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Ralph Underwager

Information on Ralph Underwager:

Interview in Amsterdam in June 1991 by “Paidika,” Editor-in-Chief, Joseph Geraci.

PAIDIKA: Is choosing paedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individuals?

RALPH UNDERWAGER: Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I

have come to know more about and understand people who choose paedophilia is that
they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is usually an
essentially negative definition. Paedophiles spend a lot of time and energy
defending their choice. I don’t think that a paedophile needs to do that.
Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that
what they want is to find the best way to love. I am also a theologian and as a
theologian, I believe it is God’s will that there be closeness and intimacy, unity
of the flesh, between people. A paedophile can say: “This closeness is possible
for me within the choices that I’ve made.”
Paedophiles are too defensive. They go around saying, “You people out there are
saying that what I choose is bad, that it’s no good. You’re putting me in prison,
you’re doing all these terrible things to me. I have to define my love as being in
some way or other illicit.” What I think is that paedophiles can make the
assertion that the pursuit of intimacy and love is what they choose. With
boldness, they can say, “I believe this is in fact part of God’s will.” They have
the right to make these statements for themselves as personal choices. Now whether
or not they can persuade other people they are right is another matter (laughs).

WITNESS FOR MR. BUBBLES Transcribed from “Australia 60 Minutes,” Channel Nine
Network (Aired on August 5, 1990 in Australia) Produced by Anthony McClellan;
Reported by Mike Munro….

(describes crimes)
Reporter: Six weeks ago (17 June 1990) we brought you a story that a number of
people, including some in high places, wanted to keep secret: the case against Mr.
Bubbles. In that report, parents named Tony Deren as the man who had sexually
assaulted their children. Deren’s wife ran the kindergarten they attended. Tonight
we investigate another crucial aspect of this disturbing case. You remember,
police listed seventeen young victims, and more than fifty (54) criminal charges
were eventually laid. But when the Mr. Bubbles case went to court, not one of the
children was called to give evidence. The charges were thrown out, and Tony Deren
was set free.

One of the key Deren witnesses was a hired gun from the United States, a
psychologist named Ralph Underwager, who says he’s an expert in child sexual
abuse. He testified that the children’s evidence had been contaminated, and they
were too young to know what the truth was.

“Reporter: This is Ralph Underwager. Psychologist. He was paid $25,000, and gave
crucial evidence in favor of Tony Deren. Evidence which helped Deren walk free….

Reporter: Always the same story. Three and four year olds being lured into bubble
baths with a man who sexually abused them.

Professor Kim Oates: Having examined them, and talked with them, I’m absolutely
convinced the children were sexually abused.

Reporter: There’s absolutely no doubt?

Oates: No doubt at all

(Voice over)
Reporter: That’s the evidence Professor Kim Oates wanted to give in court. But he
was never asked. As head of the Child Protection Unit at the Camperdown Children’s
Hospital in Sydney, he’s known around the world as an expert in detecting child
sexual abuse.

(Back to what is being said with the Professor)

Reporter: So we have eighteen children who were examined, five of whom your staff
say were definitely sexually abused, and all of them from the same preschool.
What’s your reaction to that?

Oates: Well, I think if you look at the incidence of significant child sexual
abuse in the community, significant enough to lay physical findings in the
preschool age group, I think it’s extraordinary….

Reporter: This is Debbie’s medical report. Once again, it was positive; there was
sexual abuse.

(Switch to interview with Debbie’s mother)

Debbie’s mother: I was entirely spun out on that because I, at that point, had
been trying to tell myself that, no, this wasn’t happening, it wasn’t true, who
would interfere with my child.

Another child (wasn’t identified): I put some things in his body, and he put some
things in my body, but I didn’t want him to.

Reporter: Cindy’s medical report confirms she was abused. The doctor found signs
consistent with traumatic dilatation of the anus….

Reporter: This is Boroko Court House, Port Moresby, New Guinea. In 1972, Deren was
brought here, charged with the aggravated assault of two young girls. He’d
interfered with them in a swimming pool. Something Deren admits. And both charges
were proven….

Reporter: There’s no doubt scores of questions remain unanswered in the Mr.

Bubbles case, and some of them relate to Ralph Underwager, the expert witness Tony
Deren paid to testify on his behalf. Ralph Underwager was imperative to Tony
Deren’s defense. As a supposed independent expert, he testified that the evidence
of the Bubbles children had become contaminated. And, they were too young to
understand their duty to tell the truth. But, here in America, we’ve certainly
discovered Underwager’s reputation and credentials aren’t all they’re cracked up
to be….

