Friday, December 3, 2010
Day 8 of the Canadian Case
So while the pro-polygamy side presents a witness that is obviously not an expert, the anti-polygamy side presents an experienced psychologist who testifies that he has treated multiple victims of polygamy for post traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorders.
The court day started with Ms. Ruth Lane on the telephone speaking to the court from Hurricane, Utah, where she resides. Ms. Lane is the woman who objected to excerpts of her video evidence being put out on the internet. She was the tenth wife of Winston Blackmore, and has seven children by him. Although Ms. Lane admits to being on television in the past with her story (she appeared on Dr. Phil), she said, “I don’t share my story with just anybody. I chose to tell my story that it would be open to the public in the court. . .I have no problem with the media are reporting on my story as seen in court. . .”
Mr. Burnett, lawyer for the media, asked Ms. Lane is she had been asked all questions regarding public knowledge of her testimony.
Ms. Lane said, “I am objecting to being posted online. I would not have shared my story if I had known the media would be editing it to their liking.”
His Lordship Justice Bauman reserved his decision on the matter.
Dr. Larry Beall, a clinical psychologist in Salt Lake City who also has a Masters Degree in Education and who is an expert witness for the AGBC appeared in court because his affidavit was challenged by Dr. Matt Davies who is a witness for the FLDS. He was asked by AGBC Attorney Karen Horsman to outline his experience briefly for the court and to explain how he became involved with helping women and children from the FLDS.
Dr. Beall explained to the court that he specializes in the diagnosis of mental problems. He opened the The Trauma Awareness and Treatment Centre in Salt Lake City in 1994. His referrals are mostly from the State and Federal Government and Medicaid. He does interface work within the community, e.g. seminars on trauma in society. Over the years he has worked with approx. 5600 patients with at least 400 of those children.
The State has requirements for treatment of domestic violence. Dr. Beall found that domestic violence victims did not have sufficient life skills to survive. He wrote a guideline manual for helping train those victims for the Division of Workforce Services.
Dr. Beall first became involved with ex-FLDS women and their children by doing some pro bono work for Tapestry Against Polygamy (TAP)—an advocacy group that helps women who are escaping from the FLDS cult. He also receives patients through Diversity—an advocacy group for FLDS lost boys. Before any patient is referred to him, they are assessed by a State-run triage system.
There are a team of workers in his treatment centre that meet for weekly staff meetings, discuss challenges and problems, and make decisions on treatment modes. Dr. Beall has treated eight women of the many who were referred to the centre, all from Mormon-based polygamy groups, some FLDS, some Kingston, some Harmston. He has helped with over 100 assessments. All had core problems showing that the doctrinal teaching of being saved within the confines of their respective cults was there, they had little education, and they had lived under a tight focus of control. Eleven males from Hildale, Utah/Colorado City, AZ were referred to the clinic. Dr. Beall worked directly with six of the young men. The women were treated through 12-16 sessions; the young men, 6-10 sessions.
Dr. Beall was an expert witness in the YFZ Ranch trials in Texas. He had no prior exposure to the FLDS until his first pro bono work with TAP.
(Note: For those of you who have been following this campaign from its start in 2003, you will remember that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff set up a Safety Net Committee in 2004. He invited all who were involved with Mormon polygamy in any capacity to come to the first meeting. Representatives from TAP went to the meeting hopeful that at last Utah was going to take responsibility for the polygamy issue. Direct sources revealed to me that TAP was not allowed to have a voice at the meeting because they were against the practice of polygamy. Proponents of polygamy, e.g. Anne Wilde and Mary Bachelor were given a place at the table, TAP was not! When the raid in Texas happened, Utah spent thousands sending these women and others to Texas to teach social workers there about polygamy.—Enough, I can feel the bile boiling in the pit of my stomach.)
Dr. Beall was queried about various treatment models in psychology and main diagnostic tool manuals. He answered affirmative to all. Dr. Beall explained the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thread that is common to all he treated. He said the women usually left because they could no longer tolerate the harm being done to them and/or their children; and, the boys/young men left because they didn’t want to be assigned to another “father” or were kicked out because they were deemed rebellious.
All suffered from Adjustment Disorder which includes many symptoms found in PTSD. In PTSD, Dr. Beall explained, memories disrupt daily experience. Many suffer cognitive dissonance which is not a diagnosis but is one level of their trauma. What Dr. Beall states he has witnessed far exceeds the symptoms for cognitive dissonance. The females internalized symptoms such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame. They exhibited a robotic type presentation where they shut down their feelings. They exhibited no anger. The males exhibited externalized symptoms, angry that they had no survival skills to deal with a world they had been taught to mistrust; angry because they could not compete with the males in the cult; angry because they were taught that mental health problems were a weakness.
