Why is this case important?
- Overview of the case
- Amicus Brief filed by the Leadership Council (filed April 11, 2006)
- Decision by the Supreme Court of California on Defendant’s motion to dismiss the suit (filed February 26, 2007)
- See also Court says Loftus actions “beyond the pale“. The National Psychologist – May/June 2007.
- Declaration on behalf of Taus by her biological mother
- Amicus Letters Submitted to the California Supreme Court
- Settlement of Taus’s suit against Loftus (settled on Aug. 28, 2007)
- The Leadership Council’s response to the Settlement Of Taus’ suit against Loftus
- Reactions to the Supreme Court of California’s decision to allow the case to go forward
- Press release (2/26/07) by JULIAN HUBBARD, Esq. Attorney for Respondent
NICOLE TAUS, RE: Supreme Court Decision in Taus v. Loftus
- LC’s reaction to the ruling of the California Supreme Court decision
- Letter to the Editor by LC President Paul Fink as published in The Wall Street Journal (Jan 27, 2007). The letter was in response to attorney Theodore J. Boutrous’, op-ed about the California Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Taus v. Loftus.
- Letter to LA Times by LC Executive Vice President Joyanna Silberg
- Press release (2/26/07) by JULIAN HUBBARD, Esq. Attorney for Respondent
- Newspaper articles about Taus v. Loftus et al.
- Taus’s (now Kluemper) 2014 commentary from a perspective of nearly 20 years after Corwin and Olafson (1997) was published. “Published Case Reports: One Woman’s Account of Having Her Confidentiality Violated” – by Nicole S. Kluemper
- 2014 Commentaries on what happened to Taus (Kluemper) – *we want to acknowledge Sage Publications’ generosity in allowing these PDFs to be posted on the APSAC website
- Introduction to the Series” – Constance Dalenberg
“Published Case Reports: One Woman’s Account of Having Her Confidentiality Violated” – Nicole S. Kluemper
“A Review and Correction of the Errors in Loftus and Guyer on Jane Doe” – Erna Olafson
“First Do No Harm: Is It Any Longer Safe to Write Case Reports?” – Laura S. Brown
“Research Ethics and Private Harms” – Gerald P. Koocher
“Jane Doe: A Cautionary Tale for Case Reports” – Frank W. Putnam
“Research Ethics and Case Studies in Psychology” – Ross E. Cheit
“Protecting Scientists, Science, and Case Protagonists” – Constance J. Dalenberg, PhD
- Background Materials
Overview of the Case
The original article, along with commentaries by other scientists, are available in full-text PDF format::
- “Jane Doe’s Recollection” – David L. Corwin and Erna Olafson
- “Expressive Behavior and a Traumatic Memory” – Paul Ekman
- “Commentary” – Frank W. Putnam
- “Exploring Jane Doe’s Picture of Pain” – Judith Armstrong
- “Changing the Past to Serve the Present” – Ulric Neisser
- “Reflections on Memory Discovery” – Jonathan W. Schooler
- “Sex Abuse, Lives, and Videotape” – Dr. Stephen Lindsay
Dr. Corwin had interviewed “Jane” as a young child and videotaped a session in which she disclosed abuse by her mother. Medical evidence supported the disclosure and the child was placed in the sole custody of her father. Her father later died and “Jane” was placed in a foster home. As a teenager, she no longer remembered the abuse and was considering reconnecting with her mother. However, first she wanted to know whether the abuse had really happened. “Jane” contacted Dr. Corwin and asked to see the videotape of herself as a child. When she went to view the tape, Dr. Corwin asked if he could videotape her watching it. She provided consent and he turned on the camera. However, before Dr. Corwin started playing the video of her disclosure, “Jane” spontaneously remembered the abuse and conveyed a level of detail that clearly corresponded to the specifics she had reported years earlier as a young child. After assurances of confidentiality, she gave Dr. Corwin permission to publish her remarkable case in the scientific literature.
