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What FMSF said they did:

“The well-publicized stories involving day care centers are a tip of the iceberg of stories that are emerging from families… But the issue in accusations based on "repressed memory" is not child abuse… The issues in "recovered memory accusations" are memory.” - FMSF Staff, in the FMSF Newsletter. [1]

“To emphasize: the FMSF does not deal with accusations made by children, or by people (women mostly) who were abused but never “repressed” the memories.” - Daniel McCracken, [2]

What FMSF actually did:

✓+Discussed and Supported those Accused in Daycare Abuse Cases.

At the same time controversy grew around recovered memory, national attention was drawn to multiple highly-publicized cases of childhood abuse in daycare centers.

While cases of recovered memories and daycare abuse both concern the abuse of children, these situations are notably distinct: Daycare cases often involve children with continuous memory of abuse, who did not experience repression or recovery of their memories. Investigations into daycare cases are often spurred by a child’s spontaneous disclosure of a compelling statement. This is in contrast to people who recover discontinuous memories of childhood abuse as adults, with FMS proponents drawing particular attention to potential therapeutic influence in memory recovery.

The FMSF frequently discussed daycare cases of childhood sexual abuse, even though they did not involve recovered memories. Their newsletter frequently provided updates about highly-publicized daycare cases and reproduced news articles, books, and interviews on the subject:
“Over the years, the FMSF Newsletters have often included information about day-care cases such as the Kelly Michaels and the Amirault cases, or about other situations involving young children, such as Wenatchee, where the notion of recovered repressed memories was not primarily involved. This Newsletter issue is unusual, however, because there is so much about child cases. As time has passed, claims about recovery of memories have moved to younger and younger children.” - Pamela Freyd, in the FMSF Newsletter. [3]

Following are two examples of discussion about daycare cases of childhood abuse:

“We came home from the conference to a very big letdown. Violet (74-years-old) and Cheryl Amirault have been told that they must go back to prison and that Gerald will not be allowed another trial. (See legal section for details.) Although this is not a case in which the claims were "recovered repressed memories," it is a remnant of the hysteria of the day-care cases in the 1980s and the lack of understanding about interviewing children at that time.” - Pamela Freyd, in the FMSF Newsletter. [4]
Note Pamela Freyd and the FMSF’s emotional involvement in this “very big letdown” of a case concerning child abuse.

“May was a remarkable month for people interested in the issues of recovered memories and for those concerned about justice… Comments about "justice" being served were repeated many times this month as the convictions in two major day-care cases, Edenton, North Carolina and Martensville, Saskatchewan, were overturned. The McMartin day-care case in Manhattan Beach, California was once again in the news because of the docudrama, "Indictment". Testimony was given before the Senate Subcommittee on Children and the Family on May 26 on ways to improve the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act which has been the financial "engine" of the child abuse industry. What ties all of these with the recovered memory issue is concern about "justice."” - Pamela Freyd, in the FMSF Newsletter. [5]
The FMSF stating that they are concerned about “justice” for those accused of child abuse shows their investment in cases unrelated to recovered memories. CAPTA’s fund allocation is based on the amount of children in each state, and does not address allegations of abuse brought by adults based on recovered memories. [6] If the FMSF is fully focused on recovered memories in adults, they should have no issue with CAPTA.

✓+ Conflated Daycare and Recovered Memory Cases

The FMSF consistently compared daycare cases to recovered memory cases, alleging that false memories were involved in cases of daycare abuse or conflating daycare cases with ‘False Memory Syndrome’ – despite the fact that daycare cases have little to do with ‘False Memory Syndrome’ or recovering forgotten memories of abuse.

