senior clinical consultant to the Adult Therapy Service and the Psychological Trauma Center of Seattle Mental Health Institute, Seattle’s largest community mental health center. I have published many professional articles, several book chapters, and two books. From 1991 until early 1997, I was editor-publisher of Treating Abuse Today (TAT), a professional periodical directed at the community of therapists treating trauma and abuse survivors. In addition to a full-time clinical practice, I lecture and consult extensively; have given invited clinical demonstrations; and provided clinical supervision at medical schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, treatment centers, and professional conferences across the United States and around the world.
No client has ever brought a law suit or a board complaint against me. In fact, in January 1997, the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Health (my professional regulatory authority) appointed me to an advisory group to help the Department evaluate a sudden rash of third-party complaints against therapists alleging that they have implanted false memories of sexual abuse in dissociative disordered clients.
From 1992 to 1997, TAT under my editorship published several articles by a number of respected professionals who seriously questioned the false memory syndrome (FMS) hypothesis and the methodology, ethics, and assertions of those who were rapidly pushing the concept into the public consciousness. During that time, not one person from the FMS movement contacted me to refute the specific points made in the articles or to present any research that would prove even a single case of this allegedly “epidemic” syndrome.
Instead of a reasoned response to the published articles, for nearly three years proponents of the so-called FMS hypothesis–including members, officials, and supporters of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Inc. (FMSF)–have waged a campaign of harassment, defamation, and psychological terrorism against me, my clients, staff, family, and other innocent people connected with me. These clearly are intended to (a) intimidate me and anyone associated with me; (b) terrorize and deter access to my psychotherapy clients; (c) encumber my resources; and (d) destroy my reputation publicly, in the business community, among my professional colleagues, and within national and international professional organizations.
Before describing this highly orchestrated campaign, let me emphasize that I have never treated any member of this group or their families, and do not have any relationships to any of my counseling clients. Neither have I consulted to their cases nor do I bear any relation to the disclosures of memories of sexual abuse in their families. I had no prior dealings with any of this group before they began showing up at my offices with offensive and defamatory signs early in 1995.
ELEMENTS OF THE HARASSMENT CAMPAIGN
On January 27, 1995, the Seattle-area FMS group, led by then Washington State FMSF coordinator (2)hired Charles “Chuck” Noah and his wife, June, appeared on the street outside my offices and set up signs on the sidewalk and on their vehicle that made defamatory accusations against me and my practice. When I inquired about their activities, I received only confusing answers and a refusal to discuss any specific claim against me or my work.
From that day forward, groups as large as 15 people have set up huge displays in front of my therapy offices well over 100 times, sometimes stretching over three city blocks. Their signs include small handheld placards, sandwich boards, larger prop-up displays, and a host of others as big as a small billboard, which members semi-permanently display on their vehicles. The malicious and derogatory slogans declare inter alia: “Pseudo Therapist creates victims for profit!!,” “David Calof Sexploits Women,” “David Calof Prowls for Women Victims,” “(Pious) Calof Preys on Women victims,” “Calof’s poison kills families,” “A Greedy Therapist Bashes ‘Innocent’ Parents For $$,” “Voodoo Therapy Practiced Here,” “David Calof, Grand Poobah of the Lunatic Fringe and con,” “Families Expose Terrorist Psycho Therapist,” “Stop Mind Control Experiments” “David Calof Creating Mental Illness,” “David Calof Destroys families,” “300’ [feet] to ‘Cagey’ Dave Calof’s Voo Doo pit.” One sign, most often displayed just outside my office window, warns; “Beware Calof’s Crooked Femi-Nazi Powr [sic] lies.” It is adorned with two red Swastikas. Sometimes, especially after my professional presentations or following sanctions imposed by the courts, this group has mounted a virtual around-the-clock presence, working in shifts to exchange each other’s sign-laden vehicles to keep a near constant presence in front of my building.
(2. When people contact the FMSF seeking an FMSF contact the Seattle area, they are mailed a business card imprinted with the FMSF name and address and with the names, “Chuck and June,” along with Noah’s home phone number and the designation, “volunteer coordinator.”)
Demonstrators have told passersby that I use drugs in my practice to implant false memories, that I have numerous suits and complaints against me, that people have gone to prison based on vague memories of abuse I implanted, and that I mistreated their family members and “destroyed” their families–all bald-faced lies. In postings to the Internet and in various court documents, the harassers have continually distorted and mischaracterized my work and views.
Office personnel and visitors have had to endure shouted obscenities and slurs, many of which are based on perceived race, physical appearance, and sexual preference. Noah has stalked me (sometimes placing himself within several inches of my body) and menaced me with a wooden cross, a large American flag, and a large sign on a long pole bearing my photograph with the caption, “Psycho Spook,” while loudly taunting me with insults and epithets (such as: “That’s right, baldie, go back to your hallucination pit,” “cocksucker,” “asshole,” and the like). Noah also publicly taunted my assistant with crude epithets, such as “cocksucker,” “fucking prick,” “freak,” “Calof’s little suck,” and the like. Noah once stormed out of a legal hearing and on his way out, in plain view of the court, grabbed my assistant by the shoulder and said to him: “You little cocksucker.” The judge noted this incident by hand to her findings and rulings (Calof v. Noah, 1995). For nearly a year, Noah displayed on his camper a blow-up of a photograph he took of my assistant. Next to the photograph he placed a big sign naming my assistant and proclaiming, “Meet David Calof’s Pet Rat.”
Invasion of Privacy.
Members of this group soon moved beyond public defamation and began violating my privacy as well. They recorded license plate numbers to identify staff, clients, and professional colleagues. They have kept me, staff, and clients under surveillance, including the use of videotaping and photographing. They have displayed large public signs speculating about the identity of some of my confidential counseling clients. They have come to my home neighborhood, set up defamatory displays, and photographed me leaving my house in the morning. They also have publicly displayed photographs taken of me, against court orders.
This group also has waged an intrusive and extensive campaign of mail fraud and harassment directed toward me, my wife and my staff. For over 2 years, we have received hundreds of unsolicited “you requested this” offerings for products to cure impotence, bed wetting, baldness, and psoriasis; trade school courses; investments; luxury cars; dog and cat food; and psychotropics. They pledged money to various organizations in my name and ordered magazine subscriptions for which I have been billed. They once made an application for life insurance in the name of one of my staff members, naming me as the beneficiary. My wife has received several unsolicited sexually graphic advertisements for telephone sex services.
The harassers have denied under penalty of perjury that none of them fraudulently solicited or caused these materials to be sent to me, my family, or my staff. Yet, various details of the way the information was addressed led me to suspect otherwise. For example, several apparently satirical misspellings of recipients’ names corresponded to misspellings in messages posted to the Internet by the harassers and their colleagues. I contacted some of the companies involved and was able to obtain several of the original fraudulent request cards. I then employed the services of a professional fraudulent document and handwriting expert with over 20 years experience as a government forgery analyst. He examined the materials and reported that in his expert opinion, Noah had written nearly all of the fraudulent requests.
Intimidation of Family, Staff, Colleagues and Others
I have had to contend with such things as a private investigator posing as a representative for an alleged shut-in client, who tried to get me to verify that the alleged client had been abused as a child. After his bogus interview, the private investigator tried to question my business associates, neighbors, and personal relations. He kept me, my staff and my practice under surveillance with a high-powered camera for long periods, traced the license plates of visitors and workers in my office building and contacted them. He also cooperated with the other harassers in several ways, including helping them find me when I was forced to move my offices because of increasing problems associated with the harassment campaign. The investigator’s effort was clearly an attempt to disrupt my practice and intimidate my clients.
