Research shows that even when heavily prompted by adults, children give very few false reports of sexual abuse.
In one study, child subjects were given 215 opportunities to make a false claim but they did not.
The U.S. Dept of Justice says the majority of children don’t lie about abuse, and that it is common and more likely that children lie in order to protect the one who is abusing them.
The amount of false reports would logically remain about the same for adults because of their intelligent discrimination. Adults might even be more likely to conceal the abuse (or to repress it) in order to retain the apple pie image of their parents. Children are often more honest.
Vehement Denial by a Perpetrator Can Be Directly Linked to Deceit
Those who deny the accusations of child sexual abuse often say that when the accused shows passionate denial, or when they ask for the charges to be investigated, and request a lie detector test….then they must be innocent.
The case of Father John J. Geoghan gives a perfect example of how a guilty person can fervently deny their crimes. Prior to 1984, Father Geoghan had been seen by mental health professionals numerous times and was hospitalized once for molesting boys.
Geoghan had been removed from different parishes for child sexual abuse and Geoghan “casually” admitted to abusing several young boys. In 1989 he spent time in two facilities which help priests with pedophilic tendencies and another priest later admitted that he saw Geoghan taking boys to his bedroom at the rectory.
The archdiocese recorded an abundance of evidence that Geoghan was a child molester, including an admission in 1980. Geoghan said his problem with young boys had not been a “serious” one.
There has been no argument by the archdiocese that John Geoghan molested children after 1962 while at one parish, and Cardinal Bernard F. Law stated that he knew about Geoghan’s acts of molestation. 4 More than 130 people came forward accusing Father John J. Geoghan of child sexual abuse, and in 2002, Father Geoghan was found guilty of molesting a ten-year old boy.
No doubt can remain that Geoghan was a child molester. Yet, the former priest has expressed the same kind of denial which is often heard by people accused of child sexual abuse.
In March of 1997, Geoghan proclaimed, “I have never engaged in sex with anyone. I have never been touched sexually by anyone. I would be willing to take a lie detector test.” Geoghan had already admitted in 1980 that he had sexually abused seven children and he had been diagnosed as a pedophile by facilities that treat sex offenders.
Letters found in court papers, written by Geoghan to other priests during the 1980’s and 1990’s, depict a man who was out of touch with reality. He spoke of being falsely accused, alienated, and abandoned by other clerics for ‘no apparent reason.’
Geoghan wrote that he was in shock over being considered a child molesting pedophile and could not believe what he perceived as an injustice against him.
People accused of child sexual abuse say they cannot comprehend the charges against them. They deny ever hurting children, and are offended if told they are in denial. Geoghan mimics them exactly in this statement he made about being accused of sexual abuse, ”What hurts the most is being told by non professionals `you’re in denial’…”
Geoghan’s statements provide strong evidence that passionate denial, being shocked about accusations, cries of injustice, and asking for a lie detector test are no proof that the child was not sexually abused.
People accused of all different things -not just child abuse- act as though they are suffering, even if they are guilty. Self-pity, self-survival, and pure selfishness can cause this perceived suffering.
While serving his sentence for molesting a ten year-old boy, John Geoghan was murdered in prison by another inmate. The man who killed Geoghan says he had been sexually abused as a child and admitted this was his motive for the murder.
The man’s ability to kill a child abuser, who did not harm him personally, shows how much rage a survivor can carry with them if child sexual abuse is not sufficiently dealt with.
Leadership Council for Mental Health, Justice, and the Media, Aug 15 02, Recovered Memories: True or False?
Saywitz, Goodman, Nicholas, & Mona, 1991
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, Washington, D.C. June 1999
The Boston Globe, A1, January 16 2002
Trial Begins for Priest Accused of Molestation Los Angeles Times A-12 January 15 2002
In letters, Geoghan showed self in denial, The Boston Globe, A1, January 25 2002, Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Druce: I Killed Geoghan for the Children, Former Priest Murdered in Prison, Posted: 1:17 p.m. EDT September 12, 2003, Updated 5:06 p.m. EDT September 12, 2003, The Boston Channel