Dr. Anna Salter: Well, he is someone who makes his living going around the country
and testifying against children in child sexual abuse cases. He says the same
thing in essentially every case. Which is every . . .

(Voice over)
Reporter: And Anna Salter knows what she’s talking about. A Ph.D. from Harvard,
and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood. She says young children can be believed.

(Back to Salter)
Anna Salter: This is consistent with the literature. If you look at what is the
best legal textbook in the country today on children as witnesses, “Child Witness:
Theory and Practice”, John Meyers says clearly children as young as three can
comprehend the duty to tell the truth.

Reporter: And this man is a highly respected legal scholar in America?

Anna Salter: I think he’s fairly clearly the chief leading scholar on child sexual
abuse in the country.

Reporter: Six American states have given Dr. Salter a grant to check Underwager’s
methods in court. And what did she find?

Anna Salter: That he isn’t accurate. That what he says in court does not
necessarily fairly represent the literature.

Reporter: He distorts the facts?

Anna Salter: Uh, frequently. Sometimes he quotes specific studies, and he’s
frequently wrong about what the studies say.

Reporter: So we thought we’d get Dr. Salter to analyze the evidence Underwager
gave under oath at the Mr. Bubbles hearing, where he testified his qualifications
had never been questioned. But in an American case, the Swann case, this is what
the courts said about Mr. Underwager.

Anna Salter: The court remains convinced the psychologist did not have the
qualifications to testify as a doctor. The trial court ruled that the
psychologist’s proposed testimony was not proper because there was no indication
that the results of the doctor’s work had been accepted in the scientific

Reporter: In the Mr. Bubbles case, he said his qualifications were never in

Reporter: Now, the second incident, in the Mr. Bubbles case, was where Underwager
said that 90 percent of accusations against child molesters are wrong. Now, is
that backed up scientifically?

Anna Salter: No, that’s gobbledegook. I don’t know of any study that would support

Reporter: Ralph Underwager was hired to defend Polly’s father. And as usual, he
testified that nothing had happened. It was all a delusion, and Polly had simply
made the whole story up. But then, Underwager was cross-examined by Polly’s
lawyer, Charles Vaughan.

(Scene switch to Vaughan’s office)

Vaughan: He used the theory that it was a delusion of the child that she was doing
a favor for the mother by saying this happened when it really didn’t happen, to
gain the favor and to be the apple of the eye of the mother.

Reporter: A delusion that she was continually raped over four days.

Vaughan: That’s right….

Reporter: The jury took only an hour to decide Polly Barnes was telling the truth.
And that Ralph Underwager’s testimony that nothing had happened, could be ignored.
In fact, Underwager’s evidence was rejected so much, the jury awarded Polly three
and a quarter million dollars.
(Scene switch to Underwager’s house)(Voice over)
Reporter: So while Underwager was being rejected here in America, he had no such
trouble at the Mr. Bubbles hearing in Australia where he testified that the
children were too young to tell the truth….

Reporter: Ralph Underwager has testified for the defendants in about four hundred
child abuse cases.

State of Minnesota v. Deloch, 1990 WL 48536 (Minn.App.), April 24, 1990 “After the
state rested its case, it brought a motion in limine regarding Dr. Ralph
Underwager, a psychologist the defense planned to call as a witness. Dr.
Underwager’s testimony was directed to two issues: (1) the techniques used by Dr.
Carolyn Levit in examining alleged child sexual abuse victims, and their impact on
the child; and (2) characteristics of the memory process, especially learned
memory versus acual recall of a real event. The trial court excluded Dr.
Underwager’s testimony.
Appellant’s argument that the trial court erred in excluding Dr. Underwager’s
testimony about Dr. Levitt’s examination procedures lacks merit. Before testimony
by an expert witness may be admitted, the expert must be qualified by way of
education or experience. Because Dr.Underwager is not a medical doctor, he does
not have the expertise or qualifications to either evaluate Dr. Levitt’s
examination technique for child abuse victims, or assess its acceptance or
reputation in the scientific community.
The trial court did not err in excluding Dr. Underwager’s testimony about learned
memory. The record does not establish that the scientific basis for his theory is
reliable and broadly accepted in its field. Furthermore, the basic rule is that
expert testimony, to be admissible, must be helpful to the jury, and we conclude
that Dr. Underwager’s testimony….. would not necessarily be helpful. Dr.
Underwager’s testimony would tend to inappropriately interfere with the role of
the jury in assessing credibility. No evidence exists that Dr. Underwager’s
testimony would add precision or depth to the jury’s conclusions.… Dr.
Underwager’s testimony was excluded precisely because its helpfulness to the jury
was seriously questioned. The trial court correctly excluded Dr. Underwager’s
testimony. The evidence is sufficient to support the convictions.”

