|Posted by cometothestable on March 29, 2009 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
Timothy M. Dolan ? the newly appointed archbishop of
New York, Cardinal-Presumptive, Prince of the Church ? represents the next generation of accomplices protecting sexual predators employed by the Roman Catholic
Church in the United States.
Last fall, Dolan travelled from Milwaukee, Wisc., where
he was the sitting archbishop, to St. Louis, Mo. He came home to visit an uncle hospitalized with a serious illness. There he saw a priest who criticized him in a face-to-face meeting about his handling of the clergy child molestation scandal in St. Louis and Milwaukee. Dolan in French cuffs.
A Priest Tells Dolan the Truth about
Clergy Sex Abuse and Is Punished
In particular, this priest was concerned about Dolan?s unwillingness to break with those who protect predator priests. Dolan responded with a derisive stare for this bold rebuke, offended that a lowly priest would accost someone of his stature.
This priest also chastised the St. Louis native Causing Scandal: Dolan
for causing scandal by allowing Archbishop offers his predecessor
Rembert Weakland, O.S.B., to participate in his as archbishop of Milwaukee,
consecration ceremony of apostolic succession Rembert Weakland, the kiss
in Milwaukee. The pecadillos of the disgraced of peace at his 2002
Benedictine monk, who paid out more than consecration. Weakland
$450,000 in hush money to a vulnerable adult resigned the previous
that he had molested for many years, cannot year due to revelations
be whitewashed by the laying of hands by about his scandalous
the successors of the Apostles (woe to him sex life. Bishop Richard
through whom scandal comes, according Sklba watches. Dolan is
to Luke 17.1, 2). installed as 10th archbishop.
The consecration of the new archbishop of Milwaukee
was a perversion of truth, the priest noted. Archbishop
Dolan used his homily to gloss Weakland?s immorality
with deceitful humor, he said.
In effect, Archbishop Dolan chose to sow discord and offense. He belittled gross indecency as a mere trifle.
He repudiated victimization and sexual molestation
as if it is a small thing to despoil and defraud the weak.
Archbishop Dolan extolled Weakland?s ?virtue? in 2002,
and five years later he attacked the San Francisco gay Father Gary P. Wolken
community by convincing Miller Brewery to end its One of two pedophiles
sponsorship of the Folsom Street Fair. Dolan has protected.
An Irish Tragedy: The Cult of Plausible Deniability
The meeting between bishop and priest occurred shortly
after the publication of an interesting book about priests,
child abuse, and church administrators in Missouri, called
An Irish Tragedy: How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests
Helped Cripple the Catholic Church, by Joe Rigert.
Rigert, an investigative reporter in Minneapolis, Minn., captures
the essence of the sexual molestation crisis nationwide
with a special focus on Missouri bishops.
Dolan, for example, publicly supported Kuchar, who was sentenced to three years
in the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton following his conviction by a jury in August 2003
on three counts of statutory sodomy. Kuchar was released into the custody of the archdiocese of St. Louis in August 2006 with the promise that he would be defrocked.
Accepting the Legacy
of Bernard Cardinal Law
Dolan?s management of the church?s
child molestation scandal has become
the new benchmark for this culture of denial and obfuscation: a rejuvenated sense of clerical self-righteousness and arrogance
as it pertains to the American legal system. His attitude pushes the protection of children and vulnerable adults further down the scale Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
of all reporting standards necessary for receives the pallium from Pope
a safe society. John Paul II during a ceremony
in June 2003.
Dolan?s early education at Cardinal
Glennon College/Kenrick Seminary ? as with Bernard
Cardinal Law?s studies (1955?1961) at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio ? is the bedrock of this
self-serving attitude toward the law. This view of the law is reinforced by training at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., particularly for careerists like Dolan in pursuit of a degree in canon law and higher church office. The cult of plausible deniability as far as pedophile priest are concerned
continues to flourish as if it were a Medieval rose garden. Cardinal Rigali,
of Philadelphia, as
Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia was archbishop archbishop of
of St. Louis when he tapped Dolan to restructure the St. Louis, was an
seminaryprogram there in the late 80?s as Cardinal Glennon early Dolan mentor.
