USA: Wenatchee haunted by investigations
Methods used by former Wenatchee Police Detective Bob Perez to investigate dozens of people on child sex-abuse charges in 1994 and 1995 continue to haunt the town.
In a recent ruling, state Court of Appeals Judge John Schultheis ordered a hearing into evidence developed by Perez that was used to sentence Jeannie Bendt, 41, to prison for 16 years.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Laura Holt, who was sentenced to 40
years in prison in one of the first Wenatchee cases investigated
by Perez and Child Protective Services social workers, have asked
the court to order a new trial,
In Bendt's case, Schultheis found that her appeal, filed in February by Seattle lawyers Eric Nielsen and Terry Kellogg, "satisfied the requirements for a reference hearing" to be held in Chelan County Superior Court, based on her contention "that newly discovered evidence exists that Perez coerced inculpatory statements from her."
Whitman County Superior Court Judge Wallis Friel, who has held and is to hold additional hearings for the appeals court, was directed to conduct a hearing within 30 days.
"Judge Friel shall hear evidence from Ms. Bendt and other Wenatchee sex ring defendants who were interviewed by Detective Perez on the nature of tactics he used during their interviews" and report findings to the appeals court, Schultheis wrote.
In April 1998, Friel was harshly critical of police, state
social workers, therapists and the main accusers in a reference
hearing in which he found that another Wenatchee couple, Harold
and Idella Everett, would likely not be
While the law enforcement officials are the same in Bendt's and Holt's cases, Bendt and Holt were accused by different children.
In a February 1998 investigation titled "The Power to
Harm," the Post-Intelligencer found that the accused were
denied fair trials and that
During the two years Perez and CPS investigated alleged child sex abuse in the small Washington city, 43 men and women were arrested on an astonishing 29,726 counts of child rape and molestation.
Bendt and Holt are among 11 people still in prison.
Bendt was arrested by Perez in October 1994 on 1,860 counts of child rape and 840 counts of molestation. In January 1995 she accepted a plea bargain involving six counts of molestation of her 7-year-old son. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Bendt's son in early 1994 had been sent to an Idaho psychiatric hospital on the advice of CPS. During his stay at the hospital, he was diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed, probably suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome and prone to fabrication.
The diagnosis led prosecutors to find the boy incompetent to testify against two other adults he had accused in addition to Bendt. When charges against those adults were dropped, Bendt tried unsuccessfully to change her plea.
Holt's appeal, meanwhile, is the fifth filed by Innocence Project Northwest, a University of Washington-based group of volunteer lawyers and students representing those convicted in the Wenatchee cases.
Originally arrested on 1,568 counts of child rape and molestation in 1994, Holt, 39, entered Alford pleas to eight counts of molestation involving her own children. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but acknowledges that an overwhelming amount of evidence exists to convict.
In her appeal, Holt argues that evidence shows Perez interviewed and obtained confessions from her and other adults before any victims came forward.
Perez has repeatedly denied he did anything improper while serving as sex crimes investigator from January 1994 to December 1995.
USA Jury reaches verdict in
A jury awarded a family about $850,000 Thursday, finding that a psychiatrist negligently treated a woman who accused him of implanting false childhood memories of sexual abuse and sex with animals.
A 15-person Marathon County jury deliberated about 25 hours
following five weeks of testimony from some of the country's
leading psychiatrists in a trial that focused on repressed-memory
therapy, including the use of hypnosis, and the diagnosis of
multiple personality disorder.
Mrs. Hess, 47, the ex-wife of former Wausau Mayor John Hess, contended none of things brought up in the memories occurred, and the ordeal of believing that they did permanently harmed her.
She contended some of the personalities caused her to threaten suicide, forcing her to be hospitalised numerous times.
The jury awarded Mrs. Hess about $450,000 for past and future
medical expenses and past and future pain and suffering. Each
of her two daughters was awarded $190,000 and her ex-husband
was awarded $31,500.
Fernandez, who started a private psychiatry practice in Wausau in 1991,declined to comment as he left the courtroom .
The jury answered eight questions, finding Fernandez was negligent
in his diagnosis of Mrs. Hess' emotional problems, in his failure
to explain the riskiness of his treatment of her, including that
any memories that were recovered could be false, and in getting
her consent for it.