Loftus and Guyer later published an article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine suggesting that “Jane’s” original disclosure of abuse was false. The May/June 2002 and July/August 2002 issues of the Skeptical Inquirer,
a magazine published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), included a two-part article, written by defendants Elizabeth Loftus and Melvin Guyer, entitled Who Abused Jane Doe?Ms
- Defendants undertook to avoid obtaining plaintiff’s consent to discuss her memory through David Corwin, M.D. in order to protect her privacy and anonymity and instead, set out to obtain personal details about her life and history; [i.e., Defendants failed to obtain consent from Taus prior to obtaining personal details about her life and history]
- Defendants misrepresented their intentions and credentials to interview plaintiff’s foster-mother, Margie Cantrell, who permitted them to tape record the conversation in reliance on the representations
- Defendants knowingly published facts concerning the confidential ethics complaint filed by Plaintiff with the University of Washington
- Defendants obtained and published information from a 1983 psychological evaluation of Plaintiff and her family members, quoted from it in their article and then filed the evaluation in this proceeding
- Defendants obtained a Child Protective Services report concerning Plaintiff and revealed its contents in the article
- Appellant Loftus intruded into the difficult relationship between Plaintiff and her biological mother and after the articles were published, took credit for briefly reuniting the two
- Appellant Loftus was warned by her colleagues that her techniques were contrary to the ethical principles of a psychologist and she should not publish her findings
- Defendants placed Plaintiff in the center of a public debate they created about whether their respective institutions had victimized them through appellant Tavris’s account of their institutional struggles and the ethics complaint
- The Attorney General for the State of Washington informed Plaintiff that all records related to her ethics complaint were to remain “strictly confidential”
- Appellant Shapiro was provided a list of names connected with the child custody proceeding by Loftus and he then obtained “voluminous records” related to a juvenile proceeding involving Plaintiff in Solano County
- Appellant Loftus has informed the media that she has medical records and depositions from the child custody proceeding
- Appellant Loftus was informed by David Corwin, M.D. that her intrusion into plaintiff’s life was causing emotional harm and that doing so without plaintiff’s consent was “not right”
- Appellant Loftus disclosed plaintiff’s initials during questioning in an unrelated litigation case in which she was acting as an expert witness
- At a conference of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, appellant Loftus informed the audience that she would pass on expressions of support to plaintiff’s biological mother and then stated that Plaintiff was “engaged in destructive behavior” and “representing our country in the Navy.”
- Excerpted from Taus v. Loftus et al., Respondents brief filed in the Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Two (August 4, 2004)
The Defendants appealed this decision to the California Court of Appeal. On April 1, 2005, the Court of Appeal held that most of the claims set forth in the complaint should be dismissed under the anti-SLAPP statute, but also concluded that the suit could proceed with regard to several aspects of defendants’ conduct that were challenged in the complaint.it held that the action could go forward with respect to
- A cause of action for improper public disclosure of private facts based upon Loftus’s alleged statement at the October 2002 professional conference and Loftus’s disclosure of plaintiff’s initials during a deposition in an unrelated case,
- A cause of action for improper intrusion into private matters based upon Loftus’s alleged misrepresentations to plaintiff’s foster mother and upon defendants’ alleged intrusion into confidential juvenile court files, and
- A cause of action for defamation based upon Loftus’s alleged statement at the October 2002 professional conference. (Decision of the The Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Two, April 1, 2005).
Amicus Letters Submitted to the California Supreme Court.
Letters in support of the Plaintiff (i.e., Taus, previously known as "Jane Doe")
- The Leadership Council
This letter expresses concern that if the Supreme Court grants the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the suit, the decision will serve as a green light for scientists to ignore research protocols and ethical guidelines established by federal and state law, and by state and national professional organizations. It may also make people less willing to engage in research, particularly on sensitive issues.
Letters in support of the Defendants (i.e., Loftus, Guyer, Skeptical Inquirer , etc.)
- The False Memory Syndrome Foundation (advocates for parents accused of child sexual abuse by their children)
- The Center for Reason nd Justice (advocates for those accused of sex offenses against children and adolescents)
- Dr. Richard McNally
- Dr. Christopher Frueh, Associate Professor and Director, Division of Psychiatry, Medical University of South Carolina. Signed by 46 other behavioral health professionals.
This letter suggests that that the lawsuit against Loftus et al. “represents a pernicious legal strategy” that “could set a dangerous precedent that could serve to further stifle scientific inquiry into other contentious topics.”
Information on Previous Ethics Complaints or Ethical Issues That Have Been Raised Regarding Loftus' Work
- Jennifer Hoult – Remembering Dangerously
Ms. Hoult, an attorney, alleges that Loftus used distortion and misstatement of fact to seriously misrepresent Hoult’s history of abuse, and the facts of her legal case against her perpetrator. Hoult won the case and the judgment was upheld on appeal. Hoult shows how Loftus later misstated facts about the case in such a way as to cast doubt on the veracity of Hoult’s allegations.
