From notes by attendees
DISCLAIMER: The following material, based on hand-written notes, is presented for those who may be interested in the writers’ personal impressions of the courtroom proceedings as they happened. Although the writers have attempted to be as accurate as possible, the official transcripts remain the authoritative reference for what actually occurred.
Judge Werlein announced that a juror was not feeling well and that court would end at 3:30 so that she could get to a doctor. He also announced that Dr. Peterson would not be in court today, for she had an appointment that had nothing to do with this case. Dr. Peterson will be represented by her lawyers. She would return tomorrow.
The witness, Karen Thornton Sullivan, was questioned by government attorney Ollison. The testimony revealed the following:
Sullivan was young and inexperienced when she took over the CPS cases of Karen G. and Katherine S. when they were about to be released from SSG. Sullivan had started to work at Harris County Health and Protective Services right out of college in July 1992. She was given three months of training by CPS and was designated as a Specialist 1 for sexual abuse allegations. She is now a Specialist 4.
Peterson had called in CPS when Karen was first admitted because her mother, Lucy Abney, had come up with memories of abusing the girls. In a CPS document dated February 2, l992 Christy Dahl, case worker, had an initial interview with Katherine S.. Katherine said she had been sexually abused and electroshocked by the cult. Katherine had said that she was forced to have sex with her father and his friends. Katherine had said, however, that she remembers no sexual abuse by her stepfather. Katherine said that her mother banged her on her knees. She also said that her real father had started this whole thing.
Karen told the social worker that she blames her mother for taking her to cult meetings. She was burned on her arms. She had no problem with her stepfather.
The records showed that a telephone call had been made to Detective Barnes and he said that he had received the case. He said he would check into it. Mr. Abney was contacted and he was confused. He said he had never done anything to the girls and didn’t know what was going on.
July 30, 1992: The case had been monitored since February. CPS had been denied access to the children. Since the children were in a safe place the case was closed. Ivy Chambers closed the case.
October 1992 the case was reopened because the children would soon be dismissed from the hospital and had no place to go. Karen Sullivan was told there were new allegations coming out about Mr. Abney. After Karen Sullivan reviewed the case she went to SSG to interview Lucy Abney. She said that usually the caseworker meets with the clients alone, but that Judith Peterson, Sylvia Davis, and Eileen Barron were present. They informed her of CPS’s previous involvement, and Peterson said that she was going to record the interview. Sullivan felt that she had no option. The audience prompted Lucy.
Tape recording 0079 of the interview with CPS was played. This tape was impossible to hear. The voices were so low. The following information was recorded from Ollison’s questions, and Sullivan’s answers.
(p.10 exhibit 198) November 12,1992 Peterson’s records: Katherine S. called the sheriff’s office and filed charges against her stepfather. Mr. Barnes from the sheriff’s office called Peterson and asked for copies of Katherine’s journals.
November 13,1992 CPS notes: Caseworker Karen Sullivan called for the medical records of Katherine S..
November 24,1992 CPS notes: Sullivan called Sylvia Davis and asked about the records. Davis said she would check on that.
November 30, 1992 CPS notes: Sullivan checked with Barnes about the Abney case. Nothing had been done.
OLLISON: Was this a criminal investigation?
SULLIVAN: Not that I know of.
Sylvia Davis’ records: (Ollison read a letter to Sylvia Davis by Karen G..) "The only way to be free is to tell the secret. I used a lot of things to keep out of therapy. I had to sacrifice a baby girl. I put that baby’s heart in the fire"
OLLISON: How did you respond to something like this?
SULLIVAN: It was shocking. It was hard to believe.
OLLISON continues reading the letter: "I realize that a lot of problems about myself and around L.T. Abney was the fact that he had molested me and raped me. "
OLLISON: Did that mean sexual penetration?
Peterson called an emergency hearing. CPS asked for temporary custody of the girls.
October 9, 1992 Case worker, Karen Sullivan placed the girls in two emergency shelters. Katherine told Sullivan that she was not sad to leave the hospital. She was 17 years old, and worried what would happened to her when she turned 18. When she got to the car she looked up at the sun and said, "It’s been a long time since I have seen the sun."
Sullivan testified that she had frequent contact with the shelters and checked on the girls about once a week.
OLLISON: Did you see any changes in their personalities?
SULLIVAN: I never saw any changes in their personalities. Karen talked easily and seemed like a happy child. Katherine was very direct and outgoing. She knew what she wanted, and could get it. Katherine was at Westbury High School and was doing well.
On January 14, 1993 Katherine S. called the caseworker and told her that she had been raped. She called from a telephone booth. When she got there Sullivan said that Katherine was not crying, nor were her eyes red. Katherine was taken to a hospital, and there a rape specialist talked to her and a nurse examined her. Katherine gave the police a statement. There was no vaginal trauma, not abrasions on her arms. The result of the pregnancy test was negative. She was given an abortion pill. Sullivan said that Katherine’s actions were not normal for one who had been raped.
January 2l, 1993: A letter written to caseworker Karen Sullivan from Dr. Seward stated that Katherine was MPD. "She is in severe danger. Katherine concocts a story of danger when she feels she is in danger."
OLLISON: Did you know what he was talking about.
SULLIVAN: Yes, I did.
February 8, 1993 Sullivan said that she visited Katherine at the shelter. Katherine told her that she liked the shelter better than SSG.
February l8, 1993 Sullivan got a telephone call from Lucy Abney who was no longer at SSG. She no longer believed she was in the cult. She believed that the therapists had manipulated her and said that she was still confused and didn’t know what was true and what was not true. She wanted to see the girls. CPS called the therapist in Waco who did not think it was a good idea at that time.
March 3, 1993 Sullivan got a telephone call from Dr. Brandan who reported that Karen was adjusting well, and had spent some time with Katherine. Brandan said that Karen didn’t need to be in a locked unit any longer. Sullivan testified that she got another telephone call from an insurance company concerning Lucy, Katherine and Karen. It was unusual to get calls from insurance companies.
Peterson defense attorney Rusty Hardin cross-examination of Karen Sullivan.
Hardin reviews Sullivan’s experience as a caseworker, and establishes that this was the first time she had been in a psychiatric hospital. Hardin referred to the first tape and said that Sullivan had requested that Peterson stay for the interview.
Sullivan corrected Hardin and said that Peterson had directed the question of whether she should stay to Lucy Abney. Sullivan said that she didn’t request that Peterson should stay. Sullivan’s supervisor had told her not to make waves. Sullivan’s job was to see the children.
HARDIN: Did you have anything to do with the problems of the past?
SULLIVAN: I had read about problems in the records.
On July 23,1992 the caseworker had tried to set up an appointment. The caseworker could not see the girls, one was in crisis, and the other could not be found. The case was closed.
HARDIN: When you were reading the files you were 24 years old. CPS closed the case because the children were in a safe place. Lucy Abney called the next day and an appointment was made. Ivy Chambers visited SSG and saw Mrs. Abney. She didn’t see the children because Katherine was in crisis and Karen couldn’t be found. CPS closed the file after Chambers talked to LT. What did you, 24-years-old and 3 months of experience, base your opinions on?
OLLISON objects: Hardin is arguing, not asking questions. He is badgering the witness.
HARDIN: Mrs. Abney wanted Dr. Peterson there. Peterson offered to leave.
SULLIVAN: I felt that the therapists were leading Lucy Abney.
JUDGE WERLEIN: "Just ask questions."
Hardin gave Sullivan a copy of the tape transcript and asks her to find an example of Peterson leading Abney. Sullivan says that nothing bothered her in the first four pages. Hardin pressed Sullivan to come up with what she was basing her opinions on that Peterson was leading Abney.
SULLIVAN: On pages 12 and 13 Peterson was talking to one of Lucy’s alters. This was leading. Trish Taylor asked Abney if any of the alters knew anything that Abney didn’t know.
Hardin establishes again that this was Sullivan’s first experience with an MPD patient.
Hardin reads page 3 of the tape transcript in which Peterson is telling Sullivan why this case should be reopened. Lucy Abney said that her husband was a perpetrator and sexually assaulted her children. That came from a conversation was between Sullivan and Abney.
SULLIVAN: Look at page 11, line 3.
HARDIN: Do you think this is leading?
SULLIVAN: Yes I do.
HARDIN: You felt the atmosphere was coercive? Did you ask Mrs. Abney if you could visit with her alone? When you left that meeting did you feel Lucy was safe?
SULLIVAN: When I left she I had a conference with my supervisor. I felt that I didn’t know enough.
HARDIN: Where are the notes of that meeting?
SULLIVAN: Notes of meetings with supervisors were not recorded.
SULLIVAN: On page 23 of the tape transcript Trish Taylor said, "The other issue is that the girls are perpetrating each other." This was inappropriate. This information should have been told in a private setting.
HARDIN: Did you know that Katherine had been treated for sunburn? (This is referring to Katherine’s statement that it had been such a long time since she had seen the sun, when Sullivan took her out to the car.)
HARDIN: Can you judge when people are telling the truth?
SULLIVAN: I’m not sure. Things might possibly be true. Law enforcement seemed unwilling to investigate. It was frustrating. If doctors report sexual abuse, CPS makes a video tape of the interview. A video tape was made of Katherine S. on October 16,1992. Sullivan said that she remembered the date, because it was her father’s birthday. She had not discussed this tape with the prosecutors. The tapes are housed at the Child Assessment Center.
Hardin reads from CPS records that Karen would not make eye contact.
SULLIVAN: Karen was very hesitant to talk to me.
HARDIN: Therapists led Lucy Abney
SULLIVAN: Yes. Page 5 is s leading. Katherine was talking about 10 foot restrictions. She didn’t agree with it. The girls had to keep 10 feet away from each other to keep from triggering each other. Peterson asks, "Is there another issue around touching? " This was leading.
HARDIN: Where in your notes did you write that Lucy was being led? Katherine was led?
SULLIVAN: It was not standard procedure. It was unusual.
At 3:30 Judge Werlein released the jury. Court begins again on Tuesday at 8:30. Judge Werlein is concerned about the speed of the trial. He is trying to get a feeling about time. Eastepp gave him a schedule, and the defense team is worried that they will have to make up time, and that would not be fair. The judge is going to come up with a plan and announce it on Tuesday.
From notes by attendees
DISCLAIMER: The following material, based on hand-written notes, is presented for those who may be interested in the writers’ personal impressions of the courtroom proceedings as they happened. Although the writers have attempted to be as accurate as possible, the official transcripts remain the authoritative reference for what actually occurred.
Karen Sullivan [Karen Thornton], CPS case worker continues on the witness stand
HARDIN: Karen comments about not getting out in sun. [refers to journal entries]
6/22/92: Cookout -- enjoyed pool party 8/24/92 - Catherine S.: Doctors are prescribing sunburn medication. 10/21/92 -- another time out in the sun.
**Difficulty in getting hospital records**
Hardin reviews the records calling attention to back and forth phone calls where Karen and contact at SSG were unable to make contact.
HARDIN: The point I am making is that there was a lot of phone tag. They were returning your calls. There were more calls to you [Karen] than to her [contact at SSG].
SULLIVAN: I was not getting records when I needed them.
HARDIN: You assumed that Dr. Seward’s office was at SSG.
SULLIVAN: Yes, at that time.
HARDIN: Catherine called you and said that she would [help. She said that she would like to file charges against her father and other cult members.]
SULLIVAN: We never discussed that. She said that she wanted to make a statement and I said I would work with her when she got out. I would coordinate.
HARDIN: Did you [get the records]?
SULLIVAN: I never saw a complete report on Catherine S.. I got medical records. The medical records were a foot high on each child.
HARDIN: Why did you not look when you were at the hospital?
SULLIVAN: I don’t remember being given an opportunity to look.
Hardin changes the subject for a few questions and talks about details of CPS taking over the care of Catherine and Karen. Then he comes back to the records.
HARDIN: Catherine took the bull by the horns in November.
HARDIN: Catherine said that she would work with the treatment team to get records. Do you believe that Dr. Peterson had control of these records?
CPS Record: Talks about release of records and having Lucy sign them.
SULLIVAN: My impression was that she was going to assist me in getting the records.
HARDIN: Do you have anything that shows that [she wasn’t complying with your request.]
SULLIVAN: It took me until Dec. I started asking after my visit on October 15, 1992. I got records a couple of weeks after the girls got out. Karen was out on December 2nd.
**Catherine’s believability **
HARDIN: What did she [Karen or Catherine?] say about being with her mother?
SULLIVAN: She did not want to be with them. We followed through on the desire of the client.
HARDIN: When Catherine called you in January about rape, was a statement made?
SULLIVAN: I was undecided if Catherine made things up such as rape. She made some things up.
Hardin reviews with Sullivan the amount of time that she had spent with with Catherine -- once a week after she got out of hospital -- rape exam -- phone calls to hospital -- dropped her off in Waco -- made arrangements for her to videotape her statement -- a great deal of time trying to meet her needs.
