Children as the Primary Losers When
Sexual Abuse is Falsely Alleged: Two Swedish Cases
ABSTRACT: Two cases in Sweden involving false sexual abuse allegations
are described. In each, the entire family was grievously damaged
because of how the allegation was handled by the authorities. The children
in these cases were the primary losers.
The Svensson Family
One day during early summer, 1992, farmer Svensson and his family
received a telephone call. The family was grieving the recent
death of the maternal grandfather. To 7-year-old Lisa he was
"the best granddaddy in the whole world," so she was
particularly sad about his death. Between the two there had been
the unique reciprocal friendship and communicative understanding
frequently seen between grandparents and grandchildren.
The grandmother called the Svensson family with a distressing
message. Uncle Klas, who was responsible for arranging the burial,
had decided that no children should attend the funeral and the
associated events. The Svensson family had to accept the decision,
whether they liked it or not. But when Lisa learned that she could
not attend the funeral of her beloved grandfather, she became extremely
angry and upset. Her agitation increased even more when the
relatives decided that her 13-year-old brother was an adult and, hence,
was permitted to attend the funeral. While he would be there, she,
who was Granddaddy's primary darling among all the grandchildren, was
excluded. She saw this as a great injustice.
A year later Lisa had another reason to resent and envy her older
brother. The brother, now 14, had a girlfriend.
Eight-year-old Lisa felt she also had the right to have a
boyfriend. She chose a 16-year-old boy from the neighborhood and
often clung close to him. This boy, who had a girlfriend his own
age, was annoyed when Lisa did not leave him alone. Lisa's parents
firmly told her to stop running after him; she was much too young to
have a boyfriend. But since her brother was not subjected to the
same restrictions, Lisa resented what she felt was unfair treatment.
Several months after the grandfather's death, the family suffered
another disaster. While assisting a relative with harvesting,
Lisa's older brother was seriously injured and was hospitalized for some
time. Since he was still in a state of poor health when he
eventually returned home, the parents had to devote much time and labor
to caring for him. Lisa felt that her parents gave him all their
attention and neglected her. This last "injustice"
increased her anger, and she finally decided to seek revenge.
Another fact is crucial to this case. The Svensson family had
previously lived in another town, where the father was a welding
operator. During this time, Lisa became friends with two twin
sisters, who were a few years older than she. The twins' mother
was single and a part-time prostitute. (We may think of
prostitution as immoral and criminal and may question Lisa's parents'
decision to allow her to associate with these girls. But some single
low-wage mothers may need the additional income from prostitution to
give their children a standard of living exceeding the bare subsistence
Because of their mother's profession, the twins saw things not very
fitting for children to witness. They told Lisa what they had
learned, and she eagerly absorbed all such information. As a
result of her connection with these girls, Lisa developed a precocious
interest in sexual matters.
The Sexual Allegation and the Sham Trial of the Father
Lisa, angry over the perceived injustices from her family, told her
teacher that her family treated her poorly. She complained that
she never got breakfast in the morning because all members of the family
were asleep when she went to school.
A discerning teacher would have become suspicious and wondered
whether the girl had told the truth. Lisa's father was working at
a farm with many livestock and it was unlikely that he would still be in
bed when his daughter left for school. But the teacher accepted
what Lisa told her. The teacher then asked Lisa if she had been
exposed to incestuous assaults. Sex was a favorite topic for Lisa,
who had received a wealth of sexual knowledge from her older
friends. She constructed an impressive variety of sexual
experiences which had allegedly taken place in her family, and she
recounted them in much detail. She claimed that during the last
three years she had had sexual intercourse with both her father and her
older brother. She said that as recently as yesterday her brother
had inserted his penis into her vagina.
The teacher immediately reported the incest to the social agency, who
reported it to the police. Even before the social agency made the
decision to take the child into custody, Lisa was sent to a child clinic
for investigation. Or rather, this is what the mother was
told. But, in actual fact, Lisa was sent to a child psychiatric
clinic, where a gynecological examination was performed. Because
of Lisa's strong fear of the examination, it could not be performed
without anesthesia. No attempt was made to obtain the parents'
permission and it is questionable whether this was legal, since Lisa had
not yet been taken into custody.
