Law Office of Bruce A. Young

Restore Integrity to Sex Abuse Investigations

Dylan Farrow Speaks - Woody Allen looks for his reward- we all cringe to some degree with the uncertainty of this private conflict properly made public.

The following comment amplifies my remarks made last month at the national meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association with thanks to co-chair Dr. Linda Gunsberg, calling upon me for comment at the annual meeting following a presentation of the academy award nominated movie called Capturing the Friedmans. and where Jessie Friedman continued to stump for his exoneration demonstrating his continued  life pain where 26 years later he remains a legally guilty level 3 sex offender who served 16 years in jail. He  fights to be exonerated 26 years later. His adolescent life crisis at 19 recorded him guilty of a shocking 100 counts of sexual abuse sodomy with no physical evidence.
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I am a lawyer and advocate for 33 years.  I have the privilege and honor of working with many esteemed Judges and Lawyers and with greatly esteemed reliable professionals : including psychologists,  psychiatrists,  social workers.  In the field of childhood sexual abuse  in creating legal certainty and conclusions from evidentiary proof to close controversy with final judgment. My sometimes severe judgmental self - advocates a position and closes off debate, after a fair opportunity.
In so doing I help provide certainty and finality to disputes and to resolve the unknown. I am trained in this view of the world and have 30+ years of experience in this form of advocacy.
I work with judges who are trained to give at least the appearance of neutrality and impropriety and guard their biases and hunches and decide on the evidence, but in rendering finding of fact and conclusions of law, their decision, they stick by - and enforce -subject to appeal- but most controversy is over, cause the judge says so.

I am highly confident and proud person.  I wake up every morning and I am confident I know just about everything.  My Juris Doctoral training, license  and experience frequently cited in law books of precedent and the news give me confidence that I know a lot and I can offer so much....
Yet,  unless I wake up each morning and  realize each day -  I do not know anything; my confidence strong advocacy and grandiosity will close,  instead of open,  my mind from the truth. My innate curiosity and willingness to know and discover the truth will atrophy like an unused muscle. 
Unless with humility, I actively listen with compassion, and seek to confront  my own self, to rekindle a sense of wonder and discovery in the world,  I will not be able to keep an open mind to investigate, confront, evaluate and analyze, learn and discover the truth.   
I will no longer know anything, except my own arrogance, becoming so dim I will not even know that -  I do not know anything.
As a lawyer I am trained in gathering evidence, primary facts sifting through them to evaluate the primary facts critical to deciding issues of law and fact.  My discipline guides me with tools and  tests for truth -  the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution, cross examination the great engine of truth.   My first adversary and later Supervising Judge Judy,  while I was honored to serve as  President of the Manhattan Family Court Bar,  welcomed my outspoken critique of her methods,  even as she cuts through people’s  deception and distortions for her to Judge them, often, prejudge them. Her bombast approach gives a cost saving efficient appearance she can decide quickly- “shock justice” on its head,  break the rules in 15 minutes, cutely demean the litigants, and we learn her truth: ½  billion dollars later she tops the ratings -perhaps more now than I love Lucy.  Making fun of troubled souls - simple disputes we laugh at them and praise Judge Judy-who we love to hate and wonder why - is she really mean at times as she gets to the truth.
With  too much compassion,  we can distort reality to those victims who dissemble with conscious and unconscious ulterior purposes. It may take time to evaluate. Have we allocated too much time, too little to decide.  Does the process itself take too long and hurt more than harm. Did Proust help us learn a much deeper truth, or did he waste his whole live dreaming. ?
In our quest for deeper emotional truths and when we are frozen with uncertainty, we rely on experts - Psychologists, mental health professionals who will help us see insights that may help us decide what to do.  

But when lawyers and judges give away their responsibility and disciplines to rely too completely to a another person in another discipline and mix without - You decide its too difficult for us , we are not equipped we don’t have enough time, pay for a forensic, to report and give expert opinion. 

When we give over to these experts we give up enormous rights due process fairness a full opportunity to know the truth. Factual truth, emotional truth, predictions for the future, who did it, did he sexually abuse, is there a motive to lie,  parental alienation, fame,  prestige , nice rich people don’t do that, poor minority people do -  the Child welfare agencies feed that. 
Where is the physical evidence of sexual abuse touching fondling. It leaves no fingerprints, but it does leave life long scars. Who is angry. Who is coaching the child?  Whose coach is better. Battle of experts. With life long consequences.

Where in our world is  King Solomon?  - with his sword to cut the baby in half -  to learn the instinctual truth to decide the truth. Where is Portia from Merchant of Venice?  to show the hypocrisy that we often hide the real truth behind the power of law confining our distortions by enforcement and swearing that  hides the ugly half truths and abstract principals. How to we empower equity  have harsh results. 

Will the truth set us free ? or will the truth hurt ? , or even maim? . 

I practiced and tried cases before Judge Elliot Wilk who decided the Woody Allen case.  He was a brilliant jurist who knew enough to use all the tools of truth seeking and the varieties and depths of truth to broaden the focus of his  inquiry from instead of a who done it, or did he do it,  into an examination of the general recklessness and self absorbed insensitivity, by Woody Allen to his daughter Dylan.  Instead of keeping the pressure year old on, then 7 year old Dylan Farrow. He considered the broader questions.  Funny in the movies but harmful in real life, the law is an ass if it fails to Socratically ask the right question. 
Judge Wilk was not an Ass- he was wise like Solomon, like Portia. He asked the right questions.  His purpose was not to get Allen, but to preserve what was left of a childhood for Dylan and her siblings. and as she speaks her truth now in detail - he was protecting her from a man who she said then and now -  sexually abused her . A man, who had power and the ability even now to step up to the podium behind the image and through the power of his famous quirky truth that gives us a painful laugh.  Yet Allen hides behind the shadow of his apparent truth that violates all our morals. He married his wife Mia Farrow’s daughter  who he failed to be a step parent to. The fact that he maintained this  marriage all these that violates all normal boundaries, and continues to create  compelling works that help us examine our own shadows. Yet his life still haunts us, most of us would not leave our vulnerable daughter with him alone, or even to meet. Let him touch us on the screen in the movies. Not in the physical world.

