Impact upon Siblings of False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

Thomas Kennedy, a father wrongfully accused of raping his then 11 year old daughter, Cassandra, was convicted but eventually freed when the child came forward with the truth. Cassandra’s sister appeared with Thomas and Cassandra to discuss the implications for this family trauma on the Katie Couric show.

The siblings often suffer as a result of the child sexual abuse disclosure – whether it is truthful or not. The sibling is often placed in therapy to deal with the loss of the accused parent and to help support the victim child. But what of those cases when the accused parent is not guilty? In those circumstances where therapy is required for the sibling who does not believe the abuse, the forcing of therapy can be harm in and of itself. No matter how well-intentioned the professionals involved, the sibling’s resistance to believing that abuse occurred often prolongs the therapy required of them.

These difficult issues often plague the child welfare system. Therapeutic intervention occurs within the context of litigation. If you or someone you know requires help with these issues in child welfare litigation, please contact us at

3 thoughts on “Impact upon Siblings of False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

  1. As a child sexual abuse expert, I have to say that I do not agree to children lie without the help or coercion of an adult about child sexual abuse. it is very difficult for a child, who is unaware of what child sexual abuse is to pretend that they have been harmed, and accurately detail events that only professional would be able to identify as actual sexual abuse. There is, I believe more to this story.

    There are many cases where a child will lie during a divorce out of confusion – and later tell the truth. Many times parents will lie because they want custody and this is a tragedy.

    My blog is dedicated to this expertise, and you have inspired me to pen something on this particular subject to educate others about this process.

    Thank you,


    • Ressurrection,

      Thank you for sharing your views on this subject. On the show, the daughter of the wrongfully accuse father said she learned of what to say to accuse her father from a friend who had experienced molestation.

      In terms of experts, I am very familiar with the work of Maggie Bruck, Stephen Ceci, and other mental health professionals who have researched and published on suggestibility of young children and the purposeful and unintentional implantation of false memories in children. I agree with you that forensic experts are vital to the process of decreasing the likelihood of a false positive.

      Unfortunately, many people involved in the child welfare system are overwhelmingly inclined to believe that abuse occurred, and poor forensic training only exacerbates the problem. Leading questions, repetitious questioning, gifts and inducements to “tell” all contribute to false positives. Hopefully, with ongoing education by the mental health community, the analysis can begin without presumed guilt or innocence and can ensure that we protect children from abuse while ensuring a balanced assessment of the accused.

      Warm regards,
      Allison C. Williams

      • I think this subject make it all more relevant that adults should be able to (when they are ready to break their silence) share their experiences without prejudice or limitations in a court room.

        In many cases, we will not know until the child becomes an adult dealing with the pains associated with child sexual abuse.

        Feel free to check out my work. I’ll continue to read some of your work here.



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