College/Kenrick Seminary. With Rigali?s approval, Dolan
tossed out the Vincentians ?The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Congregation of the Mission ? who established the institution of higher learning in 1818 on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The Academy vs. Priestly Formation
Although Dolan?s bond with education is deeply ingrained,
he replaced the Vincentians 177-year-old classics curriculum with a fundamentalist regimen. He recruited a team of third-rate academics to staff the new Bible college cum school
of theology. Ramond L. Burke,
The American hierarchy perceived the Glennon/Kenrick Dolan as an
reformation as a revitalized training center for the next auxiliary bishop
generation of clergy in the United States. Dolan used of St. Louis, is
the revarnished image of Glennon/Kenrick to launch chairman of
the next phase of his international career as rector of Kenrick Seminary's
North American College in Rome (1994?2001). board of trustees.
When he returned to St. Louis as vice-rector of Kenrick Seminary, Rigali?s successor, Raymond L. Burke made Dolan an auxiliary bishop. Dolan continued to nurture
O?Connell, a member of the Kenrick ordination class of James Van Johnston,
1963, established the diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., and led O?Connell?s prot?g?
Palm Beach. Fla., until he admitted publicly that he is a in Knoxville, Tenn.,
pedophile. O?Connell?s successor as the third bishop of now sends his
Knoxville is Richard F. Stika, a member of 1985 Kenrick seminarians to
ordination class (Stika staked his career on protecting Kenrick as bishop
pedophile priests and classmates in St. Louis; Kuchar of Springfield-
and Wolken were a yearbe hind him in seminary). Cape Girardeau,
Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., should be continuing Cardinal
included in this mix because he has maintained and Law?s tradition.
strengthened the culture established by his immediate Conception Seminary
predecessor, the legendary bishop Glennon P. Flavin provides education
(1967?1992) of St. Louis. as well.
Bishop Flavin is know to have molested at least four young girls during his Missouri career (ordained a priest in 1941; auxiliary bishop, 1957?1967). The allegations are noteworthy in that Roman Catholic ritual was used to victimize these children.
Bishop Flavin (1916?1995) also is known to have associated with a number of predatory priests using religious ceremony as a guise to attack young girls. According to the victims, this group includes Msgr. Maurice F. Byrne, former St. Louis vice-chancellor; Msgr. George A. Lodes, who built and dedicated in 1978 Sainte Genevi?ve du Bois Church in Warson Woods, Mo.; and Msgr. Michael Owens.
Bishop Flavin's brother, Msgr. Cornelius J. Flavin, is the first pastor with who Dolan shared a rectory as a newly ordained priest. Dolan considers Cornelius J. Flavin (1909?1996) to a modern-day Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, the 19th century French priest canonized in 1925 by
Pius XI and now known as the Cur? d'Ars, patron of clergymen. How Cornelius Flavin dealt with his brother and his brother's associates is open to speculation in light of the fact that the archdiocese of St. Louis maintains control of documents that identify pedophile priests.
Religious Belief as Fetish
Archbishop Burke, who is still chairman of Kenrick?s board of trustees, was appointed chief justice of
the Vatican?s supreme court in 2008. He is a leader
in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (Institutum Christi Regis Summi Sacerdotis), a reactionary organization similar to the Society
of St. Pius X and the Legionnaires of Christ.
Burke also is affiliated with the New Liturgical Bishop Anthony J. O?Connell,
Movement (NLM), whose acolytes betray an Kenrick class of 1963, is a
unnatural devotion to silk brocade, antique child molester. He is well-
lace, and velvet buskins (sacerdotal slippers) known to Dolan through
and disguise their fetish for candlewick embroidery Bishop Gaydos of Jefferson
and goldwork needlepoint with militant devotion for City: once Dolan's boss
Gregorian chant and music of the Renaissance. as vicar of St. Louis.
