Misuse of the Rind study:

Legal Cases where Rind's work has been cited in defense of alleged child molesters

Watson v. Roman Catholic Church

Dr. Charles Brainerd, a defense expert representing Father Bredemann (a priest and confessed pedophile) cited Rind et al. (1998) as proof that CSA does not cause harm to children in his deposition. Referring to the Rind study, Brainerd stated: “in a cases like this, where a claim is being made that here are symptoms of maladjustment and they are due to child sexual abuse, what I have to say is that the current scientific literature does not support the existence of such a relationship in the population at large. And that’s the interpretive framework that I bring to this particular case, that there isn’t scientific evidence for that assumption.” [read longer excerpt]

Arizona, Maricopa County. August 17, 1999

State v. Steward ( Maricopa County Superior Court), October 20, 1999

Kevin Eugene Steward, an Arizona elementary school teacher, was convicted of molesting 5 boys ranging in age from 6 to 13. Despite testimony by the boys’ parents who described how their children are suffering, Steward’s attorney cited the Rind study as evidence that he didn’t really harm his victims and that the judge should give Steward a more lenient sentence.

Harker, V. (1999, October 21). Former gym teacher gets 88 years in molestation case. Arizona Republic , p. A15.

Wilson v. Phillips. 73 Cal. App. 4 th 250; 86 Cal. Rptr. 2d 204 (Calif. Ct. App. 1999)

An Amicus Curiae brief written by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation cited Rind and Tromovitch’s 1997 meta-analysis in defense of an alleged child molester. The 1997 meta-analysis of general population samples, like the 1998 meta-analysis of college samples, concluded that childhood sexual abuse is not associated with significant maladjustment. John R. Phillips was appealing a judgment following a jury finding that he sexually battered both his daughter and his step-daughter. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for parents accused of sexual abuse by their children, submitted the brief. [FMS Foundation. (1998). FMSF Amicus Curiae Brief – Crt. of Appeals. 4th Dist., California ].


Because Rind et al. carefully excluded all legal and clinical samples from their study, their results are not applicable to abuse survivors who seek psychological treatment or legal help. In addition, many of their conclusions are not supported by the larger body of scientific research in the area of child sexual abuse. See: Rind et al.’s main conclusions do not stand up to scientific scrutiny