HARDIN: When you dropped her off in Waco you didn’t know if she was telling the truth.
HARDIN: She [Catherine] changed shelters and as a result changed schools.
SULLIVAN: One of the reasons for the change was that she said that she saw a member of the cult at school.
Hardin -[Karen] -- Assessment -- needs therapy to deal with past cult abuse and substance abuse, sexual abuse. Missed mother and sister -- did not want to have anything to do with stepfather.
HARDIN: This was the way she felt in January 1993.
HARDIN: Isn’t it true that by the time you took them to Waco they were still taking the position that they didn’t want to have anything to do with the family?
SULLIVAN: Catherine was wanting contact with her sister.
Hardin summarizes the evolving family relationships. -- By Christmas of 1992 Catherine had decided she wanted to see Karen and Karen did [not?]want to see Catherine. By Feb. 1993 Lucy tries to see Karen on her birthday but Karen did not want to see her mother.
HARDIN: Can we assume (with the exception of Catherine’s feelings toward Karen) that the feelings were about the same [in regard to cult belief system]
SULLIVAN: Were not as adamant -- Karen started going to church and reading her Bible. [When Karen left SSG she told Karen Sullivan that Bible reading, classical music and playing cards were triggers.]
HARDIN: Had she recanted any of the allegations?
SULLIVAN: I don’t remember.
Hardin reads letter from Karen G. to [Karen Sullivan?] Doing OK -- I feel unsafe -- I am in a locked residential center -- I am doing individual therapy -- therapy to get away from the cult -- therapy for MPD -- I am scared all the time -- depressed -- the hospital [SSG] came to be my home -- very scary -- very scary that I will never see my family again -- includes list of things for safe place.
CPS Record -- Feb. 18, 1993: ...Lucy Abney was looking for therapist and would continue in therapy as long as it was needed. Informed her that she could receive free therapy from contract CPS therapist.
SULLIVAN: CPS provides free therapy to parents who have children in custody. She said that she would think about it.
CPS Record -- Feb. 19, 1993: -- got call from attorney who identified herself as an attorney for Mrs. Abney. (Miss Taylor). CPS would work with her to get her children back. -- Not ready at this stage. Offered free therapy.
HARDIN: Third time [Mrs. Abney] offered free therapy.
CPS Record -Feb. 23, 1993: Another attorney representing Mrs. Abney. - Representing Abney on this and another matter.
Chris Flood, attorney for Dr. Seward takes over questioning for the defense
FLOOD: You started with CPS in July, 1992. The records of the Abney’s were handled by?
SULLIVAN: Cristy Dahl.
Flood discusses what is included in the records.
FLOOD: -- Records from 1984 where stepfather had abused the children.You were trained to recognize sexual abuse if a child is withdrawn, overly compliant.
SULLIVAN: [in response to overly compliant] Sometimes, not always.
FLOOD: Reluctant to talk.
SULLIVAN: Sometimes, not always. We assess the entire situation. How detailed are the allegations, emotional affect, family circumstances, medical records.
FLOOD: Is one factor, "Is the emotional affect consistent with what they are saying?"
SULLIVAN: We would do further probing to [check out] inappropriate affect.
CPS Record -March 1992: Dahl interviewed -- whacking on knee. CPS Record -April 2, 1992: Hospital visit -- Catherine took tranquilizer because she was afraid that her stepfather [???]
FLOOD: Can you tell me from the record what steps Mr. Abney took to have Catherine removed from the hospital?
SULLIVAN: No I can’t.
CPS Record -July 30, 1992 -Ivy Chambers: Checking to see if children are in a safe setting -- to close file. Dr. Seward said that something new had happened. Couldn’t discuss over the phone. -Appointments to see Mrs. Abney. Closed case, there were no protection issues.
Flood mentions letter from FMSF. Flood states that Seward was not present for any of the interviews in October 92.
FLOOD: Mother did not want the children placed with L.T. because of the allegations from Karen and Catherine.
SULLIVAN: This is the reason we got involved.
[Notes incomplete here but this is the exchange I remember it. -- Flood: Do you know why the Abney children were leaving the hospital? Sullivan: I was told that the insurance was running out. Flood: Who told you that? Sullivan: Someone in the hospital. I think it was Dr. Seward.]
FLOOD: [Catherine] stopped seeing Dr. Seward on December 9, 1992. He gave her some medication until she could be seen by CPS treater.
Flood cites physicians order for Ativan and Inderal (20 tablets) which was being used to treat her heart condition -- micro valve collapse. She was seen by clinic and Dr. Seward was reluctant to renew prescription. Flood went on to say that Dr. Seward was no longer Catherine’s physician. He said that Dr. Seward wrote a letter about the allegations of rape when she was in police custody. Flood stated that Dr. Seward was concerned about her well being. Dr. Seward goes on in the letter to know that Catherine is known to concoct stories of danger that cannot be substantiated.
FLOOD: If Catherine concocted a story of rape to get attention would that be manipulative?
SULLIVAN: I don’t think it is necessarily manipulative.
FLOOD: Catherine said "If I don’t get any more Inderal I am going to wind up back in the hospital." Catherine has done [these kind of things] frequently over the past two years. Doesn’t it sound like she was manipulative.
SULLIVAN: I don’t think it is appropriate behavior but not necessarily manipulative.
Flood returns to the letter from Seward. "Catherine is feeling more and more desperate and she is attempting to communicate that you [her needs for safety]"
FLOOD: He felt that CPS needed to put her in a more secure situation.
End of questions from Chris Flood -- 11:17am
David Gerger, attorney for Sylvia Davis is next to question Karen Sullivan
GERGER: You work in a busy office. How many cases do you handle at a time?
GERGER: CPS has several offices in Houston. You have contacts outside your office for your job. Taking custody is a serious matter with CPS [isn’t it].
SULLIVAN: Yes it is.
GERGER: CPS is organized into several departments based on experience.
SULLIVAN: No. It’s organized into different problems -- sexual abuse cases and neglect and physical abuse.
GERGER: Jane Davis took over case after you [?].
GERGER: How much experience did she have?
SULLIVAN: I don’t know
GERGER: Her unit would have the same access to records.
GERGER: It would be difficult for you [to always tell if someone was abused??]
SULLIVAN: Psychology is not an exact science.
Gerger asked Sullivan if a person was withdrawn or if a person was showing an inappropriate affect would those be signs of abuse. Sullivan indicated that that the answer could be yes or no.
GERGER: You don’t wait on research to get a person out of a crisis.
SULLIVAN: It would depend on the circumstances.
GERGER: You have seen several cases where no charges were filed.
GERGER: Would you say that you have a heavy case load?
GERGER: The meeting on October 15, 1992, Sylvia Davis was not at the meeting.
SULLIVAN: She was not there.
Gerger asks about the meeting with Karen where she had been involved in substance abuse. Karen said that Catherine forced her to take drugs.
SULLIVAN: Reflects what Karen had told me. It says that she was forced to take drugs but it doesn’t say that there was a problem.
GERGER: Refers to taped therapy session where Karen [says she?] takes drugs.
SULLIVAN: Reflects the origin [of statement?].
GERGER: (refers to CPS notes ...to get Lucy to sign release form) [Lucy’s] comments about second husband was that "that gentleman was very sick" So neither one was safe, L.T. or real father.
In the next exchange it was brought out that CPS would not just take the mother’s word about the biological father. CPS would check it out through the attorneys who worked for the county.
Sullivan: A judge has to approve for CPS to take custody of children -- have to notify all biological and legal parents. An attorney at lietum (sp) -- represents what’s best for children and an attorney at lietum (sp) -- represents the parents. CPS makes recommendation to the judge.
SULLIVAN: Children at Waco did not have permission to leave but they were not prohibited from leaving either.
Gerger goes back to the 1984 CPS records: bruises on face and busted blood vessels on face -- bruises and cuts two months later.
SULLIVAN: When we start it can be difficult to determine if someone is [abused?]
GERGER[?]: It’s still not easy to determine cause -- even if there are witnesses.
SULLIVAN[?]: You can try.
GERGER: Conflicting stories, exaggerations
GERGER: Conflicting stories are not uncommon.
Gerger turns to form filled out by Jane Davis
GERGER: The form was filled out with every case where there is custody involved with "Trauma Type" checked.
SULLIVAN: This would have already been filled in.
GERGER: The reason for CPS involvement -abuse and neglect checked.
SULLIVAN: Had completed section on why Catherine was in custody "due to sexual abuse". For Karen she had written "Abuse allegation".
SULLIVAN: This is what she needed to talk about. -- Karen needs therapy.
GERGER winds up his cross examination: Wasn’t it your interest to protect the children. [Added comment about Sylvia Davis looking out for their safety.]
End of defense cross examination 11:50 am
Prosecution calls a new witness: L.T. Abney (LT)
Government Attorney Eastepp starts his direct examination by getting background information.
LT said that he is 53 years old and was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was 10 years old when he the family moved to Lafayette, Louisiana. LT grew up in Lafayette where he attended college for two years before starting to work in the oilfield service industry. He worked 20 years in the oilfield in an inspecting job.
LT’s first marriage was in 1965 to Susan Brusard. LT and Susan had three children, Lewis T. Abney III (Tray), Christa, and Catherine. After a divorce LT married Lucy G. on August 9, 1981.
Lucy had three children from previous marriages, one son and two daughters. The son lived with his father and the two daughters, Catherine (age 5) and Karen (age 2), lived with Lucy. At the time of LT’s marriage to Lucy he was working for Tuboscope inspecting pipe. Immediately after the marriage LT took his bride and her two children with him to a job for Tuboscope in Mexico. After one month in Mexico LT moved his family to Pasadena near Houston and LT started to work for Humco, another company involved in oilfield pipe inspection. When Lucy’s oldest daughter was in the second grade the family moved to Porter, TX. LT said that they lived in Porter all of 1983.
The family then moved back to Spring, TX (suburb north of Houston). He went to Abilene, TX and worked for one month. He was asked to go back to Abilene later but he had already found a full time job in Houston and didn’t want to move. LT said that they didn’t have enough money to buy a home. It was 1984 when LT moved back from Abilene and the family lived in Humble (suburb northeast of Houston). At the end of the school year 1984 LT moved his family to Spring. It was a bigger house and he had a better job. LT was still inspecting pipe until he was laid off in 1985. He took a job returning U-Haul trailers to Houston.
The family was living in Spring in 1986 when the bottom dropped out of the oil business. LT said at that time "I took a job at whatever I could find." The Abney family moved to Lafayette, LA and lived there until 1987. LT stated that "I could continue my job returning U-Haul trailers and I could look for other work and at the same time be near other members of his family."
While living in Lafayette LT went to Atlanta, GA to look for job. In Atlanta he started working for Combined Insurance Company. He worked on commission and received 14 percent commission on policy collections and 40 percent on new policies. The holding company for Combined Insurance Company was Aeon. Aeon had 108 insurance companies and Aeon provided it’s employees with full health benefits. LT and his family lived for a while in Dawson, GA and LT continued to sell insurance. Later he was able to return to Houston and LT keep his job with Combined Insurance and work out of Houston. The family moved back to Spring in an apartment they had lived in previously on Kuykendhahl Road. Lucy found job with DHL a few miles from their apartment. LT said that he was one of 8 salesmen who worked for Combined Insurance.They would hit each area of Houston every six months. Their job was sales and renewals. LT continued to work for Combined Insurance until he switched to American General Insurance in 1992.
-----lunch break ------
EASTEPP: In 1984 you were married to Lucy and you were living where?
Eastepp reads from the records previously introduced: Police called to home after...[Eastepp continues to read the CPS report detailing the 1984 incident involving LT slapping Lucy’s oldest daughter Catherine.]
LT: I lost my temper with Catherine and I slapped her. Someone called the police. The police saw and talked to Catherine.
EASTEPP: Were you arrested?
LT: No. Later the CPS came and we went to family counseling for a year or two.
EASTEPP: What did you do in family counseling?
LT: I learned how to better react to children.
Eastepp shows record from March 1984: It is a complaint from Susan Sipple [LT’s first wife] who made accusations of child abuse.
LT: Relations with Susan were not very good. He said that because of lack of money he was behind in his child support. He said that Susan was having problems with Christa and she demanded that Christa [LT’s daughter] come live with us.
LT indicated that his problems with CPS started after that. In family therapy he made effort -- more communication -- more family involvement. LT said that he loved loved Lucy’s daughters as if they were his own.
Eastep reads from CPS notes: The Abney’s have continued to make progress good communication -- positive reinforcement.
LT testified that they were a member of a small church that had a lot of activities and the children were involved. Tray [LT’s] son moved in with them for a while because his mother could not control him.
Eastepp resumes reading from CPS notes: Successfully completed work. Case closed.
