Reprinted by permission.
Father torn by incest accusation
By ED PENHALE, P-I REPORTER
December 11, 1992
A father and daughter separated by allegations of incest may never
the truth that could heal their family.
Chuck Noah and his adult daughter are in a standoff over her memory
sexual abuse by her father, recalled by the daughter more than
after it allegedly occurred.
The father says the accusation is false, and probably was suggested
the daughter's therapist as a convenient solution to emotional
that have kept her in counseling for a decade.
But the daughter, whose parents agreed to be interviewed on the
condition their daughter's name not be used, says there is no mistake.
"I know I was not brainwashed," the daughter, now 39 years old,
this week. "It's not like I walked into this counseling place and
fed me this information."
Noah and his wife, June, have joined more than 2,000 couples nationwide
who are part of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. The organization
provides a support network for parents who contend some therapists
led their grown children to conjure up delayed memories of incest
sex abuse that are not based in fact.
"There is absolutely no scientific evidence that these flashbacks
correspond to some specific event," said University of Washington
psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, a critic of counseling therapies
elicit repressed memories of sexual abuse.
But the daughter is adamant: "No one but me has lived in my body
knows the pain I've been through."
Loftus has met with Noah and found him "extremely sincere" about
denial of abuse of his daughter.
"You can never know if something happened, or didn't happen, without
corroboration," said Loftus, a nationally recognized expert on
"And in this case, there is no corroboration."
Parents accused of abuse by their children "feel like they are the
ones in the world," Noah said.
So obsessed has he become with his daughter's refusal to recant
accusation that he's taken to the streets, carrying a sign in front
counseling center where his daughter first went for help. His sign
decried what he called "voodoo therapy."
At her suburban home, the daughter, now the mother of three, said
had not seen her parents and sisters for three years, although
occasionally talk on the telephone and Noah is allowed visits from
children when they are accompanied by her husband.
The daughter, the third of five daughters raised by Noah and his
said it used to bother her a lot that her father denied her allegations,
but no more.
"I know the truth, and the truth has set me free," she said.
Noah said he suddenly was labeled a child molester on July 15, 1991,
when his daughter called one of her sisters in Hawaii to say the
was taking a big risk by having one of her children stay at Noah's
The daughter called her sister from the office of her Bellevue-area
counselor, Linda MacDonald of Gateway Counseling, and said that
been raped by her father and his friends, beginning when she was
old. The daughter said her mother turned her back on the abuse
protect her husband.
"Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this happening,"
said. "The thought of people thinking of me - that I'd hurt a little
baby - was just so overwhelming to me."
The father said he has taken a lie detector test, administered by
Gillespie Polygraph of Lynnwood, that he said proved his innocence.
Noah contends his daughter's case is strikingly similar to those
other daughters, mostly 30 to 40 years old, who the false-memory
foundation says are sometimes victimized by therapists.
MacDonald, the daughter's therapist, declined to comment on the
of Gateway Counseling's attorney, Jan Olson. The lawyer noted that
is under court order, issued by a Bellevue District Court judge,
away from MacDonald and get counseling himself.
Noah said the court order resulted from his attempts to confront
"They pulled my daughter away from her parents and siblings - she
dropped all of us - and she says this woman (the therapist) is
needs," the father said. "Here they come into your life, make all
terrible accusations, and then you can't get close to them.
"It's like a cult," he said about his daughter's therapy. "It's
'Courage to Heal,' a book by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis that has
the Bible of the incest recovery movement.
"If you are unable to remember any specific instances (of child
abuse) but still have a feeling that something happened to you,
probably did," the book states.
Loftus said there is no statistical data that shows whether cases
false memory syndrome involving incest are increasing, but she
that is the case.
The discussion of repressed memories of sexual abuse on TV talk
and by celebrities, may have prompted more people to wonder if
minds have blocked out such a painful experiences. "You'd have
blind not to see that person after person is deciding that sexual
is the source of their problems," Loftus said.
The false-memory foundation, which was established last March, said
was contacted by members of 530 families by June. Since then, the
of contacts has grown to close to 2,200, Noah said.
Shirley Siegel, leader of a Washington state organization called
Abuse by Counselors, said that people seeking treatment for emotional
disorders increasingly are suspecting incest and multiple personalities
are the root of their problems.
"It's like a fad," she said.
Noah said his wife and their four other daughters support his innocence,
but he said the stigma of the accusation is hard to shake: "Everyone
says, 'Why would she lie?'"
Both Noah and his daughter drank a lot when they were younger and
consider themselves recovering alcoholics.
The daughter said she was drawn to counseling because since childhood
she felt there was something wrong about how she felt about herself.
To the daughter, recovery from her problems meant she had to tell
secret about the alleged abuse. "The hardest thing in the world
to do was let this secret out," she said. "I knew it was something
would never be accepted and that it would blow my family apart."
Copyright 1992 Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. Republished here with the permission of the Seattle
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