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The Rumors Were True

In 1995, two ethics complaints involving recovered-memory cases were filed against Professor Elizabeth Loftus. The complaints asked the American Psychological Association (APA) to examine misrepresentations made about two successful civil cases, one brought by Lynn Crook, the other by Jennifer Hoult. Hoult’s complaint is documented in detail at this site. Crook’s case is documented here (Case No. 19).

The complaints were never investigated because Professor Loftus resigned from the APA shortly after they were filed. The strange circumstances of her resignation–coming by fax, shortly after two complaints were filed–raised questions about whether Professor Lofus was “tipped off ” about the complaints and given an opportunity to resign before they could be investigated.

Jill Neimark of Psychology Today branded those claims nothing more than “rumors” and Professor Loftus has denied them repeatedly to reporters and in testimony under oath. But now there is powerful evidence that contradicts Professor Loftus’s claim. Dr. Gerry Koocher, past president of the APA, published an insider’s account of the matter last year in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. He reported that the APA’s CEO, Raymond Fowler, told Koocher and Norine Johnson (also an APA president) six years later that he had “gotten word” to Loftus about the ethics complaints. According to Koocher, “[Fowler] expressed the personal belief that an ethics investigation of a high-profile psychologist at that time in APA’s history would have severely damaged the organization.”

Would the finding of unethical behavior against a high-profile psychologist damage the APA more than the revelation that they conspired to avoid the investigation of a complaint? Does the APA still consider some psychologists “too big” to be held accountable to their code of ethics?

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