The following article was sent to me recently, I am unsure if it is available elsewhere online.
I have reproduced it in full here as I believe it makes a lot of sense and also backs up the view I hold personally, regarding some cases of historical childhood abuse not being exactly what they appear to be.
Although I fully expect this to be seen as a personal attack on abuse survivors in certain quarters of the Twittersphere and elsewhere, I can assure you that ‘GENUINE’ survivors of abuse have nothing to fear from anything highlighted here.
What the article also does, is go some way to explaining the recent behaviour of certain ex-residents of residential care homes, and so-called abuse ‘campaigners’ towards both myself and others who are trying to cut through the fog of distraction and disinformation, especially in regard to historic abuse cases in both North and South Wales.
I have always believed that it is vitally important to look at both sides of any story, and study all available evidence before committing myself either way.
So in the interests of balance and fairness:
“An alternative view of historic child abuse.”
“I have long been concerned with aspects of historical claims of alleged sexual abuse within Children’s Establishments, which until now, I found inexplicable.
Why, for example did children make no claim at the time of the alleged abuse, or reasonably soon afterwards, when there were ample avenues of complaint, both within and outside the establishment open to them?
Why did they wait until adulthood, and why, even then, deny such allegations during the early interviews of a police investigation but make claims of abuse during the later stages?
How could someone with no personal experience of being sexually abused, describe such an act, in explicit and harrowing detail, to the police or a jury?
Why were certain staff members accused even though later evidence proved that such accusations could not have been possible?
I was also concerned by the apparent change of attitude toward the claimants, (who had by then reached adulthood) by many whose life’s work had been to care for them and others when they were difficult and disturbed children.
What I am proposing is that there is an alternative view of the sexual abuse said to have occurred in Children’s Establishments. While it would be difficult, if not impossible to prove, it certainly answers many of the hitherto unanswered questions and offers a different way of viewing what is said to have taken place.
It is my view that there are four categories of complainants and that the possible life experiences of those within each category would have a profound impact on their reasons for making allegations and the probable results of such claims. I would also like to demonstrate that the ways in which proposed enquiries into historic events within Children’s Establishments were set up and the manner in which ensuing police enquiries were handled, could be seen to both promote and to legitimize many allegations of abuse within those establishments when in fact, the truth lay elsewhere.
When official figures were published some twenty or more years ago concerning the numbers of children being sexually abused in their own homes, many people were highly sceptical. However, later evidence and experience has convinced the majority that these figures do, in fact, have some substance. The general opinion today is that there is widespread child sexual abuse, and it may even be that public opinion has swung to such an extreme that such abuse is perceived, even in the most innocent acts of affection.
The Four Categories of Complainants
Those who genuinely suffered sexual abuse while at a Children’s Establishment.
Those who genuinely suffered sexual abuse but in a totally different environment, usually their own home.
Those who had not suffered sexual abuse but had been peripherally involved in some way.
Those who had not suffered nor had been peripherally involved in sexual abuse, but were hired by the perceived opportunities offered.
It is clear that some children were sexually abused in Children’s Establishments while in the care of the Local Authorities.
Their complaints were sometimes made at the time of the abuse, sometimes historically, but were shown to have been justified when those against whom the complaints were made pleaded guilty to the charges. It is unlikely that a complete picture of such tragic events will ever emerge and further speculation would prove fruitless.
If widespread sexual abuse of children within their own homes is accepted, it is reasonable to assume that the antisocial behaviour, (a symptom of abuse), of some of the children taken into the care of the Local Authorities stemmed, at least in part, from such abuse in their own homes.
If a child complained at home of being abused by a member of the family or a close family friend, the response could be quite inhibiting. The complaint could be greeted with anger or total disbelief, since to accept the accusation would have implications, by association, for all the family. The child could be accused of lying or being malicious and the accusation suppressed, which would leave the child with feelings of bewilderment and guilt that he or she might be the cause of breaking up the family. Some children have been too afraid to complain because of threats by the abuser of personal harm or self banishment from the family.
Such a child, finding itself taken into “Care”, could still feel unable to complain of the abuse suffered lest that complaint met with the same responses. This would be coupled with the fear of not being allowed home again.
Those with experience of working with children know that most of them cling to their own homes, returning there wherever possible, in spite of knowing that they may suffer neglect or ill treatment while there.
The abused child would carry the guilt, shame and other tragic consequences of sexual abuse in silence, and despite the numerous opportunities available, while in care, to make a complaint, would never feel able to do so.
These opportunities for complaints of sexual abuse, if occurring within the establishment, would still be available to the child. They would not, however carry the constraints of silence, self imposed by the child in his own home, but unless such abuse was occurring, he or she would have no reason to complain.