EASTEPP: Have you had any false accusations from CPS?
LT: Three. The first event was when Tray was living with us. I told Tray that he had to go back to school or leave. Tray was out of school, totally disrupting the whole family and Tray was back on drugs.
Eastepp reads from CPS notes: Call from May 21, 1984 -- went into room to wake him [?] father was beating them [daughters]. CPS checked with teachers and said that the attendance for Catherine and Karen was good and there were no bruises on the two girls.
EASTEPP: Did you know that CPS was a state agency?
LT: Yes. As far as I knew if they didn’t like it they could take them [daughters].
Eastepp question not recorded.
LT: That in 1987 Catherine went to live with her father. After all these years the father decided that he wanted to have a relationship.
EASTEPP: Do you know Catherine’s father?
LT: I have never seen the man.
LT states that Catherine lived with her father in Baton Rouge, LA from June 1987 until Oct 1989 when the rest of the family lived in Georgia. They would see Catherine when LT visited his family in Lafayette. Lafayette is 60 miles from Baton Rouge.
LT: [In Oct 1989] we had a phone call from Catherine’s father saying that Catherine had run away. A lady from a halfway house called a few days later and said that Catherine was there and we found out about the abuse. We went that Saturday afternoon from Georgia and picked Catherine up and brought her back to Georgia. She lived with us until 1992.
Eastepp asks about the 1990 suicide note.
LT: I found out from Lucy. Lucy was upset. I was concerned too. She [Lucy] had an appointment with Tom Billings. Billings was recommended by our pastor [at Crossroads Baptist Church].
EASTEPP: What does the Baptist Church think about drinking?
LT: They don’t like it.
LT stated that he went with his wife to the hospital. Catherine was very angry.
Eastepp asked if LT knew Dr. Billings.
LT: I don’t think I ever met him. He may have preached at our church.
LT said that they told Dr. Billings what was going on and he then met with Catherine alone for 15 minutes. He came out and said that Catherine had been satanically abused and she was MPD. He said that he could take us around the hospital and show us other women that were satanically abused]. I asked him "What does satanically abused mean? Why Catherine?" LT said that he was told by Dr. Billings that he knew one doctor who handled this -- Dr. Seward.
LT: Since he [Dr. Billings] recommended him -- we said let’s go to him. We arranged a meeting either that day or the next. Dr. Seward said that we needed to admit her right there -- so I did.
Eastepp then shows to the jury an Insurance Summary Chart The coverage included $600 family deductible -- 80% for outpatient charges - 100% inpatient care after out of pocket deductible is reached -- outpatient psychological had maximum of 60 visits per year. Lucy was covered by Santus (HMO)where she worked. There was a low co-pay for doctors on her plan.
EASTEPP: When did you meet with Seward?
LT: The next day. Me, Lucy, Dr. Seward and Catherine was brought in.
EASTEPP: What was the substance of the conference? What was going to happen?
LT: Catherine was going to have therapy sessions. She was going to keep going to school. There would be very little information shared so that he could get the trust between he and Catherine.
EASTEPP: What about Dr. Seward’s qualifications?
LT: Dr. Seward was recommended by Dr. Billings. Dr. Billings was the head counselor for the Union Baptist Association.
Eastepp question about length of hospitalization was not recorded.
LT: She would be there a couple of weeks.
EASTEPP: How often did you visit her at the hospital?
LT: Every chance we got.
LT stated that Lucy was upset and angry.
EASTEPP: When was the next time you talked to Dr. Seward?
LT: We learned very little because of confidentiality. He shared that progress was being made.
Eastepp reads from hospital records: Dec. 21, 1991 Dr. Seward began use of hypnosis. Eastepp asked about Cricket.
LT: Up until then Catherine had used the nickname Cricket.
EASTEPP: When was the first time you met Dr. Peterson?
LT: I think it was at SSG.
Eastepp reads Peterson notes after consultation: -[alters] Cricket, Death Angel and Danielle appear. -- Communicated through fingers but can [not?] make contract with Gary....
Eastepp asked if he knew what ideomotor motor signals were?
LT: I still don’t know what ideomotor signals are.
Eastepp question not recorded
LT: I was not aware that this consultation had occurred.
Eastepp asks question about when Catherine gets out of hospital.
LT: She came home right after the first of the year in January. She seemed to be better.
Eastepp asked about exit interview.
LT: I don’t remember any exit interviews.
Catherine continued outpatient therapy with Dr. Seward.
EASTEPP: Was your wife seeking therapy?
LT: Not at that time.
EASTEPP: Was she successful? [Catherine with her therapy].
LT: No Sir.
LT then discusses how Catherine came down to breakfast one morning and said that she had tried to hang herself.
LT: We immediately called Dr. Seward. Dr. Seward said to get her back in the hospital immediately. She was in the hospital for two weeks and then she went to a residential treatment center.
EASTEPP: How did Catherine appear?
LT: Improved. Her main problem was what kids would say if they found out she was in a psych hospital.
EASTEPP: Were you concerned.
LT’s response was not recorded.
Eastepp asks how LT and Catherine were getting along.
LT: We got along -- father daughter relationship.
EASTEPP: During the second hospitalization did you have any interaction with Dr. Seward?
LT: No interaction with Dr. Seward.
EASTEPP: When she came out was she different?
LT: Getting back to normal but she would say alters were coming out.
EASTEPP: How often would she talk about [alters?]
LT: Not often.
Catherine continued on and graduated from the 8th grade. She went on with activities -- end of school party at Splashdown.
After second hospitalization LT said that his wife got much worse. She made an appointment with Dr. Billings. The problems were about Catherine and her other problem about being molested by her brother.
EASTEPP: Was the molestation by her brother something that you talked about often?
EASTEPP: ...had something to do with intimate relations? [Lucy indicated that problems that she had with intimate relations were because of the molestation]
**Question about hypnosis**
LT: ...started to hypnotize her -- put her in relaxation mode -- count backwards -- trance -- visualization. --
EASTEPP: Have you heard the word journal?
LT: Catherine and Lucy were both requested to journal.
EASTEPP: Were you continuing to work?
LT: It wasn’t easy. Wondering what was going on. The more she went to Billings the more upset she would get.
Eastepp question about reading Lucy’s journals.
LT: Lucy would let me read her journals. I don’t remember what I read. What she did let me read was not all that [unusual?]
EASTEPP: When you wife started seeing Dr. Billings how was insurance handling it?
LT explained that he had to pay the bills himself because Dr. Billings did not have the qualifications necessary to be accepted by the insurance company. He stated that it was rough.
EASTEPP: What happened with Catherine?
LT: She was going to therapy once or twice a week. Dr. Seward said nothing.
EASTEPP: Did Catherine say anything about what was going on in therapy?
LT: Never. I was told [or felt] that if she wants to say anything OK, if not, don’t push. She was going to school and making better grades than she ever had before.
Eastepp asked LT how he was getting along with Catherine.
LT: Sometimes we would go round and round.
EASTEPP: How was your wife handling it?
LT: She went to the hospital in April.
LT was told that they needed to go into family therapy. So the family started seeing Dedra Aspen once or twice sometimes three times a week. He said that for insurance purposes they claimed it under his name. He said "It was put to me by Debra -let’s put this under my name -- not to use up the out of pocket benefit.". We each had [coverage for] 30 visits per year at $75.00.
Eastepp asked LT why he went to family therapy.
LT: I wanted to find out what was going on. It was explained to me that it was to help me understand what was going on with my wife and daughter.
Eastepp asked LT about Lucy’s alters.
LT: Betty came out during hospitalization. [That was the first time LT had heard about any of Lucy’s alters]
EASTEPP: How long had you known Lucy at that time? LT: 10 years. What was your reaction?
To LT it was the same old Lucy. When he voiced skepticism he received a "chewing out from the doctors." LT said that at the family meetings if he raised his voice he was told he was raging. He said it was exaggerated. He said he was agitated. His work and family were disrupted. There was only one car. He was shuffling his wife and daughter each had one or two therapy session each week and they all had to go to weekly family sessions.
LT: I could hardly make enough money to pay bills.
EASTEPP: How were you getting along with Catherine?
EASTEPP: [In the family sessions] were there anything said that was positive?
LT: If I said anything I was raging. I imagine I did raise my voice.
EASTEPP: How was Karen reacting?
LT: She was laying low -- keeping quiet.
LT: If she got a C she cried. She sang solo. She was outgoing at church for her age group.
EASTEPP: How did sisters get along?
LT: As sisters -- older one would bug younger one. It was normal, nothing serious, nothing to worry about -- "I did the dishes last night it’s your turn," "You have been in the bath room too long."
EASTEPP: How would she [Karen] handle therapy with Dedra?
LT: She would be quiet. Karen was trying to keep out the mess.
EASTEPP: What happened that led to Lucy going into hospital?
LT: She was nervous in family [session?] Dedra called Dr. Billings and said that Lucy was going to hurt herself.
EASTEPP: Had you observed things that made you think she was in danger?
Answer not recorded.
LT said that they found out on Friday and they agreed for Lucy to go in on Sunday. He said that she appeared to be normal but anxious about going into hospital.
LT: I was watching but I didn’t see anything.
EASTEPP: How was stepdaughter handling it?
LT: Anxiety went up.
EASTEPP: What about Abney support system?
LT: We didn’t have any except for these doctors. We shared with one friend Carl. Wife had no family in Houston to confide in. I had family in Louisiana. I did not share with family at this time. It sounded like something out of Steven King.
LT: Dr. Billings suggested that Lucy read books.
LT stated that Dr. Billings had suggested that she read a book written by two women who didn’t have any therapy training. [LT could not think of the name but from previous testimony it was "The Courage to Healî by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. Other books that LT said that Lucy was asked to read include "Rabbit Howls" and "Sybil."
EASTEPP: Were the books useful?
LT: Said it was a true story. It sounded about as crazy as what I was hearing.
EASTEPP: She wasn’t expressing disbelief.
LT was asked if he went into Dr. Seward’s office and if so were there diplomas on the wall. LT replied that he saw an Engineering Degree diploma from Texas A&M [Seward did not go to Texas A&M, it was intrastate rival the University of Texas]. LT said he also saw an MD degree but he said that he did not see anything about board certification.
Insurance came up again at this point. Catherine was eligible for 30 visits at $75.00 per visit.
LT: Dr. Seward said that he wanted to set up a visit with Dr. Peterson. He said that he thought that I had been told that by Dr. Billings or Dedra Aspin.
LT said that he had been told that Lucy had shut down also. She wasn’t working -- wasn’t producing any memories.
Appointments were made for Catherine in January and Lucy in February.
EASTEPP: Why the time gap?
LT: These were the first appointments available.
EASTEPP: Did anything happen?
LT: No. Catherine was still in school making good grades. Lucy was still going to work. We had a normal life on weekends. Dr. Seward said that his hands were tied and there was nothing more he could do.
**Christmas drug incident**
LT goes back over the story of his son. Tray and his wife and daughter were living with them in December 1991. Christmas gifts for the baby had been sent by relatives. The gifts were purchased at Kmart and sales receipts were sent with the gifts. Tray and his family said they were going to Kmart and Catherine got permission from her mother to go with them. Tray returned the gifts at Kmart and went to a crack house to spend the money on drugs. About 6PM LT received a call from Tray saying that Catherine and the baby were being held hostage at the crack house and he needed money to get them out. LT said he called the police and about 1.5 hours later he was able to get Catherine and the baby. LT said that Catherine was fine after the incident.
EASTEPP: What did the incident have to do with the hospitalization?
Catherine met with Dr. Peterson in January.
EASTEPP: Did you get results at that time?
LT: No. Dr. Seward said that they wanted to wait until they got the results from Lucy.
EASTEPP: [How was Catherine’s mental status?]
LT: Her mental status was OK. She went to school.
LT said that in the fall of 1991 Catherine played clarinet in the band. He said that they went to see her perform all the time.
February 13, 1992, the day that Catherine and Lucy were admitted to SSG. LT said that in the afternoon he took Lucy to hospital where she met Dr. Billings and then LT took Catherine to her appointment with Dr. Seward.
EASTEPP: What was your financial situation?
LT: Poor. All these therapy sessions -- Dr. Seward’s office and other places.
EASTEPP: Was Catherine continuing to see Dr. Seward after the meeting [in December] before she went to the hospital?
EASTEPP: What about the issue that she was not working?
LT: It was still an issue.
February 13, 1992 Lucy’s appointment -- 1.5 -- 2.0 hours at most -- Dr. Billings, Lucy and Dr. Peterson all came out of the meeting at about the same time.
EASTEPP: Was there any discussion?
EASTEPP: How was Lucy?
LT: Frightened, upset, nervous, about to crack. Dr. Peterson told her that she had been abusing the kids, going to cult at night, took mallet to knees every time ... If she didn’t call the police -- Peterson would call the police if she didn’t check into the hospital. Valentines day was the next day and there would be a cult meeting.
