On Tuesday, September 8, 1998, the first criminal trial involving charges against therapists in connection with "false" or "recovered" memories opened in Houston, TX. A sixty-count indictment was brought against five former employees of Spring Shadows Glen Hospital. One count was for conspiracy, the other 59 for mail fraud.
Among other things, the prosecution intended to establish that the defendants applied techniques associated with mind control or "brainwashing" to induce patients to believe that they had been ritually abused, sexually and otherwise, in satanic cults.
In this section you will find background material, expert commentary and a compendium of news about the trial as it was ongoing in 1998.
Reporter Mark Smith covered this trial for the Houston Chronicle. You may find those articles in the Houston Chronicle’s Archives.
Newspaper Reports of the Indictment
On October 29 and 30, 1997, Mark Smith of the Houston Chronicle published two articles that we have summarized here. The first article reported on the indictment and the second described some professional reaction.
A list of statements or guidelines dealing with "recovered memory" that have been issued over the years by various professional organizations. The list is accompanied by selected excerpts addressing several important topics.
A Challenge to Psychotherapy
MPD and Satanic Ritual Abuse
"It’s in the DSM-IV"
Why Believe Without Evidence
Drs. Braun, Sachs, Hammond et al. discuss ritual child abuse
Events and Commentary
Basic Facts About the Trial
United States v Peterson et al.
Trial Location: U S District Court, 515 Rusk Avenue, Room 9136, Houston, Texas 77002
Trial Judge: Honorable Ewing Werlein, Jr.
For Legal matters:
R. Christopher Barden, Ph.D., J.D., LP R.C. Barden & Associates
On social implications and professionalism:
Spencer Harris Morfit
For Psychiatric issues:
to be announced
Comments on the Issues
On Professional Standards
Speculation and Manipulation
License Revocation Hearing
The Department of Professional Regulation of the State of Illinois has brought a complaint against Bennett G. Braun, M.D., whom it accuses of three counts of gross negligence, three counts of dishonorable, unethical or unprofessional conduct, one count of misrepresentation, one count of misuse of a controlled substance or narcotic, and one count of behavior demonstrating incapacity or incompetence to practice, all in connection with his handling of the case of Patricia Burgus and her family. Dr. Braun, who has been named as an undicted co-conspirator in the Houston criminal trial, is the founder and former Medical Director of the Dissociative Disorders Unit (now closed) at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Skokie, Illinois. He is a founder of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality Disorder, (ISSMPD) subsequently changed to The International Society for the Study of Dissociation (ISSD). A preliminary hearing of the State of Illinois complaint took place on September 28. Dr. Braun's lawyers asked that the complaint be quashed on statute-of-limitations grounds, but this objection was overruled. A second complaint has been filed by the Department against another psychiatrist, Dr. Elva Poznanski.
A pre-trial hearing in the case against Dr. Braun took place on November 9, 1998.
Related Events and Materials
Transcripts of tapes of therapy sessions involving one patient, and of a telephone conversation where her case was discussed, which were submitted in evidence at the trial, as well as transcripts of tapes and of a video recording of therapy sessions involving members of another family, are now in the public domain and are available here. By request, we have changed patient names in our posted copies of these transcripts.
Defendants Initiate New Proceedings
Text of the Motion to Dismiss
As is usual, 12 jurors and four alternates had been chosen at the beginning of the trial. Judge Werlein had no alternative but to declare a mistrial after a fifth juror was removed and the defense objected to continuing with only eleven jurors.
Last Updated: January 29, 2014
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