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10 Questions

Dean Tong, forensic legal consultant and author

Dean Tong is a forensic legal consultant and author of Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused. He has helped thousands of people on issues related to divorce and false abuse allegations. Dean Tong is here today to tell you how to tell if you are at risk of false abuse allegations, and how to protect yourself if you find yourself falsely accused.

1. Each year, more than 3 million people are accused of child abuse. Two thirds of those accusations are unfounded. How can a parent protect him or herself from such accusations? Explain to us what factors put a person at risk for false allegations and how you help people vindicate their names.

2. Many people share your concern that law enforcement officers prosecute abusers to the fullest extent of the law. We all want people to protect victims and report abuse. How is it that anonymous reporting laws hinder prosecution of abusers?

3. Many people in our audience have friends and family who have been through contentious divorces. Explain why no-fault divorces have increased the number of false allegations of spousal abuse and false accusations of child abuse.

4. Bad relationships! Who hasn’t known someone who was involved with a constantly needy or troubled person? How can a person tell if their partner has more serious issues that might lead to trouble down the road?

5. Explain to us the Tong 2-Prong Test for those accused of physical or sexual child abuse, domestic violence or sexual harassment.

6. In your book Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused, you assert that victims and families of abuse behave differently than those who fabricate such allegations. What are the key characteristics and differences between the real victims of abuse and those who are making up stories?

7. Every day the news has a story about another priest, another coach or another father who has sexually abused a child. The outrage felt by the American public has reached a boiling point. How can we ensure that the guilty go to jail while protecting the innocent from false allegations?

8. Victims of false abuse come to you for help in clearing their names. I understand that you require clients participate in scientific testing to prove their innocence. How do you know that clients aren’t just trying to beat the system?

9. You say that social services and law enforcement are biased because they look for information that confirms allegations of abuse or harassment. Your book also states that investigators oftentimes misinterpret or misattribute the statements made by children. Can you tell us what you mean by source misattribution and confirmatory bias and why they are important factors in the explosion of abuse allegations?

10. Every state allows for psychological experts to testify in support of the alleged victim, yet several states don’t allow experts to appear in support of the accused party’s innocence. Why is that? And how can our listeners find out about the laws in their state?


The Nine Deadly Sins of Divorce

For many years, society viewed adults who divorce as the primary victims of divorce while children suffer only financial loss when their parents divorce. Recent Federally funded studies have shown this is not the case: Children suffer terribly socially, psychologically and economically when their parents divorce. Forensic legal consultant and noted author Dean Tong consults with thousands of parents each year on divorce, custody and child abuse-related issues. He says that children need both parents whenever possible. For those parents who find they cannot stay together, Dean Tong says it’s important to keep in mind The Nine Deadly Sins of Divorce that affect both parents and children, and to protect children from their effects:

1. Divorce destroys families It goes without saying that divorce tears apart the fundamental basis for a child’s security: the family.

2. Custody battles Fighting over residential time places children in the impossible situation where they are forced to pick sides between parents. Even when parents seek to insulate their children from their divorce, a custody battle can destroy any facade of stability created by the outwardly peaceable relations between their parents.

3. False and unfounded allegations of abuse Even in so-called “no fault” divorce states, parents and relatives of divorcing parties seeking to gain an upper hand in custody and financial arrangements file false or unfounded allegations of domestic violence or child abuse. Once falsely accused, an innocent party oftentimes must spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars defending their good name while finding it nearly impossible to remove the stain of abuse allegations. Such allegations also damage the children involved by forcing them to participate unnecessarily in intrusive psychological examinations and courtroom proceedings.

4. Domestic violence The strain of a failing marriage drives many men and women to commit violent acts against those closest to them, their spouses and children. The physical injuries last only a short time compared to the psychological damage caused by parents and spouses who let loose their anger on their families.

5. Parental Alienation Syndrome Hurt and embittered parents frequently poison their children against their former spouses by criticizing them. Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a clinical diagnosis for the syndrome whereby children come to dislike or show actual contempt for a parent because of statements made by the other parent. PAS is expected to appear in a forthcoming edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Illness.

6. Parents who create false injuries to attract sympathy (Munchausen’s Syndrome) Occasionally, parents suffering from various mental illnesses (including Borderline Personality Disorder) fabricate or create actual injuries to their children in order to draw attention or sympathy.

7. Child abduction Although many states have laws barring parents from relocating, parents sometimes unlawfully relocate or abduct their children in order to avoid sharing residential time with their former spouse. In certain instances, these abductions violate Federal law, prompting involvement by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

8. Turning Children into Pawns In some divorces, parents come to view their children as pawns to be awarded to the winner as spoils of war. In such cases, the needs of children become secondary to the desire of parents to avenge the perceived wrongs of their former spouse.

9. Parentification of children Parents who find themselves emotionally incapable of dealing with the realities of their divorce sometimes turn to their children to fulfill parental duties. When this occurs, parents expect children to behave as adults, providing a parent’s share of household chores or listening to the parent’s personal problems or concerns from which a child ought normally to be sheltered.