Later LT and Lucy met with Dr. Seward.
EASTEPP: What was his reaction?
LT: Kind of surprised. He said if you want to go to the hospital let me know. He said that he had not talked to Dr. Peterson.
EASTEPP: Why not Cypress Creek?
LT: [Seward said?] people in Cypress Creek didn’t agree with us on MPD and satanic abuse and stuff.
LT described his reaction as being as upset as Lucy. -- "I just wanted the best thing for my wife and daughter."
EASTEPP: What about CPS being called?
LT: Trouble -- Here it comes again. Peterson said that she would call CPS and have her arrested. I said that I would rather you be in the hospital than in jail. I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen her do the things that they reported but why take the chance.
EASTEPP: What was Catherine’s reaction?
LT: Catherine was listening. If mom goes I want to go too.
EASTEPP: What was your reaction?
LT: If you want to go I will take you.
EASTEPP: How could they go to cult meetings and you not know?
LT: I have no idea. Going to cult meetings all night and working all day [it didn’t make sense].
EASTEPP: How did you get hold of Dr. Seward.
LT: On answering service -- got call back. EASTEPP: Who talked to Dr. Seward?
LT: Both of us. He said bring them up and he would wait on them.
EASTEPP: [Why did you do it?]
LT: Keep them out of jail -- The main thing was to keep them out of jail -- keep them safe.
EASTEPP: When you got to SSG who did you see?
LT: Dr. Seward.
EASTEPP: How was this going to be paid for?
LT: Insurance Company. This was a new year.
The hospital had to first get a denial from Lucy’s HMO before LT’s policy could be used. -- Lucy’s policy covered only certain doctors and hospitals and SSG was not covered.
EASTEPP: Did you discuss why they were going to the hospital?
LT stated that they checked in at 9:30pm. The role of Dr. Peterson was not discussed. Dr. Seward was to be the physician for Lucy and Catherine.
Dr. Peterson would be main therapist overseeing therapy sessions since she was the expert. LT was told the she was the #3 expert in the world. The top expert was Bennett Braun and Roberta Sachs was #2.
EASTEPP: Where was Karen when this was going on?
LT: She was at home.
EASTEPP: What was Karen’s reaction?
LT: You know she was scared.
The next day LT said he went back to the hospital to see his wife and daughter. After a couple of weeks he was no longer allowed to see them.
EASTEPP: Why were Lucy and Catherine separated?
LT: Didn’t want to contaminate the therapy session. Halfway sounded logical.
EASTEPP: Up until then did you have any complaints against Dr. Seward?
LT: Nothing other than the that lack of communication?
**February 18 -- Karen’s 13th birthday**
LT: I was working my way to the hospital -- [pager went off] It was Lucy at the hospital and she said that I need to rush home and pick up Karen and have her admitted because it’s her 13th birthday.
EASTEPP: Did you have any legal status?
LT: No I didn’t.
EASTEPP: Why did you carry them on your insurance policies?
LT: Because I loved them. No one else was supporting them.
EASTEPP: What was Karen’s reaction?
LT: shocked, surprised, very obedient.
LT stated that he got up that morning and baked Karen a birthday cake. I gave her a piece of the cake and then took her to the hospital. She thought she was going to be near her mother. She had been in a concert before her birthday. She received a carnation [for the concert?]. She brought the carnation with her on the Unit. Dr. Peterson saw us when we entered and started screaming "Get that Rose out of here." LT stated that Dr. Seward was busy and they had to wait a couple of hours.
EASTEPP: Why was she admitted?
LT: To keep her safe from the cult. She was supposed to be admitted into the cult that night on her 13th birthday. I didn’t know what to think.
Peterson [?]Notes- 3/25/92: Telephone call by Cristy Dahl stated that Mr. Abney had pots and pans all over the floor...
After admitting Karen to the hospital LT said he went home to see if the cult entered his house to get his daughter on her 13th birthday. No one showed up. He said he was told later that the cult already knew that Karen was in the hospital -- there were patients and hospital staff who were in the cult.
LT: I was up until 2:30 am.... Karen was admitted to the children’s unit.
EASTEPP: Did you see anyone else at that time?
LT: Maybe the business office.
LT said that he was made aware that they [the two sisters] were not to have any contact.
EASTEPP: Was there any contact with CPS?
LT: Later there was a phone call from the police -- one 5-10 minute phone call -- no additional contact.
EASTEPP: Did you discuss the course of therapy with Dr. Seward?
LT: At some point we did. There was some discussion that they could be in the hospital 3 -- 6 months, possibly longer.
Eastepp question not recorded
LT: I met Dr. Peterson a couple of days later. Lucy brought me up to the desk and introduced us. There was no discussion.
LT said that he visited all three in the hospital but he saw them individually. He said that when he got off work he would beat it up to the hospital.
**Shampoo, Hair Conditioner and Toothpaste**
LT had to go to Galveston for a week and one of the girls had requested that he bring her some hair conditioner. LT decided that they probably all needed supplies and since he would be away he should go ahead and make purchases for all. Up until that time he had been visiting everyday with Lucy and the girls. He thought that Lucy was doing a little better than when she went in. She said she felt safe from the police and safe from the cult. LT said that Lucy was always upset after seeing Dr. Peterson.
Lucy went on disability from her job at DHL. The disability gave her 80% of her salary for the first six months and 60% later. Her HMO premiums were paid out of her bank account. LT used Lucy’s HMO policy to pay the $10.00 co-pay for doctor visits. The children started to go to school at the hospital. Friends of the daughters would call and LT would tell them that the girls were in the hospital. For LT’s insurance the maximum out of pocket expense was $1500 per year. Eastepp asked how long it would take to get up to the $1500 amount.
LT: about 3 days [at SSG].
LT had $1500 expense for 1991 and another $1500 for 1992.
EASTEPP: Where were the bills or copies of the bills going?
LT: I would get a copy of the check that paid the bill.
EASTEPP: Did you ever get a copy of a bill for $20,000.
LT: In December .
LT explained that the bill for $20,000 was to cover the treatment by Sylvia Davis that the insurance would not cover. Sylvia Davis did not have Qualifications required by the insurance company. LT ignored the bill. Earlier in the trial Chris Flood had brought up the $20,000 that had not been paid. Chris Flood indicated that LT’s insurance only paid 80% and he was expected to pay the remaining 20%. Flood said that the $20,000 was written off. Evidence was shown that LT’s policy covered 100%.
EASTEPP: What happened in March [before you went to Galveston]?
LT: I brought toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner.
LT said that when he got back from Galveston on Friday he was met at the Door of the hospital and was told that he could not see his wife. Dr. Peterson was out of town until the following Monday and he couldn’t do anything until she got back. LT was told on Monday [by Dr. Peterson?] that "Lucy was triggered by me."
EASTEPP: Was she?
LT: I don’t think so.
Letter in Lucy’s chart from Lucy- March 14, 1990: "To whom it may concern"- saying that she did not want to see her husband until [date?]
Letter in Lucy’s chart from Lucy -- March 23, 1990: -same as previous -extended Date that she did not want to see her husband.
Letter from Lucy to LT -- date?: Lucy wrote LT stating that she could not see him because it was best for her therapy and that she loved him and hoped he would understand. The letter was given to LT by nurse.
LT: I started phoning the administration at the hospital.
LT: To find out why I could not see my wife.
LT said that he never heard from the administration even after many phone calls. He stated that he finally did get a call from Dr. Peterson.
LT: She started screaming over the phone...She said "If you don’t quit [harassing] me I am going to sue you"....
LT: I finally did get a meeting the next day with Sylvia Davis, Lucy and ?. I agreed finally for an extension of one more week.
When the problem persisted LT said he called several more times to the administration. Calls were never returned. He said that he finally threatened to cancel the insurance.
LT: I didn’t know if they were safe or even alive.
[There was a groan after this statement from those in the audience who were there in support of the defense.]
LT: I was thinking they were doing it for the money. EASTEPP introduces release documents signed by LT -- 4/10/92: Release to Dr. Braun...results of tests.
LT: They wanted me to be tested.
EASTEPP: When did this [test] occur?
Answer not recorded.
LT describes what he did on the test.
LT: Pat ? asked me to sit down and draw something. I drew a race car.
LT: That was the only thing I knew how to draw. I colored it and put Lightening bolts down the side. I added spokes to the wheels. It was cult because of the lightening bolts and the spokes on the wheels. I had a conversation with Davis sometime before April 22, 1992 at Peterson and Assoc. . Had session with Trish Taylor. She asked questions. She spoke with one of my alters that was deep down. I told them that I Was not cult. That was all [the tests] I took before I went to Chicago.
EASTEPP: How did it come about that you signed that release?
LT: They suspected that I was shutting them down. They were checking to see if I was cult.
EASTEPP: Why were you seeing Dr. Braun?
LT: He was the number one in the country.
Note -- Jane Russell-4/21/92: Call from husband. Husband demanding to see wife alone without staff. Patient decided not to see husband because of his rage. No switching or dissociation observed.
EASTEPP: Do you recall this incident?
LT: I think I recall. I wanted to see my wife and step kids.
There was a meeting the next day.
Davis note -4/21/92: Family crisis -- LT threatening divorce -- stopping insurance.
LT: I finally had a meeting arranged the next day to show that this stuff was true. I wanted to find out what was happening with the girls, what progress had been made...
**back to the toothpaste -- March 9, 1992**
LT: Catherine said that there was poison in the toothpaste that I had just Bought at the store.
LT was accused of putting poison in the shampoo, hair conditioner and toothpaste. LT stated that he brought the stuff to the hospital from the store in their sealed containers. When he asked how poison could enter the body from shampoo he was told by osmosis through the scalp. LT was told that the articles were sent to Maryland for analysis.
EASTEPP: Who did you discuss this with?
LT: Betty Smith coordinator for Unit E.
LT said that he kept trying to get the results and finally on July 24, 1992 in A meeting with Dr. Seward he was told by Seward that the results came back negative- still showed some impurities -- "You are still not cleared."
LT: I was seeing Dedra Aspen at night and on weekends. Insurance was paying. I would discuss feelings and what was going on.
EASTEPP: Were you aware of any interaction [between Dedra and other treaters]?
LT: Not at that time.
Note- Dr. Seward?-3/18/92: Sent toothpaste and shampoo to toxicology Eastepp shows letterhead from lab in Pennsylvania and reads the letter. The Following labeled items: Colgate toothpaste, ... gives the brand name of the other items that were sent. The letter goes on to give details on how the tests were done. The ingredients were compared with control samples that were know to be as manufactured. The conclusion was that there were no extraneous substances. The letter was written by Vincent F. Cordova and he stated that it was his scientific opinion that there was no poison in the samples. The letter was dated April 21, 1992. LT said that he did not find out the results until July. He said that he had brought up the issue at least once a month.
Meeting on April 22, 1992 -- Taped therapy session
It is too late in the day to play the tape. Eastepp indicated that the tape would be played the following morning.
EASTEPP: What was your understanding on what the meeting was going to be about?
LT: I wanted proof that there was a satanic cult and MPD.
EASTEPP: How would you describe the tone?
LT: Manipulating, accusing, forceful for me to do something.
The issue was raised of LT going to Chicago and the result of the 2-hour meeting was that LT left on a plane for Chicago the following Sunday.
End of day’s court session.
From notes by attendees
DISCLAIMER: The following material, based on hand-written notes, is presented for those who may be interested in the writers’ personal impressions of the courtroom proceedings as they happened. Although the writers have attempted to be as accurate as possible, the official transcripts remain the authoritative reference for what actually occurred.
Lewis T. Abney continues on the witness stand
Prosecutor Eastepp began by saying that there were a few issues from yesterday that need to be cleared. He asked LT if he had been notified about Karen’s change of doctors. LT answered that Seward had told him that Karen’s doctor was changed because Seward felt there might be a conflict of interest with him working with both of the girls at the same time. Lucy’s doctor was changed from Johnson to Keraga. LT was not notified.
A Tape was played of a session with LT and Lucy Abney, Peterson, Seward, Johnson, Davis, Taylor, and Carol Smith.
The tape begins with Lucy signing a form for releasing information. Lucy says that Catherine will have to sign for herself. LT is not satisfied with the program. He says that he has already heard about the terrible things Cathy and Lucy have said. LT feels that he has no legal rights. He reads a letter.
LT ABNEY: I pay the bills. There is no way that my insurance company is going to pay $150,000 a month until you release them. I’ll be lucky to have a job in 30 days. What’s going to happen when I lose my job? What’s the form of treatment will you will use then. Can somebody help me?
WOMEN’S VOICE: LT you need to check with your insurance company. That’s for the utilization review person to do, but what happens is that they could fire you. If the patient is in the hospital, the insurance company is obligated to carry it, even though your job is lost You have legal rights.