State v. Swan, 114 Wash.2d 613, 790 P.2d 610, May 3, 1990 At the trial of this
case, the defense sought to qualify Dr. Ralph Underwager, a licensed psychologist,
as an expert witness. The trial court ruled that the psychologist’s proposed
testimony was not proper because there was no indication that the results of the
doctor’s work had been accepted in the scientific community and because the
testimony went directly to the credibility of the victims and invaded the province
of the jury.
The court remains convinced [the psychologist] did not have the qualifications to
testify as a doctor, and that the offered testimony, in any event, was within the
common experience of all of us. The psychologist [w]as a researcher who did not
have bona fide qualifications in the view of the Court. He was not involved in an
independent research undertaking, but rather was approached to undertake research
by an interested party with no interest [in] the outcome of the research. It is
the Court’s memory [the psychologist's] research was undertaken at the behest of
the insurance industry relative to civil claims for child sexual abuse.
It was not shown at trial that the psychologist’s position on child interviewing
was accepted by the scientific community. The psychologist’s proposed testimony
did not satisfy the test for admissibility set forth in ER 702 and was properly

STATE OF MINNESOTA IN COURT OF APPEALS C0-97-55 In Re: Investigation of Dr. Ralph

Underwager, Ph.D., L.P. by the Minnesota Board of Psychology. Filed July 8, 1997
Affirmed - Kalitowski, Judge Ramsey County District Court File No. C59612185….
Appellant Dr. Ralph Underwager challenges the district court’s denial of his
motion to quash a subpoena issued by the Minnesota Board of Psychology (Board) in
connection with an investigation by the Board. We affirm….Further, the
investigation is being conducted to determine whether Underwager violated the rule
of conduct that requires the informed consent of a client before a diagnostic
interview can be electronically recorded. The Board is requesting that Underwager
produce the written informed consent of S.K.H. from her psychological sessions
with him. This document is clearly relevant to the determination of whether
Underwager violated the rules of conduct.

Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Anna Salter, Et

Al., Defendants-Appellees., 22 F.3d 730 (7th Cir. 1994) Federal Circuits, 7th
Cir. (April 25, 1994) Docket number: 93-2422

Psychologists Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield have written two books:
Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse (1988), and The Real World of Child
Interrogations (1990). They conclude that most accusations of child sexual abuse
stem from memories implanted by faulty clinical techniques rather than from sexual
contact between children and adults. The books have not been well received in the
medical and scientific press. A review of the first in the Journal of the American
Medical Association concludes that the authors took a one-sided approach: “it may
be that the adversarial system has so influenced this discussion [about child
abuse] that objectivity no longer has value. The book contains almost 420 text
pages and the authors cite over 700 references, but they do not really review this
body of literature, they cross-examine it. When a given reference fails to support
their viewpoint they simply misstate the conclusion. When they cannot use a
quotation out of context from an article, they make unsupported statements, some
of which are palpably untrue and others simply unprovable.” David L. Chadwick,
Book Review, in 261 JAMA 3035 (May 26, 1989)….

Salter had for some years doubted that Underwager’s books and testimony accurately
reflected the clinical literature. After receiving a grant from the New England
Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors to finance an annotated
bibliography of studies on child abuse interviews, Salter decided to concentrate
on the papers Underwager and Wakefield had cited in their 1988 book. Over the
course of 18 months Salter read the original works Underwager and Wakefield had
discussed. In January 1990 she delivered to the New England Association a
monograph titled: “Accuracy of Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Cases: A
Case Study of Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield.” This unpublished monograph
has been widely circulated; Salter sent a copy to the National Center for
Prosecution of Child Abuse, which has made it available to prosecutors and other
interested persons. The monograph is highly critical of the 1988 book and of
Underwager’s testimony. Like Dr. Chadwick’s book review, the monograph states that
the book misrepresents the studies, rips quotations from their context (and
misleadingly redacts them), attributes to scholars positions they once held but
have repudiated in light of more recent research, and ignores evidence
contradicting its thesis. While Chadwick’s indictment of the book advances
conclusions but not the supporting evidence, Salter’s is packed with details. For
her interview with 60 Minutes Australia, however, Salter compressed her
conclusions into popular language, telling Munro that Underwager “distorts the
facts” and that his testimony in the Mr Bubbles case that 90% of all accusations
of child molestation are wrong is “gobbledygook” unsupported by any scientific

What, then, does the record show about actual malice? Did Salter or Toth know that
the statements were false? Did either one harbor doubts about the statements’
truth yet plunge recklessly ahead? The record allows no doubt about the answer to
either question, for either defendant.