No defect or injury of Lisa's hymen was found and all other aspects
of the examination were completely normal. Any competent and
seriously-minded medico-legal expert is aware that, if a child or a
teenager claims to have been exposed to assaults involving intromission,
but is found to be a virgo intacto, then there are strong reason to
disbelieve the allegation. But the female gynecologist stated in
an affidavit that her findings did not rule out sexual abuse. This
assertion is apt to have been misleading to the judicial and lay judges
who, without any medical training, had to try to understand what was
stated in the affidavit.
Lisa's father and brother were arrested. Both of them were
shocked when they learned the nature of the accusations. Like many
other innocent men in the same situation, they tried to unearth what
kinds of events the child might have misinterpreted as sexual
assaults. They were eager to tell the police everything that might
have been the source, and with as much detail as possible.
The father recounted an occasion when he was resting on the couch and
Lisa jumped upon him, placed herself astraddle, and made bumping
movements. He was annoyed and pushed her away. He also said
that the family had at one time lived in a house with only a shower and
no bathtub. If any of the children became dirty from outdoor
playing, he placed both himself and the child naked under the shower and
soaped the child. This is all that happened. But he believed
it was important to tell about these actual events, because Lisa may
have misinterpreted them.
Until then, the father had always been in good health and had never
used prescription medicine. But while he was detained he was given
sleeping pills and sedatives because of his complaints of fear and
anxiety. As a result of these medications, he was so groggy that
he knew very little of what he was asked or what he said during the
repeated interrogations. He tried to recount truthfully the events
with the shower and with Lisa bumping him on the couch. He did so
because he hoped that the police would understand how Lisa might have
arrived at the absurd allegation that he had sexually abused her.
But, since his verbal skill and cognitive capacity were limited, the
police misunderstood what he said and praised him for confessing.
His court-appointed attorney was incompetent. Evidently, it was
the view of this lawyer that the most interesting aspect of the trial
was his fee. When presenting the court with his request for an
extraordinarily high fee, he attached an extensive justificatory report,
which stated that the remarkable number of hours he had devoted to the
case derived from the fact that it had taken such a long time to
persuade the defendant to confess!
In actual fact, Lisa's father had not confessed at all.
The trial was performed behind closed doors. The father was
convicted and sent to prison for two and one-half years. The
judgment was based on the "fact" that he had (allegedly)
confessed to the sexual abuse of his daughter. Lisa's father does
not have any recollection of having ever been asked during the trial
whether he was guilty or not guilty.
I have discussed this problem with two experienced judges and one
experienced prosecutor, all of whom are my personal friends.
According to all three, it is a genuine possibility that the court
directed the question to the defense counsel, and accepted the latter's
answer. It is obvious that the defense counsel did not believe his
own client when the latter swore he was innocent. It is my view
that this sequence of events is discordant with the Swedish Law of Legal
Procedures §46 part 6, which states, "The defendant shall be
requested briefly to state his position [as to the question of guilt]
and the reasons for the latter." The defense counsel is not a
stand-in for the defendant. Hence, it is not fitting for anyone
other than the defendant to be asked. I would welcome a debate on
this point, in Sweden and other countries with similar, dissimilar or
otherwise relevant legal procedures.
The Consequences for Lisa's Older Brother
Lisa's brother recalled that he had on occasion felt his sister's
body with his hands on the outside of her clothes. There is no
indication that anything more happened. There is little reason to
make a tremendous fuss when boys at puberty do minor sexually
inappropriate things, such as secretly watching females bathing naked at
the bay. However, as a result of the intervention and
interrogations by the authorities, the brother felt extremely guilty and
ashamed. Because he was arrested by the police he seemed to have
concluded that he had committed a very serious crime.
After he had made some kind of a confession, he was released by the
police. Later, the prosecutor decided not to try him because of
his youth he had just reached 15 years of age.
Unfortunately, both the questions and the answers in the police
interrogations were formulated in a very vague way. Hence, it is
difficult to learn in retrospect from the records to what he is really
supposed to have confessed.
When the police released him, he was not permitted to return
home. The social agency had decided immediately to take both Lisa
and her older brother into custody.
The father was conditionally released after serving half of his two
and one-half-year sentence and is completely free today. Swedish
prisons are not comparable to American or Spanish ones. Usually,
one will not be permanently broken down after some years in a Swedish
prison. Instead, the greatest disaster happened to the
children. This is the pattern most frequently observed in cases
involving false incest allegations.