LT: And what about the court? I mean, by the time it goes through court, are you talking 20 years?
PETERSON: It’s probably not worth it to them to fight it. It’s easier for them to go on and pay the medical bills.
There is some paper shuffling. Voices are so soft they can’t be heard.
SYLVIA DAVIS: May I tell them? I gave you a little bit of information.
LT: Who is the cult?
LUCY: I just hear names.
ANOTHER WOMAN’S VOICE: You ask me questions. I have a counter- proposal. It is safer this way. It is a flat rate of $750 per day with a charge for every group session. The group rates run from $120 to $197 per session. This might be cheaper than $11,000 per day.
LT : Well, we can try it but I doubt it. You’re still talking of ten of thousands of dollars a month. Lucy won’t talk to me, or see me. She wasn’t like that when she came in here.
LUCY: Because of the possibility of signaling going on. You have been told that many times.
LT: What proof do you have there is signaling going on?
LUCY: I’ve been told that it’s going on.
LT: From whom?
LUCY: From the folks inside.
LT: My family has been in treatment one year and two months. Time is vital to me. They have been in here 70 days. Time is you’re milking a cow and the cow has gone dry. It says unlimited lifetime benefits, but..
PETERSON: What’s the company telling you? Are they putting a lot of pressure on you?
LT: They have sent back Sylvia Davis’ bills. My company will not continue to pay $150,000 per month. They can starve me out, give me no new sales. Income comes from the new sales. The company can starve me out. They have ways of getting rid of you.
LUCY: Yes, but a lot has to do with the manager.
LT: Lucy are you speaking the truth when you tell them about the cult?
LUCY: Yes. Karen tells me she doesn’t want to go to meetings.
PETERSON: Did you hear him Lucy?
LUCY: Yes I trance out.
LUCY: I trance.
LT: (louder) How?
LUCY: I trance out. You remember I did that before.
LT: I want some hard information. How do you trance in and out? It’s important you be a part. What do you do to put yourself in a sleeper?
LUCY: They put drugs in your coffee They work on you at the house.
LT: Where do you get drugs?
LUCY: It’s not hard to get drugs from the cult?
SILVA DAVIS: Lucy can any one tell your husband what will happen? (She is talking to the alters.)
LUCY: I will be killed.
LT: (loudly) Who is going to kill you? All this is made up, a fairy tale.
PETERSON: May I say something? If I had something real dangerous to tell you, I would be worried that you wouldn’t keep my secret. I would be worried because you admitted that you lost your temper yesterday and what if you went to one of those places and lost your temper?
LT: I never go no place -- You’re hoodwinking me. You go around, vague. I asked to come in here to get hard information.
LUCY: I’m giving you hard information.
LT: You are being very vague I want some hard information. Put the cards on the table.
LUCY: The children are on drugs. You can get drugs easily.
LT: What is your cult name? Why are you so convinced that you are in a cult?
PETERSON: So you don’t believe her?
LT: No I don’t.
LUCY: It doesn’t just stop.
SEWARD: Catherine was in a group of six children in Jersey Village High School and now three of them are dead.
LT: It wasn’t in the news.
WOMAN: It was suicide.
SEWARD: That’s 50.
LT: Who is Kent?
LUCY: The girl right down the street knows him. It was all in the newspaper. You have heard of Scott May?
LT: I have heard of Scott May.
SEWARD: Can you tell us about Dr. G.?
LUCY: I have information that I got from Georgia. There are doctors, lawyers, and policemen in the cult.
JOHNSON: Are you concerned about Lucy and the girls life?
LT: I am scared about all of their lives.
JOHNSON: It would scare the hell our of me.
LUCY: I’m scared. You thought you have heard the most horrible things. I have done more horrible things to my children.
LT: What was that?
LUCY: I put them in cages and boxes Then I put them in dark holes with bugs and snakes.
JOHNSON: I intercepted that letter.
LUCY: Kathy had a cult abortion. I knew nothing about it.
LT: Are you in here for life?
SEWARD: What Lucy is talking about is a central signal. The signal will be given by the cult and then we can get rid of it. She will be lot safer.
PETERSON: That’s what we do here. We do it through abreaction.
SEWARD: Catherine says you signal her.
LT: What do I signal?
SEWARD: To shut up.
LT: (louder) I signal her to shut up?
SEWARD: The cult trains them with electro-shock.
DAVIS: She is terrified for her life.
LT: Why are you so sure you will be killed?
LUCY: I’ve seen it. I am speaking the truth. Parts of me have killed. They do not let you walk away.
LT: What are we talking about?
SEWARD: Catherine has to be assured that she will be safe. Karen has been so terrified that she is afraid to have a feeling. She is afraid of being tortured.
LT: Prove it.
SEWARD: I can’t prove it.
PETERSON: All I can tell you is that I know what I would do when I hear that three people are dead. You are investing money to save your family. You must listen to people who know most about it.
JOHNSON: Five or six people in the country who know about this...
LT: I need to visit my family When can I start?
PETERSON: If you knew about this you have a serious problem. You must get the very best help.
LT: How long would that take?
PETERSON: If he is interested I will call Dr. Braun’s office again?
SEWARD: Do it and get over it. Is it possible that a part of you is triggering her?
LT: Are we talking about a year, or six months?
LUCY: Nobody has any control over it.
JOHNSON: Get yourself assessed and then we will move forward.
(Some missing dialogue)
PETERSON: I told you 14 times, Chicago.
LUCY: It will facilitate the problem.
LT: You talk to me in vague circles.
PETERSON: Lets try everything we can. Lucy has unblocked.
LUCY: My alters are telling me we have to do what we can.
LT: You was doped up on Ativan and everything else.
There was much conversation about Ativan
SEWARD: LT , what is Ativan used for?
LT: He says it calms you down or dopes you up.
TAYLOR, PETERSON, and SEWARD are all saying: No.
LT: Why can’t you come home and be a normal wife? I don’t see no progress.
PETERSON: Everything is being done that can be.
LUCY: I am not rejecting you.
PETERSON: It is important that you be assessed.
LT: How can I work?
LUCY: (remembers something about LT) It came from my system. You started slow. It was put into our sexual activities. You were tied up.
LT: I want some hard cold facts.
WOMAN’S VOICE: She’s giving you hard cold facts.
LT: When did it happen?
JOHNSON: (prompts Lucy) When was the last time it happened?
LUCY: It was in December.
LT: What did you do in December?
JOHNSON: (prompts - unclear something about sex)
LUCY: You have been conditioned by my alters to have oral sex.
LT: That’s bullshit .That did not happen.
DAVIS: This took guts to tell you.
LT: Why would she have a dream like that? Tell me doctor how would you feel?
PETERSON: I think you need to know. It’s hard to take it in. Come back and work on this. Take the first step. Let’s go and call Dr. Braun.
LT: Call Dr. Braun.
JOHNSON: So much has happened to you, it would take ten years for you to know to keep you from interfering with Karen’s and Cathy’s work.
DAVIS: I’m so thrilled, and happy, and proud of your decision.
LUCY: I know that you are scared and lonely. It’s real. It’s not brain-washing.
PETERSON: Now we can begin the process.
JOHNSON: To begin the process -- hotel expenses, airline tickets.
LT: About how long it will take?
PETERSON: It will be at least a week. I suggest two - truth drugs, content review, group sessions will be helpful to you.
SEWARD: (says something about in six months Karen, Cathy, and Lucy Might be..) Karen and I have spent a long time talking.
LT: The goal is that they must not be triggered?
PETERSON: It will take three to five years in treatment.
SEWARD: They have to go back and have the experience, abreaction, when they were tortured. The other thing to remember, there is not much money for outpatient treatment.
JOHNSON: Lucy has been tortured for many more years. She has been conditioned.
LT: What’s left?
LUCY: The rest of your life.
JOHNSON: October through Christmas is a bad time.
LT: Three months, six months? I want to get my family together.
PETERSON: Step one. Get the assessment.
LT explodes about the amount of time, and says something about his wife being the hospital for years.
PETERSON: The hospital had only been there for 5 years. Dr. Braun is the most eminent physician in the U.S. Seeing the experts is not a waste of time.
LT said he was ready to go.
PETERSON: If you want, I will call him. He is the #1 person in the world. It may be a week before he has a spot. It is a prestigious group. I am his friend, but I can’t make his schedule.
DAVIS: She is working. Is she hearing me? (possibly this this was alter talk?)
LUCY: What about the eternal contact?
PETERSON: Your wife is working hard, and now you’re going too.
LT: How do the girls feel about the separation?
SEWARD: Karen is scared.
EASTEPP: Were there any issues about your wife that you hadn’t heard?
LT: Sexual. My purpose was to see my wife and find out how the girls were. When they entered the hospital, Seward said it would be 3 months, or maybe more.
Eastepp asks if LT had heard about the toothpaste. SSG had sent out the toothpaste that LT had brought for his wife and daughters to have it tested for poison.
LT: I was not told how the test came out.
Eastepp asked about the outcome of LT’s going to Chicago.
LT: I went to Chicago.
Eastepp projected a release signed by Lucy on 4/22/93. It was a patient confidentiality form signed by Peterson, Seward, Johnson. LT said he had never gotten the information.
Eastepp offered a letter as evidence. (There was an objection that was Overruled.) The letter was from Lucy. Eastepp read the letter in which Lucy said that she loved LT very much. She wanted very much to have the whole family together again. She wrote: "Get out of the cult. If you stop the insurance we will all be dead."
EASTEPP: Was that a concern?
LT: It was. They were telling me that I shouldn’t take the chance.
LT said that he had threatened to divorce Lucy three or four times.
Lucy’s letter said that the cult was putting something into LT that shut them down. She wrote, "I am determined to have my family back. Dr. Peterson thinks you should go to Chicago. Be careful what you share with your coworkers. We don’t know who are cult members. I am not being brain washed."
Eastepp enters more new evidence. April 23, 1992, West Oaks Hospital records were released to Dr. Braun.
LT: I was told that Peterson and Seward needed the information.
Peterson Phys. Associates Document: A fax was sent to Bennett Braun regarding Lewis Abney’s Insurance.
LT: I remember giving the information to Peterson
Another fax was sent by Dedra Aspen from Peterson’s office. It was a long letter concerning LT. In July, 1991 he had been given Prozac and another drug by Seward to keep him calm during the family therapy sessions. He had continued the Prozac.. Dedra Aspen was the family therapist and had consulted with Dr. Seward about LT’s fits of rage.
EASTEPP: Did the Prozac keep you calm?
LT: Yes, it did keep me calm. Perhaps none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been so calm.
EASTEPP: Do you remembered your behavior in those family sessions compared to tape that we just heard?
LT: I was more agitated in the earlier sessions.
LT was told that he should not read Lucy’s journals. He said talked to Lucy’s alters when they were in bed. Therapy sessions made it very hard to sell insurance. He was so depressed. The long fax gave LT’s history of his therapy at Cypress Creek Hospital. Katherine was on birth control pills after she came out of the hospital in March. Lucy was talking about cult activities.
February 14- LT was concerned. He had much fear. He thought something awful would happen to him. He thought he was being shocked at the bottom of his feet. He was told by his wife’s therapist that he had hypnotized her. He expressed fear that his wife was untreatable. He had called SSG several times a day to see how Lucy was.
April 22: LT explained that when he talked he felt an electrical shock on his heel. He was driving 200 miles a day and his feet would go to sleep. Peterson said it was after-shock from the electro-shocking in the cult. LT had pawned his wife’s wedding ring in 1991 during a financial crisis.
LT went to Chicago on April 22,1992. He didn’t remember making the arrangements for the hospital. He was to be there at least one week.
EASTEPP: What was being assessed?
LT: Whether I was in the cult. The only reason I went was so I could see my wife. I was given truth serum twice. I was seen by Dr. Braun, Dr. Sachs, Dr Levitz, Dr. Sherman and others. I had a complete physical and mental tests. My insurance paid for it.
April 27 1992: Admission record from Rush Presbyterian Hospital: Lewis Abney diagnosis - major depressive disorder. Mrs. Abney and 2 daughters have been diagnosed as MPD treated by Dr. Judith Peterson. LT said that he was programmed by his wife. Not cult involved as a child. According to his wife she had programmed him for the last ten years. Patient was not aware for any cult involvement.
Roberta Sachs record: LT. was a country bumpkin, according to Peterson’s description. LT complains of being depressed. Fearful about what he will find out. Has tears in his eyes when he talked about his wife.
Levitz records: Patient cooperative, fearful about what he finds out. Pat. not sure how he will handle things. No memory of electro-shock. Eyes look funny.
Roberta Sachs record May 1,1992: Pat. talked about a type of trance. Has no memory of his wife going to a safe place. No memory of electro-shock. Denies any interest in watching childbirth. He doesn’t like blood. Presents persona that wife describes. Used finger signals.
LT said that he saw Braun one time and he did the truth serum treatment. LT didn’t remember anything about that. He was asleep.
EASTEPP: Did you discuss your drinking?
LT: They always ask that.
Medical record from Rush: No impression of MPD or cult.
EASTEPP: Were you aware that he was being tested for MPD?
Dr. Sachs note 5/18/92: Hypnosis, and Sodium Brivicol all negative. No signs of dissociation. Patient is concerned about his wife and family He needs to be with his wife. I will talk to Dr. Peterson.
LT told Eastepp that Dr. Braun said that he found no sign of him being in the cult. Dr. Levitz said he had never seen a family involved in the cult without the father.
Dr. Braun’s record: Patient may have depressive disorder. Frequently tears when talking about wife and daughters. Wife made accusations about him abusing the daughters. He had never been inappropriate with anyone. He said that he needed to get back to work. No indicators of MPD or SRA. This will be relayed to Dr. Peterson. No homicidal or suicidal tendencies.
LT: It meant that I could go back and see my wife. I saw her as soon as I got home in Unit E.
EASTEPP: How did she appear?
LT: She was happy with the results.
LT stated he didn’t meet with the treatment team because Dr. Seward was out of town and he needed Seward’s permission to meet with them. He met with them later in a family council. Catherine was ready to come home, and Karen was going along with the game.
There were 5 more tapes played, only a minute or two from each one.
Tape: May 15 LT had been out of the hospital for 6 days when he attended a session with the family. Cathy wanted to come home. The treatment group was telling her what would happen to her if she went home. Seward said that Catherine was not working. Lucy held the key, and she was not working. Where would Catherine go? She said that she wanted to go home with LT. He wasn’t comfortable with that idea.
Tape: Catherine had made a poster using pictures cut from the National Geographic magazine and Lucy was asked what it represented. Peterson told Lucy that she had a code for unlocking this memory. Lucy was the cult Mama. She should be ashamed. Lucy reacted angrily to this. Peterson said she put on a show.
EASTEPP: Why were you participating?
LT: To build up the family, but it didn’t work that way.
At this time LT moved into an apartment. There were two marital sessions done by Davis. May 20 Lucy was moved to Unit C LT said that Dr. Peterson was in charge.
In July LT is asked to sign a release form for his medical records at Rush Hospital. Dr. Peterson is going to Chicago and wants to pick them up. On July 18 Seward refuses to let LT see the girls. Lucy did nothing about it. Two days later Seward called LT and said he would set up a meeting with Peterson on Friday. It was an aggressive meeting with Peterson, Seward, Davis, Taylor, Deidra Aspan, LT and Lucy Abney, Catherine, and Karen.
Tape dated 7/24/92: The tape begins with Lucy saying that some things had come up. She and the girls had memories that LT was a part of the cult and he had abused the girls. Peterson adds that when she was in Chicago she talked to Braun and Sacks and they found a person who was kind, confused, and didn’t understand. She went on say that Braun found that this kind person was also full or rage, wild behavior, and could be dangerous. The extremes in the personality were signs of MPD.
(Tape: A metronome is ticking loudly in the background. In a previous tape Lucy requests that Peterson turn it off, because it makes her sleepy or hypnotizes her. Peterson would not turn it off.)
Tape: LT tells the group that Dr. Braun had said that there was no way that he was cult involved. Peterson tries to explain that Dr. Sachs had not given him the right information. Dr. Levitz was wrong. Dr. Sherman was inexperienced. (He did one of the "truth serum" sessions) They think that LT is in danger and need to go into therapy. Sachs and Braun are sorry this mistake has been made. Lucy tells him that he was born into the cult the way she was. LT keeps asking what proof they have and he gets only the answer that "they have memories." Peterson repeats that they are only concerned for LT’s safety. LT asks them if his safety was so important why they waited four days to tell him about this.
Lucy explains that she, Karen and Kathy all have the same memories. That is why they know it is true (Karen and Cathy both have been seeing Seward and Davis. Lucy, and both girls work with Davis. The whole team read the journals, and the journals are what determine what is worked on in therapy) LT tells Lucy she is not telling the truth, because she won’t look at him. She replies that she prefers not to have eye contact because LT triggers her. LT threatens to sue for divorce and says that he is going to stop his insurance. Davis tells him the insurance will continue as long as it takes. They have checked on that.
Katherine said that on Friday she came up with the memory of being tied to a tree. Seward encourages her to tell her father. Davis tells LT to listen to her. Katherine’s story was that she was tied to a tree and LT had a cattle prod and whip. He whipped her, tore the flesh from her arms. He did the same thing to Karen and to Lucy. LT asked when and where that was. He asked where the marks were. Nobody could say where the marks were. Seward says that the cult teaches you how not to leave marks. LT said it was a made up story. A bull whip would leave marks. That’s common sense. Lucy insists that they are not lying. LT wondered where Keraga was. Peterson tells him that she is tardy.
Karen adds some other memories about people slaughtering animals and eating body parts while they were in Matamoros. LT said they were never in Matamoros, except on the way to Santa Cruz. They didn’t stop. Karen was lying. He demands proof. Peterson told him again that Braun, Sachs and Levitz think that LT is in trouble. She has talked to them on the phone. The important thing is for LT to get help. Lucy wonders what LT has to lose. Seward says that LT will have much more freedom. Lots more energy. A different job. LT comes back that Lucy, Karen, and Cathy have gotten worse not better. Seward says it has something to do with the way LT is behaving.
Peterson, Seward, Davis, and perhaps Keraga (voice unclear, but she was talked about at the end) all kept encouraging LT to go back to Chicago. They told him it was the only way his family could get back together. Lucy, Catherine, Karen not only shared their terrible memories, but also said they loved him and wanted to help him. They said he was the key to their getting well so he had to get treatment. It was very dangerous for them to share their memories with him. LT could not see how they would not be safe in SSG. At one point Seward said that going to Chicago was his best chance of recovering his memories. LT asked, "Are you saying I can get memories like they have?"
Three or four times LT seems on the verge of saying he would go. The team rallies around him saying how proud they are that his is taking this chance, etc. Each time LT gives a practical reason why it isn’t possible. Who is going to be paying the bills if all four of them are in the hospital? How long is it going to take? Will Lucy find somebody else? Will he be able to be with Lucy when he gets back his memories? Can they get him into Rush? Will Lucy be able to come up and see him in Chicago?
LT: What makes you so sure I’m in the cult?
SEWARD: Let’s not go into that again.
LT: Can Lucy come home for a night before I go to Chicago?
They all say no, and Lucy says no that it will set her therapy back. LT gets so angry that he says he will file for divorce and pull the insurance. Lucy answers that it is his choice.
EASTEPP: Have you seen the records where Sachs and Braun changed their minds?
EASTEPP: What did you think?
LT: I done been had. I was taken.
EASTEPP: Did you hear anything?
LT: I heard the metronome in the background.
July 27,1992: LT testified that he made a phone call to SSG saying he was going to Chicago. He was put on a waiting list at Rush but he didn’t go. He couldn’t see any of his family, nor would they receive any phone calls. He bought Lucy a coat at the first cold spell and took it to the main desk for them to deliver it to her. He knew she didn’t have a coat. He tried to reach Keraga to find out how his wife was. When he couldn’t get the information he told them he would cancel his insurance.
September 10,1992: LT had a conversation with Keraga and told her he was going to stop the insurance. He wanted her to ask Lucy if she wanted to get the divorce or should he? He did drop the insurance on September 15 and he sent copies to all the other health services that his insurance company had paid.
LT testified that he didn’t know when Lucy got out of the hospital. He heard from her on Feb.14, 1993 when she called him from Richmond, VA. She told him that she missed him and that she was homesick. He told her to catch a plane and come home.
From notes by attendees
L.T. Abney is on the witness stand
Today’s court session starts at 8:20 am and Larry Eastepp, Assistant United States Attorney only has a few more questions for witness L.T. Abney.
[Sept. 1992] In answer to Eastepp’s questions LT testified that Lucy’s disability checks started going to the hospital. LT started receiving notices of returned checks. He then found out that the joint back account where the checks had previously been deposited had been closed by his wife.
After dropping insurance LT contacted an attorney to get a court order for a second opinion. LT stated that he didn’t have enough money to get it started.
In December 1992 LT contacted the insurance company to see why insurance was paid. Letters are shown to jury and in one letter LT stated "I refuse to be any part of insurance fraud." A reply from the insurance company indicated continued coverage and that no fraud was taking place. LT never did follow through with the divorce action.
When LT’s wife Lucy Abney got out of the hospital her daughters Karen G. and Catherine S. were not with her.
LT said that the next time he saw Karen was in Family court in November, 1994.
EASTEPP: Was she glad to see you?
LT: She was nervous. That was it.
LT stated that Lucy was able to regain custody of her daughter and they picked up their life at that point.
At 8:30 after only ten minutes of questions the prosecution turns the witness over to the defense. LT Abney had been on the witness 2.5 days for questions from the prosecution.
Rusty Hardin, defense attorney for Dr. Judith Peterson, starts the defense cross examination.
In answer to Hardin’s questions LT stated that he contacted two attorneys after the July 24, 1992 family therapy session where he was accused of molesting his daughter. After talking with lawyers LT decided not to make a second trip to Chicago.
When did FBI get involved?
In 1993 - 1994 there were no [FBI] phone calls about the case.
HARDIN: When did you first [think about filing] criminal charges?
LT: The more info that I got during the civil trial [ the more I thought that about filing criminal charges]... I was contacted by a third party about the FBI interest in the case.
HARDIN: Who was that?
LT: Paul Walner. [Paul Walner was an attorney who represented Lucy Abney in the civil trial]
LT said that their civil lawsuit was settled in April, 1995 and finalized in May, 1995. In the civil trial Paul Walner represented Lucy and Paul Jensen represented LT.
HARDIN: Who represented you in your original [child custody] lawsuit?
LT: Gary Langford and Jackie Taylor.
The Abneys were put in contact with Paul Walner through referral from another law firm.
HARDIN: When did Walner contact you about the FBI?
LT testified that the meeting was in Walner’s office. It appeared to be the first meeting between Walner and the FBI. Both LT and Lucy were there but they did not take an active part in the meeting. The meeting lasted. 1.5 hours and the discussion was mainly between the FBI and Paul Warner. Walner had documents from the civil suit.
LT: We were just sitting there listening.
The Abneys were told that they would be contacted later. They were contacted - just before the grand jury hearing. They gave permission to release material from their civil lawsuit.
HARDIN: Where was Karen living at that time.
LT: With her mother.
LT separated from Lucy in January 1996. Their divorce was finalized in April 1996. After the settlement LT bought the house from his wife. Later Lucy and Karen moved to The Woodlands 30 miles north of Houston. LT later moved to Kingwood, a suburb about 30 miles northeast of Houston. LT said that he is now a subcontractor in the oilfield. He stated that at the time the lawsuit was settled he continued to work for an insurance company. He did take some time off and did some traveling.
Hardin wanted to know when the next time was that they heard from the FBI. LT said that it was sometime before the indictment in October 1997. He said FBI agent Durney let him know that the case was going to the grand jury. Agent Durney and LT both hoped that the grand jury would return an indictment. When the indictment came down, LT said that he was happy.
LT said that the government had never reviewed with him the facts of the case. He said the next contact from the government was by phone but he didn’t know when. LT said that the contact was brief and LT responded to the FBI by indicating that he was willing to be interviewed about the case at a later date.
The next contact was when the was in September, 1998 when LT was asked to come down for a meeting. LT said that he thought the trial had already started.
LT testified that there were four or five meetings. He met with Larry Eastepp, Quincy Ollison and Debbie Ganaway. He stated that he met with Ganaway for four or five hours. Hardin kept asking if there were any notes taken during these meetings. This line of questioning had been going on for about 10 minutes when Eastepp objected stating that the government had already turned over any written notes from pretrial meetings with witnesses. Judge Werlein told Hardin that it was time to move on.
Hardin responded to the judge saying that he wanted to get the information in for the record. Hardin asked LT about the next meeting. LT stated it was another 8 hour meeting with Debbie Ganaway around the 15th or 16th of October. Everything from the meeting was turned over to the lawyers. The next meeting was in November. LT spent 3.5 hours listening to tapes from previous therapy sessions. LT said that he had parking stubs at home that could he could use verify the dates of his four or five meetings with the government. LT said that he had read his civil case deposition once before the trial. The deposition was given August 30, 1994. LT met with the government [Eastepp, Ollision or Durney] Sunday afternoon and Monday before the start of in court testimony on Tuesday. In the Sunday meeting he reviewed his deposition and the meeting lasted 3 or 4 hours. LT said that he did not read anyone elses [deposition?].
LT was asked if he had talked to Lucy Abney. LT said that he called her on The phone 3 or 4 times to tell her that he was behind her. He said the calls lasted 4 or 5 minutes.