Two Seminaries: Nationwide
Networking, Control, Authority
These institutions maintain strong ties with other
seminaries, bishops, and alumni. For example, Glennon/Kenrick nurtures its relationship with
Immaculate Conception Seminary, near Kansas
City. The Pontifical College Josephinum (Law?s
alma mater) in Columbus, Ohio, has close ties with
St. Meinrad?s in St. Meinrad, Indiana.
The St. Louis seminary?s board of trustees includes
Robert J. Hermann, auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, and Richar
|Posted by cometothestable on March 28, 2009 at 8:21 AM||comments (0)|
By Michael Wegs
Updated: 18 January 2009
Timothy M. Dolan – the newly appointed archbishop
of New York, Cardinal-Presumptive, Prince of the Church – represents the next generation of accomplices protecting sexual predators employed by the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
At Right: Dolan, the bespoke careerist, in French cuffs indicate
his penchant for finer things of life.
A Priest Tells Dolan the Truth about Clergy
Sex Abuse and Is Punished
In particular, this priest was concerned about Dolan's unwillingness to break with those who protect predator
priests. Dolan responded with a derisive stare for this
bold rebuke, offended that a lowly priest would accost
someone of his stature.
This priest also chastised the St. Louis native
for causing scandal by allowing Archbishop Rembert Weakland, O.S.B., to participate in his consecration ceremony of apostolic succession in Milwaukee. The pecadillos of the disgraced Benedictine monk, who paid out more than $450,000 in hush money to a vulnerable adult that he had molested for many years, cannot
be whitewashed by the laying of hands by the successors of the Apostles (woe to him through
whom scandal comes, according to Luke 17.1, 2).
Above, Right: Causing Scandal: Dolan offers his predecessor as archbishop
of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, the kiss of peace at his 2002 consecration.
Weakland resigned the previous year due to revelations about his scandalous
sex life. Bishop Richard Sklba watches as Dolan is installed 10th archbishop
of the Wisconsin state capital.
The consecration of the new archbishop of Milwaukee was a perversion
of truth, the priest noted. Archbishop Dolan used his homily to gloss Weakland’s immorality with deceitful humor, he said.
In effect, Archbishop Dolan chose to sow discord and offense. He belittled gross indecency as a mere trifle.
He repudiated victimization and sexual molestation
as if it is a small thing to despoil and defraud the weak. Archbishop Dolan extolled Weakland’s "virtue"
in 2002, and five years later he attacked the San Francisco gay community by convincing Miller Brewery
to end itssponsorship of the Folsom Street Fair.
At Right: The Rev. Gary P. Wolken is one of two pedophiles Dolan protected during his St. Louis tenure. The other is the infamous
Father Bryan Kuchar.
An Irish Tragedy: The Cult of Plausible Deniability
The meeting between bishop and priest occurred
shortly after the publication of an interesting book
about priests, child abuse, and church administrators
in Missouri, called An Irish Tragedy: How Sex Abuse
by Irish Priests Helped Cripple the Catholic Church,
by Joe Rigert. Rigert, an investigative reporter in Minneapolis, Minn., captures the essence of the
sexual molestation crisis nationwide with a special
focus on Missouri bishops.
Dolan, for example, publicly supported Kuchar, who
was sentenced to three years in the St. Louis County
Jail in Clayton following his conviction by a jury in
August 2003 on three counts of statutory sodomy.
Kuchar was released into the custody of the archdiocese of St. Louis in August 2006 with the promise that he would be defrocked.
Right: Mugshot of ex-con Father Bryan Kuchar who
served three years prison sentence for child molestation.
Dolan, as an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis, favored Kucher
with his personal defense strategy. Kuchar and Gary Wolken
were classmates at Kenrick: Dolan's alma mater, as well.
