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USA v. Peterson, et al.

The Suit by Lynn Carl

The following are three excerpts from issues of the FMS Foundation Newsletter, dealing with the action taken by Lynn Carl.

Vol 4 No. 4, April 3, 1995

Woman Sues Therapists Over 500 Personalities Claim

March 8, 1995
reported in Houston Chronicle by Deborah Tedford

A federal lawsuit has been filed by Lynn Carl seeking $18 million from psychologist Judith Peterson, Spring Shadows Glen and at least 23 other mental health practitioners and businesses, most of them in Houston. Carl said that she spent more than $2 million on mental health treatment after therapists convinced her she was a Satan worshiper ritually abused since childhood. Carl claims that she was hypnotized. According to Carl, when she told her therapists she did not believe any such events had happened, she was told that her memories had been repressed in order to deal with the abuse. She said she was told that her personality had fragmented into different ones in order to cope with the ritual murder, cannibalism and torture. Even though she had no memory of abusing her own children, Carl claims that therapists forced her to report herself to the police as a child abuser. Carl believes that her mental state deteriorated during her two years of treatment. She is now divorced and not allowed to see her children. Lynn Carl’s attorney is Skip Simpson of Dallas.

Vol 5 No. 8, September 1, 1996

Another Malpractice Suit is Settled

(Carl v. Peterson, Spring Shadows Glen Psychiatric Hosp.,,
U.S. Dist. Ct., Southern Dist., Texas, Case No. H-95-661)

[Footnote: See FMSF Newsletter, March 1995.]
(This footnote was in error; should have referred to April 1995.)

The final defendants in a malpractice suit filed against psychologist Judith Peterson, Spring Shadows Glen Hospital and at least 23 other mental health practitioners and businesses settled on July 1, 1996 for an undisclosed sum under a confidentiality agreement. Some of the defendants had settled out-of-court earlier this year.

The suit, filed by Lynn Carl, originally sought $18 million for misdiagnosis of MPD and SRA and instructing Carl to report herself to the police as a child abuser- even though she had no memory of ever abusing her own children. Carl has recently reconciled with her husband and children.

According to The Houston Chronicle, 2/4/96, at least eight former patients of Houston psychologist Judith Peterson have sued her in district courts for coercion and the use of hypnosis and drugs to plant false memories of satanic ritual abuse. Peterson, who has denied all allegations of professional or ethical impropriety, has reached out-of-court settlements with at least five former patients. Terms of the settlements are confidential. At least five complaints against Peterson have been filed with the state psychology board by former patients and nurses. Spring Shadows Glen hospital in Houston and its Dissociative Disorders Unit were shut down by the state of Texas in 1992.

Vol 6 No. 9, October 1997

Jury Awards $5.8 Million in Satanic Memories Case

Mark Smith, Houston Chronicle, 8/16/97
Carl v. Peterson, U.S. Federal Ct., Southern Dist.
Case No. H-95-661, Judge Ewing Werlein Jr.[1]

On August 15th, a Texas jury awarded nearly $5.8 million to a woman who claimed her family was torn apart when her psychotherapy produced false memories of satanic ritual abuse. The judgment is believed to be the largest among several handed down in recent years against therapists accused of implanting false memories of sexual abuse, often involving a satanic cult.[2] Many other such suits filed around the country have been settled out of court.

Lynn Carl filed the malpractice suit in March 1995 against some 25 Texas mental health professionals and organizations. All but two defendants settled out of court prior to trial. Remaining defendant psychiatrist Gloria Keraga treated Carl during the early 1990s when Carl and her two minor children were hospitalized at Spring Shadows Glen. Carl states that her treatment convinced her that she had developed more than 500 personalities to cope with past satanic ritual abuse, ritual murder, cannibalism and torture. Carl testified that she was never warned the memories she recovered through hypnosis and other forms of psychotherapy might be unreliable. In addition, she was forced to report herself to the police as a child abuser, even though she had no memory of abusing children. The family’s two years of treatment cost $2 million, with Keraga charging $225 per day per patient. During this time, Carl states that her mental state deteriorated and she blamed herself for her children’s problems. She divorced and was no longer allowed to see her children. Last December, the Carl family was reunited and Lynn and her husband remarried.

Carl’s teenage children were also hypnotized at Spring Shadows Glen. They came to believe they had been programmed by the cult and that they had to come up with new memories in order to get better and be released from the hospital. Carl’s daughter described her treatment in Spring Shadows Glen as "a year of extensive brainwashing." Carl’s husband testified that he was told his family had retrieved memories that they "raped, robbed, sold drugs, murdered and cannibalized." Keraga, he said, "never portrayed these things as anything but true."

During trial, Keraga testified that she didn’t know if the specific memories Carl recovered in therapy were true, but said she believed the "gist" of them. One of Keraga’s attorneys, Suzan Cardwell, argued that the medical care Keraga provided was a reasonable effort to help the patient work through severe emotional problems. Cardwell described members of the family as "evil," and said Carl demonstrated symptoms of abuse. Referring to Carl’s journals, Cardwell said such memories could not be falsely implanted.

Jurors said they reached a general consensus in favor of plaintiff Carl during the first few minutes of their deliberations. Several jurors said they were concerned Keraga and other Spring Shadows Glen therapists failed to warn their patients about the risks of the treatment. The jury found that Keraga as an individual bore 12 percent and Keraga, Inc. bore an additional 12 percent of the liability in the case. A number of others (who had already settled out of court) were identified as sharing the blame for Carl’s negligent treatment. A separate negligence claim by Carl’s children is still pending.

"This verdict validates my story, and I hope gives strength to those other patients who have suffered similar abuse," said Carl. Carl’s attorney, Skip Simpson of Dallas, argued during the trial that therapists implanted false memories that worsened Carl’s condition so they could collect more than $1.1 million in insurance. "This case was all about creating victims so the mental health field could have patients and expensive treatment," he said.

1. See FMSF Newsletter April 1995, Smith, M. (8/10/97) "Family says therapists implanted ‘false memories’ of satanic abuse," Houston Chronicle, and Tedford, D. (3/8/95) "Woman sues her therapists alleging fraud," Houston Chronicle.

2. For a review of some of these cases, see FMSF publication #833. Carl is one of more than a dozen patients who filed lawsuits against therapists at the former Spring Shadows Glen Hospital in Houston. The patients allege that therapists planted false memories of abuse and misdiagnosed multiple personality disorder. In 1993, Spring Shadows Glen closed the dissociative disorders unit, where Carl and the other patients were treated, after state authorities cited the hospital for excessive use of physical restraints on patients and, in one case, making a patient’s discharge contingent upon safety from a "satanic cult."

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