What was the further development for Lisa's older brother? When
he was arrested by the police in October 1993 he had started the 9th
class of the school (that is, according to the Swedish school system,
the last year before the three-year senior high school. The final
examination of the latter is usually a precondition for university
study). He was released after one day of interrogation. But
he was immediately sent to a social investigation home, after having
been taken into custody according to The Law of Care of Youthful People
(LVU). He was locked up at this investigatory home for two months
and was refused any teaching or schooling. Being detained, he
could do little more than to play various games with other prisoners and
When the 1994 semester started he was still under social
custody. But he was transferred to a home for youngsters, which
was far from his parents' home. Although he attended school at
this new place, because he had been absent for half a semester, his
grades were low and he was not accepted for senior high school
study. He had always been a conscientious boy, and his new
schoolmates were astonished, to say the least, as to why he was confined
to a home primarily associated with youthful criminals.
The rules of this home were absurd. For instance, when a boy
was permitted to go into town, he was forbidden to stand still for more
than five minutes at a time. It was boys in their upper teens who
were subjected to this rule.
Because of the above-mentioned decisions of the social agency, the
boy's start at the senior high school was postponed for a whole year and
he also had to go through a number of supplementary courses. But,
after having lost one year, he did belatedly start what would otherwise
have been his tenth year of schooling. Unfortunately, all his
friends were now living in the town of the senior high school. And
it was not until this time that we succeeded in having the social
custody terminated by the court. He was now 17 years old. He
did not want to change schools and get uprooted from all his
friends. The Svensson family was ruined financially because of the
prison sentence and his parents were unable to pay for rent and food for
him in the town of the school. As a result, he was faced with only
one choice if he wanted to pass the final examination of the senior high
school to stay at the home for youngsters "by his own free
will" (as it is called), and likewise to obey its absurd and
Eventually, he managed to make the social agency to pay for an
apartment of one room, so that he could escape the home for
youngsters. The social agency kept an extra key to his apartment,
and could enter at any time. From the social agency he received,
in addition to the rent, 1700 SwCr a month for food and all other
expenses. I may remark in passing that if he had stayed at the
home for youngsters, the costs would have been very much larger.
The boy grew progressively more desperate, both because of his
economic situation and because he could not live with his parents.
He loved them and he visited them frequently. But they could
provide no help concerning his economic and various other problems. At
the age of 17 he tried to kill himself. At the time of the suicide
attempt he had had no money for food for a week, and felt his situation
was hopeless. Fortunately, his life was saved.
This is the true state of things behind the phrase about the best
interests of the child, which the social agency claims to be the aim of The
Law of Care of Youthfiul People.
Lisa's Younger Brother and Her Mother
Lisa also had a younger brother. He was four years old at the
time of the allegations. Strangely, he was in the beginning left
out of consideration. But three months after the father had been
arrested and sent to prison, (that is, at a time when the danger was
over, if there had ever been any danger), the social agency took the
preschool child into custody and sent him to an on-duty foster
home. The justification of this decision was opaque, and after one
month it was set aside by the Administrative Court of Appeal. But,
during the intervening six-week-period of divorce from his mother, the
young boy had been harmed. When he was permitted to return, he was
so depressed that he had almost completely ceased talking, and he was
incessantly crying. He felt on his own body the consequences of
being exposed to measures aiming at the best interests of the child.
The father and the two older children had been taken away by the
authorities. Lisa's mother was alone in the home and was deeply
depressed. It was beyond her capacity to grasp how her husband and
son could have performed sexual assaults of Lisa in this one-story house
of five rooms, without her noticing any trace of such activities.
The situation was dark and hopeless. Eventually she attempted
suicide. She was rescued. But three children almost lost
their mother because of interventions by the social agency "in the
best interests of the children."
Lisa's Subsequent Life
Lisa had been locked up at the child psychiatric clinic. After
one week she realized the tremendous mischief caused by her lies and
tried to tell the adults around her that she had not told the
truth. But no one would listen.
After six weeks at the child psychiatric clinic, she was sent to a
foster home. During her years at the foster home she was strictly
forbidden to have any contact with her father, and her association with
her mother was sharply curtailed. Nonetheless, she succeeded in
keeping in limited contact with her family through her grandmother, to
whom she wrote letters and made telephone calls, and whom she was
sometimes permitted to visit. At an early stage Lisa told her
mother and grandmother that she had invented the sexual assaults out of
thin air in order to get revenge for the injustices she thought she had
In her letters and telephone calls, Lisa assured her family that she
loved them, and told them how much she longed for her home. She
thoroughly disliked the foster family and complained that she was
miserable. She repeatedly threatened to kill herself if she were
not permitted to join her real family. She told her grandmother
that she had made up her mind if she were not permitted to return
home very soon, she would indeed commit suicide. This was a
serious suicide threat she had already thought out the details
about how to do it, and, "then I shall meet and join
I became the lawyer for the parents about a year after the tragic
decision to take the two oldest children into custody. We have
repeatedly attempted legally to have the custody of Lisa by the social
agency revoked or invalidated so far without success.
