Affidavit of Hollida Wakefield, M.A.,
and Ralph Underwager, Ph.D.

Institute for Psychological Therapies


We, having been duly sworn upon oath and under penalty of perjury, depose and state the following as true and accurate.

I. We have jointly prepared this affidavit at the request of Mr. Blank. This affidavit is prepared for submission to the Superior Court of Blank County, North Carolina in relationship to the accusations of child sexual abuse in a day care center located in Blank, North Carolina. We have been asked to prepare this affidavit in response to an affidavit of Roland C. Summit, M. D. which asserts that a joint trial will be more traumatic for the children than one requiring them to participate in multiple trials over a long period of time.

II. Ralph C. Underwager received his M. Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO in 1955 and was in the parish ministry before entering the University of Minnesota in 1962 as recipient of the Wheat Ridge Foundation Mental Health Fellowship. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1970 in clinical psychology with a medical minor and a collateral field in child therapy. His training corresponds to the American Psychological Association, Div. 12, guidelines (1985) for the optimal training for psychologists to be able to provide competent psychological mental health services to children.

He has worked on several national research projects, as described in the attached curriculum vitae. He has been a research scientist at Youth Research Center, a staff psychologist at the Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis, an associate professor at St. Olaf College, and, since 1974, the Director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies.

He has been involved in responding to the sexual abuse of children since 1953 when he disclosed and dealt with a case of incest in his parish elementary school. Since beginning private practice as a psychologist in 1965, one-third to one-fifth of his practice has been children. This has included the full range of childhood disorders. He has regularly dealt with sexually abused children, perpetrators, and their families. Across the years he has evaluated, assessed and provided treatment for hundreds of child victims of sexual and physical assault. His current active caseload includes two children who are victims of sexual assault. He has also provided evaluation, assessment, and treatment for perpetrators of sexual assault from 1965. IPT has had a treatment program for sexual offenders from 1974 to the present. His current caseload includes two perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

He is a licensed consulting psychologist (#C-55) under statute of the state of Minnesota, is a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Minnesota Psychological Association, the Lutheran Academy for Scholarship, the American College of Forensic Psychology, and is accepted and listed in the National Registry of Health Providers in Psychology.

III. Hollida Wakefield received her B.A. from La Verne College, her M.A. in psychology from the University of Maryland and completed all course work for her Ph.D. She has worked as an elementary teacher, was an instructor in psychology at St. Olaf College, and has been a staff psychologist at the Institute for Psychological Therapies since 1976. She is a member of the American Psychological Society, the Minnesota Psychological Association and is a licensed psychologist under Minnesota statute. She is an Associate Member of the American College of Forensic Psychology. She has regularly provided therapy and evaluation for sexual abuse victims, sexual abuse perpetrators, and their families.

IV. By invitation of the APA Commission on Legal Issues we have presented a paper at the 94th annual convention of the American Psychological Association on The Role of the Psychologist in the Assessment of Cases of Alleged Sexual Abuse of Children. At the request of the Tennessee ACLU we submitted a report to the Tennessee Legislature concerning proposed rules for establishing a central registry for alleged sex abusers. At the request of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Project we provided consultation and materials for a bench book for family court judges on false allegations of child sexual abuse in divorce and custody cases. Our book, Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, has been published by C. C. Thomas, Springfield, IL. In this book we report on our research programs in child sexual abuse. The research projects we are carrying out are: 1) scientific content analyses of audio and videotapes of actual interviews and interrogations of children in over 35 cases throughout the country; 2) analysis of types of psychotherapy given to children when there is an accusation of sexual abuse; 3) the use of the alleged anatomical correct dolls in the interviewing of children; 4) the judicial assessment of the competence of children; 5) MMPI profiles of actual sexual abusers and falsely accused persons; 6) analysis of false accusations occurring within the context of a divorce and custody litigation; 7) analysis of the records of cases to discover the variables that will assist in discriminating between true and false accusations of child sexual abuse; 8) the personality characteristics of parents involved in false accusations of child sexual abuse during a divorce and custody battle; 9) developing a typology of accusations of child sexual abuse in day care centers.

Our second book dealing with child sexual abuse, The Real World of Child Interrogation, was published by C. C. Thomas in November 0f 1989. Our third book dealing with child sexual abuse allegations, Solomon's Dilemma: False Accusations of Sexual Abuse in Divorce and Custody Disputes, is in process.

