SELF-HELP AUTHORS FREED FROM LIABILITY; SUIT INVOLVING INCEST CLAIMS CONTINUES San Francis

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SELF-HELP AUTHORS FREED FROM LIABILITY; SUIT INVOLVING INCEST CLAIMS CONTINUES San Francisco Chronicle (SF) - TUESDAY, September 6, 1994 By: Katy Butler, Chronicle Staff Writer Edition: FINAL Section: News Page: A16 Word Count: 417 TEXT: A Sacramento Superior Court judge has dismissed a portion of a lawsuit involving the authors of ``The Courage to Heal,'' a popular self-help text for incest survivors. The suit, brought by Deborah David, her husband and her parents, accused several therapists and the book authors with creating psychological problems and leading David to confront her father and keep him from seeing his grandchildren. The suit, which asks for more than $4 million in damages, will continue against the therapists but not the authors. According to attorney Neil Shapiro, who represented authors Laura Davis and Ellen Bass of Santa Cruz, the portion of the suit against the writers was dismissed Friday because of constitutional protections of free speech. Previous court rulings have held that book authors cannot be liable for damages caused by their ideas. According to David's suit, ``The Courage to Heal'' and ``The Courage to Heal Workbook'' were suggested to her by therapists who tried to convince her that she had been sexually abused. David could not be reached for comment yesterday. Shapiro said yesterday that statements in the books ``are not like chemical equations that are right or wrong. These are ideas, and you can't have a liability for ideas.'' The book was published by HarperCollins in 1988 and became an underground best-seller, with more than 800,000 copies sold. A thick compendium of advice about therapy, healing, self-care, family confrontation, sexuality and relationships, it incorporates the poetry and stories of more than 100 women who told the authors they had been sexually abused as children. It has been criticized widely by parents who say they have been falsely accused by their children and by some women who have since withdrawn such accusations. One sentence in the book suggests that people who think they were abused probably were, even if they have no specific memories, and other portions suggest ways that women can help themselves remember more. A lawsuit similar to the one dismissed in Sacramento is pending in San Luis Obispo County. Laura Davis, one of the authors, said yesterday that she felt ``great'' about the ruling. ``Our book has had a big effect on incest survivors coming forward and talking about their experiences,'' she said. ``That has been very threatening to people. I see the lawsuit as part of an ongoing backlash against survivors of sexual abuse. ``I'm glad that it was squashed quickly. If it hadn't (been), it would have been a nightmare for any author in a free society.'' Copyright 1994 The San Francisco Chronicle AUTHOR TARGET OF FALSE-MEMORIES LAWSUIT Sacramento Bee (SB) - WEDNESDAY, May 4, 1994 By: Associated Press Edition: STATE FINAL Section: SUPCAL Page: B3 Word Count: 299 TEXT: SAN LUIS OBISPO - A woman has sued the author of a popular advice book, claiming it was partly to blame for conjuring up false memories of sexual abuse and satanic rituals. In a lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, Kimberly Mark accuses Laura Davis of negligence and misrepresentation for the views she expressed in ''The Courage to Heal Workbook.'' Mark claimed the book's advice was partly to blame for false childhood memories she conjured up during hypnotherapy sessions. The memories included satanic rituals and sexual abuse by several people, including her father. ''This is the first time that I know of that this kind of (suit) has happened,'' said Elizabeth Loftus, a University of Washington psychology and law professor who doubts the reality of memories that emerge in adulthood after extensive therapy. The lawsuit, which was filed last week, could have trouble getting around First Amendment guarantees of free published expression, said an attorney who specializes in constitutional law. Courts must generally find a direct cause-and-effect relationship before holding someone liable for damages, said Los Angeles attorney Stephen Rohde. Neither Davis nor her agent immediately returned calls seeking comment. The workbook is a companion and sequel to the best-selling ''The Courage to Heal,'' co-written with Ellen Bass. Both books have been criticized by mental health professionals who say claims of repressed childhood sexual abuse are often exaggerated. The first book has sold about 800,000 copies nationwide. Patrick Clancy, a Walnut Creek lawyer representing Kimberly and husband William Mark, said Davis holds herself out as qualified to help readers heal psychologically from the effects of childhood sexual abuse. Kimberly Mark's father is dead, Clancy said. Her ''memories'' changed after she read a magazine article last year questioning hypnotherapists' ability to bring back forgotten events, he said.

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