Part II continues to highlight the history of clergy sex abuse in the United States; expose the hidden network and personal relationships of American Catholic bishops that nurture their brand of criminal negligence regarding children and vulnerable adults; and illustrate the ongoing and unfettered influence of Bernard Cardinal Law now championed by the next generation hierarchy led by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
Come to the Stable honors the memory of a St. Thomas student:
Stephen Spalding (1953-1982). Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the support of victims of sexual abuse.
|Posted by cometothestable on March 19, 2009 at 1:52 AM||comments (0)|
Editor's Note: Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding has
petitioned the Vatican to rescind the punitive action taken by
theDiocese of Jefferson City against this priest. The name of this
priest is confidential due to the nature of the issue. Please notify
Bishop John R. Gaydos if you disapprove of his actions toward
this humble servant.
17 March 2009
His Eminence Claudio Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M.
Cardinal Prefect?Congregation for the Clergy
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 3
00193 Roma, Italia
RE: Father John Doe and Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding Foundation would like
to bring to your attention the harsh treatment of a truly heroic
priest at the hands of the bishop of Jefferson City, Missouri, USA:
Bishop John R. Gaydos.
We have learned that Bishop Gaydos ordered the retirement benefits
of Father John Doe to be reduced by sixty percent (60%), because
he has addressed publicly the issue of childhood sexual abuse by
Roman Catholic priests employed by the Diocese of Jefferson City
and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, both in Missouri.
In particular, he has supported the victims of Anthony J. O?Connell,
the disgraced bishop of Palm Beach, Florida, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Father Doe has supported the young molested by O?Connell at
St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary in Hannibal, Missouri.
O?Connell is prot?g? and very close friend of Bernard Francis Cardinal
Law, archpriest of the Patriarchal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major
in Rome, archbishop emeritus of Boston, and a prominent member
of the Congregation for Bishops/Congregatio pro Episcopis (who
approve the appointment of bishop worldwide).
Because of the nature of their relationship, Come to the Stable/
The Stephen Spalding Foundation has chosen to correspond with
your prefecture. Further, we believe that Cardinal Law?s presence
would prevent this matter from receiving a fair hearing.
The retribution against Father Doe by Bishop Gaydos may be
illegal according the United States employment law and it is
certainly uncharitable and unethical by the standards of any
religious organization. The fact that the Jefferson City pension
board determined that it miscalculated Father Doe?s benefits
shortly after his name appeared in the media in support of
victims of abuse is evidence of an attempt to silence this
man. This is little more than an attempt to shorten this person's
by limiting access to specialized healthcare.
Why should O?Connell be allowed to live in a luxurious plantation
house near Charleston after admitting his crimes while Father Doe,
who is elderly and ill health, is punished for helping those harmed
by this man? The palatial winter home of Henry Luce, the founder
of Time magazine, and his wife, Clare Booth Luce, once ambassador
to Italy, should not be used as a refuge for someone who has
admitted crimes of this nature.
We share with this daughter of Church a comment she once noted:
?There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have
grown helpless about them.?
We now ask that you investigate Bishop Gaydos and his actions
against Father Doe. We further request that you restore
Father Doe?s pension and acknowledge the contributions he
has made to the church as a respected member of leadership
team of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
Come to the Stable also honors the memory of a St. Thomas
student: Stephen Spalding (1953?1982). Come to the Stable/
The Stephen Spalding Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit
organization dedicated to the support of victims of sexual
cc. Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary?Congregation for Clergy
Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re
Prefect?Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00193 Roma, Italia
Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary?Congregation for Bishops
Monsignor Giovanni Carr?., Undersecretary ?Congregation for Bishops
Archbishop Pietro Sambi
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20008
|Posted by cometothestable on March 8, 2009 at 10:40 AM||comments (1)|
By Michael Wegs
Seven years ago today (8 March 2002), Anthony J. O?Connell announced to the world that he is a sexual predator. Four years into his tenure as the bishop
of Palm Beach, Fla., he relinquished a position that
was disgraced by his immediate predecessor ? J. Keith Symmons ? for the same reason. Prior to this bizarre
set of circumstances, O?Connell had served a little
more than a decade as the first bishop of Knoxville,
Tenn. (27 May 1988?12 Nov. 1998).