FMSF officials openly supported this kind of clandestine practice. According to the Portland Oregonian, FMSF director Pamela Freyd recommended that parents “Follow your child to the office, hire a private investigator, pry the information from other relatives your child may talk to, pose as a patient yourself” (Mitchell, 1993, p. L1). Elizabeth Loftus, the prominent FMSF advisory board member who lives and works in Seattle, also touts this form of clandestine “data gathering.” To support her contention there is an epidemic of FMS cases, Loftus cites several sources of data but, as she explains to professional audiences, “amongst [my] most precious of information, I have taped therapy sessions. They were taped by private investigators who were sent in to therapy offices posing as patients and recording secretly what went on” (see e.g., Loftus, 1994a; 1994b).
The harassers repeatedly targeted my family. Noah, for example, made concerted efforts under false pretense to obtain the location of my elderly father, his professed purpose “to send him flowers.” Noah does not know or care about my father. His only discernible purpose was to retaliate against me by targeting a member of my family. The Court later concluded that Noah’s interest in my father was subterfuge and “that Noah is manipulative and capable of saying whatever he needs to obtain his desired result” (Calof v. Noah, 1995, p. 10).
This group also targeted my personal attorney and his family as a tactic of retaliation against me. They set up derogatory signs with my attorney’s photograph on them in front of his office and observed him for long periods through his office windows with binoculars. Noah eventually could not contain his ire and visited his personal harassment on my attorney’s house, where he parked his sign-covered camper for most of a weekend, tried to provoke a confrontation with my attorney’s wife by taunting her, and eventually was arrested when he refused to obey a police order to leave. My attorney’s wife was very shaken by this rude intrusion into her privacy. Her two young children were terrified by the loud and queer spectacle. My attorney was forced to obtain an antiharassment order against Noah. Noah, not willing to concede even an inch to these innocent third parties, hired an attorney (3) to oppose the order, who argued that his acts “constituted lawful harassment.” The court was not moved by the oxymoron, however, and found that Noah’s sole purpose in targeting my attorney was to deliberately provoke, vex, and annoy him and his family. Contrary to the FMS movement’s standard party line that Noah and his cohorts are only engaging in lawful informational picketing, the court found his sole purpose in going to my attorney’s house was retaliation, occasioned entirely because of his legal representation of me. The court concluded that Noah’s behavior had “no lawful or legitimate purpose” (Anderson and Family v. Noah, 1997, p. 13, 4).
(3. Notably, this attorney was also a member of the Legal Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, which voted in favor of the ACLU representing Noah.)
(4. In 1998, the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors awarded my attorney its prestigious Courageous Award in recognition of his perseverance under fierce personal attack that is believed to have been intended to drive him off the case and thus deprive me of personal representation.)
The FMSF group also set up similar displays at many other locations around the city and state, including the offices of several prominent Northwest psychologists who have questioned the validity of FMS movement claims. They have appeared at courthouses, television stations, and the state capitol, and they have picketed judges, officials, and reporters that they claim demonize them. Their effort has been so massive, widespread, and persistent that it has become well-known across the Northwest.
Interference With Landlord-Tenant Relations
In 1996 I was forced to relocate my offices. Despite the fact that I had practiced in the same office building for over 18 years and had just signed a new 5 year lease, the new building owner, anxious to expand his burgeoning telephone sex business into my space, fell in cahoots with the harassers and pressured me to relocate. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Washington attorney who was representing Noah, was also employed by the lawyer who represented my landlord (see ACLU Support section). Regrettably, the ACLU attorney aided the landlord’s attempts to rout me in several ways. For example, I discovered that, on behalf of the landlord, she made the initial contact with the private investigator who investigated me, and she shared information with my landlord that benefited both his campaign to oust me and the harassers’ campaign to disrupt my practice and professional life. I did relocate, hopeful that the harassers would not follow.
However, 3 months after I moved into my next offices, in the summer 1996, Noah came uninvited to my new office landlord’s house in a bid to join forces and rout me from my offices. He boasted how he had helped my former landlord roust me and offered his services to my present landlord to do the same. Finally, little more than a year later, because of the unrelenting antics of this group, I faced eviction from my present offices and had to relocate again. I found potential landlords reluctant to rent to me once they comprehended the magnitude of the campaign against me. It took me nearly 5 months to find suitable space.
ABUSING THE COURTS
The FMSF group has become quite adept at using the legal system to conduct a parallel harassment campaign in the courts, sometimes drawing support from others through its unfounded claims of persecution by me.
Bogus Complaints, Nuisance Law Suits And Legal Proceedings
In August 1995, Francine Casebeer, Noah’s chief collaborator, filed a complaint against me with my professional regulatory authority, even though I have had no professional dealings with her or any of her family members. (Despite this fact, Ms. Casebeer gives November 1994 to June 1995, the dates of her picketing of me, as the “time period of treatment.”) In her complaint, Ms. Casebeer states: “I am afraid of any personal contact with this disturbed, dangerous, and unscrupulous man.” She makes this statement despite the fact that she has been the one who repeatedly seeks out contact with me through her demonstrations in front of my offices and through a seemingly endless string of legal and administrative proceedings. As the basis for her complaint, Ms. Casebeer claims that she is one “of 12 to 15 other families picketing Calof, each a victim of the therapy Calof both practices, teaches, and spreads.” She neglects to give any details about how she and her colleagues became the victim of a therapist with whom they never undertook therapy. Her complaint was so lacking in merit it was summarily dismissed without investigation.
In March 1996, my assistant was served with a subpoena duces tecum from attorney Skip Simpson, a well-known and very successful litigator in the FMSF movement who targets therapists. The subpoena demanded that my assistant produce a broad range of documents detailing our office’s contacts with approximately 60 individuals or organizations, along with “any and all telephone records, both business and personal, from December 1994 to the present” and “any and all documents or correspondence from the Internet concerning…Multiple Personality Disorder, Satanic Ritual Abuse….” Although I finally defeated this outrageous invasion of privacy in court, it cost me nearly $5,000 and countless hours to do so.
In early 1997, with the pro bono assistance of Noah’s former ACLU lawyer, Casebeer filed a suit in Federal court against me and my wife alleging that we conspired with the Seattle Chief of Police and a Seattle District Court judge to deprive her of her right to free speech. She asked for $50,000 in punitive damages from us. In her suit, Casebeer also contended that I have used her presence to bolster my income and practice. I have had to work 40-hr clinical weeks nearly every week for the last 3 years just to float the enormous expense of protecting my staff, clients, and family and preserving my practice. This frivolous suit has been thrown out three times thus far, most recently by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, it has already cost me thousands of dollars and countless hours of my own and my staff’s time.
Recently, I was subpoenaed as a witness in a lawsuit against several mental health professionals in which the plaintiff alleges the iatrogenic creation of multiple personalities and therapist implantation of false memories. The substance of my role in this case was that I provided 5 minutes of consultation to the primary clinician, nearly 8 years ago, on a clinical issue wholly unrelated to diagnosis, memory, or the client’s revelations about her past. Despite this circumscribed and peripheral role in the case, I was subjected to a grueling 6-hr deposition by R. Christopher Barden, the attorney for the plaintiff. Barden is also a psychologist and the founder and President of the National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practices, a political lobbying organization with close ties to the FMSF. (5) Barden is a well known litigator in the FMS movement who regularly presents at FMSF conferences and meetings whose work is often touted by FMSF Advisory Board Members, supporters, and members. I was told in advance that the deposition would pertain only to my recollections of my consultation, yet not one question in the 6-hr deposition concerned my brief role in this case. In fact, virtually none of the often leading and argumentative questions were designed to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence in the case in question. Instead, the questions went to my personal business (e.g., copyright ownership information for a book I published) and to my views, which bear absolutely no relation to the facts in the case or the consultation I provided (e.g., whether I think that certain leading experts in the field of trauma and abuse suffer from paranoid personality disorder, whether I thought the FMSF movement was conspiratorial, whether I thought childhood abuse could be ascertained through astrology, what book I had recommended to my clients, what journals I read, or how many of my clients did I think I had injured). I was also asked to detail my contact with several figures in the trauma recovery community. Barden also read into the record long segments taken out of context from some of my lectures. These were taken in the main from pirated transcriptions made by the harassers. Furthermore, I noticed that Barden often referred to materials on the table in front of him that I recognized to be handouts from the harassers.