To answer Ms. Horsman’s question about Adolescent Development, Dr. Beall explained that adolescence is a time of identity formation. The adolescent must be able to exercise choice. Instead, adolescents in the FLDS and similar cults are taught that if they “feel that something happening by a priesthood leader is wrong, they are told that they are wrong to think that way—so natural feelings of what is wrong are not developed.” Sexual Grooming is the gradual relational conditioning that leads to sexual contact—the illusion is created that the sexual contact is consensual and the teen girl has responsibility in it.
Dr. Beall, “Since the priesthood perpetrator is a representative of God, if the teen girls does not comply, then she is displeasing God.”. . . “It is apparent that the FLDS has a structured sexual grooming pattern.”
Of the treatment models used, many overlap, Dr. Beall explained. The first issue is always safety. They must be taught life skills. A sense of connectivity to their new life must be established; and, most difficult is the cognitive restructuring—helping them think in positives, not negatives.
Dr. Beall is aware of and uses APA guidelines at the National Level.
Dr. Davies claimed in his opposition affidavit that Dr. Beall exhibited “bias” when he referred to FLDS polygamy survivors. Dr. Beall said the victims have been given thinking patterns instilled in them since birth. These people are taught complete compliance, that it is contingent on their very salvation.
Robert Wickett, attorney for the FLDS and James Oler, rose to cross-examine Dr. Beall. He asked Dr. Beall to define polygamy which Dr. Beall defined as one man with more than one wife. RW & DB for notes:
RW wanted to know if DB had retained permission to talk to the court about his cases.
DB said he did not and would not talk about individual cases because he had promised his clients that he would never divulge their personal experiences, but there are major themes that emerged through his observations.
RW wanted to know if DB could produce clinical notes.
DB said he could not and would not under HIPA (privacy law in US—I believe). And, his clients would feel very threatened—life or death situation!
RW brought up the possibility of DB malingering—that is fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders. . .
DB The problem with the FLDS is not one particular trauma, but there is a climate, a climate where the victim does not feel safe; e.g. witnessing violence against another can cause as much trauma to the witness as it does to the victim. Each woman suffered physical and sexual abuse. They felt unwanted sex was abuse, but that is not recognized by the courts.
RW brought up DB using hypnosis on patients to recover memories. He read a passage from Brent Jeffs’ book Lost Boy where it is said DB used hypnosis on him in treatment.
DB said that he does not use hypnosis because he believes it is unethical. He said that the passage in the book is wrong. That did not happen. DB did not treat Brent Jeffs. (I have not read Brent’s book so I do not know who the co-author is.)
RW wanted to know if DB thinks adults can consent to marriage.
DB once again explained that the critical thinking of teen FLDS members is denied. There is conditioning and indoctrination that shapes the way they think. Factors have to be weighed depending on their vulnerabilities.
RW wanted to know what DB’s ideas on the criminal prohibition bein lifted are.
DB said that is out of the scope of his expertise.
RW would not let the question rest.
DB said that there cannot be over of the conditioning of these people and the limits on their being able to make choices.
The attorney for the BCCLA rose to cross-examine.
BCCLA grilled DB on the DSM-4 guidelines and asked if PTSD is the principle diagnosis.
DB explained that PTSD is the principle condition caused by the principle diagnosis of anxiety.
BCCLA wanted to know if PTSD is the central theme in your case references.
DB agreed but said that the guidelines under DSM-4 reference the main identifiers as trauma.
BCCLA wanted to know if the women he had treated expressed fear for their lives and the lives of their children.
DB said they had. “We have treated at our clinic a number of adults who as children were abused.”
The attorney for the BC Teachers Federation rose to question Dr. Beall.
BCTF wanted to know if DB had worked with children from the FLDS.
DB said he had worked with children from the ALTA Academy—Warren Jeffs’ school.
BCTF wanted to know if DB saw any sign that they were taught critical thinking patterns.
DB said they had no training in critical thinking patterns.
Chief Justice Bauman thanked Dr. Beall and excused him from the witness stand.
THEN SCHEDULING MATTERS WERE BROUGHT UP! Court will not sit again until Tuesday, December Dec. 7. Then a Mr./Ms. Grossbard will be cross-examined. I do not have this affidavit. And, Dr. Zheng Wu, a witness for the FLDS will be cross-examined. Dr. Wu is Chair, Sociology Dep’t. University of Victoria. The rest of the week is scheduled for Dr. Joseph Henrich.
December 10 is my last day to be at this part of the reference.
My plans were to return the last two weeks of January for the final statements and summation. BUT it was decided in court today that it will take until the end of January for the evidentiary phase! There was some jostling of dates for the summation phase but some key attorneys were not present to confirm so this will be decided next week. One key attorney rose to say, “Your Lordship, I still want to be married at the end of this process.” This in response to the fact that he will not be available during spring break. There was a chorus of laughter throughout the courtroom. Obviously, there are stressors on everyone involved in this process.
Until Tuesday, then,
Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada