THE GUARDIAN : Wednesday 3rd February 1993

Ray Wyre's Gracewell Clinic method used to treat child-abusers paedophilesA man accused of child abuse turned to a private clinic for assessment and proof of his innocence. Once there, he was told to admit to crimes he says he did not commit.


By Margaret Jervis

WHEN Mike heard about the Gracewell Clinic for assessing and, if necessary, treating men accused of sex offences, it seemed it might be a lifeline. For two years he had suf- fered because his wife, the social services, and the police believed he was a child molester who had sexually abused the three-year-old step- daughter he had cared for since just after her birth. His angry protestations of innocence had been swept aside.

No charges were brought, but Mike (not his real name) agreed to leave. the family home so that the children would not be taken into care. He was denied all contact with them. But his wife wanted mm to “own up” and get treatment. She herself was in a survivors' group: at the time of the allegations she revealed that she had been abused as a child. But Mike refused to take this course.

It all began when a purported remark by a neighbour that his step-daughter had alluded to an abuse made Mike's wife suspicious. Eventually her allegations were backed by a medical report and the finger was pointed at Mike, even though his wife's family had a history of abuse and his own had none. Mike believed they were compelling explanations which would exonerate him, but no one would listen.

Then he heard about the private Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham, set up in 1988 by Ray Wyre, a former probation oficer. As a residential
alternative to custody, Gracewell offers a beguiling formula for resolving the dilemma of suspected abuse. theory is that accused men have incentive to admit to abuse it would mean prison. But this denial to themselyes and others prevents them from being treated successfully. Confession in confidence breaks the pattern of self-deception that feeds their addiction and justifies their behaviour.

Gracewell has been at the centre of some controversy, but many interviews with anonymous residents, publishéd in both lay and professional press attest that this approach is effective. Lifetime abusers confess remorsefully to their crimes with the clinic's help hope to check their impulses. This human approach has gained much kudos and been endorsed by leading child protection campaigners ad professionals including Baroness Faithfull. Dr Arnon Bentovim of Great Ormond Street Hospital, Esther Rantzen and Diana Lamplugh.

Mike says: "I thought if they can assess and treat offenders then they could assess me and give a sensible opinion. Gracewell said they couldn't say what I'd done in the past but they would be able to assesss what my chances were of abusing in the future"

He expected to be tested when he went to Gracewell for assessment. And yet, he says, "When I got there |I was given a pie e of paper headed 'My Crimes are....'.  I said I hadn't committed any, they just said put down what you are supposed to have done. From then on they made every thing positive, I wasn't allowed to talk negative. I had group sessions with other people saying what I'd done. The therapists kept saying to the others, ‘Do you remember when you first came here, you denied it?’ There was no way out .”

Mike says that when he finally objected, he was told he could possibly be home after 12 weeks treatment, “if I accepted responsibility and admitted I was a child abuser."

He refused and left. His wife was bitterly disappointed: Gracewell was holding out the prospect of a speedy reunion, while he buried his head in the sand.  So he phoned the clinic and admitted the abuse. He was told to tell the social services department, but when he did this, he was re-arrested and charged with indecent assault. Mike retracted his admission and the charges were dropped once the pressure he had been under to confess became apparent.

Mike sank into suiicidal depression. Through a radio phone-in he came into contact with a consultant psychiatrist from a private hospital, who had long expereince i treating addictive disorders, including sexual deviance. In the course of a year she unravelled Mike's social, family and sexual history and found him to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the psychiatrist's report which the Guardian has seen, there was an element of self-deception. Mike had papered over the strains on his marriage when, before the allegations of abuse were made his business had failed and they had lost their house - events possibly crucial to his wife's loss of faith in him. But the psychiatrist found no evidence that Mike might abuse children, even when he was questioned under the effects of the drug pentobarbitone, the 'truth' drug which can release inhibited desires. A lie detector test performed at his own behest also proved negative.

Mike regards the assessment report provided by Gracewell as un- substantiated character assassination and Gracewell rejected his consultant psychiatrist's conclusions.  Gracewell maintained that Mike needed specific treatment for being sex offender which would not be addressed by other forms of psychiatric treatment. But Mike’s psychia- trist says: “In my experience, it is necessary to assess and treat the ~ whole person and not just one possible aspect of their behaviour."

There are disturbing possible parallels between Gracewell's methods and "disclosure” interviews with children where therapists adopt an authoritarian stance, tailoring statements to comply with an apparently dogmatic belief system. At Gracewell, suspects are believed when they admit the abuse and seem to be disbelieved when they deny it.

According to Gracewell’s own Guidelines For Referring Agencies: “The clinic is able to provide comprehensive assessment on adult and juvenile offenders although the latter would be seen on a non-residential basis. Assessment reports can be made available to courts for criminal proceedings, care proceedings at Juvenile Courts and wardship hearings. Risk assessment reports can also be prepared for social work agencies."

