Other Corroborated Cases (33)

September 8th, 2010

The cases in this file don’t fit comfortably into either of the other categories. Many of the cases are “legal” in the sense that they involve legal claims—but the ones in this file were not allowed to go forward, most often on grounds involving the statute of limitations. This archive preserves the corroborative facts that the plaintiff tried to introduce in those cases. A few others are pending but clearly have corroboration. Most of the remaining cases are cases reported solely in magazines or newspapers, often by journalists who spent a considerable amount of time investigating. For example, the case uncovered by Tad Shannon in the Eugene Register-Guard in 1998 is unquestionably a powerful case of recovered memory; so is the one self-reported by Jill Christman (and consciously avoided by Ofra Bikel in her PBS “documentary” on recovered memory).

1. Jill Stimson’s memories of childhood sexual abuse by her father. “In times of intimacy with her husband [beginning in the late 1960s], Stimson began having disturbing flashbacks”—both vague and horrifying. For years, she struggled with low self-esteem and other problems, but she never identified the source of the flashbacks. “It wasn’t until 1982 that Stimson learned what happened.” Her mother, moved by the knowledge that her ex-husband was occasionally babysitting Stimson’s daughter, told her, in hopes of protecting the granddaughter, that “when you were a little girl your father molested you.” The mother had seen physical evidence at the time, had confronted the father, and had even consulted a lawyer. (Tad Shannon, “Memory and the mind: recovered memories lead Eugene woman to a painful truth,” Eugene Register-Guard (July 11, 1998: A1).)

2. Jill Christman’s recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse. Ms. Christman’s case is noteworthy for at least two reasons: first, she obtained verification from a childhood friend who witnessed the abuse; second, she told the entire story to Ofra Bikel of PBS, who later claimed (erroneously) that she could “could not find” any corroborated cases of recovered memory. (See Christman, J. (1998). “Quieting Doubt: The gift of corroboration,” Moving Forward Online, 4(1).)

3. Marilyn Van Derbur’s recovered memories of child sexual abuse (revealed publicly in Denver, Colorado, May 1991). Her memories were corroborated by her sister, Gwen Mitchell, who had continuous memory of similar abuse and who long thought she “was the only one” sexually abused in the family. (Fawn Germer, “Ex-Beauty Queen’s Sister Acknowledges Father Molested Her, Too,” Rocky Mountain News, May 11, 1991:6.)

4. Cynthia Yerrick’s recovered memories (in 1991) of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by the Rev. Robert E. Kelley (in the mid-1960s). Ms. Yerrick recovered the memories in therapy. “Asked by her therapist to draw a picture of what made her so angry, the troubled young mother of two felt a sudden rush of emotion. She sketched the Catholic Church she attended as a 4-year old in a small Massachusetts town.” (Jason Wolfe, “Woman Relies on Repressed Memory in Alleging Priest Abuse,” Maine Sunday Telegram (October 26, 1997: 1B).) Soon thereafter she began recalling horrifying memories of abuse. “With the memories bubbling to the surface, Yerrick and her husband, who salvaged their marriage, decided to find out about Kelley. They learned that three years earlier, in 1990, he had pleaded guilty to molesting a 10-year-old girl and had been sentenced to five to seven years in state prison.” (Id.) Ms. Yerrick was awarded $527,734 by Judge Daniel Toomey in a lawsuit against Kelley. (Richard Nangle & Gary Murray, “Ruling against priest,” Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Ma.) (October 18, 1997: A1).) In Yerrick’s suit against the church, which is still pending, Judge Fremont-Smith recently found the diocese in “serious and culpable non-compliance” with the rule of civil procedure for, among other things, trying to conceal corroborating evidence. “The judge found that the diocese withheld a 1963 pastor’s report on Kelley in which his pastor answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Has he conducted himself with persons of the other sex in such a way as to cause scandal, criticism or suspicion.’” (Dianne Williamson, “Court raps diocese’s knuckles,” Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Ma.) (July 21, 1998: B1).)

