Today, two articles were published by the Sunday Star Times which highlight a troubling aspect regarding the recent changes in ACC guidelines (or clinical pathway)… ACC advisor silent on links to sex abusers (29 August, 2010), and Conflicting interests?
Reading these articles has left me with questions…
- How much influence have the ideologies of Bert Potter (a convicted pedophile), indirectly had on ACC Sensitive Claims Unit policies?
- If ACC commissioned research directly from Felicity Goodyear-Smith, why? What was the motivation, considering her stance and ideologies were well known at the time of the later studies.
- Why did ACC commission research from a GP, rather than psychologists, psychiatrists or clinical psychologists?
- Why did ACC commission research from a person who was a founding member of a group dedicated to defending those accused of sexual crimes (Casualities of Sexual Allegations – COSA), and who has been used as an expert witness defending the accused?
- Why did ACC commission research from someone who could later argue “that gonorrhoea in pre-pubescent children was not necessarily an indicator of sexual abuse”? (see Conflicting interests? and What is the evidence for non-sexual transmission of gonorrhoea in children after the neonatal period? A systematic review)
- My knowledge of the tertiary sector, would indicate that the research was directly commissioned. However, if ACC commissioned the research from The University of Auckland, and they assigned the research to her… why was it assigned to her and why did ACC commission more research without any provisos that she not be involved in further research associated with sexual abuse?
- In the research where Ethic Committee approval was needed, what was disclosed about any conflicts of interest regarding the study? Not only of the main researcher, but also other people involved in the study.
But, the most important question…
What is ACC going to do with this information?
One step was the appointment of the review panel, who are looking at the changes in policy and their impact on claimants… but this was instigated by a Dr Nick Smith under pressure from the opposing political party and public pressure in the form of survivor rallies and news stories about the suicide of women refused ACC funded counselling (see Denied help for sexual abuse, dead days later).
It also seems hard to believe that ACC didn’t know the type of research, or outcomes that would be produced, when the book First do no harm: The sex abuse industry, was published in 1993. So the ideologies were well known before the 2003 and 2005 ACC research was commissioned. So, may be the more appropriate question is…
What is ACC going to do, now that this information is public?
On a personal note… One of the arguments put forth by Felicity Goodyear-Smith, is that children seek out sexual contact with adults as part of a consensual act. I find this the greatest insult. I initiated sexual contact with adults, I know this and carry the shame and confusion as a result. But, well before I did this, I had been forced into sexual situations which were beyond my ability to cope or understand them. I was abused. I was used. I was stripped of my humanity and treated as a plaything. I was so sexualised by the time that I initiated the contact, that I didn’t know what the appropriate sexual boundaries were. I thought that it was “normal” to play those games. I also found that it was over more quickly if you acted a certain way. It hurt less. It was also one way to get a sense of power, in an otherwise powerless situation. So one statement, treated as generalised fact, can hide a huge range of issues and problems. There are no simple answers when it comes to child sexual abuse… well, there’s one simple answer – it’s wrong… morally, ethically and legally wrong.
I’d like to thank Tim Hume, Barrie Leslie and Kyle MacDonald for speaking out. I know there are others, not named in the articles who contributed, so would like to thank them as well…