In confessional interviews, Gracewell offenders readily adopt the language and beliefs of the therapists, using buzz-words such as "targeting", “grooming”, and “distorted thinking" But if it is assumed that some Gracewell residents lie initially about the abuse, how do we know they are not lying later about their new insights, or the number of offences? Should we believé them when they say they have “conceived and groomed ” children for the purpose of abuse?  Doesn't this come dangerously close to the confessions of children said to be “satanically abused”?  Ray Wyre admits there is a large measure of make-believe in the outpourings of offenders under therapy. “You’re not dealing with facts in this work. You’re dealing with metaphor and paradox. It's very complex.

But Mike says that outside the therapy process, he found real offenders to be anything but contrite. "They were laughing behind the therapists'baks, just saying what they knew what they wanted to hear".

No doubt many of the 150 offenders who have been processed through Gracewell are sincere in their remorse and their desire to change. But there is occasionally a detectable whiff of gamesmanship that seems to go over the heads of the therapists.
For instance, in a training video a man on parole explains the steps he took to abuse young boys. A master of the flow-chart, his detailed descrip- tion perfectly fits the Gracewell formula of targeting and grooming, where a trusting relationship is established with the child and family. We learn that thegarliest stage was


'There is a tendency to assume the therapist is being lied to. An open mind often very difficult with sex offenders.'

his collecting pictures of boys in shorts. “How many?" Wyre asks. “About 22,000" is the straight-faced reply. Wyre claims this encounter wasthefirsttimethismanhadbeen able to relate honestly to another adult — a major goal of Gracewell therapy. But was he merely ridiculing Gracewell and its therapists?

Most of the men who undergo up to a year’s treatment — as opposed to assessment —— at Gracewell have , been abusers within the family. Two thirds of them are referred by social services departments or the probation service. Confession and treatment may be a condition oif achieving a family reunion.  Men on parole may be subject to a similar condition.  And while the unrelenting pressure of therapy cannot be termed a soft option, the quality of life it offers is dazzling when compared to prison.

If the social services department refuses to pay for treatment, families may feel under pressure to pick up the bill. "We were told we should get a second mortgage on our house,” says Jill, the wife of a man separated from his family because he had admitted-to the “inappropriate fondling" of a nephew, and was considered a potential risk to his children unless he had treatment.  Before agreeing, Jill visited Gracewell and was repelled by the atmosphere and attitudes of the therapists. “It seemed to have a single-minded approach to offending with no regarded for the circumstance and needs of the clients. I found in .unrelenting confrontation by the therapists extremely disturbing and they were distinctly reluctant to give tangible evidence of the methods used and effectiveness.”

On my Visit to Gracewell, I experienced a similar resistance. Ray Wyre avoided dwelling on the methods used and their theoretical base, quickly passing them off as a mixture of therapeutic techniques. Most of the therapists are social workers. No statistics or records are available but I was allowed a brief glance at assessment and treatment manual which began, as Mike had said, with the words “My crimes are . .

The disparate group of men I met certainly appeared to have changed their attitude in the three weeks their assessment, displaying an uncompromising acceptance of responsibility. They said Gracewell had taught them to see the abuse from the victim’s point of View, but when pressed seemed unsure whether point of view was really the victims or Gracewell’s own interpretation.

In 1991, local residents saw a Channel 4 documentary on Gracewell and were horrified to recognise  “career paedophiles” as men wandering freely in their midst. They collected a dossier of obfuscations, irregularities, and contradictions surrounding the clinic which prompted Birmingham social services department to conduct a review. Gracewell has blocked the release of the full report, but a summary concluded with a call for urgent “consideration of issues of organisation, management style and image". But the therapy was felt to be beyond reproach, exerting a "positive influence on caring services through the country”.

Gracewell is now undergoing a Home Office evaluation as part of a study of sex offender programmes many of which use “denial” techniques. The psychologist Mary Baker a member of the evaluation team, says these are "cognitive-behavioural" methods which help men take responsibility for abuse through their confrontation and analysis of trheir attitudes and beliefs."It is assumed that abusers are motivated through an initial distortion in attitudes which justifies their actions."

Variants of these methods have been used successfully to treat addictive disorders such as alcoholism and drug-dependency, and Mary Baker is  optimistic that sex offenders will also respond.  But others warn that they can have adverse effects. Dr Geoffrey Pollitt, a retired psychiatrist who treated sex offenders since 1965, says " I have met men from gracewell who say they went on to commit more serious offences.  I have witnessed this type of treatment and it doesn't seem to get at the root of pepole's problems. I know one man who ran away from the group because the revelations disgusted him so mjuch and for those who are serious offenders ti can teach them new ways of abusing. In my opinion it doesn't do any good and can cause a lot of harm."