HARDIN: What did she say?
LT: It got kind of tough with you.
(This brought laughter from the jury and others in the courtroom.)
LT testified that in the telephone conversations with Lucy she said that she was surprised to learn that Dr. Seward had noted inappropriate touching by LT back in January 1991. LT indicated that this made him angry because witnesses are instructed not to discuss the case with anyone outside the courtroom.
LT had told Eastepp about the phone conversations between LT and Lucy. Eastepp had brought this information to the court’s attention outside the presence of the jury. The defense was not happy about the phone conversations but no action was taken [to my knowledge]. Eastepp had indicated that the January note from Seward was the only thing that was brought up that related to court testimony.
Hardin sums up the time LT spent talking to the government prior to the trial. The total for all the meetings was 38 hours.
[The time was now 9:15. Hardin had spent 30 minutes mainly asking about time LT had spent with the government prior the grand jury hearing and prior to his testimony in this trial. Most if not all of the previous witness have been asked about the time that they have spent prior to their testimony talking to the government and have been asked if they testified before the grand jury. So far there have been no witnesses that have said that they testified before the grand jury.]
HARDIN: Wouldn’t it be fair to say that [you consider] it gobble-de-gook.
LT: What do you mean gobble-de-gook?
Hardin asked LT is there was any other word that he would like to use that Would describe the therapy given his family.
LT: That [gobble-de-gook] was a better word.
Hardin asked if Dedra Aspan had a great deal to do with making decisions for the whole family. LT’s response was not recorded.
HARDIN: Dedra made decisions for you. Before December 1990 how would you characterize your family?
LT: We were carrying on as a normal family. Nothing unusual.
HARDIN: How old was Karen and Catherine when you married [Mrs. Abney]?
LT: Catherine was 5 and Karen was 2.
HARDIN: Karen never knew her real father. Did she see Mr. S. [after you married Mrs. Abney?]?
LT: Twice - 2 hours.
Hardin asked question about LT’s relationship with his children from his first marriage.
LT: Close when I was allowed to be.
At the time of LT’s marriage to Lucy the ages of his children were: Tray-13, Christe-11, and Catherine-8. His children lived in Houston with their mother. Hardin then reviewed the places where the Abney family had lived after they Got married. Initially in Mexico for one month, Pasadena in trailer home Sept 81 - June 82, Porter in trailer -June 82 - October 83, Spring - October 83 - ?,86, Lafayette...Hardin stops and discusses the family situation at that time.
LT: It was a tight time financially. Lucy had part time job at [?]? She started going to school.
Harden asks about Lucy Abney’s reading habits.
LT: She reads a lot more than me.
HARDIN: Did you read Sybil?
LT: Yes. I thought it was kind of crazy. I think she thought it could be true.
HARDIN: Do you remember her reading Michele Remembers?
Answer not recorded.
Hardin asks about Catherine seeing her father.
LT: He wanted to bring her home for the weekends.
LT said this was how it started and then Catherine wanted to go stay with her father. LT said that her father was buying her clothes that she wanted and gave her more freedom. LT said "The grass is always greener." He said that Lucy objected when Catherine started wanting to go live with her father but finally gave in. LT said that he was opposed to the idea.
LT: They [Karen and Catherine] were legally Lucy’s daughters.
HARDIN: Would you say that you have a strong opinion on how kids are raised?
LT: Kids today get by with too much.
HARDIN: Were you frustrated that you did not have more control over your own children?
LT: I didn’t like it that my ex-wife was taking more and more [?].
Hardin question not recorded.
LT: We wanted to make sure that the girls were raised right. [Lucy and LT]
Hardin asks how long LT and Lucy dated before they got married.
LT: We dated 7 weeks.
Hardin picks up on the family moves starting with Lafayette.
LT: We lived there [Lafayette] for six or seven months and then we moved to Georgia.
Hardin asks about children’s reading habits.
HARDIN: Was love of reading passed on to the girls?
LT: I would say Karen more than Catherine.
LT then describes problems that he had with Catherine. He describes her as rebellious. He said that she was bright.
LT: Most of the time all she had to do was turn in her homework.
LT confirms that Catherine had problems stealing.
LT: She took a watch from lost and found. When we asked her why she had taken it she replied "Because I liked it."
Hardin asks about the 1984 incident when the police was called and CPS became involved.
HARDIN: What do you remember happened?
LT: I lost control. I slapped her.
HARDIN: What did you get upset with her about?
LT: Homework. It was the first time I slapped her in the face.
HARDIN: Why did you hit her in the face?
LT: I don’t know why.
HARDIN: Do you recall police coming?
Hardin asks if Catherine had any cuts or bruises.
LT: According to CPS report, I did. I disagree, she definitely did not have a cut on the lip. She did not have marks on legs.
[Next exchange was missed.]
HARDIN: Did they [the prosecution] show you the police report?
HARDIN: Do our memories ever play tricks on us? Where we remember what we want had happened. Sometimes we...
LT’s response was not recorded.
Hardin shows LT the police report and allows time for LT to read it.
LT: It’s not accurate as I remember.
HARDIN: [Could your memory be wrong?]
LT: Not quite that wrong.
Hardin reads from the police report. "She [neighbor] heard you use a belt - called her [Catherine] back downstairs and started shaking her - could hear through [walls of the appartment - left side of chin was bruised and there was a cut on the corner of her mouth.
LT: Not true. She did not have a cut and [she was not beaten with a belt] I admitted to slapping her one time.
HARDIN: [in reference to beating with belt] Can you think of a reason that she Would make it up?
Answer not recorded.
HARDIN: How old was Catherine when she went to live with her father?
HARDIN: How were you getting along [with her at the time]?
LT: She was usually angry with me. She rebelled a lot. I yelled at her. I did not spank her after she got older.
HARDIN: By spring 1987 were you not getting along?
LT: In certain areas.
Back to going to live with father.
LT: I tried to talk Mrs. Abney out of it. I did not think she should go. [She thought?] maybe it was what Catherine needed.
HARDIN: Did you know of Mr. Castleberry?
LT: I have heard the name.
HARDIN: When did Catherine see you after going to live with her father?
LT: Christmas get together - visited us in Dalton, GA.
HARDIN: How was she acting?
LT: Glad to see mother and me.
HARDIN question not recorded.
LT: She didn’t want to go back after one visit. We assumed that she was now More comfortable with us. We thought it was unfair to play games with kids.
HARDIN: Was the plan to live with him from then on?
LT: Catherine wasn’t getting along with either parent.
When the break is over Hardin says that he was at 1987 with his discussion. In 1986 Tray is 14-15 years old and living with his mother. He has started having problems with the law. Tray and his sister Christa had lived with the Abney’s for 8 months back in 1983. Hardin then discusses incident that occurred when Christa and Tray were living with the Abney’s. According to police report Tray [age 18] allowed his sister [Christa age 16] to be raped by his friend while he sat nearby drinking a beer and watching. Charges were filed against Tray for aggravated sexual assault. Karen [age 8] and Catherine [age 11] were not involved. After the incident Christa continued to live in home with the Abney’s until summer. [Unclear how long that would be.] LT was there when Christa told the sheriff what had happened to her.
HARDIN: How did Christa act?
LT: She was given the opportunity to go to reform school.
HARDIN: Could you tell if there were there were any after affects.
First part of LT’s answer was not recorded.
LT:... That was the last time she came to live with us.
Back to Dawson, GA
Catherine stayed with Abney’s for one week during the summer of 1989.
HARDIN: How was Catherine acting?
LT: Same ’ole’ Catherine. We got along OK. When it came time for her to leave she started crying and she didn’t want to go back.
After summer of 89
In late October Edward [Catherine’s father] called and said she had run away.
LT: A few days later we get another call from a halfway house in Baton Rouge and we left that Saturday afternoon -arrived in Baton Rouge and then drove all the way back.
HARDIN: When did she say that she had been raped?
LT: She never said that she had been raped. I heard that she had been molested.
Hardin asked what was the difference.
LT: [Molesting] could be rape - could be touching.
LT said that someone at the shelter had talked to the police. The police said that it would be better to get her out of there and forget about it.
HARDIN: Wouldn’t it make a difference if the person had been touched or sexually assaulted?
LT: I agree. For whatever reason we did nothing.
Hardin asked about the number of incidents.
LT: The number of times was never mentioned.
HARDIN: When did she start writing suicide notes?
LT: Sometime the next year.
LT testified that the suicide note in Houston in Dec 1990. There were one or two suicide notes 6-8 months after Catherine (age 15) rejoined the Abney’s in Georgia. After Dec 90 suicide note.
HARDIN: Did you form an opinion?
LT: I wanted to find out why.
HARDIN: When did you leave Dawson, Georgia?
LT: June 1990. We moved to an apartment in Spring, TX.
HARDIN: Until the fall 1990 were there any more suicide notes? How was Catherine before December 1990?
LT: She was doing much better in fall 1990. She was getting along in school. Between 1989 - fall 90 - getting along better in school. We were getting along. There were no outward problems.
Hardin asked about the suicide note in 1990.
LT: We went to our church. Pastor recommended Tom Billings. Billings was Union Association guidance counselor.
HARDIN: [Were there any more incidents of stealing?]
LT: Yes but not more than once or twice.
Hardin question not recorded.
LT: I sometimes lost my temper but not that often.
Hardin asked about conversations that LT would have with Catherine.
LT: I would have conversations [with her]. I would try to help. [I would ask, "Is there anything I can do?"]
HARDIN: How were you getting along with Lucy?
Answer not recorded.
Hardin then asks when LT learned that Lucy had been molested.
LT: 1984. She told me that she had been molested by her brother. HARDIN: How old were the both of you when you got marrried?
LT: I was 36 and she was 34.
HARDIN: Did she have some problems about sex?
LT: At first no. In 1984 the frequency was less. At that time she told me About her brother.
HARDIN: Why was it bothering her [in 1984] and not before?
LT: Referred to something she had read in Ann Landers.
Reference was made to an article in Ann Landers about suppressed memory.
LT: Ann Landers story made her remember.
Discussion continues related to Lucy’s abuse for a few more questions before Hardin changes to another topic.
HARDIN: What was your impression of Dr. Billings?
LT: Seemed nice.
Hardin asked about the the discussion with Dr. Billings after his initial visit with Catherine.
LT: He took Catherine in his office and within 15 minutes said that she was MPD and SRA.
HARDIN: Why didn’t you question [his diagnosis]
LT: He is a pastorial counselor and was recommended by our preacher.
HARDIN: What did you think?
LT: I didn’t know what to think. At the time he was a professional and I didn’t [question him]. He suggested very strongly for hospitalization. I did not disagree.
Hardin asked LT about sexual abuse.
LT agreed that sexual abuse included: inappropriate touching, rape, entering a woman’s body in other ways. LT stated that he did not know [at the time?] what went on with Catherine [when she was living with her father].
HARDIN: How long did she stay in the hospital?
LT: She got out in January and went right back in.
LT stated that Catherine said that she had attempted suicide and had marks on her neck.
HARDIN: Did you believe that she had been sexually assaulted? [at her fathers?]
HARDIN: You believe what she said without evidence. A parent is taught to believe the child.
HARDIN: When she went back into the hospital what was the state of her mother?
LT: Wife was having problems - anxious over what was going on with Catherine. Hardin: How was your relationship?.. Our relationship was tense.
HARDIN: By January 91 did you know Dr. Seward?
LT: I had not seen him.
HARDIN: Did you have any objections to him [treating Catherine]?
LT: As of Jan 1, 90 - no.
HARDIN: How many hours per week were you working?
LT: 60 - 70 hours per week - working 8am until 2am. [I had second night job at Compac testing computers and worked until 2am - 4 to 5 days a week.]
LT testified that Catherine was having problems and Lucy was concerned about Catherine.
Hardin then asks about the suicide attempt.
LT: Catherine came down one morning and said that she tried to kill herself. I called Dr. Seward.
LT stated that Catherine was asked what made her stop and she replied it hurt. LT said that she wasn’t crying, sad, depressed or angry.
LT: We put her back in the hospital the same day.
HARDIN: What was your reaction?
LT: Not again!
LT said that Catherine was seeing Dr. Seward and she did not see Dr. Billings.
It came out in one of the taped therapy sessions that LT drank 3 - 6 beers in a day. Hardin asks when the 3-6 beers start.
Answer not recorded.
LT stated that in therapy sessions Catherine was complaining about his drinking. Karen was not.
HARDIN: You lumped all these people [you sued] together. Who do you exclude?
LT: Possibly Cypress Creek.
LT was asked to name some of those that he had problems with. Included in the List were Dr. Seward, Dr. Peterson, Syliva Davis, Pat Taylor and Pat K. (art teacher).
HARDIN: Do you believe in MPD?
LT: No I do not.
Hardin asked LT if he thought all doctors who believed in MPD were wrong.