During the proceedings, the social agency continually assured us that
Lisa felt very comfortable in the foster home. They were seemingly
unaware of the fact that many children actually commit suicide, instead
they appeared to perceive Lisa's threats as a mere trifle.
Then things took a new turn after two years. Suddenly, the
foster parents lost their patience with this girl, who had an undue
interest in sexual matters and was very intrusive. They gave
notice of immediate termination of the agreement with the social agency
about having Lisa as a foster child.
Lisa was then sent to a children's home (rather recently such
institutions have in Sweden been rebaptized "treatment
homes"). Here, she felt even more miserable, first and
foremost because she was the target of terrorization by another girl of
her own age. The staff did not intervene to protect her.
Lisa continued making suicide threats and the danger seemed
serious. The staff stated that she would be sent to another foster
home when she was 13. She could see no hope in her miserable
A few weeks ago a noteworthy event took place. Lisa was
permitted to visit her mother and younger brother, on the conditions
that the father was not at home during the visit, and that the meeting
was supervised by a contact person belonging to the staff of the
children's home. Lisa was much attached to her younger brother,
and he reciprocated her feelings. Just like so many other
"big sisters" may do, she was sitting on the couch with her
brother in her lap, and they touched and hugged each other. The
mother and the children's home contact person were sitting next to
them. No occurrence took place which was remarkable in any
A few days later the mother was informed that the contact with the
family would henceforth be restricted in the same way as it had been
before this single meeting. The stated reason for this was that
the younger brother, 7 years old, had squeezed her breasts and pulled at
her clothes. Lisa had been unable to protect herself. And
her mother was reproached for not having interfered to stop the assault.
In other words, the staff of the incest profession claimed in dead
earnest that a 7-year-old boy sexually abused his 12-year-old sister
while sitting in her lap with the mother and a social worker sitting
next to them. As a lawyer one feels totally powerless against
claims of such a nature.
The Case of Kent: How to Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill
Ritva Gunnarsson is the paternal grandmother of Kent. Kent's
father, Olle, is 30 years old and a widower. His wife died from
cancer when their child was only two years old. During the
mother's protracted and serious illness, and likewise after her death,
Ritva devoted herself deeply to her grandson. Before her
daughter-in-law died, she promised to take good care of Kent. Kent
lived approximately half the time with Granddad and Granny and half the
time with Daddy. Very often he lived with his father during the
week days and at his grandparents during the weekends. Ritva was
born in Finland. Being a trained child nurse, she works at a day
nursery, but not the one Kent attended.
Ritva was aware that the head mistress of the day nursery which Kent
attended did not like her. In Sweden, it is customary to try to
avoid an abrupt start at a nursery, so for the first week a parent of
the child will also attend. The head mistress requested Kent's
father to perform this task. Regrettably, his job required his
presence in a foreign country during this week, and he suggested that Ritva
could take his place since Kent was close to her. The head
mistress protested, but in the end the Gunnarsson family had its
way. The head mistress never forgave this "defeat" (as
she seems to have perceived the matter); nor did she let go of her
resentment that a child nurse who was Finnish had won over a head
mistress who was Swedish. There is in Sweden much prejudice
against Finnish people.
One afternoon during late autumn 1990, Ritva arrived at the day
nursery to fetch Kent, as she often did. She noted that Kent and another
boy were engaged in sexual play on the floor in one of the rooms.
No doubt, such things may happen in a day nursery. But what was
strange was the behavior of two staff persons. They observed the
activities of the boys behind a glass door without interfering and
stopping the inappropriate sex play.
Ritva was annoyed at observing this and told the staff persons that
if such things happened again, they should stop it and encourage the
children to engage in more suitable activities. She added, "I
think you should talk this over with Kent's father." Somewhat
surprisingly one of the staff answered, "Oh no, Olle might be
angry." This was no guess what parent would not be
angry if he or she learned that the staff tolerated sexual play in the
It is no far-fetched hypothesis that the staff reported the incident
to the head mistress, nor that the latter expected criticism and decided
the most effective defense would be an advance counterattack. She
talked to Kent, behind closed doors, and no one knows what took place
during this interview. I believe it is an extreme transgression
against the legal safety of the individual that the first interrogation
of a child is performed by a head mistress of a day nursery, whereafter
what Kent supposedly said during this interrogation is subsequently used
as legal evidence. Kent was six years old at that time.