Dr Don Grubin of the Institute of Psychiatry is more guarded, but draws a vital distinction between assessment as the equivalent of diagnosis, and treatment. “I think these treatment approaches are appropriate in some cases, but there is a tendency to confuse assessment with treatment on the assumption that the therapists are being lied to. It is important to keep an open mind and in practice this is often very difficult with sex offenders.”

Ray Wyre concedes that this divide is “the great debate”, but won’t accept the notion of assessment as an investigative process, He relies mostly on the prior judgments in referral reports, buttressed by the evidence of lifestyle and attitudes, rather than on objective psychological testing. “Assessment is basically information getting, in that we are looking for word and thinking change, whereas in long-term therapy we are looking for belief and feeling change,” Wyre, says. Pressed repeatedly, he refused to accept the incongruity of change as a goal for assessment.

The Home Oflice team is due to report next year. Meanwhile Gracewell, in conjuction with the National Children’s Home, is planning a centre for adolescent sex offenders.

Yet Gracewell’s methods raise important ethical questions. Unconvicted men are presumed guilty, effectively coerced —— because they want to see their families again — into confession and highly manipulative treatment. There is no data on the long-term benefits, and judging “preventive” success is highly problematic. Like alcohol abuse, sexual abuse can be addictive, but is not necessarily so. And can the treatment of sex offending by group therapy really be the proper focus for dealing with the totality of an offender’s problems?

Mike was able to recover from his nightmare once he was regarded as a person without the presumption of guilt. “Gracewell said I want power over children, I say they want power over me. They said I have distorted thinking, but they distorted everything I said. Maybe for those who have abused children, Gracewell is a wonderful thing, but what about for those who haven’t? How can they tell when they exercise such total control?"





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Click on the pic below to hear Ray Wyre Lying About Satanic Ritual Abuse On Australia's 60 Minutes

Ray Wyre lying about Satanic Abuse

Full story:
"As Ray Wyr was paid as a consultant in the Broxtowe SRA case (the first claimed SRA case in the U.K. ) by Nottingham Social Services and used the Satanic indicators to brief the foster parents we interviewed him first. In our view he was extremely vague and evasive and could give no evidence to support his assertions beyond a few cases that we subsequently checked with negative results."

All this is very pertinent. Ray wire was a key instigator of belief in SRA in Broxtowe though he kept a respectable distance from most of the sensational 'victim imposters' (like Jacquie Balodis and others) who were providing quotes for shocking headlines in the British media at the time. Occasionally Wyre would give one paragraph quotes within articles in the social work press, or in the Broadsheets but he never gave a lengthy interview on his SRA beliefs. How surprising then to find that in the middle of 1989 when he was being circumspect in the U.K. media he appeared on the Australian TV documentary series 'Sixty Minutes' talking at length about Broxtowe and about another U.K. case of a 15 year old girl who Sixty Minutes chose to call 'Theresa' but who was actually a girl given the pseudonym 'Natalie' when she was shown in silhouette in the Cook Report 'The Devil's Work' which went out around the same time in Britain and caused an uproar!

Did Wyre have any evidence of SRA? The JET people said clearly that he could not produce any but here we find him giving an interview, intended for Australia, which is categoric in its insistence that children are being killed in Satanic Rituals. Wyre, an ex Baptist minister, opened his Gracewell Clinic to amongst other things, 'rehabilitate' Priests who had sexually abused children so they could go back into the church. He had found and therapised plenty of abusive priests but had never ever personally come across any Satanic Abusers, yet here he was stating categorically that they killed children even though no dead children had ever been found.

In hindsight of course 'Natalie's' Cook Report claims were all found to have nothing to do with Satanists, and her case against those she accused was thrown out of the Old Bailey by the judge after three days; but at the time she convinced many as she tearfully pleaded on camera.

Strangely Wyre did not appear in the Cook Report but handled the 'Help Lines' after the programme. As you can see from the JET report and the Timeline on this webpage he was actively involved with Tim Tate who researched and co-produced it.

The Australian Sixty Minutes documentary ended with the interviewer asking whether Wyre thought there might be some abusing Satanists in Australia. Wyre said 'undoubtedly' but then again, in the programme so did fundie Audrey Harper from The Christian Reachout Trust who also claimed to be a 'victim' of Satanists on the Cook Report; along with her friend Maureen Davies, director of The Reachout Trust who worked with the Cook Report, and along with Wyre handled the helplines afterwards, where she sat next to Judith Dawson leader of social work Team4 from Broxtowe. Beginning to see the pattern now?

Predictably, by May of the following year (1990) Pamela Klein, Wyre's colleague, had introduced her 'Satanic Indicators' to police in New Zealand and a rash of SRA cases then ensued, all of which were proven false in the passage of time.

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