(5. The organization shares several board members in common with the FMSF, and Barden regularly employs members of the FMSF Advisory Board as FMS expert witnesses. Most of those for whom Barden legally advocates are members or supporters of the FMSF.)
At the conclusion of the ordeal, one of the plaintiff attorneys said the deposition was “a fishing expedition, clear and simple”; another opined that “it was not an interview, but an interrogation.” I later learned that Noah, Casebeer, and probably other of my harassers had been aware for months that this deposition was to transpire.
Open Contempt For The Court
Several times during an antiharassment hearing Noah lost control, went completely out of order, and would not be silenced. At one point, he angrily shouted at the judge: “I don’t respect you!” (Calof v. Noah, 1995). Last summer, he served 14 days in jail for contempt of court for bursting into the courtroom of another judge who had ruled against him, disrupting the proceedings, taking the judge’s photograph with a flash camera, and ignoring her order to remain in the courtroom. He was arrested as he tried to exit the courthouse. Earlier this year, shortly after his criminal conviction for assaulting one of my staff members, Noah came to the courthouse in an agitated state and threatened the prosecutor who had convicted him. Noah told him he had “ruined him” and threatened to “get even.” He created such a scene that the judge called in two bailiffs. Subsequently, fearing for his personal safety, the prosecutor felt forced to petition for an antiharassment order keeping Noah away from him and his pregnant wife (Williams v. Noah, 1996).
Physical Assault And Criminal Convictions
Noah and at least one other member of his group have entered my therapy offices, created disturbances, or accosted staff members and clients. They have followed and menaced me, staff members, and visitors to my office. Then on March 13, 1996, following a period of escalating harassment, Noah finally forcefully pushed one of my staff members against the side of a building. Noah was charged with assault, tried, and found guilty by a Seattle jury (City of Seattle v. Charles Edward Noah, 1996). The judge issued a no-contact order against Mr. Noah, naming myself and my staff member as the protected parties. The judge also sentenced Mr. Noah to 365 days in jail, suspended, to go into effect should he violate the no-contact order; and fined him $5,000, $4,950 of which was suspended also contingent on his future behavior.
As a result of other actions such as this against me by Noah and his colleagues, Noah has been found in contempt of court several times and has multiple criminal convictions for violating court orders. The court found that Noah by himself and through proxies had engaged in “a knowing and willful course of conduct” that “constitutes a pattern of harassment designed to coerce, intimidate, humiliate and offend….designed to seriously alarm, annoy, and harass” and that it “constitutes an intentional, repeated and unreasonable invasion of [my] privacy” that “would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress” (Calof v. Noah, 1995, pp. 12-13). On January 16, 1997, a jury found Noah guilty of two criminal offenses: violating the distance provisions of an antiharassment order as well as the requirements of a no-contact order by coming to my office with his regalia on August 29, 1996. On February 24, 1998, a jury found Noah guilty of violating a no-contact order for coming to my home and photographing me leaving for work on February 12, 1997. On February 25, 1998, a jury found Noah guilty of violating a no-contact order by coming to within 10 feet of my office on July 1, 1997. As of this writing, I am awaiting the results of sentencing on these convictions as well as the results of another hearing on the City Prosecutor’s charge that Noah’s previous suspended sentences should be revoked because of his pattern of subsequent unlawful behaviors.
It is worth noting that Noah’s aggressive pattern of behavior is not without precedent. After he was privately accused of child abuse by his daughter, he used similar aggressive and very public tactics. In 1993, he was finally forced to stop picketing his daughter’s former therapist when that therapist obtained a second antiharassment order against him (MacDonald v. Noah, 1993).
Following Noah’s conviction for assault, the judge ordered Noah to obtain a mental health evaluation to assess his potential for violence. Rather than seek a competent and authentic psychological evaluation, however, Noah turned to his long-time colleague and collaborator, Francine Casebeer, Noah’s self-described “picketing buddy” (Calof v. Noah, 1995) for an evaluation to get him out of his predicament. Casebeer wrote a supposed mental health evaluation of Noah which was given to the Court’s probation service (Casebeer, 1997).
Not only does Casebeer lack the requisite training or experience to conduct a competent forensic evaluation of anyone, she has no legitimate right or standing to evaluate Noah. Casebeer and Noah have a complex, multiple-roled personal relationship going back several years. During that time Casebeer has been one of Noah’s primary supporters, as well as one of his chief lieutenants in their campaign of harassment and defamation. Furthermore, in various letters, statements, and testimony, Casebeer has revealed a deeply enmeshed personal involvement with Noah. Consider the depth: Casebeer has been Noah’s personal and family friend, counselor-advocate in various court actions, and defense witness on Noah’s behalf at various court hearings and at a criminal trial. She is also a fellow member of a long-standing FMS “support group,” and a fellow defendant in a defamation and libel lawsuit I filed against them and other members of their group. As a measure of her enmeshment with Noah, Casebeer even drove his sign-covered truck to my office for days on end last summer (1997) when the court forbade Noah from doing so himself. (6)
(6. Despite such obvious tactical coordination, the harassers swear steadfastly that they are targeting me only coincidentally as single individuals; not as part of a larger coordinated, conspiratorial campaign. Notwithstanding such prevarication, however, the harassers have coordinated their efforts in numerous meetings and have supported each other’s efforts in countless ways including, for example, sharing resources and information, supporting each other’s testimony in court proceedings, coming to my office under false pretenses to reconnoiter it and to gather information about my professional activities, publishing revisionist accounts of fellow harassers’ misdeeds, referring passersby to each other, and acting as conduits for each other to the Internet. On August 18, 1995, one of my professional colleagues, on her way to my office, stopped to talk with the picketers. She asked Robert Farkus, one of the picketers, if he was with any organization. He responded, “No.” My colleague asked, “Aren’t you working with some organization?” Adams replied, “Yes, but we’re not supposed to say so.” On several occasions, Casebeer and Noah wore matching farcical Uncle Sam hats during their joint demonstrations in front of my office and elsewhere-hardly a coincidence!)
In her report to the court as Noah’s supposed “forensic evaluator,” Casebeer failed to mention her personal relationship with her supposed forensic subject, let alone her strident advocacy, joint cause, and passionate solidarity with him. Instead, she reconstructed her relationship with Noah for the Court’s consumption, and creates the impression that she is Noah’s long term mental health counselor! She begins her report, “I have been seeing Noah on a regular weekly basis since 1993…” She fails to clarify, however, that these are the dates of her self-avowed history of protesting and picketing therapists with Noah (Calof v. Noah et al., 1996). Her claim to be Noah’s counselor also contradicts an earlier statement Casebeer made under oath in a deposition taken on March 4, 1996 (Calof v. Noah et al., 1996). Responding to a subpoena duces tecum, Casebeer testified that she had “never” treated a client and therefore had no client case notes or materials. This sworn statement was made well within the supposed time period Casebeer subsequently claimed she treated Noah.
