Gilding the Dishonesty Lily: Citing a Task Force Report Repudiated by the APA

June 15, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

One last word on Marisa Endicott’s terrible piece in the Huffington Post (Huffington Post, 6/9/17). If readers of this blog still doubt how low she stooped in her attempt to claim that, in some way, abusive fathers routinely get custody of children by claiming parental alienation on the part of the mother, today’s short piece should put them to rest.

Recall that Endicott referred to an old American Psychological Association task force report on domestic violence and its role in child custody cases.

[A]n American Psychological Association task force found a reluctance in family courts to believe mothers’ abuse claims.

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, much of which I detailed yesterday.

That APA task force? Its report (a) is over 12 years old, (b) is among the most frankly misandric documents you’ll ever read, (c) is overtly false in that it assumes domestic violence to be a gendered phenomenon and by the way, (d) nowhere says what Endicott claims. To say that a “task force found” something strongly suggests that a group of people inquired into an issue and made findings of fact that indicate one thing or another. The APA group did no such thing. The very brief statement to which Endicott linked is literally nothing but a string of unsupported assertions, all of them anti-father and none of which admit that mothers are about twice as likely to commit child abuse as are fathers.

In short, Endicott’s citing of such a plainly biased and factually untrue report says a lot about her own agenda and nothing about the reality of DV in custody cases. But, as I learned yesterday, it’s actually far worse than that. Far worse.

In fact, the APA has repudiated that task force report for much the same reasons as I pointed out. In 2011, Professor Richard Warshak published an article in the University of Baltimore Law Review. At pages 111 – 112. Footnote 135 reads in part,

Before sounding the alarm of a national epidemic of judges placing children with known abusers, it is important to note that the task force has been criticized for allowing bias and an advocacy agenda to shape their report. This criticism is supported by the American Psychological Association (APA)’s subsequent repudiation of the report. A request addressed to the AP A for a copy of the report, or for a location where the report could be viewed on the APA Website, received the following reply: "Thanks for your interest in the APA 1996 report. It is no longer available because it is outdated and needs review. AP A has no plans to review and reprint it." Email from Julia M. Silva, Director, Violence Prevention Office, Pub. Interest Directorate, Am. Psychological Ass’n, to Richard A. Warshak, Clinical Professor, Div. of Clinical Psychology, Univ. of Tex. Sw. Med. Ctr. (Dec. 14,2010, 10:35 CT) (on file with author). A similar response from the APA is found at Glenn Sacks, American Psychological Association Distances Itself from Old AP A Publication, FATHERS AND FAMILIES (Mar. 6, 2011),

In short, not only did Endicott cite a plainly untrue and biased document, but by failing to report that it’s been disavowed by the APA she left the impression with readers that the task force’s report retains the imprimatur of that august body. It doesn’t, for what should be obvious reasons even to those untutored in the details of DV and its role in child custody cases.

By doing so, Endicott intentionally mislead her readers.

(Oh, by the way, yesterday I said that the report was 12 years old. I was wrong. The archive that maintains it and to which Endicott linked, is 12 years old. The report itself was published in 1996. That would make it 21 years old if it still existed.)

And what of Endicott’s core claim – that abusive fathers use PA to get custody from mothers while disbelieving the mothers’ claims of abuse? Warshak’s footnote addresses that too.

For strong evidence that judges are not delivering children into the hands of abusive parents and that the 1996 report is far off the mark in concluding that 70% of violent spouses prevail in custody trials, see T.K. Logan, Robert Walker, Leah S. Horvath & Carl Leukefeld, Divorce, Custody, and Spousal Violence: A Random Sample of Circuit Court Docket Records, 18 J. FAM. VIOLENCE 269, 274-75 (2003). These well-known authorities on domestic violence report on a random sample of divorce cases. Of thirty-two cases with spousal violence, only five were decided in a trial and, of those, all were decided in favor of the mother (four sole custody and one joint custody with mother as the primary residential parent). Of the remaining twenty-seven cases that settled without a trial, twenty-four were decided in favor of the mother, one received joint legal custody with equal residential time, and three were decided in favor of the father. Id. In this sample, 11 % of the domestic violence orders were petitioned by fathers, so it is likely that the 9% decided in favor of fathers reflect the few cases in which the father received a domestic violence order against the mother.

The anti-dad crowd has been known to stoop pretty low in their efforts to deprive children of their fathers. But when they try to debase the currency of the science on parental alienation, it seems they outdo themselves. Endicott and Udesky are prime examples of the genre, but there are others, as I’ll report on in the near future.




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Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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