5. Linda Lee’s recollections of child sexual abuse (Florida, 1992). “Linda Lee can see flashes of her childhood. Horrendous images: a relative forcing oral sex on her when she was 3 and 4, the same man raping her when she was a teen, his big hands gripping her throat to hold her still….[Lee] says she didn’t remember one single detail of a childhood filled with sexual abuse until she was an adult. Her mother finally confirmed it this year and her abuser, when confronted, didn’t deny it.” “In the case of Linda Lee, her mom recently admitted that she knew what was going on, but was too emotionally battered herself to protect her daughter. A childhood friend told Lee last year that she once saw Lee being attacked, but was afraid to tell.” (Tracie Cone, “Memories of Sex Abuse,” Miami Herald, June 7, 1992: 1J.)

6. The initial complaint against Norman Ackison for rape and child sexual abuse. (Separate complaints were ultimately the basis for criminal charges, but those complaints certainly corroborate the recovered memory.) “A number of adults in the Shasta Drive neighborhood recalled being victimized by Ackison when they were young, Patten said. However, no charges could be brought in those cases because…the statute of limitations had expired.” Ackison was eventually charged for offenses involving “three girls between 5 and 6 [that] occurred between September 1989 and February 1991. Ackison surrendered after being featured on America’s Most Wanted.” “The investigation was triggered when one of the victims became upset after watching an episode of In the Heat of the Night featuring a child abuse case.” (Jim Woods, “TV Show May Have Scared Accused Child Abuser Into Giving Up,” Columbus Dispatch, April 16, 1992: 3D.)

7. John BBB Doe’s and John MMM Doe’s recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse by Rev. William J. Effinger. These plaintiffs were joined in a civil suit by five others who had always remembered abuse by Rev. Effinger but who did not understand its significance until adulthood. The repressed memory claim for BBB and MMM “was included in their briefs in opposition to the motions to dismiss.” )Doe. V. Archdiocese of Milwaukee (1997), 211 Wis 2d. 312; 565 N.W. 2d 94; footnote 1.) The Wisconsin Supreme Court prohibited all seven suits from proceeding, arguing that only the legislature can extend the statute of limitations in such cases.
The corroboration for the two men with recovered memory extends far beyond the others in this lawsuit. Seven other men and two women who were abused by Rev. Effinger in Wisconsin reached out-of-court settlements with the Archdioscese of Milwaukee. (“Church Settles with 9 for Abuse by Priest,” Chicago Tribune (December 1, 1993: p.3). Those claims spanned 20 years—“from the priest’s first parish assignment to his last.” (Id.) In 1993, Father Effinger entered a no-contest plea in Sheboygan County to second-degree sexual assault against a 14-year-old boy. He was sentenced to 10 years and died in prison.

8. Janet Ostrowski’s memories of child sexual abuse by Rev. John Mott, pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Franklin Square. Ms. Ostrowski was prohibited from pursuing the claim because of the statute of limitations, but “four more women subsequently contacted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Center to say that they had been sexually abused by Mott when they were teenagers.” (Stuart Vincent, “Dismissal of Abuse Suit Appealed,” Newsday (May 11, 1995: A31).)

9. Angela Mitchell’s flashbacks of being sexually abused 27 years earlier by Monsignor Arthur Sego at the St. Patrick Catholic School. “Mitchell repressed her memories of the incidents until April 1994, when she began helping an abused boy while working as a teacher’s aide at the Kokomo YMCA.” (“Kokomo Woman Says Monsignor Molested Her,” Gary Post-Tribune (March 5, 1995: B12).) Mitchell told her older sister at the time of the abuse. Her sister told her mother, who contacted the diocese in Lafayette, “but a bishop there allegedly told her not to tell anyone, saying that church officials would handle the situation.” (Id.) (The Monsignor was sent to the St. Joseph Mother House for two and a half weeks to reflect on what had occurred. He also received psychiatric therapy for two and a half months. He was then assigned to a different parish.)
The Bishop confirmed the basic facts in a 1967 letter that ended, “I would suggest that you might destroy this letter after you read it. In this way, we will protect both [A.M.] and Monsignor.” (A.M. v. Roman Catholic Church, 669 N.E.2d 1034 (Indiana Court of Appeals, 1996.) The mother “followed the Bishop’s instructions and never again spoke to A.M. about the molestations. The older sister also kept the secret.” (Id.) Remarkably, the Indiana Court of Appeals did not allow Mitchell to proceed with her highly-corroborated claim because the perpetrator was not a family member, and she did not bring the suit before turning 18—something that would have been impossible, since her first recollections were at age 34.