Whether or not Noah is in fact Casebeer’s professional counseling client, as she alleges, Casebeer is not objective or independent, as a proper forensic evaluation demands. At times Casebeer (1997) abandons even the pretense of professional distance, as when she lauds Noah’s (and by implication her own) efforts against me and my “dangerous therapy cult”–“a mental health splinter group that destroys families to forward a political agenda, or uses experimental methods of social control” and practices “dangerous pop-culture or cottage industry ‘therapies.'” This cult, Casebeer explains, is persecuting Noah with a “campaign of defamation” and “false accusations.” Casebeer prescribes that Mr. Noah continue his picketing activities, because, in Ms. Casebeer’s opinion, they are “necessary to his family’s survival.” In the last sentence of her evaluation, rather than summarize her findings regarding Noah’s potential dangerousness, Casebeer instead urges Noah on: “I recommend that Noah continues to tell his truth.”
This fraud perpetrated on the court escaped official scrutiny until I discovered it and reported it. Presently, there is a judicial review under way as well as an investigation by the Washington State Department of Health, which oversees the professional conduct of counselors in the State.
The ACLU has persistently resisted strongly all efforts to restrain the activities of this group on the grounds it opposes the use of antiharassment statutes to restrain free speech. The ACLU represents Noah and vows to press the harassers’ claims to the highest courts. In the process of putting their considerable weight behind the efforts of those sworn to destroy my practice, the organization itself has done such things as post messages about me to newsgroups on the Internet. These mischaracterized my work and distorted my clinical orientation, referring to me, for example, as “a therapist specializing in repressed memory syndrome”(7) (ACLU of Washington, 1995). Before publishing these posts, the ACLU made no attempt whatsoever to check their accuracy with me. Moreover, the ACLU published these regrettable posts just days after a hearing on contempt of court over Noah’s on going violations of the antiharassment order. During this hearing the ACLU attorney assigned to Noah aggressively cross-examined me regarding my clinical beliefs, and I was able to plainly put on the record my actual clinical orientation, which is at complete variance with the ACLU’s public characterizations of my work and views. In a recent legal brief on behalf of Noah, the ACLU was even more reckless with the truth when it claimed that I practice “what critics call FMS.” This is without foundation and recklessly disregards the truth. Each time critics have questioned the ACLU for its support for such an obviously malicious effort against me, the ACLU has responded that I have the right to sue the picketers if I believe the content of their signs and statements libelous. They have stressed that the question of libel and defamation is separate from the question of whether the picketers should be kept at a court-imposed distance away from me and whether they can contact or photograph me, my staff, clients, or family.
(7. It is clear in this instance that the ACLU mindlessly, if not maliciously, parroted the gross distortions of my work promulgated by the harassers. Not only is this not my specialty (as my extensive record amply demonstrates), it is wholly preposterous that any clinician could specialize in “repressed memory syndrome” (whatever that is). How would one market and represent one’s services? Would one tell potential clients and referral sources that potential clients who did not think they were abused in childhood could come for treatment in order to generate memories of abuse? Hardly. These claims about my clinical orientation are purely propagandistic. Perhaps understandably, however, since the ACLU does seem to be politically allied with the FMS movement. The February, 1997 FMSF Newsletter, announced that “the national office of the ACLU is filing an amicus brief that supports the position that there is no scientific evidence for the theory of ‘repression’ (for the New Hampshire v Hungerford appeal)” (Freyd, 1997))
I have filed a civil suit for libel and defamation, which is dragging its way through the court system. Recently, however, the ACLU signaled a major shift in their position toward the question of libel that lessens my chances for meaningful redress. The ACLU attorney presently representing Noah told my attorney in September 1997 that he does not regard any of the FMS picket signs about me as libelous. This extraordinary pronouncement came only weeks after the ACLU tried unsuccessfully in court to collect from me over $40,000 in attorney’s fees for their representation of Noah. (8) They have vowed to press this claim to higher and higher courts until they win.
(8. With the assistance of the ACLU of Washington, Noah appealed a permanent antiharassment order the Court had granted protecting me, my family, and staff from Noah’s harassing antics. The Superior Court ruled that the order had run its course and terminated it. Despite this, however, the Court upheld almost the entire order, including the Findings of Fact that found that Noah, by himself and through his proxies, had engaged in “a knowing and willful course of conduct” that “constitutes a pattern of harassment designed to coerce, intimidate, humiliate and offend….designed to seriously alarm, annoy, and harass” and that it “constitutes an intentional, repeated and unreasonable invasion of [my] privacy” that “would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress” (Calof v. Noah, 1995). As a result of this action, however, the ACLU is pressing to recover many tens of thousands of dollars of attorney fees from me for their representation of Noah. This effort is without legal precedent and would have a chilling effect on anyone seeking protection under the Washington State antiharassment statute, as one would face the specter of paying one’s harasser’s attorneys fees. The process is daunting for petitioners as it is. In my own case, I had to spend nearly $20,000 to obtain and seek enforcement of the order. If this dangerous precedent is established through the ACLU’s efforts, it would likely keep many citizens from seeking antiharassment orders. Harassers would only have to cry “Free Speech!” to undermine the effectiveness of this law.)
The ACLU has provided Noah and his proxies’ efforts against me not only with considerable pro bono legal support, but also extensive political support. For example, both the Washington State ACLU and the National ACLU office have continued doggedly to insist in public statements supporting Noah that he has only engaged in legal, peaceful protest, even after Noah had been found by the Court to have harassed me and found guilty of several criminal charges in connection with his activities, including assault against a staff member.
When it comes to my legal representation, several attorneys have expressed outrage at my situation but declined joining my case–not based on the merits, but because they feared becoming targets themselves. In contrast, Noah enjoys extensive free legal representation. The ACLU attorneys defend him under the antiharassment statute, and the large law firm assigned by Noah’s homeowner insurance company defends him in the defamation action. More than once, he has enjoyed pro bono representation by public defenders for some of the criminal charges he has faced in this matter.
What is most disturbing about the support of the ACLU is that its unquestioning response to a perceived injustice demonstrates how even those trained to analyze issues carefully can sometimes be swept up in an emotional cause without rigorous investigation or detailed examination of dramatically stated “facts.”
DIRECT AND INDIRECT SUPPORT BY THE FMS MOVEMENT
It might be inviting to assume that Noah and his self-proclaimed “gang” have operated strictly as individuals or a renegade group separate from the central figures of the FMS movement, but this is not the case. Although the FMSF takes a public position that it “doesn’t support” picketing or harassment of therapists, its conduct belies its official position.
A Grassroots Hero
Noah and his group are objects of great reverence at FMS meetings across the country. Only months before I became a visible target of the Seattle-area FMS group, Pamela Freyd, FMSF co-founder and Executive Director, came to Seattle to address this group on Sunday, June 26, 1994. As Freyd spoke, Noah’s picket signs clearly were visible leaning against the wall behind her. On the refreshment table in the back of the room were photographs and color photocopies of Noah’s recent picketing against professionals in Washington and Oregon. After her talk, Freyd introduced Noah to the group as one of the “important people” in the FMS movement. Noah told the audience he had been in a slump and lost his inspiration for living but recently, in his resumption of picketing therapists, he had found reason to live again (Doehr, 1994, p. 10).
Noah was also a rallying point at another major FMS meeting featuring Pamela Freyd, FMSF staff, and various FMS speakers (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware Families and Friends, October 21, 1995, Valley Forge Convention Center, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania). Louis G. Daily, professor of psychology at Camden County College, told the audience in his invited address that Chuck Noah was the FMSF’s “most famous member.” Urging them to keep up their spirits, “like Chuck,” Daily brought the audience to a cheering ovation when he closed his talk with: ”Way to fight, Chuck!!”
