Renee Brant from Gerald Amirault's Trial

Questioning by Larry Hardoon (Prosecutor):

Direct examination: 29-112

A: There are some other defenses that a child might interject.

Q: And would you describe some of them for the jury, please?

A: One example might be wishful thinking, that, for example, if a child had been abused, they might wish that, in fact they'd been rescued from it, that someone had appeared to stop the abuse. So it is a kind of denial; in fact, they were abused and very often they were not rescued, but because they wished that they'd been rescued, they might have said that someone they knew came and stopped the abuse.

Q: And with respect to thinking about someone rescuing them, as you mentioned, can you give us some examples from your experience of things that a child might say that would be illustrative of that?

Ms. Balliro: Objection
Court: Overruled.

A: Well, I think it could depend on who, you know, they say would be the rescuer. They might say a policeman rescued them or they might say a parent rescued them; those would be two kinds of examples.

A: The might use the mechanism of substitution or displacement. Example of that would be that a child would acknowledge that some abuse happened, but they would say that it happened to some else; it didn't happen to them. They would avoid saying that it happened to them; they'd point to someone else.

Q: And the someone else they might point to, who might that be, in your experience?

A: Could be another child; that would be very common.

Q: All right. Any other psychological defense mechanisms that, in your experience a child might interject in the process of disclosure of sexual abuse?

A: Well, I think that the mechanism of substitution or displacement might involve them accusing someone other than the person who actually abused them. They might say it was another adult instead of the abuser.

Redirect examination:
page 30-134
Q: And with respect to the specific trauma symptoms of sexualized behavior and inappropriate sexual knowledge, can you tell us whether or not, from your experience and training, is there any other source for those specific symptoms, any other source of trauma for those specific symptoms beyond sexual abuse that have been recognized in the profession?

A: Not that I am aware of.

page 30-131
Q: Well, in your opinion, Dr. Brant, can the reactions of an interviewer cause a child to disclose sexual abuse having happened to them in the absence of that child actually having the experience?
Mr. Mondano: Objection

The Court: I'm going to overrule and permit it. Go ahead

A: I think under usual circumstances, a child would be very reluctant to acknowledge that they'd had a sexual experience when they hadn't, and I could image that very extreme reactions on the part of a listener could make that happen; I would think it would be very rare.

Q: Have you ever experience it in your practice, in terms of the reactions from a listener?
Mr. Mondano: Objection
Court: I'm going to sustain.

Q: Well, you describe the reactions as being very extreme, what are you referring to?

A: A parent who's psychotic would be one kind of example. I can imagine a parent in a divorce or custody suit who is extremely vengeful toward the other parent. I guess that's what I mean by more extreme reaction on the part of a listener.

Q: And in terms of extreme reactions, when you were asked on cross examination about whether or not anxiety in the home or turmoil in the home was likely to cause behavioral symptoms in a child — or I should say non-specific behavioral symptoms in a child, what degree of turmoil would you expect to exist in the home before it might begin to cause that or exacerbate it?

A: I think it would have to be enough turmoil to, in some way, significantly interfere with the care that child received or with the care that child received or with the relationship that they had with family members. I mean, if a parent got angry and then got over being angry and continue taking good care of a child, I don't that that, in and of itself, would lead to symptoms. But if a parent became, you know, depressed enough that they were hospitalized, and they might develop some of the non-specific symptoms.

From Cheryl and Vi's trial (June 1987):
Thursday June 4, 1987
page. 4-171
What I have frequently seen, however, is that often there will be a marked increase in symptoms around the time that a child begins to disclose the sexual abuse and there is less repression of this material in their mind. So that it is very often the case that symptoms will either appear for the first time or, in fact, even if they were present, become quite exaggerated around the time that a child was beginning to speak more about what happened.

Q: And why is that?

A: Well, as I have said, I believe it has something to do with this — the psychological defense mechanism of repression that I've spoken about.

page 4-172
Q: In terms of your own clinical experience, can you tell us how typically you will see the symptom of sexual abuse in children arise only after the child has begun to disclose sexual abuse and not before it?

A: Well, it is very common in my clinical experience, I think, to see what I have described, that as I try to get a history, for example, form the parents about the behavior of a child, they will describe very little in the way of unusual behavior up to a certain point, but then, either around the time of disclosure or a little bit after a child begins to disclose, both — I might see myself and also have a parent describe to me a marked change in the personality — I think a child becomes much more anxious, active, shows more in the way of sexualized behavior, whereas before there had been little indication of those symptoms or none even.

page 6-22 Thursday June 4, 1987

Q: And if you had a child whose behavior was described to you in the following manner, a child who at times would take his toy soldiers and line them up outside his doors or windows, would that be something that you would draw any interpretation from, or would that fit within this definition of hypervigilence that you've just given us?

(My note: this is a behavior with the toys is what one mother testified that her son showed.)

Mr. Balliro: I object, your honor.
The Court: Overruled.

A: I think certainly one way in which a child could demonstrate hypervigilence if they sensed that they were surrounded by danger would be to put some fantasies or playful — or toy protector around themselves, and that, as I think I have mentioned, children are often very concrete in their reasoning and interesting in their play. So if there's a danger, how do you react to the danger? You'd react to it by putting a protector around you, and they very frequently could show that in their play.

Q (by Hardoon): So, for example, if you had a child who might describe an allegation of sexual abuse and then describes how a teacher came and extracted her from the circumstances, (My Note: Teachers witnessing abuse and telling Gerald and others to stop or putting clothes on the children after the clown chased them naked is described in reports of early interviews of children and appears in taped interviews done by Susan Kelley.) would that be something that would fall within your definition of wishful thinking?

Mr. Balliro: I object
The Court: Overruled.

A: It certainly could be.

Mr. Balliro: May that answer be stricken?
The Court: Motion is denied.

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