What Kent actually said is irremediably lost. We might venture
a guess. But nothing hinges upon whether this guess is
correct. Most of us have occasionally been a baby-sitter to
preschool children of a relative or a close friend. We may
recognize a situation of the following kind. We say, "Dear
little Mary, you cannot eat a lot of sweets just ten minutes before
dinner." Whereafter Mary may obstinately reply, "Surely
I may. When mummy is at home she always says I may." We
may know that Mary's mother would never permit such things. But Mary
perceived our comment as a criticism and was eager to defend herself,
for which purpose she invoked the authority of her mum.
The head mistress might have reproached Kent because of the sexual
playing, and Kent might have tried to defend himself by the statement,
"But Daddy and I do the same thing."
The subsequent course of events is not difficult to imagine.
The day nursery reported to the social agency, which reported to the
police (the customary procedure in Sweden). On the same day, Olle
was fetched by the police at his job, and the staff of the day nursery
drove Kent to the police station. I would welcome a debate as to
whether it is in accordance with the law (of Sweden or of other
countries) that staff personnel members take a child to the police for
interrogation without the knowledge of the parents, at a time when the
child had not yet been taken into custody by the social agency or a
I have scrutinized the videotaped police interrogation. It is
obvious that Kent had no idea what the interview was about. The
male police officer asked strongly leading questions. When he
talked of the penis he repeatedly used the word
"willie." This is a word never used in the Gunnarsson
family, hence Kent did not know its meaning. On the other hand, he
was aware of the appearances of adult naked people on every
Friday evening the entire family, regardless of sex and ages, takes a
sauna. This is a normal, frequent and long-standing custom among
Kent is a nice and amiable young boy who generally tries to give
answers to questions that adults want to hear. In the videotaped
interrogation, in response to the leading questions, he said
"mmm" and "yes" or "no," in accordance
with what he expected to be the "right" answers. His
expectations were often wrong, and when this happened, the police
officer reproached him, telling him that he had said something else to
the head mistress. In response to the reproach Kent obediently
changed his answer.
What followed next was unsurprising. The father was arrested
for a week and was eventually sent to prison for a year. He served
his sentence in a minimum security prison with good food, and he was
frequently granted leave. He did not lose his job. His
employer and his co-workers and everybody else who knew him well was
completely convinced of his innocence.
Kent's Subsequent Fate
Kent was taken into custody by the social agency according to The
Law of Care of Youthful People. He was sent to a foster home
of extraordinarily low quality. The foster mother had several
children of her own, and was also in charge of a number of foster
children, including some difficult teenage boys. Kent was
terrified of these boys. The foster mother also had kennels, and
ten unleashed dogs running all over the house. The home was
extremely dirty with dogs' hair everywhere.
During the period when Kent was living in this house, the foster
mother divorced her husband. Olle learned about the event by sheer
accident and at a much later time. Moreover, the foster mother was
engaged in politics and was often away from the home. The children
did not get their meals regularly. Kent's intellectual development
was far above his age, and he had learned both to read and write.
In his despair he wrote letters to his grandmother (Ritva) and
complained about his hopeless situation, but also about his recurrent
Only one thing was positive: Kent was permitted to keep in contact
with his grandparents and to visit them. Already at an early stage
of the judicial case he told his grandmother that he had not told the
truth. He repeated several times that, "It was never Daddy
and me, it was the other boy and me."
No member of the foster home drove Kent to and from the day
nursery. He went by taxi, and the social agency paid for the
transport. One taxi driver who had repeatedly had this boy as his
customer, wondered about the state of things. He asked the boy,
"Where are you living actually?" Kent started to cry and
said, "I live in a foster home because I have lied."
Previously, he had been a well-balanced and happy boy, with a thirst
for knowledge and a cognitive development far ahead of his age.
While he was living in the foster home he began to stutter and felt
miserable. Once, he visited his grandparents for a few days.
When it was time to return to the foster home, he said he wanted to die
and go to his mother in heaven.