Pamela Freyd continues to publicly lionize Noah’s efforts. In a recent interview, she opined: “To some of the [FMSF] families who have been afraid to act, Noah seems like a very noble character. I’d be lying if I said otherwise” (Robinson, 1997, p. 14). Noah and his fellow harassers to this day enjoy considerable and highly visible support from some of the top leaders in the FMS movement.
Celebrated FMSF advisory board member Elizabeth Loftus, one of Noah’s earliest supporters and colleagues, remains his most prominent public apologist. In 1992, Loftus met with Noah and then commented favorably on his family troubles in a newspaper article. Loftus said she found Noah ” ‘extremely sincere’ about his denial of abuse of his daughter” (Penhale, 1992, B4). Without having met or examined Noah’s daughter, Loftus commented in absentia on her memories of alleged abuse: “There is absolutely no scientific evidence that these flashbacks correspond to some specific event” (B4). This interview boosted Noah’s FMS organizing efforts. Since then, Noah and Loftus have continued their collaboration in building the FMS movement in the Pacific Northwest. Noah and others in his group have met as a “support group” with Loftus’s research assistant and sometimes with Loftus. Loftus has sent Noah and his colleagues many personal referrals, and, in turn, Noah has lent Loftus considerable support. Several times Noah has accompanied Loftus to local talks and media appearances where he has demonstrated for her from the audience. Loftus has reciprocated in kind even to the point of persuading an attorney who was a personal friend to take on Noah’s initial appeal of the permanent antiharassment order. Loftus’s students have come to Noah’s aid. Loftus helped bring Noah’s case to the ACLU’s attention and has advised the ACLU behind the scenes on the case. She continues to speak out publicly in support of Noah’s efforts. Recently, for example, she defended Noah’s campaign against therapists as a kind of last-resort coping mechanism to which Noah is entitled by virtue of his personal unhappiness (Robinson, 1997, p. 14), a conclusion similar to Casebeer’s that Noah’s family’s survival depends on it.
Denigration, Defamation, and Dehumanization.
In letters and postings to WITCHHNT (WITCHHNT@MITVMA.MIT.EDU, Is there a child sex abuse witchhunt?), a gathering place on the Internet for FMS sympathizers, and on other mailing lists, newsgroups, file servers, and elsewhere, FMSF supporters lionize Noah as “a hero and a symbol to many families,… a man of strong principles” (Souza & Souza, 1995, p. 15), with “the courage of his convictions to demonstrate the justice of his cause by breaking the law” (Mak, 1997b), a man with “courage, conviction and nobility of spirit” (Mak, 1997a), and someone who “should be given a humanitarian award” (White, 1997). These same FMS activists denigrate me and attack my character as diabolical (“a snake”; Clarke, 1997), liken me to “Rasputin” (P. Smith, 1997), and write me off as a “quack” (Harris, 1995). Noah (1997) posted that “there is nothing too vile or cruel” for me, “from terrorizing old ladies to intimidating whole families.” Howard Fishman, a social worker who is listed as an editorial assistant on the FMSF Newsletter masthead (9), posted that I failed to report income on my tax return and circulated a bogus notice seemingly from my legal fund raising committee inviting contributors to seek refunds on this basis. (Fishman, 1998a).
(9. On February 20-21, 1993, I gave an invited professional workshop to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. Howard Fishman, who was then Continuing Education Director for the institution, midway through my lecture called me aside and angrily demanded that I surrender the podium to him. When I refused, he told me that if I ever wanted to be invited back I would give him the microphone. When I finally did surrender the podium, Fishman launched an angry tirade against me, the trauma community and the critics of the FMS movement. He went on for several minutes before finally surrendering the podium. The audience sat silently stunned and outraged. Many subsequently filed protests with the Menninger administration over the incident. Fishman left this position within weeks of the incident.)
Members of this list publicly speculate about my mental status, labeling me, for example, as “crazy as a loon” (Giglio, 1997) and “delusional and paranoid” (F. R. Smith, 1998). Fishman (1996) wrote that there is “constant conflict” among my “3500+ [personality] alters.” They also obtained a deposition in which I delineate a variety of stress-related symptoms I derived from this unrelenting campaign of harassment. He posted this symptom list for public consumption and then opined that it “Sounds like a bad case of SIS (Satanic Infestation Syndrome).” He suggests that my best choice for treatment would be “enema-exorcism” and perhaps simultaneous treatment for “CIA conditioning, inner child dysfunction, alien abduction, MPD/DID, body memories, Type II trauma, SRA, and all their associated symptoms.” He concludes with, “That would fix him right up. Yup!” (Fishman, 1998b)
One of Noah’s colleagues and a fellow contributor to Witchhnt characterized Noah’s efforts against me as “striking a blow…against voodoo therapy” (Prather, 1996a). She also posted messages at the behest of Casebeer that, among other things, declared that I am “destroying families”; that I am one of the “evil-doers who place the profit motive above every spiritual and Christian value” (Prather, 1996b); that I lied under oath; that I am an “unscrupulous therapist, editor, and publisher of garbage therapy”; that I am “disturbed” and “dangerous”; that I “practice, defend, elaborate and spread” “bogus therapy”; that I have a “paranoid delusion”; and that I believe the FMSF comprises “a conspiracy of Satanic Cultists, a ring of pedophiles, a covert deep pockets paramilitary organization, and a hidden ring of bloody child abusers” (Prather, 1996c)– all false and defamatory accusations.
This dehumanizing ad hominem attack directed against me regrettably is not the sole province of the FMS movement’s fringe element or a small number of its leaders. Pendergrast (1995) authored one of the FMS movement’s most vaunted books, Victims of Memory; a well known leader in the FMS movement, he makes frequent media appearances on the topic of therapist-implanted false memories of sexual abuse. Personally, he has been accused–falsely, he claims–by his two daughters of sexually abusing them in childhood (10). He claims they have false memory syndrome and are victims of Recovered Memory Therapy (11).
(10. Pendergrast disclosed these facts in the first edition of his book, though he removed them from the second edition.)
(11. According to the FMS movement (see, for example, Clancy, 1997; Goldstein & Farmer, 1992; Loftus & Ketcham, 1994), “recovered memory therapists” believe that long-forgotten memories of child abuse underlie all present-day adult psychopathology and problems. They are substantially oriented to unearthing and then unconditionally validating alleged memories of childhood abuse, in virtually every client, for virtually every problem, regardless of the protests of the clients and regardless of how improbable or bizarre their memories and assertions.)
The first I time heard directly from Pendergrast, was within a couple of days of my appearance on the National Public Radio program, Fresh Air (Gross, 1997). The interview was not about the memory debate per se, but about a book I wrote on hypnotherapy in marriage and family therapy (Calof & Simons, 1996). Shortly after the interview aired, Pendergrast sent an outraged letter to the show’s producer (which he also posted on the Internet; Pendergrast, 1997). He complained: “I was enormously disturbed by your interview with David Calof. The fact that Fresh Air would have such a man on the show in the first place was amazing. He has personally been involved in destroying minds and families….” Pendergrast completes his dehumanizing portrait of me as a sadistic sociopath adding with apparent authority: “He does not hide this fact, but rather appears to be proud of it.” Note that I have never met or spoken with Pendergrast; I have neither any relation to the disclosures of sexual abuse allegations in his family nor an opinion about their veracity. Several weeks later, a copy of Pendergrast’s letter showed up in the collection of literature that Casebeer displays and handouts to passersby during her demonstrations in front of my office (see Footnote 5).