Salter testified by deposition that she read every one of the more than 500 papers
her monograph discusses, and that she believes that her interpretation of these
studies (and her condemnation of the Underwager and Wakefield interpretation) is
correct. Salter’s view of the scholarly literature is congruent with Dr.
Chadwick’s, and all of the other reviews we could find take Salter’s side rather
than plaintiffs’. Sandra Shrimpton, Book Review (of Accusations …), 14 Child Abuse
& Neglect 601-02 (1990); David L. Chadwick, Book Review (of Real World …), 15
Child Abuse & Neglect 602-03 (1991); Lenore Olson, Book Review (of Real World …),
37 Social Work 276 (1992); John E.B. Myers, The Child Sexual Abuse Literature: A
Call for Greater Objectivity, 88 Mich.L.Rev. 1709, 1711-17 (1990) (discussing
Accusations … and two books by other authors). Some judges have reached a similar
conclusion. For example, the Supreme Court of Washington held that Underwager’s
analysis and conclusions are not accepted by the scientific community, making it
appropriate for a trial judge to preclude him from testifying. State v. Swan, 114
Wash.2d 613, 655-56, 790 P.2d 610, 632 (1990). See also Timmons v. Indiana, 584
N.E.2d 1108 (Ind.1992) (sustaining a decision to limit Underwager’s testimony
severely). Cf. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., — U.S. —-, 113 S.Ct.
2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). It may be that Salter, the judges, and the book
reviewers all err in evaluating the Underwager-Wakefield work. Scientific truth is
elusive. Nothing in this record suggests, however, that Salter either knew that
she was writing falsehoods or feared that she might be doing so but barged ahead
without checking….

Both Salter and Toth came to believe that Underwager is a hired gun who makes a
living by deceiving judges about the state of medical knowledge and thus assisting
child molesters to evade punishment. Persons who hold such opinions cannot be
expected to look kindly on their subjects, and the law certainly does not insist
that they shut up as soon as they are challenged. Van Straten, 151 Wis.2d at 917-
18, 447 N.W.2d at 110-11 (repeated publication did not establish actual malice
when the speakers believed their statements to be true). Underwager and Wakefield
cannot, simply by filing suit and crying “character assassination!”, silence those
who hold divergent views, no matter how adverse those views may be to plaintiffs’
interests. Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science
rather than by the methods of litigation. Cf. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, No. 89-2441
(7th Cir. Apr. 6, 1994), slip op. 8-11 & n. 1, 20 F.3d 789, 796-97. More papers,
more discussion, better data, and more satisfactory models–not larger awards of
damages–mark the path toward superior understanding of the world around us.

Confessions of a Whistle-Blower: Lessons Learned Author: Anna C. Salter DOI:

10.1207/s15327019eb0802_2 Published in: Ethics & Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2
June 1998 , pages 115 - 124 Abstract - In 1988 I began a report on the accuracy
of expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases utilizing Ralph Underwager and
Hollida Wakefield as a case study (Wakefield & Underwager, 1988). In response,
Underwager and Wakefield began a campaign of harassment and intimidation, which
included multiple lawsuits; an ethics charge; phony (and secretly taped) phone
calls; and ad hominem attacks, including one that I was laundering federal grant
monies. The harassment and intimidation failed as the author refused demands to
retract. In addition, the lawsuits and ethics charges were dismissed. Lessons
learned from the experience are discussed.

ANNA SALTER, PH.D., is a psychologist in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1988, she began a

study of the accuracy of expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases utilizing
psychologist Ralph Underwager and his wife and practice partner, Hollida
Wakefield, as a case study….Salter writes: “The people who support and defend
those accused of child sexual abuse indiscriminately, those who join organizations
dedicated to defending people who are accused of child sexual abuse with no
screening whatsoever to keep out those who are guilty as charged, are…not
necessarily people engaged in an objective search for the truth. Some of them can
and do use deceit, trickery, misstated research, harassment, intimidation, and
charges of laundering federal money to silence their opponents.” — Confessions of
a Whistle Blower: Lessons Learned, p. 122.