Many who were in care as children continued to offend and spend time in Young Offenders Institutions, Borstals or Prisons. There is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that sexual abuse by other inmates does occur in such institutions and for some, this could be their first experience of being sexually abused.
The reasons for keeping quiet about such abuse would clearly be different from those of children abused in their own homes, but would be equally inhibiting.
It is highly likely that the horror of such assaults, wherever they had taken place and however long ago, would remain with the victims, no matter what their later life experiences were.
If in adulthood, someone from this category of complainant found themselves in a court of law describing these events there is little doubt that any jury would be moved by the genuine horror and pathos of such an account and would overlook the seemingly irrelevant inaccuracies of the setting.
It would be shown later that such “irrelevancies” could in fact prove to be vital factors in the defence of an innocent man, wrongly accused of sexual abuse.
If the proposed background history of claimants in Category 2 is accepted it must follow that there are those who have been aware of sexual abuse happening, while not themselves being the victims. Siblings of abused children could well have seen or heard such acts taking place or may have been told about them later.
Victimology and scape-goating are respected theories and could go some way to explaining why one child in a family is brutally treated while the others escape to a greater or lesser degree.
Whatever the facts, any child within the family and having knowledge of sexual abuse taking place, would have as much of a vested interest as the victim in remaining silent.
If the witnessed abuse took place within an institution, there would again be a good reason for silence.
It is reasonable to assume that anyone in this category making a claim of personal sexual abuse, for whatever reason, would be less able to convince a jury of their suffering than a complainant from category 3.
They would then surely need a more detailed recall of the setting and a more convincing account of both the circumstances and the said abuser for the alleged offence to sound confusing.
Claimants in this category could be described as opportunists, using all enquiry purely for their own gain. This could well be described in terms of the theory of Negative Reciprocity, I,E, the desire to take without giving in return.
It is reasonable to assume that a judge or jury would not be particularly moved by their accounts of personal abuse since such accounts would be totally without foundation.
In such circumstances, any discrepancies in the description of the setting, course of events and the said abuser must be glaringly obvious.
The Compensation Culture
The manner in which many historic abuse cases were set up was highly reminiscent of the media campaign in which accident victims were invited to claim the compensation to which they might be entitled on a no win no fee basis.
In the abuse enquiries, anyone who considered that they had been abused in a care establishment was invited to come forward and make a complaint. I do not intend to criticise the methods used by the police in their ensuing investigations as these have been dealt with at length by many who had first-hand experience of them.
I shall merely comment on then insofar as they effect the hypothesis I set out.
Nor do I suggest that all who claim to have been sexually abused in a children’s establishment have made false claims.
Those persons in Category 1, who claimed retrospectively, may have been prompted to do so by the enquiry.
However their claims have clearly vindicated and it is hoped that, together with the compensation to which they were entitled, that they also receive peace of mind from finally being able to admit to a long-held, dark secret.
Many young men who made complaints of sexual abuse in a children’s establishment, did so after having denied such claims during several police visits.
However, continuing visits seemed to be giving a clear message, i.e. if you have been abused, you are entitled to compensation.
They also learned that certain staff members had been arrested, or were being questioned in connection with assaults, and that claims being made against them could lead to substantial compensation for the claimants.
It is not surprising therefore, that their attitudes changed and possibly also, their perception of the situation.
This in my view, is how the continuing pressure of the police investigations prompted claims which were otherwise unlikely to have been made and legitimised them in the minds of the claimants by their appropriate disclosure.
The reasons for such changes in attitudes would be dependent on their personal life experiences of complainants and would vary accordingly.
The “Taken into Consideration” Culture
Whatever the personal motivation for each false accusation thus made, it is extremely worrying that, no matter how tenuous were the initial lines of enquiry, when several such complaints were made, or in this premise, “promoted” a reasonable case of ‘guilt by volume’ could be said to exist against a defendant.
It is an accepted fact that many complainants have a history of criminal activity and would therefore be conversant with the implications of having offences for which they were being questioned, “taken into consideration” (TIC’d).
This is something the police, on other occasions would have urged them to do to “clear the slate” without it affecting the outcome of an impending court case.
If, therefore, a complainant was considering making a false accusation, provided that accusation was made against someone already charged with similar offences, the complainant could assure himself that it would not affect the outcome of the case and so assure himself that he/she was harming no-one.
Many suggestions have been put forward to explain why false accusations of historic sexual abuse have been made. The main reason for claiming has always been said to have been the lure of money and this is likely to be true.
Other suggestions have been vindictiveness or the opportunity to explain away a life of crime as the direct result of childhood abuse. Coupled with the latter is the suggestion that leniency might be shown by a court of law if such extenuating circumstances could be put forward as a defence in an impending court appearance.
For some, or all the reasons, could motivate any claimant and for those in Category 4, having never been involved in an abusive situation, it is unlikely that there was really no other motivation.