- Calof, D. L. Notes from the controversy: Ethics complaints filed against prominent FMSF board member. APA declines to investigate. Treating Abuse Today, 5 (6) & 6(1), Nov/Dec 1995 & Jan/Feb 1996, 71-73.
According to this article, Loftus had been an active member of the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1973.
She resigned January 16, 1996, shortly after the filing of two ethics complaints against her. Although she denies this was the reason for her sudden resignation, two different abuse survivors had recently submitted ethics complaints against Loftus to the APA based on their contention that Loftus had seriously misrepresented their cases in print. Both women had brought successful civil suits against fathers for child sexual abuse based on delayed memories. At their trials, both victims presented corroborative evidence that met the requirements for judicial proof of their allegations. However, they later discovered published articles or books in which Loftus distorted the facts of their cases to make it appear that their memories were false. Because of Loftus’ resignation, the APA said it no longer had any authority to pursue the ethics complaints. (available on-line at: http://www.astraeasweb.net/politics/loftus.html )
- Crook, L. S., & Dean, M. (1999). “Lost in a shopping mall”–A breach of professional ethics. Ethics & Behavior , 9(1), 39-50.
- Paper by nationally recognized ethicist Ken Pope, PhD, examining the scientific, ethical, and legal issues raised in the book The Myth of Repressed Memory by Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham.: http://kspope.com/memory/lofrev3.php
Newspaper articles about Taus v. Loftus et al.
June 21, 2005: Maura Dolan. Memory, Pain and the Truth: A leading psychologist long skeptical about 'repressed' recollections challenged a much-cited sex abuse claim. Scorn and litigation ensued. Los Angeles Times. [no longer available on LA Times site, full text available here
June 23, 2005: Maura Dolan. High Court to Review Privacy Rights: Panel will rule in repressed memory case in which a UC Irvine scholar revealed information about the subject of a study. Los Angeles Times.
Loftus is quoted as saying, “I also am exceedingly grateful to the scientists, clinical researchers and scholars who wrote to the court and joined me in my concerns about a frivolous lawsuit that carries the potential to stifle the free exchange of information.” Joy Silberg, PhD, is also interviewed. She is quoted as saying, “Science is in jeopardy if the public is not protected by ethics and standards…. There is no individual who is above the law, whether they be a very well-respected scientist or the president or a garbage collector.” (see correction sent by Dr. Silberg )
Kenneth Ofgang. S.C. to Decide Whether Abuse-Study Subject May Sue Professor: Woman Claims Her Privacy Was Invaded, Prominent Psychologist Teaching at UCI Says Suit Is SLAPP. Metropolitan News-Enterprise (Los Angeles), June 23, 2005. http://www.metnews.com/
Press release (2/26/07) by JULIAN HUBBARD, Esq. Attorney for Respondent NICOLE TAUS, RE: Supreme Court Decision in Taus v. Loftus
Maura Dolan, Ruling May Constrain Researchers, Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2007
State high court says journalists and scholars can be held liable for privacy invasion if they misrepresent themselves to obtain private information.
The LC’s response to this article
Supreme Court OKs privacy suit against a UC psychologist: *Research subject says she was duped. By David Kravets, ASSOCIATED PRESS, February 27, 2007
Interview Methods Face Trial: California high court allows suit claiming misrepresentation to proceed. by Stephanie Francis Ward, ABA (American Bar Association) Journal, March 2, 2007
Misleading someone’s friends or family to get personal information can violate privacy laws, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a case that has many news media groups and research organizations concerned about how the ruling may affect their occupations. Taus v. Loftus , No. S133805 (Feb. 26).
Research on Dissociative Amnesia and Recovered Memories
- Summary of Research Examining the Prevalence of Full or Partial Dissociative Amnesia for Traumatic Events —
Studies show that a period of either partial or full amnesia is reported by between 30 and 90% of adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. Moreover, no study that has looked for evidence of traumatic or dissociative amnesia after child sexual abuse failed to find it.
- Research examining the accuracy of returned memories of trauma
- Answers to frequently asked questions about trauma and memory
- Prospective case study similar to the Jane Doe case:
Duggal, S., & Sroufe, L. A. (1998). Recovered memory of childhood sexual trauma: A documented case from a longitudinal study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11(2), 301-321.
- Loftus, E. F. (2005) Science under legal attack. Daedalus, 132(4), 84-86. View/Download Full Text