Other FMS movement leaders also seem to feel entitled to the most egregious defamation of their ideological opponents. Richard Ofshe, a member of the FMSF Scientific Advisory Board, openly denigrates his ideological opponents:
Therapists who are doing this are a new kind of sexual predator. Without ever touching their victim, they move them as close as you can possibly get to experiencing rape and brutalization…And, they get paid by the hour for doing it. (Ofshe, 1994, p. 4))(12)
(12. At least one harasser has quoted this statement in her court pleadings and various harassers have echoed the sexual predator theme in their picket signs, for example, “David Calof Sexploits Women,” “David Calof Prowls for Women Victims,” “(Pious) Calof Preys on Women victims,” and “Recovered Memory Therapists Our Newest Sexual Predators.”)
Recently I was invited by the Seattle Rotary Club to debate Loftus on the question of delayed memory. According to the program chairperson, Loftus declined, stating she would not debate “an uncredentialed charlatan.” (13) (Robert Rosner, personal communication, 1997) John Cannel is a Montana psychiatrist and FMSF member. I do not know Dr. Cannel, have never spoken with him, and am unrelated in any way to the legal matters in which he testified. Yet, in two or more trials that do not involve me or my work in any way, while testifying as a FMS expert, Cannel portrayed me as a kind of paranoid personality, “someone who believes that the United States is controlled by a satanic cult and that most of the decisions made in this country are made by a satanic high priest” (see e.g., Khatain and Khatain v. Jones, 1994, pp. 436-437). When pressed on the stand to substantiate these incredible claims, let alone his virtual diagnosis in absentia (paranoid delusional), Cannel admitted that he had never met me or spoken with me, and that he was unfamiliar with my work, having never heard me speak or read anything I’d written. He insisted, however, that his characterization of me was accurate since FMSF advisory board members, Richard Ofshe and Elizabeth Loftus, had “confirmed this description” of me (p. 437).
(13. This is somewhat ironic in light of the fact that Loftus found me suitable to debate in 1994 (“Response to the False Memory Controversy”: Debate with Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D.; 7th Annual Northwest Dual Disorders Conference, Bellevue, WA, June 1, 1994), as did two other members of the FMSF Advisory Board on two other occasions (“Repressed Memories or False Memories?”: Debate with Richard Ofshe, Ph.D.; 1994 Western Regional Symposium on Child Abuse and Sexual Assault, Eugene, OR, November 4, 1994; and “A Response to the False Memory Controversy”: Debate with Ralph Slovenko, LL.B., Ph.D.; Repressed and False Memories: Dilemmas of Science and the Law’s Response, 11th Annual Higher Education Conference: Law, Science and Society, American Bar Association Commission on College and University Legal Studies, Detroit, MI, April 25, 1995).)
Cannel is a prominent leader in the FMS movement, having sponsored several pro-FMS conferences featuring almost exclusively members of the FMSF Scientific Advisory Board. Cannel is an active member of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and he has served on the later organization’s subcommittees on recovered memory. Since joining the FMS movement in the early 1990s, Cannel has been in demand increasingly as a self-styled FMS expert witness. Cannel has refused steadfastly to take my telephone calls seeking a reasoned dialogue with him, claiming through his secretary that he has no reason to speak with me.
Favorable Coverage in the FMSF Newsletter
As early as 1992, the year the FMSF incorporated, the FMSF Newsletter discussed the tactic of picketing therapists and praised the success of this and other grass roots strategies. The following passage appeared in an early editor’s column (“What can families do?,” 1992a):
You have written letters to papers; you have knocked on politicians [sic] doors; you have filed complaints; you have appeared in public; you have written journal articles; you have even picketed; you have kept us informed. You are changing the climate. Keep it up. We will do our part from the office, but the ending depends on you. (p. 4)
Since then, paeans and expressions of support for Noah and his colleagues have appeared regularly the FMSF Newsletter:
We say thank you to Chuck… . Chuck is a precious commodity, a truly dedicated man, a man with a mission…. Chuck found his way to deal with the pain and his way was to take to the street with a public showing of the craziness of recovered memory therapy. Chuck didn’t sit and brood. He didn’t hide and try to work behind the scenes. Chuck was up front and “in your face” with picket signs….Chuck should know that he has become a hero and a symbol to many families. To a man of strong principles we say ”Thank You” most sincerely, Ray and Shirley Souza. (“Thank you all,” 1996, p. 15).
Each month we will report on activities of members…. In Washington, families go about the state picketing in a mobile home and utility trailer….In Seattle, families have continued their picketing efforts. You can make a difference. [italics added]. Please send me any ideas you have had that were or might be successful so that we can tell others. (“Make a difference,” 1994a, p. 15).
“I know that the Foundation does not endorse picketing. But if the professional organizations and the monitoring boards will not publish standards for memory cases and will not handle our complaints, we’ll take care of it ourselves,” said a telephone caller. “We picketed in a shopping center…the therapist was very upset.” (“Seattle families picket therapist’s office,” 1994, p. 11)
Chuck Noah must be having a profound effect if he is being equated with Operation Rescue. (“Our critics: Name calling,” 1995, p. 8).
In an article purporting to be about my work in the FMSF Newsletter (“Professional training in alienation,” 1995), Pamela Freyd claims she has found candid evidence providing “insight” into my “belief system” that is “disturbing”. She then claims to quote (“verbatim”) about eight paragraphs apparently transcribed from an audiotape of an invited lecture on the clinical management of chronic self-injury I gave at the Menninger Clinic. The passages supposedly quoted are from a segment in which I describe how survivors of sadistic abuse internalize self-destructive injunctions that, when triggered, can potentiate self-injury and acute suicidality. I gave a brief clinical vignette of a young woman who fled her small home town and moved across the country trying to break free of her severely abusive family’s character and initiative assassination and her traumatic bonding, only to find, even at a great distance away from them, that she reverted to severe self-injury and acute suicidal ideation when she received a guilt-inducing greeting card from home. The FMSF apparently saw an opportunity in this brief vignette, lifted from a six-hr lecture, and presented it out of context as if it were a smoking gun that proves I promote training in family alienation, family distrust, and create FMS in my professional work.
Tactics Preferred Over Discourse
Pamela Freyd’s assertion that I promote alienation in families is especially ironic in light of the following facts. Shortly before Freyd’s article alleging I promote family alienation came out, Freyd declined on behalf of the FMSF to accept my invitation to cosponsor a professional training conference (with TAT) on dispute resolution techniques for families torn over allegations of child-abuse seeking alternatives to law suits, emotional cut-off, and alienation (14). In conjunction with this conference, I also published an article (Calof, 1995) in which I endorse alternative dispute resolution approaches for some “FMS families” and gave detailed answers to many concerns commonly expressed by abuse and trauma recovery therapists wary of family therapy and mediation approaches for families in conflict over allegations of child abuse. I also sent a letter to over 12,000 Northwest clinicians and treatment centers urging them to become part of a Northwest registry of clinicians offering mediation and alternative dispute services to such families. Despite my corpus of work to the contrary, however, the FMS movement steadfastly clings to its defamatory characterization of me as an enemy of families.
(14. Beyond Confrontation & Mistrust: The First Northwest Conference on Family Mediation for Families Torn by Allegations of Abuse (May 12-13, 1995, Bellevue, WA), the first conference of its kind in the nation, was accredited by the Washington State Psychological Association and drew professional mediators, therapists, and attorneys from four Western states seeking to learn alternatives to prevent acrimonious and polarizing board complaints and legal suits in families torn over allegations of abuse.)