10. Stephen McCaffrey’s adult recollections of sexual abuse by Rev. Robert J. Vonnahmen at the Belleville diocese camp. “Neither [another abuse survivor] nor McCaffrey used hypnosis, or was in therapy at the time of the flashbacks.” The suit was still pending at the time of this article, which also states that “Rev. Vonnahmen is one of eight priests who have been removed from their duties in the Belleville diocese.” (Virginia Baldwin Hick, “False ‘Memories’ a Growing Issue in Abuse Cases,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, March 3, 1994: 5B.)

11. Former altar boy in Baltimore who requested anonymity but whose adult recollection of abuse resulted in the removal of four priests. The victim told the Washington Post that the “molestations began when he was 11 or 12 and continued until he was about 17. He began having marital problems several years ago and sought therapy. On January 19 [1995], he met for nearly two hours with Monsignor William Lori. The next day, Lori separately interviewed the four priests and each admitted to the victim’s allegations.” (Clari.news.crime.sex; article 865, February 6, 1995; see also “4 Priests Removed After Admitting They Molested an Altar Boy,” New York Times, February 7, 1995: A14.)

12. Kevin MacKenzie, former altar boy in Pennsylvania, who “did not remember the abuse until certain events triggered his ‘repressed memory’ in 1993.” A New Jersey appeals court dismissed his case under the statute of limitations. (“N.J. Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Priest,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 25, 1995: N1.) While this case was pending, Kohler was apprehended for his involvement “in taking ‘suggestive photographs’” of young boys with ex-priest William O’Connell. (“Priest Will Face Obscenity Charge,” Bergen County Record, July 13, 1994: A6.) “Thousands of photographs of young boys, some of them naked, were found in the home.”

13. Juror Crawford in Gerald Amirault’s infamous child molestation case. According to Jonathan Harris, “the day after he was convicted, an anonymous caller called his lawyer to tell him that a cousin of his spent time in prison many years ago for raping one of the jurors when she was about 14. Juror Crawford insisted that she did not remember the rape and must of [sic] repressed it.” Harris also states that Juror Crawford had indeed testified at a preliminary hearing and at a trial that resulted in conviction just about forty years and forty days before Gerard Amirault’s conviction. (WITCHHNT posting, May 2, 1995.)

14. Susan Lees’ recovered memories of horrendous physical and sexual abuse as a child (Birmingham, England; 1997). Ms. Lees was adopted at the age of five by a family who treated her as one of her own and who did not know about the abuse that she had already suffered. Her memories of abuse did not begin until she was 35. Lees was listening to a news report from Bosnia on her car radio and heard the screams of a young girl in Bosnia having shrapnel removed from her back without an anesthetic:

“The next thing I knew I had pulled over and was crying uncontrollably. When I got home I dashed into the attic to get my old doll out of the loft. I started to bathe and wash because I felt dirty. For weeks afterward I bathed and scrubbed my legs because they itched. It got to the stage where they were raw.” (Lucy Johnston, “Memories of Child Abuse Spark Lawsuit,” The Observer (March 2, 1997): 3.)

Fearing that she was going insane, Lees contacted a GP, who referred her to a therapist. During the next six months more flashbacks came back. Then she set out to find her social service records. “Documentary evidence from more than 30 yeas ago confirms that Ms. Lees’ mother left her alone with an alcoholic father when she was nine months old, and that social workers sent her to live with a friend of her father who the NSPCC knew to have been involved in child abuse.” (Id.) The itching turned out to be an actual memory of being defleaed when she was admitted to the hospital at age four; according to medical records, she was anemic and had screaming fits. Ms. Lees also “has evidence that she was buggered and had her toes smashed with a hammer” before she was adopted. (Id.)