By invitation we have presented our MMPI research results at the 23rd annual Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Symposium, 1988. We have conducted workshops and seminars for public defenders, trial lawyer's associations, and family law groups in many states. By invitation of the Crown Solicitor we presented evidence in the parliamentary judicial inquiry into the sexual abuse allegations in Cleveland County, Middlesborough, England. By invitation our research on the use of the alleged anatomically correct dolls was provided to the Supreme Court of Holland which then ruled no testimony based on the use of dolls is admissible in Holland unless it can be shown their use meets our objections. By invitation we have presented seminars for professionals in five cities in Australia dealing with investigation and preparation for trial in child sexual abuse allegations.

Most recently, by invitation, we have presented the research projects on personality characteristics of parents making false accusations and the typology of accusations in day care settings at the Sixth Annual Symposium of the American College of Forensic Psychology, Las Vegas, Nevada, March, 1990. Our proposals for presentation have been examined and accepted by the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association. We will be presenting our research at Dallas, June, 1990, for the APS convention and other research projects at Boston, August, 1990, at the APA convention. We made a presentation dealing with child sexual abuse allegations at the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, Charleston, NC, in March, 1990.

We have provided consultation, information, and expert witness services in over 400 cases of sexual abuse allegations. This has included 35 day care cases.

V. In response to the affidavit of Dr. Summit, there are several rather preliminary observations relating to his description of his expertise.

Dr. Summit is correct in asserting that he has been primarily involved in psychiatric community consultation. As a community psychiatrist Dr. Summit consults with other professionals and does little or no clinical work himself. Thus when he was asked during cross examination in the Taugher trial how many of the 2000 children he claims to base the concept of sexual abuse accommodation syndrome on he himself had actually seen, he answered two or three. Therefore when Dr. Summit claims to base his opinions on experience, it should be clear that his experience has been in talking with adults who are professionals concerned in one way or another with an accusation. In most instances this has been an agenda or interest in identification and prosecution of persons accused. His experience therefore does not include actual contact with children but rather with adults who tell him their subjective impressions about children.

Dr. Summit claims to have written "several influential articles and book chapters in the clinical literature." The Curriculum Vitae he attached to the affidavit shows he has written three articles in peer reviewed journals. The others are in local newsletters or publications of agencies. The one he claims has been widely reprinted nationally and internationally is the 1983 article which appeared in Child Abuse and Neglect. This is where he describes his theory or hypothesis of the sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. There is no empirical research evidence to support this concept and it has not been generally accepted in the scientific community. Appellate courts in California and Tennessee have ruled the sexual abuse accommodation syndrome does not meet the Frye test of general acceptance in the scientific community in order for testimony to be admissible (See attached Appendix A for a general bibliography). None of the articles or chapters he says he has written are based upon any empirical research nor has Dr. Summit himself carried out any scientific research projects.

This is to be expected inasmuch as the practice of medicine, including psychiatry, is not a science but an art. Physicians are not trained as scientists and are not knowledgeable as physicians about scientific research and how to do it. It is true, as Dr. Summit also states about his opinions , that much of medical practice is based by physicians on their experience. This is the cause for almost a monthly revelation that some medical practice used for years is now shown to be a mistake. The latest was the use of phenobarbital to treat children with febrile seizures. Before that it was widely used heart surgery techniques now shown to be unnecessary and before that radical mastectomies now also shown to be in error.

Although the courts accept experience as a basis for accepting expert opinion, the scientific investigation of the relationship between experience and validity demonstrates clearly there is no relationship (Dawes, 1989). What this robust and replicated finding means is that relying solely upon experience produces unrecognized error at an unacceptable rate. An example given by Dawes (1989) is "the best predictors of parole violation are the age of first conviction, number of past convictions, and number of prison violations. The subsequent "knowledge" gained in a parole interview simply decreases accuracy in predicting who will remain outside of jail." An opinion based solely on experience must be viewed very cautiously and weighed with an awareness of the high probability of error and the likelihood of no demonstrable validity (See attached Appendix B for a general bibliography on the relationship between experience and validity). We understand this may be counterintuitive and the court may find this a troubling concept. We ask the court to attend to the well established scientific fact that, as Benjamin Franklin said, "Experience is a dear (expensive) teacher and fools will learn from no other."