No one in the FMS advocacy group attacking me has ever tried to engage with me in a normal dialogue and, in fact, actively resists my efforts to do so. Their stated intention is to injure and degrade me professionally and drive me out of business. Chuck Noah, the Washington group’s titular head, declared recently in an interview: “David Calof is a dangerous, dangerous man. I’m locked in mortal combat here…I’d like to put him out of business. I’m committed to him for the rest of my life” (Robinson, 1997, p. 18). Noah described his obsession with me as “the wrath of God” and says he regards me as “dangerous” and targets me because I am “evil” (Anderson and family v. Noah, 1997). In fact, Noah has stated that I am “the most dangerous man in the state of Washington, maybe the nation” (Calof v. Noah, 1995, p.13)
Since 1995 I have written several times to Pamela Freyd asking her to appeal to Noah, an officially designated contact person for the FMSF (see footnote 12) to seek a more reasoned level of discourse with me. After several letters over several months, Freyd finally responded that “the FMSF doesn’t support picketing,” but that Noah and his group would surely continue their efforts against me “until the mental health profession starts behaving like a profession and takes responsibility for the consequences of its actions” (Pamela Freyd, personal communication, 1995).
Telephone Threats and Fraudulent Tactics
Beginning in fall 1994, my wife and I began to receive a series of anonymous and threatening telephone calls we believe originated within the Seattle FMS group. One especially frightened us because it implied that the caller had been following my wife. This so vexed us that we reported it to the phone company and the police. In the hopes of discouraging the callers, I publicized these facts on the Internet and in a professional speech in Seattle, which was attended by at least one member of the harassing group, Michele Gregg. When Pamela Freyd heard of my announcement, she wrote me as FMSF Executive Director and claimed that “the FMSF” had been concerned to hear that FMSF members might have been harassing me, so to “help” me, she had contacted my phone company about me. Freyd claimed they were surprised to discover that, according to a Mrs. Moore at my phone company, my report of threatening calls was a fiction, as I had never reported any such calls. Copies of Freyd’s letter with this assertion about me were widely distributed on the Internet and elsewhere. Noah introduced a copy of this letter in evidence at the antiharassment hearing (Calof v. Noah, 1995) claiming it proved I am “paranoid,” “falsely believing” I am being “persecuted.”
I was understandably alarmed to learn that my phone company might have spoken about me on a confidential matter with some third party, so I sent them a copy of Freyd’s letter and requested an explanation. Concerned over the distressing implications of Freyd’s letter themselves, the phone company’s internal security department launched a three-week investigation. When the manager of the caller identification center called me to report the results, she quipped, “Well, we here have all come to the conclusion that Pamela Freyd has false memory syndrome!” The investigators concluded that Freyd’s purported phone call to Mrs. Moore had never taken place. Although they did discover that a Mrs. Moore worked in the phone company’s community relations department and had appeared on a Seattle television program about a totally unrelated matter about a week before Freyd sent her letter, they reassured me that that Mrs. Moore did not have access to security investigation records and that she had denied ever speaking with Freyd. The investigators theorized that someone in the local FMS group must have seen the show and passed along the name to Freyd, who then used it to lend credibility to a total fabrication of events.
Several times the FMSF has resorted to historical revisionism on behalf of Noah and his group’s efforts. In an early FMSF Newsletter article titled “What Can Families Do?” (1992a), Freyd wrote:
Some families have become so desperate for action that they have picketed a therapist’s office (we must report that we did receive a phone call from a client of that particular therapist asking us to thank the picketing families for helping her to confirm her suspicions about the treatment she was receiving). (p. 4).
However, in their Internet archive of the newsletter, the content of this article had been revised, without notice, so that the second line read: While the Foundation does not support this action which may result in arrest, we must report that we did receive a phone call …[italics added] (“What can families do?,” 1992b).
At the time the original article was published, no one had been arrested for picketing and no one had thought that arrest was even a remote possibility. The revised version is a direct reflection of Noah’s several subsequent arrests. As such, it also seems to be an easy way for the FMSF to claim after the fact that the organization has always disapproved of these activities.
In addition, another FMSF Newsletter article titled, “American Civil Liberties Union to Support Right to Picket,” changed history in the service of painting Noah as my victim. It claimed that the ACLU “plans to seek full redress for the rights Noah has lost” and “will request…punitive damages” [from Calof] (“American Civil Liberties Union to support,” 1995, p. 18). Although the ACLU is aggressively trying to collect tens of thousands of dollars of attorney fees from me, according to Doug Honig, ACLU education director in Washington State, the ACLU neither seeks nor has ever claimed to be seeking punitive or any other form of damages from me (Doug Honig, personal communication, 1995).
In a separate incident, Noah angrily accosted my attorney at the courthouse, put a camera up to his face, and took his photograph repeatedly, while taunting him with loud calls of “Maggot! Maggot!” Then, immediately following the incident, Noah swore out a criminal complaint against my attorney alleging that he was the one who had assaulted Noah. Herman Ohme, a well-known lobbyist and political organizer in the FMS movement, posted a completely revisionist account on behalf of Noah to an Internet mailing list (Ohme, 1997a). In a stunning reversal, Ohme characterized my attorney’s alleged attack on Noah as “a shocking display of pit-bull behavior from an officer of the court” (Ohme, 1997c). According to Ohme: “Charges were filed today against Steven Anderson, attorney for Seattle purveyor of SRA-MPD psycho-crap, David Calof, [who] viciously attacked Chuck Noah today outside the judges chamber at the Seattle courthouse” (Ohme, 1997b). Of course, no charges were ever filed as a result of this bogus complaint. Not even when the facts were made clear to Ohme and the other members of the list did anyone in the FMS issue a retraction or lodge a protest over this bold and defamatory libel. Based on this fictional assault, however, Ms. Casebeer filed a bar complaint against my attorney. Although she has no chance of prevailing, a fact she must certainly know, she is nonetheless successfully following the group’s avowed strategy to encumber their enemies’ resources in various ways, including filing bogus complaints wherever they can.
On January 21, 1997, following Noah’s conviction (on January 16th) for two criminal offenses (violating an antiharassment order entered to protect me and my family and violating a no-contact order issued for the same purpose; City of Seattle v. Charles Edward Noah, 1997), one of Noah’s colleagues posted this revisionist account of Noah’s sentence to the Internet: “Chuck Noah had a good day in court today!! Suspended was $1,000 fine. Suspended was 30 days in jail. He must do 200 hours of community service” (Prather, 1997). This is complete fiction. The author of this post was in court when the sentence was passed. In fact, for each of these two counts, the judge in the matter gave Noah the maximum sentence of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine, sentences to run concurrently. Fortunately for Mr. Noah, the judge suspended all of the jail time and all but $50 of the fine, with the provision that Mr. Noah not violate the order during his probation (ending in 1999).
Some FMS activists have spent time combing transcriptions of my audiotaped talks and lectures looking for selective, out-of-context segments which they then publish with editorial comments in the FMSF Newsletter, on the Internet, and elsewhere. Michele Gregg, a social worker who lives and works near Seattle and is a researcher for the FMSF Newsletter, has transcribed, edited, and illegally distributed transcriptions of my copyrighted professional talks to the picketers and the FMSF. Neither she nor anyone else who has come into contact with these pirated works has ever made an attempt to contact me prior to publishing these distortions of my clinical beliefs and practices.
