Email Us My Blog

Ten Year Trail Links Woods And Accuser

Sunday Business Post, February 10, 2002 By Emily O'Reilly

In may 1994, Irish Times journalist Mary Maher was working on a story about a book which had been published in the United States on the X case.

The author was Clement Loscher, an anti-abortion sympathiser, and former school teacher and lecturer in religious studies. The book's thesis was that the X case was manipulated by certain individuals and certain organs of the state in order to overthrow the 1983 anti-abortion amendment.

The book -- which was never sold in this country -- was published by Human Life International in 1992 and Maher had contacted the organisation to confirm that it had indeed financed Loscher's work.

According to Maher, the HLI spokesman confirmed that it had done so and then "went on to say that the book would show that the accused man was innocent and expose what was really going on, that Dr Moira Woods and others were using this to bring in abortion, and that HLI now had information that would bring down not only Dr Woods but would close the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit."

Maher expressed some scepticism about this, and continued to question the HLI spokesman about the book.

Some two hours later, according to Maher, a man came into the newsroom and demanded to speak to the journalist.

She recalls: "He said his name was Eddie Hernon, and waved a sheaf of papers in my face shouting something to the effect, 'You don't believe we have the goods to get Moira Woods, here it is, we'll get her"'.

Maher refused to deal with Hernon and insisted that he leave. She says that it was clear that HLI and Hernon "were in pretty close touch."

That fact is self-evident from the opening page of the book. Under the heading "Did you know?" Loscher wrote: "Professional advisors sympathetic to the introduction of abortion in Ireland, continue to advise the girl and her family. One of them is Dr Moira Woods, director of the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit which the X girl attended. Five families from the Accused Parents Aid Group (founded by Hernon) who were wrongfully accused of sexually assaulting their children and subsequently exonerated, are now seeking legal redress from Dr Woods."

Last week, Hernon went public on his involvement in the Medical Council inquiry into Dr Moira Woods and her work at the Rotunda hospital's Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU).

In March 1992, one month after the X case was first reported on in the media, Hernon had made the first complaints to the Medical Council against Woods, claiming that she had falsely accused him of the sexual abuse of his daughter in 1986.

The complaint stemmed from an incident in 1985 when the mother of the then four and a half year old child noticed blood on the girl's pants. Mother and daughter had been visiting Hernon in London where he was working, Hernon at this stage was estranged from his wife and five children.

The mother took the child to hospital. The medical registrar later noted that there was no explanation for the "injury", and that "mother does not feel that there is a possibility of sexual abuse."

Back in Dublin the child was brought to two more doctors, neither of whom found evidence of sexual abuse. Then, according to Hernon's own account, rumours spread in London among the families of Hernon and his partner, that the child had been brought back to Ireland because Hernon was abusing her.

The mother, again according to Hernon, then tried to have it confirmed that the child had not been abused by him. The child was referred in October 1986 to SATU where she was seen by Woods and interviewed with the use of play materials and anatomically correct dolls.

Woods concluded that the child had been sexually abused by Hernon. Arising out of this Hernon was denied access to his daughter for three years.

Last week's Medical Council report concluded -- by a majority -- that in the Hernon case, Woods had failed to follow the correct practice and protocol of obtaining a full and accurate history; that she had failed to ensure that her conclusions and findings as outlined in the report were consistent with the history; that she failed to ensure that the facts upon which her findings were based fitted within a credible framework; that she drew inferences which were stated as hard conclusions; that she was excessively definitive in her report and failed to follow standard medical practice in relation to her differential diagnosis.

The investigation into Woods continued through the 1990s. Hernon became active in his defence of individuals who claimed to have been wrongly accused of the sexual abuse of their children. Organisations such as Amen, Parental Equality and Hernon's own group, Vocal Ireland, began springing up.

On its website, Vocal cites as its "mission" "To expose, name and shame all those, who over the last 25 years have been willing parties to the Irish Child Sex Abuse Industry, including those members of the media who have deliberately created a hysterical child sex abuse witchhunt against defenceless Irish citizens and non-nationals.

'To expose those in the medical and legal professions 'sympathetic' to the Irish Child Sex Abuse Industry and responsible for the incarceration of innocent Irishmen and non-nationals and, ultimately responsible for the removal into care of tiny infants who should never have been in care in the first place."

It also warns, "Beware our justifiable wrath and anger."

In 1996, an Irish Times report claimed that Vocal Ireland was affiliated to Vocal USA which in turn "has a relationship with an American psychologist who has expressed controversial views on paedophilia."

The views had been expressed by psychologists Dr Ralph Underwager and his wife Hollida Wakefield "who have been extremely active in the US in opposing child abuse prevention programmes and in acting as defence advisers and expert witnesses in child abuse trials."

Underwager, a Lutheran Pastor, is a member of various societies and associations broadly connected with his work, including the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex.

The pair had given an interview in 1993 to a Dutch publication, Paidka, The Journal of Paedophilia during which Underwager had said that paedophilia was a "responsible choice" for an individual. He added, "Paedophiles spend a lot of time and energy defending their choice. I don't think a paedophile needs to do that. Paedophiles can boldly and courageously affirm what they choose.'

Underwager later said that his remarks had been misinterpreted, that he was simply outlining the way paedophiles think, and that he would never condone adult-child sexual relationships.

Hernon told the Irish Times that Underwager was not supporting paedophilia, but trying to explain it. He added that paedophilia was child abuse. Last Monday night, Vocal Ireland and a number of allied groups organised a public meeting in a Dublin hotel to call for a full public inquiry into the Woods affair.

Much of the meeting however was taken up with the vilifying of journalist Susan McKay who was seated at the back of the room taking notes. McKay had appeared on last week's Late Late Show along with Eddie Hernon. She had told the programme that she did not want "to mix it" with Hernon and, to talk only about Moira Woods career. Instead, she was forced to defend Woods and partly to engage with Hernon. She has since issued a complaint to the station and an apology has been received.

At the meeting, three of the platform speakers denounced McKay and, at the end of the evening, a number of video cameras were trained in her direction. She said she found the experience "deeply intimidating".

Journalist John Waters was on the platform along with Hernon and he also denounced Woods and those who support her. The word "feminazi" was used by one speaker to describe them.

Hernon again made reference to the X case, noting Moira Woods' involvement in it. The case he claimed, had been used, "as a vehicle for abortion on demand."