LT: I can’t answer that.
HARDIN: Do you assume that anyone who puts down [MPD as a diagnosis is wrong]?
LT: According to my own experience.
Hardin asked if LT had a complaint about Dr. Fink.
LT: Yes. Dr. Fink [went along with] Karen’s SRA and MPD. [??? Not sure that this iscorrect.]
HARDIN: Do you think doctors made up [stuff] and lied in the medical records?
LT: I would have to know what was said in the therapy sessions.
HARDIN: It’s pretty clear that you don’t believe in MPD.
LT: I hope you don’t either.
Next exchanges not recorded.
HARDIN: We have a man who works very hard - became surrogate father for two daughters - who wanted to do well for the family. Hardin made reference to following the American dream bcak in the 80’s.
HARDIN: All of a sudden - daughter molested and writing suicide notes and wife is getting uptight.
LT: I was getting frustrated.
HARDIN asks about Lucy saying that she was different personalities.
LT: She was the same person that... She said that she was Betty, Lucy...
Hardin asked LT about alters and parts.
LT: An alter was a part like a part of a car. It’s still a car.
Statement was made that Catherine started to journal as far back as 91. From LT’s testimony Lucy made an appointment with Dr. Billings when she ran into Dr. Billings in the hospital hallway after Catherine was admitted to Cypress Creek for the second time.
HARDIN: When wife started journaling in Jan 1991 when would she do it?
LT: [In the mornings and sometimes evenings.]
Hardin asked if LT read any of Lucy’s journals. He said that he read a few when she asked him to do so. He didn’t remember any details but mostly what he said that read were about feelings.
Hardin talks about LT being characterized as a country bumpkin and the possibility that he might be MPD.
LT: [To Hardin] I have seen you laughing and joking and exhibiting other kinds of behavior. You must be MPD.
There is laughter in the courtroom. The judge says it time for a lunch break. The jury could be heard still laughing after they had exited the courtroom.
---- Lunch break------
Hardin: Good afternoon. In the early part of 1991 was your wife talking about alters yet?
LT: In January - no.
HARDIN: Do you remember her talking in January about dreams or memories about being bound by a belt?
LT: In January 1991 - no.
LT stated that he read Lucy’s journals only when she invited him to do so. Hardin asked LT if he had trouble controlling his anger.
LT: I don’t think I had trouble managing my anger.
HARDIN: Do you think you might have revised your memory?
Answer not recorded.
HARDIN: You blame therapists between 1991 and 1993.
HARDIN: When did you meet Dr. Peterson?
LT: In February 1992 after wife and daughter were admitted.
From LT’s testimony - January 1991 Catherine saw Dr. Billings. April 91 - Lucy admitted to Cypress Creek and discharged in May. May 91 - Feb 92 - Lucy lives at home with family - family therapy - Dr. Seward was psychiatrist for Catherine. Dr. Peterson was not involved [in treatment] in 1991 except for the April 1991 consultation.
LT testified that as far as he knew in 1991 Sylvia Davis was not involved and Dr. Peterson made no attempt to get Lucy in the hospital.
Hardin reads from Lucy’s journal entry - Jan 1991: A part of me says I am a coward, another part does not. LT spends so much time being angry. - took shower when I had a flashback of wrist being bound with a belt - a brown leather belt.
LT wants to read entry before responding to Hardin question.
HARDIN: Does that entry surprise you?
LT: Yes it does.
Section skipped - notes not clear.
LT: I was not getting angry in 1991. If she perceived that, it was because of Catherine.
HARDIN: Back in 91 she said that her father had tied her hands with a belt, got on top of her and sexually abused her.
LT: I don’t recall [reading] this.
Hardin reads long graphic journal entry about Lucy’s father raping her.
LT: I don’t recall reading that.
HARDIN: Does that surprise you?
LT: Nothing really surprises me.
HARDIN: Haven’t you assumed all along that all this crazy talk came from the therapist? Do you think that [some of it may have come from her]?
LT: She was given a book written by two women. [The Courage to Heal]
LT said that the entries Hardin was reading came right after she started reading the book.
Hardin reads the journal entry again.
HARDIN: Is it your feeling that this could have been because of the book?
LT: Yes sir. It is. Billings had a great deal to do with it. [By suggesting that Lucy read the book.]
Hardin talks about the short time after seeing Dr. Billings and the journal entry. LT states that she bought the book right away and would have read a lot in the book.
HARDIN: Do you blame the therapist if she reads a book [that the therapist recommends]?
LT: He started her line of thinking.
HARDIN: Have you always maintained that it was a therapist who told her she was MPD?
LT: I don’t know who told her she was MPD.
Hardin reads from Dr. Billings notes: She told Dr. Billings on Jan 22 that she Had been raped. Hardin continues to read and ask LT about Lucy’s journal entries in early 1991. After reading several entries he is up to Feb 1991. Hardin reads February journal entry: I remember my dad forcing me to....
LT: I did not read that. It never came out before therapy. It never came up before therapy. When she went in the problem was Catherine and her brother. She came out with all this stuff.
HARDIN: Are you saying that what your wife is saying [in her journals] are so ludicrous that they must have come from the therapist?
HARDIN: The AMA recognizes MPD.
LT: I don’t.
There is a back and forth discussion on where Lucy’s ideas came from.
HARDIN: If she got some ideas from a book.
LT: If the therapist recommended the book - that would have a great deal to do with it.
HARDIN: Can you give me the name of the book?
LT: No I can’t.
HARDIN: Do you think as far back as January or February 1991 [your wife] was sick?
LT: I think she wasn’t thinking straight.
HARDIN: Why are you so reluctant to say that she was mentally ill?
LT: Depends on what you define as mentally ill.
HARDIN: Did you review the journal entries of Catherine?
LT: No sir.
Hardin attempts to establish that certain Lucy had certain memories before the April 1992 family meeting. [???]
LT: When I saw her on March 9th nothing like that came up?
HARDIN: She was reading books like Rabbit Howls and Sybil.
LT: All crazy stuff.
HARDIN: She reacted differently.
HARDIN: If she began to believe some stuff in book, would you blame Dr. Billings?
LT: With therapy instructions and therapy suggestions I would.
HARDIN: These books are at regular book stores.
Hardin changes to discussion about LT raising his voice in the therapy session [A little background - LT had gone to Chicago in April to be evaluated by Bennett Braun and Roberta Sachs to see if he was in the cult. In that visit they pronounced him "cult free" and after he returned to Houston there were a couple of months where restrictions were lifted and he had greater access to his family. Shortly before the July 24, 1992 he was again prohibited from seeing his family.]
In a July 24, 1992 taped family session LT is confronted with sexual abuse allegations from his wife and daughters. Hardin asks questions about the taped session.
HARDIN: Why would you talk to a 13 year old that way?
LT: You heard the tape. It was confronting, accusing...
HARDIN: How many people had raised voices?
LT: Me, Lucy.
HARDIN: You don’t have raised voices from Dr. Seward, Dr. Peterson, Sylvia Davis.
LT: All they were doing was backing up [the accusations from Lucy, Catherine and Karen]. I don’t know who could sit through that and not be attacking. I hear myself as a desperate man trying to figure out what is going on. I did not know what led up to these attacks and why they were attacking.
HARDIN: You believe the reason was to get back at you for writing MHMR.
LT stated that he believed the meeting was orchestrated by the therapists.
LT: All three had the same memory at the same time. Bull! They didn’t have memories. I don’t know exactly what...
What sounded like a metronome could be heard for most of the taped meeting on July 24, 1992.
LT: Catherine said that Dr. Seward had it in his pocket. It was used to lull patients into hypnosis. I know my wife had to be helped into and out of the room. She was looking straight ahead. She was doped up and hypnotized. I know there is no way that they could believe what is on that tape.
Hardin asked LT why he didn’t hear the metronome.
LT stated that it was because he was so angry.
Hardin’s first question after break
HARDIN: Did you have time for one or two beers [at the break].
LT: Just one.
HARDIN: When did your daughter say [that you had abused her?]?
LT: I was notified on the Saturday before the 24th that I could not see my wife or daughters. On Saturday I was called by a nurse on the adolescent nit. I was told that I could not see or talk to the girls.
HARDIN: Assume that the girls had said that...You recall err on the side of protection.
Hardin talks about when Catherine made a suicide attempt the safe thing to do was to put her in the hospital.
HARDIN: Assume that Catherine told you she had been sexually abused. The people in the hospital were [keeping her safe].
LT: We are leaving out common sense.
Hardin reads journal entry from Lucy: Someone inside me said... father - love hate I don’t think I can ignore it anymore.
LT: First of all Lucy had been in the hospital since February. She was on several medications. Lucy had been hypnotized. She had been told to work. All of a sudden she is given more news. The doctors are professionals. They are supposed to know the difference between fantasy and reality.
HARDIN: What if they view their role is to err on the side of caution for protection.
LT: There has to be a line drawn somewhere in common sense.
HARDIN: Treaters are going to make their decisions based on the safety of the children.
Family therapy sessions with Dedra Aspan
HARDIN: Did you take a more active role in disciplining the children?
LT: It didn’t matter to me as long as someone did it.
Hardin asks what he thought about the contracts that came out family sessions.
LT: [concerning raging] Bull. It was not true. The common threats from the sessions were stop drinking, stop raging, and wife to be more assertive.
HARDIN: You had a bunch of therapy with [Dedra Aspan?]. At sessions you were told that you were raging.
LT: That is what I was being told.
Hardin comes back to tape.
HARDIN: Did you hear yourself going after Karen?
LT: After two hours of listening to that stuff I wasn’t hearing... I was trying to get her to come out with...
HARDIN: Did you realize that you probably caused her to shut down.
LT: I probably did.
HARDIN: Are you saying that this was an event orchestrated by the therapists?
LT: Yes sir. I am.
HARDIN: When was it that she started to talk to you in different personalities?
LT: In Cypress Creek.
HARDIN: When did she say that she was involved in a cult?
LT: Before SSG. She had multiples before SSG.
HARDIN: Do you blame that on Dr. Billings?
Answer not recorded.
HARDIN: Was there a session [with Dr. Seward] for Catherine to review alters?
LT: Sometime in 1991. She had names for all. Gobble-de-gook. If someone comes up with this stuff for the first time after therapy there is something wrong....Is it possible that your wife and daughter had thoughts that they were not talking about?
Answer not recorded.
HARDIN: If your wife testified that Dr. Seward received less than $500 [for The outpatient treatment of Catherine in 1991].. LT: For the services rendered I would not pay a dime.
HARDIN: In the 1991 meeting where Catherine listed all the alters what did you say?
LT: I went along with it.
At this point there were a few more questions but most of the major points for the day had been covered.
L. T. Abney testified this week in the ongoing federal criminal trial against psychologist Judith Peterson, psychiatrists Gloria Keraga and Richard Seward, therapist Sylvia Davis and hospital administrator George Jerry Mueck. The five are accused of using hypnosis, drugs, isolation and other techniques in order to keep patients in the hospital so that they could collect insurance payments.
Abney testified that while his wife and stepdaughters were patients at the former Spring Shadows Glen private mental hospital in Houston, they came to believe that he was a member of a satanic cult and that he had tortured and abused them. Abney said that after he was prevented from seeing his family in September 1992, he tried to cut off their insurance in order to end the treatment, but that the hospital paid the premiums to keep the insurance in effect.
Defense attorneys have said that it was legal for the hospital to pay the insurance premiums and that treatment at Spring Shadows Glen was similar to that given in other facilities. Peterson attorney Rusty Hardin suggested that since L.T. Abney had not participated in the therapy sessions, he did not know whether the cult memories developed in therapy. Hardin noted that it was the duty of therapists to err on the side of safety, not to determine the truth of patients’ memories. Defense attorneys also argued that if the hospital officials were running an insurance scam, they would not have released the two daughters while they were still covered by insurance.
Two tape recordings in which Lucy Abney and her daughters Karen and Catherine confronted L. T. Abney about the cult involvement were played to the jury. In the first on April 1992, Lucy Abney, Peterson, Seward and Davis asked L. T. Abney to be tested in Chicago by psychiatrist Bennett Braun and psychologist Roberta Sachs. Later Braun and Sachs examined him and after administration of truth serum, concluded he was not involved in a satanic cult.
In the second interview in July 1992, Peterson told L. T. Abney that she had met with Braun and Sachs and they had decided that he needed therapy. In that session his step-daughter Catherine told him that she remembered that he had whipped her with a bull whip while she was tied to a tree. L.T. Abney asked how there could be no scars if that were true. Peterson said she believed that Abney and his family had all been involved in abuse.
L. T. Abney testified that he agreed to have therapy but that he was told that there was no hospital space. He said he never heard anything more about it.
This summary is based on a Houston Chronicle article by Mark Smith, "Man testifies he tried to halt kin’s treatment," December 10, 1998.