“In the 1990s the FMS mania also blighted the lives of hundreds of preschool teachers and daycare personnel.” - Martin Gardner, Reprinted in the FMSF Newsletter. [7]

“If the treatment of False Memory Syndrome by the mainstream print media is indicative, a qualitative and critical change has occurred. Not only have there been many more articles, they have shown increased depth and understanding of the issues and increased compassion for those caught in the FMS nightmare -- accused and accusers… There were four events this past month that prompted the giant step in the number of articles: … (3) The acquittal of Dale Anthony Akiki who had been in jail for more than two years in a day-care case in San Diego, resulting in articles suggesting that the verdict may have broad implications for such cases nationwide where memories of very young children are called into question.” - Pamela Freyd, in the FMSF Newsletter. [8]

In May 1998, the FMSF Newsletter published an column on “juvenile-onset of
false memory syndrome” which involved “false accusations of sexual abuse… made
by children” often in daycare settings. The only mention of recovered memories states that “when children are the accusers, the explanation offered for any delay in disclosure is not ‘repression’ of memory.”
“Accusations of satanic ritual abuse have occurred both in day-care cases and as a result of regression therapy for adults… When an accuser's identity (whether child or adult) and interpersonal relationships are based on a memory of traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes, the potential for long-term psychological consequences is significant. False allegations made by children have resulted in the conviction and incarceration of many innocent people… The consequences of belief in lies are devastating and debilitating for adults, and perhaps even more so for children. False memory syndrome, juvenile-onset or adult-onset, causes injury to all involved.” - Kathy Begart, in the FMSF Newsletter. [9]
There is no such thing as ‘juvenile-onset false memory syndrome.’

✓+ Published Helpful Resources for Families Accused by Children in Daycare Cases.

In 1995, the FMSF published and distributed a resource guide titled “Resources for Families Accused by Minor Children and Their Attorneys.” It was specifically designed to address accusations of childhood abuse by minors, not adults with recovered memories. It included statements from professional organizations, conference materials, publications, resources for accused families, amicus curiae briefs, and cases which set precedents on the subject of minor testimony and child abuse. These resources are designed to help attorneys build cases to defend those accused of abuse by minors. [10]

The cases included as precedent were focused on child abuse cases in daycare or home settings, with children testifying about their experience with sexual abuse. Excerpts from example cases include: “A child, age 6, indicated to her mother that she had been sexually molested by a day care center owner and worker,” “Charges against seven day care workers,” “A sunday school aid… charged with rape,” “CSA at a montessori day care center.” [10]

Conference material included titles such as “Keeping the accused out of court,” “Using the polygraph to avoid prosecution,” and “Why do children lie?” [10]

Most notably, they included research publications on the subject of childhood sexual abuse:

Richard Gardner
In the resource guide, Richard Gardner is described as “one of the leading innovators in the field.” [10] The FMSF included many of his books, presentations, and publications, including True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse and Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited. [10] These books include Gardner’s dubious views on child sexual abuse:
Pedophilia "is a widespread and accepted practice among literally billions of people." - Richard Gardner, True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. [11]
“He claimed that incest was not harmful in itself, but, citing Shakespeare, claimed only “thinking makes it so.” He claimed that sexual activities between adults and children were “part of the natural repertoire of human sexual activity,” and that adult-child sex was a positive procreative practice.” - Review of True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. [12]
“We have in our society an exaggeratedly punitive and moralistic attitude about adult-child sexual encounters." - Gardner, True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. [11]
“Gardner’s theory, holding male sexual violence to be reproductively beneficial to the species, does not construe sexual violence as abuse.” - Review of True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. [12]

Read more about Gardner’s views on pedophilia and sexual violence on his page.

The FMSF describes Gardner as a “Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry.” In reality, he was an unpaid volunteer clinical professor in the division of child and adolescent. [13]

Ralph Underwager
Ralph Underwager’s self-published journal and books are included in the FMSF’s resources, including his word Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse. [10] After receiving a grant to review his work, Anna Salter characterized it as having an “extraordinary number of distortions and errors” that mischaracterized children’s testimony as unreliable. [14]

While being interviewed by a dutch pedophile magazine, he responded to the question of "Is choosing paedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individuals?" by stating "Certainly it is responsible... I don't think that a paedophile needs to [defend their choice]. Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose. They can say that what they want is to find the best way to love... With boldness, they can say, "I believe this is in fact part of God's will." [15]

✓ + Helped organize conferences about daycare abuse and invited convicted perpetrators to speak.
In January 1997, the Justice Committee held a conference called “A Day of Contrition” in Salem, MA. According to a press release sent by Peter Freyd (FMSF co-founder) on the FMS-news email listserv, the conference’s intention was to “challenge today’s plague of injustice” by “protesting modern witch hunts.” [16] These ‘modern witch hunts’ were referring to what they called “an epidemic of spurious accusations and prosecutions” and “forced accusations and confessions” of “imagined crimes,” in part due to “therapeutically created ‘recovered memories of supposed childhood incest.’” Furthermore, the conference called for society to “release… and make reparations to” those who were “falsely convicted.” [16]

