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Facilitated communication and the Wendrow case

Father's Day special: In "facilitated communication," an aide helps a profoundly autistic child type answers to questions. This is pure quackery: in reality, it's the communicator who's answering the question, rather than the child, as demonstrated by experiments where the communicator is unable to hear the questions. But it provides enough false hope that some believe in it, and it can lead to false sex abuse allegations as happened in the case of the Wendover family. The Detroit Free Press runs an extraordinary six-part series (via @walterolson) on the trauma inflicted on this one family by junk science and gullible prosecutors. The Wendover family civil suit against government officials is pending, but they seem relatively fortunate that they were only separated from their children for 106 days before prosecutors dismissed the case (while covering their butts by claiming it was because the ostensible victim was too scared to testify); we've certainly seen other prosecutors (cough, cough, Martha Coakley) continue witch-hunts until they lead to prosecutions. Worth noting: Brian Dickerson's criticism of the "cowardice and cronyism" of judges who delayed matters for four weeks past when it was obvious prosecutors had no case.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.