O?Connell was forced from his pulpit when he admitted John R. Gaydos
that he had molested for nearly 25 years students in
his care at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Hannibal, Mo. Today he lives in the plantation mansion that served as the winter home of Henry and Clare Booth Luce on property they deeded to the church to create Mepkin Abbey. Luce is the founder of Time magazine and heirs continue to provide financial support to Mepkin Abbey.
An Irish Tragedy: Chronicle Tracks O'Connell's History
After six years of work by investigative reporter Joseph Rigert, a chronicle of O?Connell?s life and career was published in 2008: An Irish Tragedy:
How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests Helped Cripple the Catholic Church. Rigert?s effort bears reading by all St. Thomas students, their families, and friends. An Irish Tragedy is a lesson about a life unchecked by arrogance: pride at its apex.
As Rigert points out in An Irish Tragedy, O?Connell is a consummate fraud. He is a villain supported by a cast of characters who have no sense of shame and maintain an utter disregard for the damage done to innocent folks on a quest to better themselves and the world they inhabit.
Rigert also exposes the callousness of the leadership of the Diocese of Jefferson City. The attitude of Bishop John R. Gaydos and the rank-and-file clergy of the Missouri diocese toward the victims of predatory priests is as cold as stone.
Bishop Gadyos "Debrides" New O'Connell Victim
Gaydos remains hostile to those students and supporters who continue to report the criminal behavior of O?Connell and other members of the St. Thomas faculty such as John Whiteley, who was faculty member with O'Connell
in the late 60's. Ordained St. Thomas alumni remain silent and have been rewarded for their collusion.
Recently a new victim of O?Connell has stepped forward with courage to place O?Connell and Gaydos back in
front of the glaring of lights for further examination.
This victim is the 10th St. Thomas student to enter 1966
the public arena.
O?Connell attacked this young boy during his freshman year at
St. Thomas. He graduated from high school in 1981.
The boy?s father was a well-placed diocesan employee at the time of
the sexual assault(s). Today father and son live in southern Missouri.
Moberly, Mo: A Haven for Sex Offenders
Like David Clohessy and me, this young man?s home parish at the time of the attack(s) was St. Pius X in Moberly, Mo. The pastor, Father George Kramer, was
the father?s supervisor. Kramer made the father?s life
a misery despite his sincere service to the church.
Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe, Gaydos? predecessor,
allowed Kramer to exercise a tyrannical management regimen to disrupt this boy?s family life. Kramer?s
reward: a $150,000 refurbishment of the rectory and continued funding to drive a new Lincoln Continental Mark series each year (and to move up to a luxury John Whiteley
roadster today). 1966
Kramer, the prot?g? of McAuliffe?s predecessor Joseph M. Marling, is still known among the clergy as ?Marling?s Darling.? Kramer's motto: "If you are going to suffer for people's sins, make sure you suffer in comfort."
Bishop Gaydos has decided that this new O?Connell victim no longer needs medical care. The victim and his father have not sued the diocese,
but the need for healthcare services is essential.
St. Pius X: New John Whiteley Victim
In 2004, Gaydos paid out about $180,000 in medical care to a St. Thomas graduate was molested by Father John Whiteley ? David Clohessy?s perpetrator ? during his tenure at
St. Pius X. This boy, whose father was a local grocer, also graduated from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, the only pontifical seminary in the United States. The diocese paid for healthcare services at Hazelden in Center City, Minn., and elsewhere. I have discussed with this fellow the tragedy of his life at great length.
Father Frank Westhoff Victim
In 2006, Gaydos paid out another $200,000 est. in medical care for a young boy molested Father Frank ?Mooch? Westhoff. This boy is the child of fervent Roman Catholics. Westhoff was brought into the Jefferson City ndiocese by O?Connell via the diocese of Springfield, Ill. Prior to coming to Jefferson City, Westhoff has been transferred from Springfield amid allegations of abuse to a boarding school in Onamia, Minn. The Crosier Brothers, who operated the school, recently settled with former students in their care for millions of dollars.