15. Terry Throneberry’s recovered memories (in 1990) of sexual abuse by Rodney Grantham at the Shults-Lewis Children’s Home between 1960 and 1969. Throneberry claims that Grantham impregnated her when she was 14 years old and gave her “pills containing quinine which caused vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, and resulted in abortions.” These memories, recovered in therapy, were corroborated by Margie Cole, who had continuous memories of similar abuse by Grantham in 1962. (Matthew Tully & Frank Wiget, “Court: Woman’s Case Can Proceed,” Post-Tribune (Gary, Ind.) (March 19, 1997: A1).) The memories were also corroborated by Grantham, who “admitted to the allegations in court papers” but challenged the suits on statute of limitations grounds. (Michael Puente, “Lawsuit Pivots in Ruling on Repressed Memory,” Post-Tribune (Gary, Ind.) (September 11, 1995: A1).) The Indiana Court of Appeals allowed Throneberry’s action to proceed, agreeing that she “had no independent memory [before 1990] of Grantham sexually molesting her.” (Cole v. Shults-Lewis Child and Family Services, 677 N.E.2d 1069, 1074; 1997 Ind. App. LEXIS 177 (March 18, 1997).)

16. Lisa Shogren’s 1992 criminal complaint against Lee Roy Donnell for child sexual abuse. Ms. Shogren “testified at pretrial hearings that her memories of that [assault] and other incidents had been repressed until she entered therapy in recent years.” Donnell was convicted of sexual battery. (“Father Guilty in Assault,” Washington Port (September 10, 1992): B3.)

17. Adam Farthing’s successful claim for childhood sexual abuse before the Crimes Compensation Tribunal in Melbourne, Australia. Claim corroborated by two siblings. Formal hearing on February 2, 1998.

18. Mary Staggs recovered memories of sexual abuse by Father John Lenihan, her priest in early adolescence in Anaheim, California. Staggs went to police when she experienced flashbacks at age 26. The criminal statute had run out, but she was able to pursue a civil damage suit. In a deposition, Lenihan admitted to fondling Staggs in 1978. In 1991, the Diocese of Orange paid Mary Staggs an out-of-court settlement. (Jason Berry, “Fathers and Sins: An Uneasy Coalition of Activists and Clerics is Forcing the Catholic Church to Confront the Problem of Sexually Abusive Priests,” Los Angeles Times Magazine (June 13, 1993).)

19. Marguerite Hurt’s repressed memory of being raped by three U.S. Army soldiers the night before leaving Vietnam more than twenty years earlier. The case is corroborated by medical records indicating that she contracted gonorrhea. (Dave Moriz, “Vet Center Seeing Scars of Sexual Battlefields,” Columbia [South Carolina] State (October 20, 1995), p. A1.)

20. Dodds v. Johnson, a civil settlement in October 1998 in one of the first recovered memory cases in South Dakota. Sister verifies plaintiff’s recovered memories; mother was also going to testify in plaintiff’s favor. Defendant offered to settle after the jury was selected.

21. Lund v. Giesen (Scott County, Minnesota), Case No. 97-19193. Civil settlement immediately after Judge Rex. Stacey ruled (2/16/99) to allow recovered memory testimony. The perpetrator admitted to some of the acts in deposition.

22. Allen Levinson’s grown daughter’s recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse by her father. Corroborated by her father’s sexual-abuse charge and subsequent 15-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl in Cook County. (Desiree Chan, “Jail-bound for fraud, man admits sex abuse,” Chicago Tribune (February 19, 1998), p. 1.)

23. The recovered memory of a Mount Lookout, Ohio man who, after entering therapy, recalled childhood molestations by former priest and admitted pedophile George Cooley. (Phillip Pina and Erin Gibson, “Lawsuit filed against archdiocese, convicted ex-priest,” Cincinnati Enquirer (Jul 16, 1999), p. D1.) The suit was settled right before the case was to go to trial in July 2000.

24. David Clohessy’s recovered memory of childhood sexual abuse between 1969 and 1972 by Rev. John Whitely in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri. His suit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations, but Mr Clohessy’s claim was nonetheless corroborated when “Whitely was removed from active ministry in light of what a diocesan spokesman calls credible accusations against him.” (Frank Bruni, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” New York Times Magazine, May 12, 2002.)

25. Lee White’s recovered memory of sexual abuse in 1970 by Father James Silva in Newport, Rhode Island. Mr. White recovered the memory after going into therapy. He filed suit six months after the memory emerged. (See CNN Talkback Live (March 18, 2002) [Transcript #031800CN.V14].) The lawsuit settled several months later.