EFFECTS OF THE HARASSMENT CAMPAIGN
These years of siege have taken a great toll on me, my staff, clients, and family. The harassers have followed me to a new office, conferences and professional meetings, book signings, and even my home. I have experienced psychological and physiological symptoms of traumatic stress in myself, and have noticed them as well in my staff, certain clients, and family members. One staff member, a recent trauma survivor, had acute anxiety attacks each time the harassers escalated their tactics outside the building. She expressed considerable fear that the harassers would escalate to the point of physically harming one of us. Having to deal with this unremitting harassment has caused me worry, anxiety, and fear over many things, including the welfare of my family and employees, the welfare of my clients, business disruption, loss of income, damage to my professional reputation, loss of community with my business neighbors, and an increasing sense of estrangement and isolation in my business and professional communities.
In the process of refusing to yield to intimidation, I have spent well over $100,000 trying to keep the harassers away from my family, staff, and clients and trying to keep my practice open, depleting my personal resources in the process. The situation has also robbed me of valuable time. For three years, until recently, I spent on average over 30% of my time and 70% of my staff members’ time documenting and reporting the harassment; preparing for hearings and trials; and working with police, attorneys, prosecutors, and ruffled business relationships and neighbors. As a result, I lost business opportunities and had to refuse paid offers to lecture, consult, and write and promote my books. I also have had to cancel clinical hours (due to hearings, legal document deadlines, new onslaughts by the harassers, or my own battle fatigue).
One major consequence of drastically reduced time and funds is that I was forced to stop publishing TAT. I had hoped this would dampen the harassers’ fervor, but I was wrong. Even now, well over eight months later, they still display a sign proclaiming, “David Calof, Editor-Publisher, ‘Creating [sic] Abuse Today.’” Their attorneys still file legal documents claiming that I am the publisher and editor of TAT, even though they have known for months this is no longer so.
Another unfortunate result of this highly visible campaign is that many colleagues now fear that by association, they will become targets themselves. When the campaign began, I had eight professional clinical consultation groups, each with a long waiting list. Now, I have only four, none of which are full. Unfortunately, my colleagues’ fear does have a basis in reality. In April 1997, for example, a female colleague was sexually harassed by telephone, stalked, and threatened with explicit sexual violence and possibly death if she dared to give a planned professional presentation with me.
My business neighbors, understandably, are outraged. They fear and loathe the harassers’ primitive and offensive antics. They see the ongoing disruptive activity as malicious and willful. Generally the picketers are referred to by people in my office complex as “the nuts.” At my last office, people in the neighborhood mounted a failed letter writing campaign to City officials. Please bear in mind that none of the suffering caused by the harassers is related to any clinical complaint or lawsuit by a client displeased with my services.
Disastrous Effect On Clients
Clients report regularly that their symptoms are triggered and exacerbated by the antics of the harassers. Because of the obvious surveillance and photography activities, I also have had to warn certain prospective new clients (as part of the informed consent process) that a) they may be placed under surveillance, b) they may be photographed, and c) their license plate numbers and other identifying information may be recorded and perhaps an attempt made to contact them. On occasion we have had to escort certain fragile and vulnerable clients through back entrances to keep them out of range of the harassers. I have also had to stop treating some of my most at-risk clients who have been adversely affected by the presence of harassers and their intrusive tactics.
Incredibly, none of these outrageous actions by FMS movement leaders has ever brought any degree of protest or outrage from their colleagues; the FMSF; or its august board, members, supporters, or the mainstream press. Not even when Noah picketed the building in which Jennifer Freyd (15) works did FMSF co-founders Pamela or Peter Freyd or anyone else in the FMSF sphere express outrage. The FMS movement stands together in solidarity, rarely turning the critical eye on one of their own. This uncritical support has fostered an increasingly adversarial climate in which intellectual challengers of the FMSF are regarded as enemies of the community. Much of the FMS polemic takes a decidedly adversarial orientation toward therapists. I recently accompanied a colleague to the FMSF headquarters in Philadelphia (April 14, 1997). My colleague asked the female staff member who greeted her what the Foundation did and was given a lukewarm recital and a packet of information. When my colleague asked: “Do you have a legal department?,” the staff person immediately brightened and shot back: “Oh! You mean to go after therapists?!” My colleague answered: “Uh, yes” and was given instant assurances they could help her go after a therapist, without even learning the nature of the supposed complaint, and provided her with a name to contact for this purpose (Deborah Ingraham, personal communication, 1997).
(15. Jennifer Freyd is the daughter of FMSF cofounders Peter and Pamela Freyd who accused her father of sexually abusing her in childhood. Jennifer Freyd is also an award-winning research psychologist and professor with a specialization in memory.)
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
I cannot know whether members and supporters of the FMSF whom I have not examined or evaluated have abused their children. However, after three years of unrelenting siege, I can say with certainty that many of them have abused me and innocent others connected to me and that the FMS movement tolerates and supports this kind of ad hominem attack, encumbrance, and vindictiveness at the expense of reasoned dialogue.
The FMS polemic stands in front of the chaotic collision of interests in the culture, the natural reactive consequence of our awakening consciousness about sexual abuse starting a generation ago. I am being targeted not because I have any cases in which there are disputed memories of child abuse or because of any alleged ethical lapses in my professional services or because anyone has complained that I have implanted false memories in them. I am being targeted because I work in the field of abuse and trauma; have lectured, consulted, and published extensively in these areas; and question the validity of the methodology which gave rise to the FMS hypothesis. I and others have been targeted because we see inadequate research being praised as fact and transformed into a highly emotional popular movement that may have long-lasting deleterious effects on the treatment of child abuse.
Like authoritarian and controlling leaders of other intellectually repressive systems, FMS leaders hold to a theory that they have received an absolute and boundless mandate to act in the interests of the community. They posit that they know best and tout their efforts as “progressive,” so they insist there is no need for opposition as it only hampers progress. Opposition is taken as proof of the need for their existence and approaches. The essence of this in loco parentis attitude was expressed by Loftus while testifying as an FMS expert witness. When asked: “And are both sides reasonable?,” Loftus replied: “Well, it depends. When they are not doing nasty evil things trying to get even with you for speaking the truth, they sometimes have reasonable moments (Cool et al v. Legion Insurance Company et al, 1997, p. 191).
Certainly, the clinical community should regard this brouhaha at the very least as a reminder to teach and obey clinical neutrality and to mind even our most “noble” countertransference. Psychotherapy clients require privacy and confidentiality, not assault by offensive signs, threat by camera, stigma, or breech of privacy. They do not benefit from ad hominem broadsides against the clinical community. If we condone this new self-styled assault on psychotherapy in the name of scientific debate or freedom of speech while we ignore the rights of speech, privacy, and assembly for patients and clinicians, we might eventually lose the clinical container of psychotherapy itself to any aggressive third party who comes along with some ax to grind with the field of mental health. Because the issue of abuse is so delicate, personal stakes and defensive formations are fragile and staunchly protected; we must find a way to operate in a climate of mutual scientific investigation, mutual discovery, and improved clinical practice–even in the face of an FMS polemic that continues to obfuscate scientific issues; deepen and embitter professional splits; encumber the resources of ethical, effective clinicians; and inject an aggressive ad hominem tendency in the public debate.
The FMS movement has failed to offer useful refinements in the practice of psychotherapy or theories of personality, family process, traumatic memory, violence, or abuse. The confrontational tone of much of the FMS camp has moved the discourse on abuse and traumatic memory increasingly from the academic journals to the news and information media and into the legal and political arenas. In the process, it has encumbered professional resources in acrimonious conflict, given child abusers ammunition, distressed genuine abuse victims, and degraded the credibility of psychotherapy in general. It is our task as professionals to refocus this persuasive emotional tide and transform it into a rigorous examination of the facts and their earnest application to the mental health of our clients and the benefit of troubled families.
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