The FMSF played a key role in the production of the Salem Conference. Herman Ohme, a self-proclaimed “silent man behind the scenes” working for the FMSF was listed as a primary contact for the conference on the press release and acknowledged in the program. [16,17] In private correspondence, Ohme stated that “Although the Justice Committee initiated the Salem Conference idea, many people were responsible for it taking place… Pam Freyd of FMSF, Ofshe, Debbie Nathan, Don Connery, Beth Loftus, etc… lots of people helped put the ‘Show On.’” [18] Pamela Freyd spoke at the conference as the FMSF’s executive director and was credited in the program for her “wisdom” in organizing the event. [17]

Multiple convicted perpetrators, described as “Individuals recently freed from wrongful imprisonment,” were invited to speak at the conference. These included: Cheryl and Violet Amirault, Ray and Peggy Ann Buckey, Bobby Fjinje, Brenda and Scott Kniffin, Robert Lawton, Kelly Michaels, Pastor Roby and Connie Roberson, Rev. Nathaniel Grady and Jenny Wilcox, and Christopher Ferrara. [17] While introducing these former prisoners to the audience, Carol Hopkins stated that “there was no evidence in any of these cases” and told those invited, “essentially you have been prisoners of war.” [19]


[1] FMSF Staff. (1992, December 5). Another View. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 1(11), 2-3.
[2] McCracken, Dan. (1994, January 10). “False Memory Syndrome Author Seeks Inputs.” Personal Email Correspondence to “FMS-News” Email Listserv.
[3] Freyd, Pamela. (2004, July/August). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 13(4), 1.
[4] Freyd, Pamela. (1997, April 1). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 6(1), 1.
[5] Freyd, Pamela. (1995, June 1). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 4(6), 1.
[6] Cheit, R. E. (2014). The witch-hunt narrative: Politics, psychology, and the sexual abuse of children. Oxford University Press. p. 485
[7] Gardner, Martin. (2006, January/February). The Memory Wars: Part 1. Skeptical Inquirer, 30(1), 28-31).
Reprinted in: “The Memory Wars: Part 1.” (2006, March/April). FMS Foundation Newsletter. 15(2), 14-16.
[8] Freyd, Pamela. (1993, December 7). Dear Friends. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 2(11), 1.
[9] Kathy Begart (1998, May). Juvenile and Adult Accusations. FMS Foundation Newsletter. 7(4), 14.
[10] FMS Foundation. (1995) Resources for Families Accused by Minor Children and Their Attorneys. FMS Foundation. Unpublished Document.
Listed for sale in “Material Listed Below May Be Ordered From FMS Foundation.” (1995, April 3). FMS Foundation Newsletter. 4(4), 8.
[11] Gardner, Richard. (1992). True and false accusations of child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.
[12] Hoult, Jennifer. (2006). The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy. Children's Legal Rights Journal, 26(1).
[13] Lavietes, Stuart (2003, June 3). Richard Gardner, 72, Dies; Cast Doubt on Abuse Claims. The New York Times.
[14] Salter A. C. & New England Commissioners of Child Welfare Agencies. (1991). Accuracy of expert testimony in child sexual abuse cases: a case study of Ralph Underwager and Holida [i.e. hollida] Wakefield. New England Commissioners of Child Welfare Agencies.
[15] Joseph Geraci. (1991 June). Paidika interview: Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager Part I. No Status Quo Websites. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
[16] Freyd, Peter. (1997, January 7) “Salem: Press Release.” Personal Email Correspondence to “FMS-News” Email Listserv.
[17] The Justice Committee. (1997, January 13 & 14). Conference Program. Day of Contrition Revisited, Salem, MA, USA.
[18] Ohme, Herman. (1999, November 19). “Confidential, Please.” Personal email correspondence.
[19] Hopkins, Carol. (1997, January 14). “Why Salem?” and Introductions of Former Prisoners. [Conference Presentation]. Day of Contrition Revisited, Salem, MA, USA.

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