26-28. “Several cases” (counted, for this Web site, as 3 cases—it may well have been more) included in a settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese in Tucson involved repressed memory. (See “Diocese settles over civil lawsuits that alleged molestation,” AP State & Local Wire, January 29, 2002.) The terms included public and personal apologies to victims and their families. Note: there was no “advantage” or “incentive” for these “few cases” to claim recovered memory. Given the current climate, it is arguable that if they wanted to be deceptive for gain, it would be more advantageous to claim continuous memory.

Additional details are provided in a later article. George Sanchez’s memory of being sexually abused at age 12 by the Rev. Julian Sanz during confession in the priest’s office in Tucson, Arizona was repressed until 1996. “Sanchez repressed the memory of what happened while inside Sacred Heart Church in Douglas, where he was a devout Catholic.” (Sheryl Kornman, “Paying the price of sexual misconduct by priests,” Tuscon Citizen, July 9, 2005.) Sanz pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in 2003 and is currently in prison. “Sanchez is of one of a number of victims with repressed memory whose claims of abuse were found to be credible by the diocese.”

29. Mike, a retired construction supervisor in Anchorage, Alaska, whose recovered memory of abuse at the hands of Rev. Francis Murphy in a Catholic Junior High School locker room was corroborated by a witness/participant at the time who never forgot. (Nicole Tsong, “Sins of the Father,” Anchorage Daily News (August 3, 2003), A9.)

30. An unidentified man’s recovered memory of being sexually abused by Robert L. Mueller in 1982 in the Boy Scouts. His subsequent report to the police resulted in Mueller’s arrest on child pornography charges. The criminal complaint says two other men who were Boy Scouts at the time also reported being sexually assaulted by Mueller. McCormick, “Former Scouts leader charged in child porn case,”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, (December 3, 2004).

31. Ralph Cosimo’s “repressed memory of multiple instances of [sexual] abuse” by Rev. James F. Rapp of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City in the early 1970s. Rapp was defrocked and is currently in prison for molesting a boy in Oklahoma. Ralph Cosimo’s memory is corroborated by his brother’s continuous memory and by an admission by Rapp. The church’s defense to civil litigation was based on the stature of limitations. The defense even argued that Rapp had acknowledged to Ralph in 1975 that he was a pedophile and that he was abusing his brother at the time. (An appeals court in Utah disallowed the lawsuit on statute of limitations grounds.) (See generally Romano, “Okla. Archbishop Failed to Oust Priest; Long Trail of Abuse Prompts Complaints,” Washington Post (May 21, 2002). See also Neff, “Court rules brothers waited too long to sue,” Salt Lake Tribune (November 27, 2004).)

32. Steve Cysewski’s recovered memories of abuse by Rev. Robert Marcantonio. In 1971, at the age of 11, Steve Cysewski was molested by his priest, Reverend Robert Marcantonio. Cysewski had approached his priest to help him with his bedwetting problems. Marcantonio continued the abuse over two years, after which Cysewski became homeless and suffered from alcoholism. Cysewski repressed his memories until he was 21 in 1981, around the time of his father’s death. He threatened to go court 20 years later, in 2001, but reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of Dubuque. He is one of Marcantonio’s over two dozen alleged victims, six of whom reached a settlement in 2002 with the Diocese of Providence. (See Nevans-Pederson, “Abuse victim sought help from priest,” Telegraph – Herald (October 11, 2006).)

33. Diane McKenzie’s recovered memories of abuse by priest Emilio Garcia. Diane McKenzie was abused and raped by Emilio Garcia, a Spanish priest, in the 1960s and came forward in 2000 in Pinellas County, Florida, when she was working as a junior sacristan at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. McKenzie’s memories started to resurface only after 34 years had passed since the abuse, when her brother was getting married. McKenzie went to confront Garcia when she remembered the incidents, and he admitted to the crimes. As a result, the Diocese of Orlando removed him and sent him back to Spain. (See Day, “Their struggle put a face on clergy abuse,” priest,” St. Petersburg Times (February 5, 2007).)

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