For those in Categories 2 and 3, having experienced or have been peripherally involved in sexual abuse at some earlier stages in their lives, there could be more complex motives for making false accusations.
The constraints that kept them silent as children and adolescents appear to have remained into adulthood since they make no claims of past suffering prior to the investigations.
However, the unqualified message emanating from the abuse enquiries and the ensuing investigations appears to have been, “anyone who has suffered abuse is entitled to compensation.” this could have been grasped by many past victims of abuse and those closely involved, as their only chance to gain the recompense to which they considered themselves to be entitled, without involving any of the people they had, (or so long, either protected or feared).
Displacement theory would describe the actions of some claimants, so badly damaged by past experiences, that they had come to fully believe that their abuser and place of abuse were not the actual person and setting, but a staff member in a Care Home.
The Unacceptable Face of Allegations
For the majority, however, the accusations would be calculatingly made and any compunction felt at naming the wrong person had already been dealt with and the guilt neutralized when it was understood from police interviews that the named person was already facing similar charges anyway.
As was stated earlier, to convince a jury, when making a false accusation, it is to be assumed that a clear memory of the establishment and the staff member named would be necessary.
What is now known is that some complainants in sex abuse cases have been “coached” by legal advisers in courtroom skills and it is said that some witnesses have been effectively coached into giving false testimony.
It is still a fact, however that juries tend to gloss over inconstancies in such details as time and place, etc, if the account of the abuse appears to be genuine.
What is really worrying about all this is that these inconsistent “details” are, in fact not merely trivia, but vital evidence.
Any enquiry of an historic nature is bound to contain inaccuracies and inconsistencies because of the lapse of time.
When little documentation is still available of few, if any, witnesses are left to describe the actual establishment and it’s routine at the time of the alleged offences, it can prove a sometimes impossible task for an innocent man to clear his name.
It is in such a situation that the jury’s attention must be drawn to the fact that these discrepancies are important and could be the vital factor in proving whether the offence could has taken place at the time and in the location stated and by the person named.
It is also imperfective that the same leeway for human error and lapse of memory for detail be granted to both the complainant and accused alike.
While one may feel deep sympathy for the life experiences of many of the complainants and recognize that their later problems may stem directly from their early suffering, it must never be forgotten that the circumstances created through the manner in which the abuse enquiries and the ensuing police investigations were developed and conducted have been directly responsible for numerous false claims to be made and for many innocent men to be serving long prison sentences.
Some of the false accusations were finally discarded by the CPS but in many of these instances, the innocent men accused had spent up to two years with the threat of of a court case hanging over them and their careers were ruined and their reputations were in shreds.
In other instances, claims were accepted at face value by the police and the CPS, without the most elementary checks being made to verify the plausibility of the claims being made.
Many of these claims were later shown to be totally unfounded and were criticized by file courts but the effect on the men accused and their families was still devastating.
While it may be possible, after a lapse of some twenty or thirty years to prove that a guilty person did commit a criminal act, without accurate documentation and reliable witnesses, the methodology of recent inquiries has shown that it can be impossible for an innocent man to prove he did not commit the acts of abuse.
This is, particularly true when, in such cases, a man appears to be deemed guilty until he can prove his innocence which is a direct contravention of the mainstay of British Justice.
Publicity has also been withheld from the number of malicious claims that were made, for whatever reasons, and were later shown up for what they were. It is probably such behaviour that has soured the attitudes of many who’s life’s work was once given to dealing with difficult and disturbed children.
They have been forced to realize that anyone who worked with children, especially in a residential setting, is now as vulnerable as the children themselves once were.
It is a fact that in some establishments, up to sixty percent of the male staff members were accused of historical sexual abuse and were charged by the police.
Many of the charges were later dropped, several cases were not proceeded with and some men were found not guilty.
Of the few remaining, there are grave doubts over the veracity of some of the guilty verdicts.
Surely this must point to the hysteria that is associated with the very term of sexual abuse and the inappropriateness of it’s use when often all that happened was that a distraught child was restrained or an upset child comforted.
Future Prospects Damaged
It is not surprising that the current view of many on the threshold of a career, or contemplating voluntary work, is to avoid working with children in any capacity lest they too should find themselves at the centre of an unfounded abuse scandal, against which there appears to be no defence in today’s political climate.
The foregoing is not intended to answer questions, nor to solve problems. What I feel compelled to do is to show that there is an alternative way of viewing claims of historical sexual abuse.”
Mrs. I. M. Jensen, BA (Hons), August 2003
Mrs Jensen is the wife of a former Headmaster of a Community Home in South Wales which has been subjected to police investigations. Like her husband (who has never been accused of abuse) she is concerned for several members of his staff, and others throughout Wales who have been falsely accused of abuse.