(emphasis mine)


A number of articles have been published that purport to prove that many, if not most, allegations of sexual abuse in divorce are false. These articles were based on anecdotal reports of what various clinicians had observed in their private practices. Reports based solely on anecdotal reports cannot be considered as hard science and the findings cannot be used to prove anything about the overall rates of false allegations in divorce or any other situation. These anecdotal reports are merely what a few individuals saw in a non-representative sample of cases. They tell us nothing about what is happening in general in our country.

The impression that rates of false allegations of sexual abuse are enormous has been created by a number of psychologists and doctors who have written up a selection of their cases in which all or most described a false allegation of sexual abuse.16 These articles have been frequently referenced in other articles where the limitations of anecdotal case studies have not been mentioned. These anecdotal case studies took on the illusion of being hard science and of being supported by factual findings because they were so frequently referred to. Descriptive case studies are nothing more than a tiny slice of reality that tell us nothing about all of the other cases in existence.

One of the case studies commonly cited is that of Arthur Green. He described five cases, four of which he concluded involved false allegations of sexual abuse.17 Benedek and Schetky described cases involving 18 children referred to them during custody or visitation disputes. They found sexual abuse in only 8 of the children, giving a false accusation rate of 55 percent.18 Schuman described seven cases, all of which he claimed were false accusations.19 Wakefield and Underwager claimed that nearly all allegations of sexual abuse are false. They reported that three-fourths of the cases they had seen had involved false allegations.20

There are some striking similarities in all of these anecdotal reports. All described cases in the private practices of the author. Cases were few in number and there was no reason to believe they were representative of all disputed custody cases. There has been harsh criticism of the work of Underwager and Wakefield21 as well as Green22 among respected social scientists.

A good scientist simply cannot claim that anecdotal case descriptions tell us about the population in general. If I were a forensic psychiatrist or psychologist who had a practice devoted exclusively or almost exclusively to serving those who have been accused of child sexual abuse, and if my criteria for determining that an allegation was false was to accept the declarations of the accused, then I could quite easily arrive at findings that 50 or 75 or even 100 percent of allegations of sexual abuse were false. My findings, however, would never be accepted by good scientists as anything more than a description of the people in my own practice. No good scientist would agree that my findings could tell them anything about all people or about all contested custody cases.

To put it another way, if I were to go to a prison and interview twenty men in maximum security, I might conclude, based on that sample of men, that 50 percent of men are murderers.23

Good samples look at large numbers of people that are likely to represent society in general. The study that found that only two percent of contested custody cases involved allegations of sexual abuse consisted of all of the cases of contested custody and visitation in eight legal jurisdictions situated in several different states. There were 9,000 cases in the sample of contested custody or visitation.24 This is a sample a good scientist can trust. What we see in this sample is very likely to be true in other areas and in the population in general.

The criteria used for sexual abuse are extremely important when doing research. Ralph Underwager never defines his criteria for sexual abuse, but one of his statements might give some insight as to what he might consider sexually abusive. He gave an interview in 1991 to a journal called PAIDIKA, which labels itself as the Journal of Pedophilia. In it, he said: “Pedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that pedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings.”25

Read the rest of Marilyn McDonald's The Myth of Epidemic False Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Divorce Cases.

Wow Underwager is pro-pedophilia, too? I'm starting to see a trend (see Warren Farrell).

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