Westhoff was allowed to retire to Springfield as a priest in good standing with the support of Gaydos and Bishop George J. Lucas, the bishop Springfield and the former rector of Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis (O?Connell and Westhoff Kenrick graduates).
Punishment: Priest Punished for Victim Support Effort
Gaydos has not responded to a single O?Connell victim or the victims of any other diocesan employees. He has punished severely any one who has helped tell the stories of these sordid secrets.
In addition to O?Connell?s most recently identified victim, Gaydos has conducted a campaign of financial retribution against a retired priest
who has publicly supported victims. Gaydos cut this priest?s pension by 60 percent within the last 24 months because of his victim support efforts. Gaydos ? a Pharisee who has coddled O?Connell and his acolytes ? seems to believe that stoning a prophet is perfectly acceptable.
Rewards: O'Connell Acolytes Honored for Silence
On the other hand, Gaydos has rewarded those
St. Thomas alumni and faculty members who continue
to remain silent about the O?Connell years. In August 2006, three of these acolytes were promoted to monsignor:
Jefferson City Slush Funds
I say this because I recently learned that Bishop McAuliffe paid $500,000 cash for a luxury home at the Lake of the Ozarks a few weeks before he retired. He expressed a desire to the priest who told me this tale to have a quiet country place. McAuliffe left the property in his will to someone he described as ?Mac?s Party Boy.?
An example of McAuliffe?s extravagance was his attempt to install a group of Benedictine monks from a defunct priory (St. Pius X) in Peveley, Mo.,
at a parish church Columbia in 1988. McAuliffe expropriated $300,000 to refurbish the parish church with choir stalls with the promise that the monks would repay the diocese. Instead the monks decamped to Lake of Ozarks and also purchased a luxury property. The monks transferred the secluded are into a destination for wild party weekends until the police were called to enforce civility on the clergy and protect the neighborhood?s reputation.
Today Gaydos continues his effort to raise $35 million to build a regional high school in Columbia. But the culture of financial irregularities established by his predecessor that has infested the diocese for so many years should give donors pause to consider where the clash flow trickles now: certified funds or slush accounts.
Support for O'Connell Victim #10
Gaydos declared in 2004 that the O?Connell victims were in need of debriding. His use of this medical term ? cutting away gangrenous flesh to allow the wound to heal ? illustrates the true character of the man ordained to protect children. He has resurrected the tactic with O?Connell Victim #10: a crippling assault to protect an admitted pedophile.
It is time for St. Thomas students to mass together to stop this behavior by Gaydos. A number of St. Thomas alumni practice law and sit as judges. Come to the Stable/The Stephen Spalding Foundation asks them to join our effort to get at the truth and determine the nature of the crimes committed by faculty members at the Hannibal seminary. Is this request too much of burden?
|Posted by cometothestable on May 23, 2008 at 2:22 PM||comments (4)|
Scientists found that humans exhibit two types of memory. They call one "verbatim trace," in which events are recorded very precisely and factually. Children have more "verbatim trace," but as they mature, they develop more and more of a second type of memory: "gist trace," in which they recall the meaning of an event, its emotional flavor, but not precise facts. Gist trace is the most common cause of false memories, occurring most often in adults. Research shows that children are less likely to produce false memories, because gist trace develops slowly. As a result, children's recollections could be more reliable than those of adults, and this could lead to ramifications in the courtroom. This illustration shows the Roman two-faced god, Janus, on trial. Symbolically, his bearded, mature head speaks to judges of yore, while the young boy's head is turned towards the judge of the future.
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation.
Research suggests that children's memory
may be more reliable than adults' in court cases
The U.S. legal system has long assumed that all testimony is not equally credible, that some witnesses are more reliable than others. In tough cases with child witnesses, it assumes adult witnesses to be more reliable. But what if the legal system had it wrong?
Researchers Valerie Reyna, human development professor, and Chuck Brainerd, human development and law school professor -- both from Cornell University -- argue that like the two-headed Roman god Janus, memory is of two minds -- that is, memories are captured and recorded separately and differently in two distinct parts of the mind.