Fernandez eventually authorised several hospitalisations for Mrs. Hess because she was suicidal and he took over her care, including hypnosis. The care continued until 1994.
The trial featured more than 1,000 exhibits, including thousands of pages of medical notes by Fernandez and writings by Mrs. Hess in a journal.
Smoler predicted the verdict would help Mrs. Hess put her life back together.
"How could Joan not have had questions about how did
this happen and why did this happen," the attorney said.
"I think that has been explained to her. I hope that means
there will be some closure and she can understand it
Smoler said some managed health care companies now refuse to accept psychiatrists who use recovered-memory therapy, do hypnosis and have patients diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.
"You ought not to do this kind of therapy. Period," he said.
USA - Editorial criticises SJC on
The Fells Acres Case, involving the Amirault family, is the last of the infamous day-care cases in which children were repeatedly questioned by hysterical parents and child social workers until the children reported amazing stories of abuse. In this case one child reported being transported by hot air balloon to another site where he was abused and then transported back the day-care centre also by hot air balloon [the breeze having miraculously changed its direction] all without any balloons having been seen by neighbours. ED
By Associated Press, 14/9/99
BOSTON - A lawyers' publication strongly criticised the state's highest court yesterday for its refusal to grant a new trial to three members of a family who were convicted of child abuse at a Malden day-care center.
An editorial in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly called on Governor Paul Cellucci to ''seriously consider'' pardoning Cheryl Amirault LeFave and her brother Gerald Amirault, who were convicted in the Fells Acres Day Care case.
Publisher Paul J. Martinek said the editorial in this week's
paper was the first in the publication's 27-year history that
''Given the extraordinary nature of this case and the widespread opinion that a terrible injustice akin to the Salem witch trials may have transpired here, we felt this was an exceptional situation justifying an unusual editorial position,'' Martinek said in a statement.
Joan Kenney, a spokeswoman for the state courts, declined
to comment because LeFave's lawyer has filed a petition for the
case to be reheard. Cellucci spokeswoman Shawn Feddeman said
the Amiraults had not yet filed
''If a petition is filed, he'd consider it like he would consider any other petition like this,'' Feddeman said.
LeFave's lawyer, James L. Sultan, said last month that he was considering applying for a pardon.
LeFave and her mother, Violet Amirault, were convicted in 1987 of sexually abusing children at the family's day-care centre. The case relied heavily on testimony from young children, and LeFave has consistently maintained her innocence.
LeFave and her mother were released from prison in 1995 when a judge overturned their convictions. Since then, the SJC has twice upheld the convictions and rejected requests for a new trial. LeFave is scheduled to go back to prison, pending a ruling by the SJC on her request for a rehearing. She has served eight years of an eight- to 20-year sentence.
Violet Amirault died in 1997.
Ex-detective Perez has made quite a name for himself in the State of Washington. See below. ED
USA - Apparent deal reached
Wenatchee World, Monday, August 23, 1999
Paul Glassen, who now lives in Maple Ridge, B.C., and works
as a counselor, said the city has agreed to pay him $295,000,
plus mediation costs of $2,500. Glassen said he also received
a letter from the city conceding
The city, represented by lawyer Pat McMahon, has never before admitted the 1994-95 investigations were wrongly handled by authorities. McMahon said this morning he wasn't at liberty to comment on reasons for the apparent settlement.
Asked to provide a copy of the letter, McMahon refused.
He then said he could not comment on the matter at this time and then added, "I'm not even confirming there is a letter."
Glassen was never arrested in connection with sex crimes, although one of Perez' foster daughters accused him of engaging in sex orgies involving as many as 20 adults and numerous children. Glassen has repeatedly denied the allegations.
When he learned of the accusation in March 1995, Glassen has said he became afraid and moved his family to British Columbia.
The out of court settlement was reached following 11 hours of mediation last Thursday in Spokane, Glassen said.
Glassen said he has a copy of the letter but said he couldn't
release it because the city had specifically said it was to be
used only for employment and immigration purposes.
"We waited five long years for this," Glassen said
this morning from his home. "It was a joy to call my wife
and family and friends and tell them the city had to concede
they had wronged me and that there was no truth to the awful
allegations Perez had stigmatized me with."