I have had occasion to speak out the truth and I confess (each day)_ that I have lived in the shadows. I pray for self awareness and to give ask the right questions that evoke the truth in all its meanings.
When Judges and lawyers give over to experts to decide and defer responsibility, they unlawfully delegate their Constitutional responsibilities to Judge. The confusion that ensues is at least  twofold : Judges take on responsibilities that are unjusticiable ie. - beyond the capacity of judges to do a good job and perhaps at times should not try - for certainly their judgments will be flawed or fail. When Judge’s and lawyers unlawfully delegate their responsibilities to judge to mental health experts to render expert opinions that then becomes the evidence as is permitted in child sexual abuse trials, they dilute the disregard their own responsibility to ask the right questions to properly decide. 

Instead of greater scrutiny right when we most need it,  Judicial doctrine provides absolute immunity to mental health experts, Judges and Prosecutors authorized to exercise discretion and decide hard cases and render ultimate opinions beyond their own disciplines expertise.  In so doing and trusting their reliability, professional esteem, we make them and us all more vulnerable to be even more subject to influence, bias, and have chart blanche power  to decide without responsibility.  

Psychologists and psychiatrists psychoanalyst help us discover and define a deeper truth from within. However, their truth finding methods are also inexact. At best they can help us discover the unseen emotions, that  allow us to open the mind,  heart, soul and especially the feelings too learn greater truths in the areas of family law civil rights and sex abuse.

This is an uneasy alliance of “in concert” interdependence between lawyers judges and mental health professionals.   In one venue their great collaborations aid each other in helping to solve the complex case, save the day and we all cheer.  In other venues, the same interdependence, the lawyers and mental health professionals drop their guard and rely far too much on each  others expertise and are found with best intentions to be acting to hide and distort the truth in collusion, in concert, in conspiracy to deprive us from ever really knowing the truth.

We need to keep examining this issue and find remedies to create and restore integrity to this unhappy marriage of law and psychology.   We must constantly open our  exact greater standards to provide access and the critical elements of due process into the mix. Essential is the preservation of data, starting using scientific method gathering all possible hypothesis and ruling them out one by one before jumping to a conclusion. 

There are a multitude of wounded survivors living in our world,  who have suffered abuse at the hand of those intimate parents, care givers, supervisors who were not believed, who need to heal. This healing can take place thorough disclosure, legal actions long after the statute of limitations expired, writing,  dance and art therapy, They can all help us find our personal subjective truth, change our agreed collective truth and scientifically study the  objective empirical truth. 

Copernicus was only recently exonerated 400 years later for speaking the truth.  Jesse Friedman has fought to exonerate himself for 26 years. Perhaps our new Pope Francis will shed some light the secret truth the Catholic Church has hidden for years. Perhaps  the last Pope ( strangely still alive hiding in the Vatican from his cover up of truth.) Could be interrogated or at least a symbol of why we should not give absolute immunity to the exercise of such discretion, exercise of such indiscretion. Perhaps Jessie Friedman will find a legal remedy to break open the agreed truth in Long Island that he is guilty.
So when Woody Allen gets ready to step up to the podium to proudly take his  award, it is right that we also remember the true harm he has caused and hold him accountable. 

Can these flawed individuals create beauty and vibrance and truth. Was Mozart a drunkard debauched sex addict who wrote down the truth that came to him divinely inspired. Was Van Gogh’s cut off ear deaf to the vibrance of the colors and textures he created that still cut to the soul.  

Pete Seeger died last week, we all opted in the 60s to leave the Hootenanny sing along to glorify more the individual fame and personal quests for fame. But Pete’s  love for the people in the room he sang to got them to sing together and opened up everyone in the room to  unlock their voice and feel the sense of community and common responsibility we all must embrace to promote change.  

I will chose to honor Pete’s life by finding ways for me to make his life eternal in my own path.. Woody Allen, has inspired me in a much narrower focus some of lifes truths, but I will not make follow him. His eternal life is in our reaction away from his life.

Bruce A Young

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I am now working on a project to  require as a matter of Constitutional Law that mental health professionals, social workers, police, lawyers and judges preserve the initial disclosures of child sex abuse made in video and or audio tape . As I bring new federal civil rights cases involving allegations of sex abuse now, those who were falsely accused and those who were victims that no one believed. I see a common need to apply a standard, and implement training and accountability.  See : link  psychologist held accountable and required to defend suit  in a botched sex abuse investigation and prosecution that harmed a whole family.

There is now a professional duty of lawyers judges mental health professionals working on sex abuse cases to preserve the data on video and audio tape so we can professionally evaluate the objective data, instead of making the process itself more harmful than the trauma, by requestioning the child, but permitting fair access for all sides to evaluate and advocate. The professional embarassment of being caught on camera asking the wrong question unprofessionally will pass as we improve in the cinema verite of light into a dark shadowy process.

Bruce A Young
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