They say children depend more heavily on a part of the mind that records, "what actually happened," while adults depend more on another part of the mind that records, "the meaning of what happened." As a result, they say, adults are more susceptible to false memories, which can be extremely problematic in court cases.
Reyna's and Brainerd's research, funded by the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., sparked more than 30 follow-up memory studies, many of them also funded by NSF. The researchers review the follow-on studies in an upcoming issue of Psychological Bulletin.
Tis research shows that meaning-based memories are largely responsible for false memories, especially in adult witnesses. Because the ability to extract meaning from experience develops slowly, children are less likely to produce these false memories than adults, and are more likely to give accurate testimony when properly questioned.
The finding is counterintuitive; it doesn't square with current legal tenets, and may have important implications for legal proceedings.
"Because children have fewer meaning-based experience records, they are less likely to form false memories," says Reyna. "But the law assumes children are more susceptible to false memories than adults."
The court's reliance on adult testimony has a long history. Before the early 1970s, children younger than eight years old rarely testified, because they failed the court's competency requirements.
Then in the 1970s, when statistics showed an increase in the number of child abuse cases, courts were forced to allow the testimony of young victims, only to reemphasize adult testimony in the 1990s, when some children's testimony was proven to be unreliable.
"Courts give witness instructions to tell the truth and nothing but the truth," says Brainerd. "This assumes witnesses will either be truthful or lie, but there is a third possibility now being recognized -- false memories."
According to Brainerd, "Things are about to change radically."
Fuzzy Trace Theory
Traditional theories of memory assume a person's memories are based on event reconstruction, especially after delays of a few days, weeks, or months. However, Reyna and Brainerd's Fuzzy Trace Theory hypothesizes that people store two types of experience records or memories: verbatim traces and gist traces.
Verbatim traces are memories of what actually happened. Gist traces are based on a person's understanding of what happened, or what the event meant to him or her. Gist traces stimulate false memories because they store impressions of what an event meant, which can be inconsistent with what actually happened.
False memories can be identified when witnesses accurately describe what they remember but those memories are proven false based on other unimpeachable facts.
"When gist traces are especially strong, they can produce phantom recollections -- that is, illusory, vivid recollections of things that did not happen, such as remembering a robber brandished a weapon and made threatening statements," says Reyna.
Brainerd argues that because witness testimony is the primary evidence in criminal prosecutions, false memories are a dominant reason for convictions of innocent people.
Recently, in Cook County, Ill., more than 200 murder confessions were identified as being based on adult's false memory reports because they conflicted with unimpeachable facts. For example, a person may have falsely remembered being in one location, but a sales receipt showed that he was in another location at the same time a crime was committed.
In child abuse cases where the law gives the benefit of the doubt to adult testimony, the results can be even more disconcerting. "Failure to recognize differences in how adults and children produce memory unfairly tilts the U.S. legal system against child witnesses," says Reyna.
"Children do not have the same fullness of emotional and intellectual experience as do adults when it comes to deriving meaning from situations," says Reyna. "So, meaning-based memory is less likely to influence a child's testimony."
The researchers say their transformative "two-mind" memory approach can reduce the number of false memories in court cases and give more validity to children's testimony.
Reyna and Brainerd developed several mathematical models associated with Fuzzy Trace Theory that can be used to predict memory outcomes in both adults and children.
The models, which test memory, have been used to determine ways in which attorneys, investigators, law enforcement officials and others can ask questions to help people access verbatim memories while suppressing false memories. The researchers say using neutral prompts to cue witnesses can help them remember what actually happened.
Reyna and Brainerd also say returning a witness to the scene of an event in a highly neutral way can cue verbatim memories and help the legal process.
The models provide the most accurate information to date on the causes of false memories. Using them, researchers can determine with surprising accuracy when a person accesses both verbatim and gist memory.
Reyna and Brainerd's findings are summarized in a new book, The Science of False Memory, published by Oxford University Press.
Amy Sussman, NSF (703) 292-7307 [email protected]
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $5.92 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,700 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 42,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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