"We made that (letter) a precondition for this (settlement)," he said. "In my mind, the damage goes on, the stigma stays with you, once those kind of allegations are made. I want to feel free to come to Washington State any time I want to."
Glassen would be the third plaintiff to settle out of court this year in litigation arising from the way authorities handled the controversial cases.
Former foster parent Bob Devereaux agreed to drop his lawsuit against the city in exchange for $290,000. William Davis, a former Sunday School bus driver, settled with four agencies, including the city and state, for$149,500. In those settlements, the government agencies admitted no wrongdoing.
Glassen sued the city, Perez, police officer Terry Pippin and the state Department of Social and Health Services. He claimed he was falsely arrested and imprisoned and that Perez and Pippin helped get him fired from his state job. He alleged Perez also drummed up false allegations. He contended the state wrongfully terminated him.
Perez has repeatedly denied he did anything improper.
The portion of his lawsuit against the state is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 13 in Chelan County Superior Court.
In his original claim filed in 1995, Glassen sought damages of $750,000.
Glassen's public involvement in the sex-abuse investigations began in August 1994 when he was arrested by then-Wenatchee Police Sgt. Doug Tangen on suspicion of tampering with a witness. Police claimed Glassen had improperly contacted and talked to a 15-year-old girl who had accused foster parent Bob Devereaux of sex abuse. The charges against Devereaux were later dropped.
Glassen, then a state caseworker monitoring longterm foster care cases, has said he was informing the girl, who suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome and had an IQ in the mid-80s, what foster home she would be placed in.
In the middle of the discussion, Glassen said she told him that Perez had pressured her into accusing Devereaux, a claim Perez has denied. Glassen said he reported the girl's comments to authorities. A day later, he was arrested for witness tampering.
The felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and then dismissed in February 1995.
He was fired in March 1995, after being on administrative leave for seven months. State officials maintained Glassen was let go because he defied orders and obstructed a police investigation into Perez' cases. They later claimed Glassen had failed to report suspected child abuse. Glassen denied the allegations.
In a police report written by Perez prior to Glassen's dismissal, Glassen was accused of withholding information. Perez indicated the information could have helped him break up an alleged sex ring two months before he cracked the case. The existence of sex rings operating in Wenatchee has since been discounted by officials, courts and the media.
Canada : Alain Andre wins wrongful arrest case
The Montreal Gazette 17/9/99
MONTREAL - Montreal police and prosecutors have to pay $366,800 plus interest to a former councillor for wrongfully arresting him on sexual assault charges.
In awarding the damages to Alain Andre and his wife, Superior Court Justice Luc Lefebvre sharply criticized a police investigator and a Crown prosecutor for basing their case solely on the statements of Mr. Andre's adopted daughter, who was described as having psychological problems.
"The nightmare has finally ended," said Mr. Andre, 59, a former mayoral candidate. "The reason I fought my case is that you can't accuse someone without a minimum of proof."
Mr. Andre was opposition leader at city hall in 1994 when his adopted 25-year-old daughter told police he had beaten and raped her when she was a child.
He was arrested at home and held in a jail cell until he was released on bail the same day. The charges were dropped by prosecutors before the preliminary inquiry stage, after Mr. Andre's lawyers gave prosecutors 40 affidavits from people who refuted his daughter's accusations.
Judge Lefebvre awarded Mr. Andre and his wife, Lorraine Drouin, $366,800. With interest, the final figure will be close to $500,000.
Lawyers involved in the case said the decision could have far-reaching consequences on sexual-assault cases, because Judge Lefebvre ruled that police need more than just an alleged victim's version of events.
Since sexual-assault cases often come down to the alleged victim's words against the person he or she is accusing, that need for extra proof could make police reluctant to lay charges for fear of lawsuits, the lawyers said- especially in cases where the assault is alleged to have taken place years before.
Judge Lefebvre ruled that investigator Raoul Lacombe of Montreal
police didn't seek corroborating proof, even though he was urged
to do so by his boss.
And the judge also criticises the prosecutor in the case, Ghislaine Larrivee.
"The court is of the opinion that the prosecutor, Mme.
NZ: Peter Ellis
Australian False Memory Association
Email the AFMA at email@example.com
PO Box 694
88 88 77