The grandparents were not permitted to be foster parents of
Kent. But after about half a year they managed to have the child
moved to another foster home, which was not as bad as the first one, but
was still far from satisfactory. The new foster mother was a
teacher. To her, accepting a foster child meant a kind of
moonlighting, but also company for her own son who was a few years
older. The latter was not particularly gifted, and it is our
impression that she tried to restrain Kent's intellectual development,
so that both children would to a greater extent be on the same level.
Kent was previously an alert and curious child who had a desire to
acquire further knowledge. At the present time he is not very
interested in many things. In view of his genuine intellectual
capacity, his school grades should have been brilliant. Instead,
they are mediocre. While the home of the parental grandparents is
a wonderful and expensive house, the foster home is not very clean, the
food is cooked with little care, and Kent's clothes are shabby.
Nevertheless, Kent is a docile child who has resigned himself to his
fate. However, he now and then asks his grandmother why he cannot
The Fight in European Commission for Human Rights, and the
Decision by the Commission
There is a positive aspect of his situation. During two
weekends a months he is permitted to visit his maternal or paternal
grandparents on an alternating basis. Once a week his father is
permitted to visit him in the foster home. For a few weeks during
summer he may live with his paternal grandparents, and his father is
permitted to be there, too. For a protracted period I have been in
charge of many cases involving children who had been taken into custody
by the authorities. Nevertheless, this is the only case in which
the child was permitted to associate with his or her family to a degree
which is at least in the neighborhood of being reasonable.
The fact must not be overlooked, however, that Kent's contact with
his grandparents is dependent upon arbitrary decisions by the social
workers. According to Swedish law, grandparents have no formal
right to see their grandchildren. They cannot obtain a legal
decision which will guarantee the contact, and a refusal cannot be
appealed to any court. They are completely at the mercy of the
When the judgment of the trial of Olle had become final (the right to
appeal is strongly curtailed in Sweden), he asked me to take charge of
his case and to try to have the case accepted by the European Commission
for Human Rights in Strasbourg. We advanced two grounds.
First, we argued that legal proceedings concerning the suspected crime
violated Olle's right to a fair trial. The case was not admitted
on this ground. In accordance with its usual habit, the Commission
decided that it is not its task to assess questions concerned with the
evidence; this is exclusively a matter for the national courts.
Second, we argued that the authorities had violated the father's, the
son's and the maternal and paternal grandparents' right to a family life
in accordance with article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights,
in so far as the paternal grandparents had not been accepted as foster
parents, and also in so far as their association with their grandchild
had been restricted to once a month.
The counter arguments of the Swedish authorities are remarkable: (1)
The grandparents were too old to he satisfactory foster parents (they
were 58 and 59, respective; they were vital and keen on sports); (2) The
grandparents thought Olle was innocent; (3) Allegedly, 80% of incest
offenders have been sexually abused themselves during their
childhood. By implication, there was a fair chance that the
grandparents had abused Olle and might do the same thing to Kent.
The Commission accepted one circumstance as an adequate justification
for refusing the grandparents to become foster parents. Because
they believed in Olle's innocence, the grandparents had said that, if
they got custody, they would stop the incest therapy which Kent (like
all other children in the same situation) was undergoing.
Moreover, the Commission ruled that the grandparents had not yet
exhausted all legal measures within their own nation. This
decision seems very strange. The commission was perfectly aware
that Swedish law does not entitle grandparents to complain of
restrictions of contact. Any petition with such a claim will be
immediately rejected. Nevertheless, the Commission deemed that the
grandparents had to make such a (hopeless) petition, before their case
could be handled in Strasbourg.
The grandparents and Olle had an additional motive for being cautious
in this respect. Their contact with Kent was exclusively based on
the arbitrary decision of the social agency, and their permission might
be withdrawn at any moment. The social agency dislikes parents who
go to the courts. Hence, the family had a most understandable
reason for not attempting a legal action which would be abortive anyway,
but which might annoy the social agency.
Summing up this case, there is no doubt that an innocent father was
convicted. But it is also apparent that Kent was punished to a
much more severe degree than his father.
Westerberg is a lawyer and the manager of a legal firm in
Gothenburg, Sweden. Her special domain is medico-legal
cases. Formerly, she worked for many years as a medical
doctor. This paper is an address held at The Second
Nordic Interdisciplinary Forum for the Legal Safety of the
Individual in Sexual Trials, Stockholm, 24-25th August
1996. All names in the paper are pseudonyms. [Back]