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Peter Freyd

Founder of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation
After being accused of sexual assault by his daughter, his wife founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.

Peter Freyd is a mathematician at the University of Pennsylvania and the husband of Pam Freyd. He was accused of sexual assault by his daughter. After denying the allegations, Pam founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. While Peter participated in an email listserv titled "Witchunt-L" on an MIT server and spoke at closed conferences, he was publically uninvolved with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. His only mentioned contribution was editing the FMSF newsletter.

Upon hearing the controversy surrounding recovered memory, accusations against Peter, and Pamela's founding of the FMSF, Peter's brother William wrote and published a letter to WGBH (a public TV service) detailing his experience with Peter and Pam. Within the letter, he states that he had "no doubt in my mind that there was severe abuse" of both daughters within the Freyd household. Throughout the controversy, Willam supported Jennifer. [1]

Michele Landsberg wrote about Peter Freyd in her column titled “Incest: Stop the nonsense and get to the difficult truth.”
“Here are some less well-publicized facts - not including the alleged acts of incest - about this "happy family:" Pamela and Peter are step-siblings who married in their teens. Peter boasted to his small daughters about his sexual experiences as an 11-year-old boy, calling himself a "male prostitute." He had his daughters, at ages 9 and 10, dance naked, adorned with Playboy bunny tails, in front of his friends. He encouraged Jennifer, as a child, to read Lolita. He would sit around the house with his genitals exposed. He was later hospitalized for severe alcoholism. He kept a model of his genitals on display.” [2]

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Peter Freyd stated that “I’m quite prepared to say, the attitude I thought was appropriate – of being open about things of a sexual nature – in retrospect may have been wrong. There may have been a reason why society evolved in a certain way to a kind of puritanism.” [3]

One of Peter Freyd’s grad students attests that Freyd tried to convince him he was gay, propositioned him, and pulled knives out of the kitchen drawers when the student declined. Peter Freyd admitted to these facts in an interview with Katy Heaney. He noted that he only propositioned because he felt his student had been wanting it for some time, and stated that “It’s no secret he is one of the few people I ever inquired about whether he was interested in having a relationship.” These incidents occurred after nights of heavy drinking with his students. [4]

At the Day of Contrition Conference in Salem, Sharon Simone stated that “when we start advocating wide degrees of sexual license, we also give people who abuse children a wide open door, and I can see you grimacing and shaking your head, but the fact is that my concern is to protect children.” [5] In response, Peter Freyd commented “Yes, there are some gray areas… younger people with older people, and obviously it's absurd to believe that sex on one day is illegal and on the very next day would be legal. I mean, obviously, we can't really take that as a very serious aspect of the law.” [6]


[1] Freyd, William. (1995). Ellen Bass and William Freyd on "Divided Memories." Moving Forward, 3(3), 11.
[2] Landsberg, Michele (1996, February 4). Incest: Stop the Nonsense and Get to the Difficult Truth. Toronto Star. p. A2.
[3] Bor, Jonathan. (1994, December 9). One family's tragedy spawns national group. Baltimore Sun.
[4] Heaney, Kaite. (2021, January 6). The Memory War Jennifer Freyd accused her father of sexual abuse. Her parents’ attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders. The Cut.
[5] Simone, Sharon. (1997, January 13). Forum B - Social Science Issues. [Audience Commentary]. Day of Contrition Revisited, Salem, MA, USA.
[6] Freyd, Peter (1997, January 13). Forum B - Social Science Issues. [Audience Commentary]. Day of Contrition Revisited, Salem, MA, USA.

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