VI. The first opinion by Dr. Summit is "Child witnesses will be more intimidated and confused in confrontation with several defendants than with one at a time" (p. 2). There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support this claim. We dealt with the same claim in an Amicus Curiae Brief we submitted to the U. S. Supreme Court in Maryland v. Craig (See attached copy). In fact the evidence available shows that children are not traumatized by testifying in court but benefited. The cause of trauma to children as demonstrated by Runyan et. al (1988), is the delay in getting to the trial and getting it done and over . The Flin et al (1988) research study done in British courts also demonstrates that children were not distressed by testifying in court. Several of the children observed were in settings in which there was more than one defendant. In short, the scientific research evidence available that bears directly on this issue suggests that children would be benefited by a single trial as the defense has requested with the conclusion reached as quickly as possible. The scientific evidence available shows the request of the prosecution for several trials extending across a considerable length of time would be the most harmful possible course to take in relationship to the welfare of the children.

The remainder of the statements in Dr. Summit's point 1 are unsupported by any scientific data but are solely subjective speculative personal opinions. The statement "The quality of argument will be inversely proportional to the number of people facing the child in the courtroom" is an example of this speculative nature of his opinion. There simply is no empirical data anywhere to support this assertion. His statement that unless the court assumes it must do what he suggests in order to prevent further harm and "To assume otherwise is to frame the court as the instigator of reckless, potentially disastrous reabuse" has no support anywhere in the scientific data available to reasonably evaluate these issues. He cites the Finkelhor Nursery Crimes book to support his contention children are fragile. This book is seriously flawed by the selection of a criterion measure that is indefensible. See attached Appendix E for a brief discussion of this book. It is not a scientifically credible work.

Furthermore there is a beginning scientific literature that points to possible ways to improve the ability of children to produce reliable statements (see attached Appendix D for a bibliography dealing with improving retrieval) that do not require extreme measures in the courtroom. It is also the case that no competent defense attorney is going to act in a way so as to terrorize little children in the courtroom. This would be completely counter productive with the fact finder.

VII. Dr. Summit's point 2 appears to come down to his claim that the cognitive capacities of children are such that "children of three can attend to no more than three subjects at a time. A child of five may handle the convergence of five variables without intermixing them" (p. 3). Once again there is no scientific data in developmental psychology to support this claim. The cognitive capacity of children has been studied for many years. The assertion by Dr. Summit can nowhere be found in the scientific research on children's cognitive capacity (See attached Appendix F for a general bibliography on the cognitive capacity of children).

VIII. Point 3 is the claim that a joint trial will ". . . scramble the testimony of the child witnesses, leaving triers of fact with more subjective, more prejudicial and less probative considerations . . ." (p. 4). Once again there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. We dealt with the same issue in the Maryland v. Craig Amicus Curiae Brief. We cite the study by Goodman et al. (1989) to show the relevant scientific evidence prior to this project demonstrates "high levels of stress are associated with better memory." The summary statement of the research project by Goodman is "Our general finding was that stress had a facilitative effect on children's reports. Specifically, planned comparisons revealed that children at the highest stress levels recalled more information than the other children and were less suggestible. Interestingly, the children had to reach a level of great distress before beneficial effects on memory were evidenced" (p. 37). Thus the scientific evidence available that bears directly on the point at issue says exactly the opposite of the claim by Dr. Summit. Far from producing inferior testimony, high levels of stress appear to produce more accurate, more complete, and more reliable testimony from children. Again this may appear counter intuitive so we encourage the court to look at the consistent and replicated findings of the scientific effort to assess the impact of stress or emotional arousal on memory.

IX. In summary, the scientific evidence available suggests that opinions based on experience alone should be carefully weighed. The scientific research producing credible empirical data strongly suggests the least harm will be done to the children involved in this case by a single trial with the emphasis on as swift a resolution of the issues as possible. Furthermore, the scientific evidence suggests there is no decrement in the quality of children's testimony if the courtroom experience does turn out to be stressful.

We declare that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed this _____ day of ______________, 19____, in Northfield, Minnesota.


__________________________ ____________________________
Hollida Wakefield, M.A. Ralph Underwager, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist Licensed Consulting Psychologist


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