Watch Dr. Lorandos as an Expert Witness on Suggestibility
Defense Attorney: Dr. Lorandos, I want to focus you on whether youve studied suggestibility.
Lorandos: Well we had to. We were, when I say we I mean organized psychology, rather shocked at what occurred in some of the famous cases that weve all seen on television.
Defense Attorney: Are you referring to McMartin?
Lorandos: Well I wasnt going to name names.
Defense Attorney: Did I ask you to get some footage from the original experimenters?
Lorandos: Yes. This is a study called the mouse trap study and in this experiment they demonstrated that they could create the memory of events that never happened. What the examiners did was they went to a preschool and theyd play a little question game with them and the questions change from week to week, but theres one question that is the same every week for ten weeks. And so, this first little piece illustrates a little child being asked if you ever got your finger caught in a mouse trap.
Experimenter: This one says, Have you ever seen a baby alligator eating apples on an airplane?
Experimenter: No? Have you ever had your finger caught in a mouse trap and had to go to the hospital?
Lorandos: Okay stop. You notice that if you just ask them, theyll tell you the truth. You dont have to pound away and say, Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more. Just ask them. But, what happens when theyre asked again and again?
Experimenter: You went to the hospital because your finger got caught in a mousetrap.
Preschooler: And it, and it
Experimenter: Did that happen?
Preschooler: Uh huh.
Experimenter: Did it hurt?
Experimenter: So where in your house is the mousetrap?
Preschooler: Its up at our Down in the basement.
Experimenter: Down in the basement.
Preschooler: Its next to the firewood.
Lorandos: Stop. The experiment is reported that when they did this they were shocked at the level of detail that the kids would spontaneously create and they said, Whoop, time out. Weve got to debrief these kids. Weve got to tell them that it was just a game. It was just pretend.
Video cuts to black for a few seconds
Defense Attorney: In your opinion does that put to rest whether or not it is possible to implant a belief that youve been sexually molested using suggestion?
Lorandos: All of these experiments demonstrate quite clearly that we can implant ideas of sexual abuse created as false memories.
Defense Attorney: I have no further questions at this time.
Video cuts to black for a few seconds.
Prosecuting Attorney: Good afternoon doctor, how are you doing today?
Lorandos: Fine, thank you.
Prosecuting Attorney: You talked a lot about false accusations. What about the concept of a false denial? You would agree, wouldnt you doctor, that in the area of child sexual abuse, thats a pretty common thing; that kids deny abuse when it actually happens.
Lorandos: No I would not agree. I think that to say that denigrates children that have been sexually abused. Children that have been sexually abused can tell us that theyve been abused. To suggest that theyre denying it unless we harangue them and uncover it harms them and harms us. I wouldnt say that.
Prosecuting Attorney: Arent there other reasons though, doctor, that suggest that a child might not want to tell about sexual abuse. Like being ashamed.
Lorandos: Certainly. And no amount of suggestive leading or haranguing questioning is going to get an accurate story out of them.
Prosecuting Attorney: Well, what happens when a kid then turns with a blank stare to you and says, I dont know what youre talking about.?
Lorandos: You mean to the question, What do you mean??
Prosecuting Attorney: When a child has already said, He touched me in my privates.
Lorandos: Ok, and then you say, What do you mean?